If I could write to the person that I was a year ago, I would tell him that life never gets any easier, but life does get better. I know I say this at the end of every quarter, but this past Fall was, by far, the most challenging quarter I have ever endured in the four (or so) years that I have been in college.
At the start of the quarter, I had just reached my one year mark of working my student assistant job at my university’s testing center. After that one year, I knew I needed a change. I had been doing the exact same thing everyday for over a year, and my patience for both my job and boss was dwindling. I needed a job that was more fulfilling, I needed a change in scenery, I needed to fill some void that I was suddenly feeling in my life.
I began searching for jobs outside of campus, and one particular job posting caught my eye – a Fulfillment Associate position with Hot Topic. I applied for that job prior to the start of the school year, not really thinking anything would happen with it, thus I cast my net further and wider, hoping something would catch. Lo and behold, Hot Topic caught, and I reeled it in. I was “interviewed” for the position, went through the extensive hiring process as well as training and orientation, and was sent on my merry way to my new occupation.
For those of you who don’t already know, I no longer work for Hot Topic for reasons that would take much more than one blog post to explain. Long story short, it was not the job that I was under the impression it would be, nor was the working environment a particularly healthy one for me to be in. Being in the environment that I was suddenly thrust into brought about a lot of negativity, and I found myself tripping back into the dark place that I had worked so hard to remove myself from over the past year. And thus, I quit (if you would like to hear my spiel detailing my decision to leave that job, I will gladly give it to you in person).
Through this entire ordeal with Hot Topic, I discovered several valuable things: The importance of removing yourself from a toxic situation, the amount of strength I never knew I had, and the fact that God will always come through for you. Always.
As I was going through all of this, excitement was brewing within Cru about the upcoming Fall Retreat that takes place every year. Everyone I encountered within Cru kept asking me if I would be in attendance at the retreat, to which I always gave a solemn “I don’t know,” being preoccupied with academic and career induced anxiety. This was responded to with some variation of “You should go,” “It’s so much fun,” and, my personal favorite, “It’s your last year at Cal Poly! You NEED to go!” Last year, I told myself that this school year, I would make a conscious effort to get more involved within Cru, including going to retreats. So I promised myself that if I wasn’t working for Hot Topic by the time Fall Retreat rolled around, I would go. Just as fate would have it, I left Hot Topic about two weeks before Fall Retreat, and keeping my word, I registered for the retreat.
I have always said that the best experiences are the ones that aren’t planned out, and happen purely by circumstance. Fall Retreat was one of those instances. I went into the retreat not really knowing what to expect, except that I would be spending my weekend up in the mountains with a handful of friends, and a ton more people I hardly knew. The person I was a year ago would withdraw into a fetal position in the corner of a room at the very idea of being separated from my comfort zone up in the mountains for a few days. I decided to jump headfirst into that abyss, and I can safely say that it was a life changing experience.
I became closer to those I was already friends with, started new relationships, all while becoming stronger in my faith and accelerating forward in my walk with God alongside my peers and brothers and sisters in Christ. Being away from all of the distractions of LA County, social media, technology, and being one with God’s creations helped me grow closer to Him, and in several instances, brought me to tears from being so overwhelmed with the amount of beauty and love that I was surrounded with. Suddenly, all of the things that I had been worried about – being jobless, having a deteriorating bank account, having to jump through a few more hoops before getting my degree – disappeared and didn’t seem as worth worrying about as much I had been.
As tough as life can get, pain is temporary, and everything will be okay.
If there is one thing that I took away from this past quarter, it’s that with every stressful situation comes strength. I’ve uncovered so much bravery, courage, and confidence over the past ten weeks, all of which I’ve gained from calling out to God in my darkest hour. While He does not always respond directly or right away, God always comes through in one form or another. The words “You’re not alone” are being whispered into my thoughts on a daily basis, and it is with that mindset, along with my faith in God and all He has done in my life, that I have found strength in the most hopeless of circumstances. I know from here on out, things won’t get any easier, but I’ve learned to find solace in the fact that things do get better, and all of the uncertainty is what keeps life exciting.
As of right now, I’m enjoying my break from the stress of school, and I’m proud of having overcome one of the most challenging and arduous periods of my life. I may not be ready to take on the challenges that lie ahead just yet, but I know that when the time comes, I will power through it, and pick up bits and pieces of bravery, courage, and confidence along the way.