It's the last week of classes at the school I teach at and all of the customary pomp and circumstance is in full swing. Prom, baccalaureate, senior business week, senior trip, graduation. The class graduating this year is the first class I ever taught so I've been involved in the process a bit more than usual. It's pretty incredible to experience all of this from the other side. It's incredible to realize how little any of us knew or how little any of us know now.
We (americans? christians? people?) have this tendency to build milestone moments into our lives as sort of declarations that it's time to make important transitions. "You're 18, now you're an adult!" "You've graduated, time to talk school seriously/get a job!" and I've watched so many of the kids this week carry this look or demeanor that they've arrived, that they feel they finally have inherently made it. But why? Why do we create that expectation. Why do we place this burden of expectation on everything.
I remember thinking after I graduated from high school that it was time to be serious (that didn't last long). I remember after graduating from college thinking it was time to get married, since that's what everyone in my family had done before me (why? I didn't particularly want or feel ready to be married). I remember thinking after I got out of the Navy that I had to jump instantly into a new career (took a couple tries).
So much of this expectation is self imposed. We see movies that portray life in a certain way, read books that describe how it should be done, listen to songs that describe certain things as constants and then we desperately try to get everything to fall in line with these supposedly universal timelines.
This is all really stupid.
We put all this pressure on people to figure everything out, but maybe part of their individual development is actually just appreciating time spent in a place of uncertainty.
Now I'm not necessarily advocating the whole live with your parents at 28 without a job thing. I think you can make money while you're doing this. But why are people so obsessed with the whole cookie cutter thing.
The greatest thing I think that I've ever seen anyone figure out is that there is real freedom in completely following your own unique path. In doing things in a way that completely throws out the standard script and runs with something different. My friend Emmet has a business degree, a masters from Fuller, was a house painter forever, and is a missionary now. That's such a different timeline than anyone else I've known has been on, but it so completely reflects who he is and how God's worked with him. I think it would be hilarious if Emmet wrote a book on the life he's lived from the perspective that everyone should do it the exact same way. First, because I'd love to see people try. Second, because I can't see it work for anyone else. Third, because the tangent stories are hilarious. We can't live lives for others, much less tell them exactly how to make it work... so why do we keep acting like we can?