Bronwyn Lawrie, Youth Speak News

Surrender seems to be the hardest word

By  Bronwyn Lawrie, Youth Speak News
  • January 11, 2012

After submitting four essays in 24 hours at the end of last semester, I found myself staring into my latest (of many) tea of the day and glumly contemplating the point of getting a degree.

I am in my fourth year of university, and often feel that I’d rather be any place but here. It’s not that school isn’t challenging or that my extracurriculars aren’t engaging. It’s that it seems there’s more to learn from reading the Asperges or hiking in the mountains than from a week’s worth of readings in history or political science. A better understanding of the social, economic and political reasons for contemporary Middle Eastern post-colonial resistance could be very useful — if nothing else, for looking smart in barroom conversation — but once the notes are done, essays written, it seems there is little left of lasting value. I can’t educate my way into heaven.

A decidedly non-academic Facebook poll of my friends revealed that I was not the only one suffering from this fourth-year malaise. It’s apparently a relatively common ailment, with the most common symptoms being increased coffee consumption, decreased productivity and a sense of existential angst. 

I have always had a plan for the future.

To me, having a clearly defined plan is a source of security and a way of approximating control over my life. It’s having a polite and witty answer to give to relatives, employers and aging strangers at bus stops. If I have outcome goals and process goals, spreadsheets detailing every step, I will succeed in achieving success. I will make a difference, create positive change, use my talents to help others. I will be a productive citizen. I will achieve — but what and for what purpose? 

In my understanding, the purpose of a life is to love God, serve God and try to live the vocation He has planned for me. Whatever that is. In my darker moments, I wish God still worked with burning bushes. I may be preternaturally dense at times, but a pyrotechnic pine tree would be hard to miss.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t come with road signs or a checklist to systematically evaluate whether or not I’m planning right. And lately, when I ask Him what my plan should be, I haven’t been liking the answer. Which is: He has the plan — not me. I’m not going to get anywhere until I agree to let go and start to live, without a plan, right where I am. 

Surrender. I’m not good at it. But as much as I might want to fast-forward the next year-and-a-half, life doesn’t start after graduation. It starts “in utero” and afterwards I just have to keep on stumbling.

The best thing I can do is try to be here, now. Phone that friend who’s going through a rough time. Ask for the grace to do things right and for forgiveness for my inevitable mistakes. That may not solve the problem of what to do after graduation, but it could make things more interesting in the moment.

(Lawrie, 20, is a creative writing major at the University of Victoria.)

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