Life after graduation: 40 hours, generosity, and asking the question, “who will you be?”

I LOVE working 40-hour weeks.

I think it has something to do with how broken-up and random a collegiate schedule is—go to class, have a break, go to another, do a paper, go to work for three to four hours, work on homework, sleep, wake up, lather, rinse, repeat. I always loathed my college schedule. It left me far too much time to stay on campus and not enough time to go home. I felt unsettled every day, and my personality is such that I hate being unsettled. If I have to stay the night in Berea because I’ll be there for 20 hours at a time, my heart rate jumps because I’m so scared I’ll forget something important, and I just don’t feel at home. (Not that Berea isn’t home, but if I’m too far away from where I live, I get nervous and antsy. That’s why I don’t like big cities.)

But with a 40-hour per week schedule, things are so much more smooth. I know exactly where I’ll be from 7-5 on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. I know that on Thursday, I get to be off and do whatever I want to do (today I’m having coffee, doing yard work, working out, and who knows what.) But I just mentally appreciate the structure and I love being able to know what’s coming.

And the money—let’s be real here. It’s awful nice to go from making just over a hundred dollars a week and dreading the non-pay week to making probably twice that (I haven’t actually gotten a check for my 40-hour weeks yet.) But that’s compounded by the fact that I’m gone for so long on the days I work that I hardly have time to spend the money I earn!

Something I’ve noticed about myself since I graduated is that I find myself wanting to be more and more generous. If I’m meeting a friend for coffee, I want to buy his drink. If a friend cooks me dinner, I want to give them something to reimburse. I find myself wanting to come through for others, but not just because I’m trying to be a hero or anything of the sort, but I think it’s because I realize how many people came through for me while I was in school—fed me, let me stay at their house, let me spend time with them, bought me stuff, etc. and I want desperately to reciprocate, if only to show that I don’t take it for granted.

I also notice in this a pattern in God’s economy—reciprocation doesn’t happen in a top-down-back-up fashion. You don’t repay the person who helped you, but you repay by helping someone else who needs your help. I’ve been fortunate to have people who graduated 4-8 years before I did model how to help someone (myself) through college, and now I want to help other college students, and I don’t feel obligated (in a sense) to help those who helped me. Hopefully that makes sense, but perhaps to make a more concise statement, I’ll say this: the people who helped me through school don’t need my help. But there are others who do need my help, and in helping them, I’m repaying those who helped me by emulating their character and showing that I’ve learned from their example.

I also am learning the value of a weekend and/or a proper break from work. I used to be unable to fathom why people didn’t want to make plans on a Saturday, but only wanted to relax. That was because I spent hours on end every week by myself and I desperately wanted to get out, but my friends who worked a full week were exhausted from the mental strain of work, being around people, having less free time during the week, etc. It all makes sense now! Saturday (and now Thursday) is a haven, a safe place, a sanctuary. I understand now (at least to a degree) the sacrifice involved in getting your children into a soccer league and giving up your Saturday mornings to watch them play, or helping with a church event on Saturdays, etc. Weekends are precious!

Finally, I am learning that this isn’t necessarily a “transition.” What I mean by that is this: at least in my case, there is no “next thing.” I’ll be at this job at least through the summer, and probably longer. This is where I am, and as a consequence, this is where I have to be. I can’t spend any time wishing something else would come along. If I want something else, I have to look for it. But mostly, and outside of a job situation, this is where I decide what habits I’ll practice, how I’ll prioritize, etc. When I graduated from college, all my excuses vanished. Most things now are a choice. I make a choice as to whether or not I’ll sacrifice an evening to see a friend, or spend it at home alone. I make a choice to sleep and take care of my body as opposed to going out and staying up late engaging in meaningless nonsense. I make a choice as to who gets my time, what I do with my money (besides pay my bills,) what hobbies I engage in, seeking the Lord and hearing Him, etc. Outside of my 7-5 on days I work, my time is mine to decide what to do with, and that’s a huge responsibility. But maturity happens now, not later. It’s up to me.



Aside: I couldn’t figure out how to fit this into the lessons I’m learning at the moment, but I wanted to give an update on what’s happening at work. I’m the longest-tenured non-Purdy at Purdy’s, and I’m able to do more behind-the-scenes stuff than I could when I was in school (mostly just stuff like checking inventory and making sure we know what to order, but somehow that feels like a lot.) One of my bosses is pregnant and we’ll meet my ‘pseudo-niece’ in early July. I’ll be working my tail off during that time at the shop with my other boss and co-workers. It’s a great season that I’m really looking forward to.

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