“After College” is about navigating transitions, relationships and faith. Written by Erica Young Reitz, director at “Senior EXIT, a one-year experience that prepares graduating college seniors for the transition into the next phase of life.”
“I often refer to my first year out of college as ‘the year from hell,’” says Curt. His two-year commitment to Teach for America brought him to a failing school in Baltimore, where he knew no one. He left his family and friends behind to start what became an impossible job; it took everything in him to try to control his chaotic classroom of fifth graders, and many days he did not succeed. Beyond the daily struggle to get up and teach another day, Curt faced adversity on a number of other fronts: he struggled to find friends, the woman he’d been “pseudo-seeing” broke off communication, his grandfather passed away and his dad was diagnosed with throat cancer. This was not what Curt pictured for his first year out of college.
In college Curt had more Facebook friends than most, everyone knew him in his campus fellowship group and in any given week he had multiple opportunities to hang out with people who encouraged his faith. He loved his major and student teaching placement. He dreamed of the ways he could use his degree to make a difference in the lives of inner-city kids (think Dangerous Minds or Freedom Writers). But Curt quickly discovered that “they weren’t going to make a major motion picture about [his] life teaching students.” In fact, the day his evaluator from Teach for America came to offer performance feedback, his classroom was in complete disarray, and one of his male students ran up behind the female supervisor and started air-grinding. Curt remembers another moment when it took everything in him not to scream an expletive at his students. He stood in front of the classroom with the f-word on the tip of his tongue, but instead of shouting he walked to the sink, gathered himself and went back to teaching. He held it together for that day. Overall, though, he was ready to throw in the towel.
Looking back it’s easier to see how an experience like this can build character and shape us for good, but while we’re in the thick of it we can quickly become frustrated, jaded or hopeless. How do we maintain a healthy perspective in the midst of life’s trials? How do we prepare and persevere?
Your transition out of college may be nothing like Curt’s; however, none of us gets through life without facing hardship. The twenties are some of the most exciting years, but there will also be hard days. Though life is not all fight, until Christ returns in full glory it is a battle. When we fail to realize this, it’s like we run naked into open fire. We need to be armed with proper perspective and appropriate coping mechanisms to fight the good fight. We should anticipate struggles, learn how to persevere with virtue and trust that God has a purpose within them.
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