‘Who’ Instead of ‘What’

I am writing today for the young college students, high school seniors, and, quite frankly, anyone else who is stressed with figuring out what they want to do with their life. This season of my life is coated in questions. I’m constantly being asked, “What are you going to do when you graduate?”, “Where do you want to work in a few years?”, and “What are your plans?” All good questions. At times, I think those of us on the receiving end tend to twist those questions into doubts and worries about the future. They can even make us worry so much that we start to quickly map out a five-year plan in our heads.

A recent conversation with a wise friend brought me to this conclusion: You can’t always choose what you’re going to do for the rest of your life. What you can choose is who you are going to be. Despite location, age, family situations, relationship status, current job, or economic status, I can hold on to an identity I choose to keep my roots planted in.

I’ve always been a fan of consistency. When I find a good restaurant, I find all and any opportunity to eat there with friends. Whenever I start watching a TV show that I thoroughly enjoy, I have to watch it the whole way through and finish it. I have even attained the same place at our family dinner table since I was in elementary school. So when the road gets twisted and curvy, I’d like to think that I at least get to ride in my same car the whole way through.

When you embark on a road trip, think of the constants you hold on to. You have whatever you packed in your suitcase, your vehicle, and the people who tag along. These things are what we count on to have throughout our journey. But what if I left my favorite pair of shoes at the hotel we stayed in last night? What if we pick up another friend along the way? And what if our vehicle breaks down and we have to buy bus tickets to get back home? No, sometimes there things aren’t constants. The people, the things, and the places are not always going to be what we planned. The one thing we can be sure of is who we are going to be in those situations. That is our constant on this journey.

As I just finished this last semester of college, I realized that I am halfway done with my undergrad schooling. That statement has not sunken in to my skull yet. Wow, how the years have already flown by. And before I know it, I will be walking across a stage, shaking a hand that will hand me a diploma with my name on it. This will be an accomplishment I never dreamed I would achieve. You see, college wasn’t even on my agenda until March of my senior year of high school. Plans changed, dreams changed, but I didn’t change.

While I’m growing up and seeking opportunities to someday make a living and use my talents for a greater purpose than myself, I find more and more that I need to stop asking myself what I’m going to do in the next few years and start asking myself who I want to become. Right now is a foundational time of my life where I get to learn and grow in an environment that acts as a launchpad for my future. I’m learning many lessons and growing in more ways than I ever have before. The most important lesson I am taking away is the lesson of being true to myself and my calling in this world before I worry about my future career. It is when I find security in who I am that my future will unfold and be more fulfilling than I could ever plan it to be.

Who do I want to be after I graduate? Before any career, any specific position, or any location, I want to be these three things:

  1. A passionate, faithful Christ follower
  2. A selfless, loving friend, daughter, sister (and someday wife and mother)
  3. FUN

Make a list of who you want to be, not what you want to be and keep them close to your heart. Don’t let questions about your future bring anxiety or unnecessary planning. Plans change! Be who you are and hold on to this in any season of life. You will reach the mountain tops with your talents and abilities. We often forget to get to the top, we have to climb. And life, like our good friend Miley Cyrus once said, is ‘The Climb’. Scenery will change, people may change, and tasks to keep climbing may change. Don’t forget who you are along the way and let go of worries that hide who you are. It is when we let go of those worries of careers, jobs, relationships, and future plans that we feel lighter on our feet as we gradually reach the mountain’s top.