Farewell, 2018

Zora Neale Hurston once wrote, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer”.

This quote was recently brought to my attention through On Being’s weekly newsletter. As I’ve been reflecting on the past year, it stuck with me.

I thought 2018 would be a year of questions. I thought it would be another waiting year. I thought everything in life would pause until I finished graduate school. If you had told me then where I would be now, I probably would have laughed in your face.

To my great surprise, 2018 was a year of answers.

I entered this year with a lot of questions. Primarily, I wondered, where am I going? Professionally? Personally? Spiritually? I was in a job that I loved, but was logistically unsustainable and unchallenging. Personally, I knew the time was coming to move out of my parent’s house, but lacked a job that allowed me to do so. Spiritually, my tendency to isolate myself from others was no longer serving me well. It was time to push myself out of my comfort zone and find true community again. But where does one even begin to find that? There were other questions, too. Will I ever find a place where I can flourish? Is flourishing even possible? Does a place exist within my sphere of daily life where I’ll be accepted and loved as I am?

Looking back, nearly every question has been answered in surprising, mysterious, painful, and wonderful ways.

At the end of 2018, I have a new job that I love that is close to home and closer to my friends. I have my own apartment. I have a supportive family that I love spending time with. I have best friends for the first time in years. I’m in a small group at church with women who encourage and inspire me. When I go to church, I not longer make a beeline for the door at the end of the service, too intimidated by the crowd of conversing strangers to engage. (#IntrovertProblems). Now, I linger because I always find people to catch up with.

In so many ways, this was a difficult, frustrating, and confusing year. Navigating change, especially when it happens all at once, is challenging. I don’t think I’ve ever been as squeezed as I was this fall, where I balanced managing two libraries, graduate school, orchard season, and moving. In the aftermath, I’m completely burned out and struggling to find rest.

I’ve learned a lot about myself this year. As I’ve pushed into uncharted territory, I have a better sense of how to care for myself, where to set boundaries, and where I need to be more brave.

As I look back and reflect on 2018, I am so grateful for all the change, all the challenges, and all the joys. I’ve truly come into my own this year. Through it all, God has been so faithful, always providing what I didn’t know I needed and always showing up when I need Him the most. My life is filled with so many blessings—far more than I could ever deserve. I’m grateful beyond words for all of it.

With 2018 ending, I turn my gaze to the future. With so many answers in my pocket, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and discover what questions need to be lived into next year. Stay tuned for more on that front.

In the meantime, I wish you a very happy New Year!

One of my favorite photos from 2018. Taken at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park in August.


Shifting seasons

Once again, I find myself at the end of a year of school.  And, once again, this has put me in a reflective mood.  So much changes in a year, I cannot help but look back and see who I have become.

It’s funny, actually, how much changes in just a few days.  Just two days ago, I was submitting the last of my essays, working my final library shift, and savoring the last few hours with my friends.  Today, I found myself back in the orchard doing manual labor–hauling brush, mopping out the apple cooler, uncovering fields, that kind of thing.  In such a short period of time, my life is totally different from what it was.

This year, though… this year was tough.

The thing about life changing adventures is that, when you come back, nothing ever stays the same.  I knew that when I left for London.  A year ago, I knew that the Morris I left would not be the one I returned to.  And, although I was prepared, that didn’t change the fact that coming back was hard.  Old friends had left, new friends had come, and the friends that had kept me grounded for so long were no longer available.  Things smoothed out eventually, but all semester long I could not seem to bridge the gap that a semester in Europe had caused.  There was a lot of loneliness and uncertainty this school year.  There was enormous frustration–with myself, with my professors, with friends, with everything.  The frustration ate away at parts of me, especially the part of me that writes.  For most of the semester, I could barely pen a single word.  I wanted to badly to fit right back into the seam of Morris, to settle into my niche and take on the world.  But the problem is that I no longer fit into the space I once occupied.  I’ve grown and changed too much.  All I wanted (and still want) was to find that one place where people needed me, where I fit like a puzzle piece.  But, as much as I waited and waited and waited… it never happened.

Yes, it’s been a year of frustration, but it’s also been an incredible year of growth.  All the change, all the uncertainty, all the pushing and pulling have rendered me stronger, deeper, and more confident than I have ever been.  I understand this dark world so much better.  I got to meet parts of myself I didn’t even know existed.

Despite everything, it’s amazing how my love for my school grows every year.  What is it about such a tiny town on the middle of the Minnesota prairie that captures one’s heart so?  I love being an environment of intelligent, passionate people who strive to make a better world.  I love the wind turbines, the mall, and the sketchiness of the Bent and Dent.  I love the caring, flawed, wonderful people who are my friends.  I love the kindness of the professors, the spunk of the librarians, the wisdom of the spiritual teachers and mentors.  (However, I have no kind words for the wind.  And the winters.  Those can die horrible, miserable deaths for all I care.)

The past few weeks, I’ve been extremely restless.  When I left Morris a couple of days ago, I packed up and left as quickly as I could.  I can feel the seasons changing inside of me.  After months of sitting and waiting, I’m ready for something different, something new, something exciting.  When seasons change, I often mourn the loss of things that are passing.  This year, though, is different.  This time, I’m ready.  This summer is going to be a special one, and I can’t wait to find out what’s coming next.

My last night in Morris was absolutely gorgeous, so I trekked to the wind turbines with a friend.