My parents helped me move into Biola my freshman year. I was an Alpha West girl ready to rock this Biola world, and I did what I could to walk my way through Welcome Week like the cool, independent boss lady I was trying — hoping — to be. Looking back at those first few days, one particular moment stands out and it’s the inspiration for this post.
I was getting ready to experience what it was like to live on my own for the first time. My parents were in the car, preparing for their drive home, when my Dad rolled down the window, looked at me and said, “You have no idea how fast time flies. You’re going to blink and be a college graduate.”
I rolled my eyes (again, trying to be the “cool, independent boss lady”), and I said, “Dad, I just started.”
Unfortunately for me, he was right. I took a four-year long, friendship filled, faith growing, Mock Rock-weaved blink, and now I’m graduating. I want to say I’m ready for it, but I don’t feel ready. I am about to receive a university degree with no job prospects, and no idea what I want to do with my post-grad life.
Searching for the Ocean
I recently watched Pixar’s movie, “Soul,” for the second time. “Soul” is an animated film about a man, Joe Gardner, who after having a near-death experience, goes on an adventure to find his way back to his physical body. During this adventure, he contemplates his felt “purpose” to become a renowned jazz pianist, only to find that in the waiting, he has taken the rest of his life for granted.
Toward the end of the film, after Joe has successfully made it back into his physical body, musician Dorothea Williams tells Joe this tale:
“I heard this story about a fish, he swims up to this older fish and says, ‘I’m trying to find this thing they call the ocean.’ ‘The ocean?’ says the older fish. ‘That’s what you’re in right now.’ ‘This,’ says the young fish, ‘this is water. What I want is the ocean!’”
After watching “Soul,” I learned that as college students, we’re often the young fish in this tale. I have spent the past four years of college searching for the ocean — curating a resume and portfolio to prepare myself for a career. While I was doing that, I was also spending my time in what I thought was water — Nationball, late nights at Mock Rock practice, Cafsgiving and the organizations I was a part of. I also remember nights I spent editing my LinkedIn page instead of spending time with friends, and I remember searching for my next job months before my current job ended.
I’m not saying I should have abandoned every action I took in my pursuit of a career. That is a key part of one’s college experience. However, it would be a lie to say I didn’t waste a significant amount of time looking to the next “big thing” before my current classes, jobs and commitments had ended. In fact, I have already caught myself looking ahead to plans that I have made for five, ten, fifteen years down the line, and, again, I still don’t have a job for after graduation!
What are we really searching for?
To my fellow young fish: time is flying. It’ll fly whether you want it to or not. But it’s your choice whether you spend that time searching for the bigger and better job, house or financial situation, or if you’ll spend it finding fulfillment in the gifts the Lord has given you today. Let us seek out the joys in these last days of our undergraduate careers. Let us offer up our worries to the God who repeatedly reassures us that we should seek contentment where we are, even when we are living in the unknown.
Matthew 6:31-34 says:
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
We don’t have to have everything figured out, but let us live in light of the reality that we are already in the ocean. When new opportunities come along, they won’t be something we’ve been waiting for — they will simply be a shifting current in our already contented lives. So when people ask us what we will be doing post-graduation, we can take a tip from Joe Gardner’s final scene in “Soul” and say, “I don’t know. But I’ll be living every second of it.”
For additional resources for graduating students, visit the Career Center website for career guidance, resume help and more. The Career Center is available for all students and alumni!
Written by Sami Winslow (Cinema & Media Arts, ‘21), Peer Wellness Ambassador.