Since I can remember, I’ve constantly felt like I was waiting to be just a little bit older. In fifth grade I longed for the privileges of being in middle school where I wouldn’t have to walk in a line to class, could have a locker and even get a cell phone. But those novelties soon wore off as I fixed my eyes on becoming an 8th grader. They ruled the school and were old enough to stay out late and have boyfriends. In high school I couldn’t wait for my drivers license and the freedom it provided. I dreamt of being an upperclassman who got to get dressed up for prom. I wanted a spot in the Senior Parking Lot and to finally graduate. Time just couldn’t seem to keep up with all of my aspirations.
Finally graduation did come and I moved halfway across the country to Philadelphia to attend college. Even there I was chomping at the bit to take harder classes and intern for a fashion company. When I finally did get that internship – a taste of the adult working life – I couldn’t get enough. I ended up getting hired for a PR position halfway through junior year of college and jumping into the full-time work scene almost two years early – while completing my degree online. But it didn’t even stop there. I kept looking forward to that promotion, to this pay raise, to that business trip that I hadn’t yet earned the seniority to go on.
Living in New York City definitely didn’t curb this thirst for more. It’s the city that never sleeps – the city that tells you what you have is never enough. With a natural tendency for this disposition already engrained in me, it took off in New York. I couldn’t wait to get going with what I thought my life could be, if only my age, work title or salary would stop holding me back.
Friends, coworkers, mentors and my parents’ friends continued to praise me for being ahead for my age. I was the first of my friends to get a full-time job, the first girl from my sorority pledge class to move permanently from our Philadelphia campus and once I got there I was mostly was friends with people five or more years older than me. The more I pressed for time to go faster, the less I took in what was going on around me.
I eventually decided to move to California, for a lot of reasons, but one of them being that I needed a change of pace. I was always on hyper speed mode and ready to be in an environment that maybe didn’t nurture that quite to the extent that New York did. It turned out there would be about a month of down time between my time in New York and the start of my new life in California, so I decided to live at home in Colorado waiting it out and getting some rest.
The thing was, I was used to returning and things being pretty much the same. In the past things remained relatively stagnant: my old friends from leading Young Life still lived in Boulder and worked for Young Life on staff. The girls I led were still in high school and living with their families. My siblings were still much younger, my parents plugging away at getting their business off the ground and the same scenic mountains I grew up with.
But this time I hadn’t been home in almost a year, and things had definitely changed. My Wyld Life girls had been accepted into colleges spanning the country from Rhode Island to Oregon to Hawaii. They were packing up, moving on and no longer the young impressionable girls I remembered. My sisters were suddenly young women with distinct personalities and their own social lives to attend to. My brother was taller than me for the first time and his voiced dropped something like ten octaves, I’m pretty sure. The friends I’d led Young Life with were getting married and having babies and entering into very new stages of life.
And if I’m being honest, even though these are all good changes, changes implying growth and new seasons and joy, a part of me is mourning and missing how things used to be. I had been running around in my own life so vigorously that I’d failed to notice the world had caught up to me.
As I was driving in my car one day, a wave of nostalgia tinged with some sadness hit me. Even though I knew logically that things would not stay the same forever, I felt thrown off by just how different they felt. The whole thing feels unsettling, and being on the other side of the country for four years had me feeling more like I’d gone to the moon and come back to realize twice the time I felt I’d been gone had passed. Nothing seems to be how I left it. Even my favorite coffee shop got remodeled.
The jarring feeling of your childhood home feeling a little less familiar and predictable makes a person pause. I’ve become to think about the moments I skimmed past in the story of my life and the times I haven’t soaked in the glory of the now, because I was simply too busy dreaming about all the adventures that would come later. So I’m taking a pause.
I’m appreciating times of solitude where I can drive around Boulder to look at the mountains or quietly journal in a coffee shop with no time limit. I’m making family dinners a priority, choosing time with my siblings over calling up a friend thousands of miles away and acknowledging our present circumstances as unique and valuable, because more than likely they will continue to change – only faster.
So even though I have moments where I feel my feet dancing to get to California a little more quickly and times where I hope for the next two weeks at home to please hurry up a bit faster, I am consciously trying to pause. There are still things I look forward to with great anticipation and eagerness, like moving, ski season, finally having a savings account balance that is worth mentioning and one day getting married and buying a house. Those are good things, worth hoping and praying for. However, I am ok with right here for now. Pause.