For sixteen years of my life, I had been a student. When it was (finally) time for graduation, I threw my mortar board into the air with glee - it was freedom at last, no more assignments, presentations, late night studying and stressful examinations. I couldn’t be more thrilled to leave all that behind and start “living in the real world”, working.
Yet, I couldn't be more bewildered at the same time. There were now so many unknowns - would I do well in my first job, would I earn enough money to support myself and my parents, where would I be in five years time... The mostly predictable world of studying had given way to a murky unknown - young working adulthood.
This may all sound a tad melodramatic, but if you are a young adult transiting into the workforce, you can identify with me. As I fumbled around in this new reality, I learnt some key lessons which helped me navigate this transition, and my hope is that they will help you too.
Your identity is in the Lord
I remember feeling rather lost, knowing I am no longer a student (with no more student discounts), yet not fully understanding what being a working adult entailed. Questions like, "What am I supposed to do now?" and "What does the future hold?" crossed my mind. I know people go through mid-life crises, but surely there is such a thing as a "newbie young adult" crisis too!
Indeed, entering into a new phase of life can be unsettling, and it helped to remember that my ultimate identity is in Christ. The circumstances in which we find ourselves may change but who we are in Him never changes - we were created in His image (Genesis 1:27), are children of God (1 John 3:1-2) and are set apart for good works (2 Timothy 2:21). Especially when our peers seem to be getting the "dream job" along with a remuneration package to boast of and we start to wonder if we are "good enough", we ought to remind ourselves that surely He has a wonderful plan for me and my future is safe in His hands.
Seek the Lord
When people ask how I knew I was meant to work here in my current workplace, I tell them I didn't. All I knew was that I wanted to do some kind of family-related non-profit work and impact lives. I prayed (often) for His guidance, did my research and applied for the job I thought might suit my interests and capabilities. Now as I look back, I knew God was the One working behind the scenes to direct my path and making the pieces fall in place.
We may not always be a hundred percent sure of our decisions, and may experience times of doubt especially when facing difficulties. Even with the most sincere prayers and earnest desire to follow God's leading, we may find that the job we are at is not the best fit after all. This does not necessarily mean that you made a mistake (and neither did God). When we do our due diligence to seek His guidance, we can be assured that He will lead. Most of all, He has a reason and purpose for wherever He brings us to, even if it was short-lived.
Trust in the Lord
Other than grappling with the many unknowns of the future, there were many times I felt inadequate as a new worker learning the ropes. I have lost track of the number of times I narrated 2 Corinthians 12:9 to myself - "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." It dawned on me that all my perceived weaknesses and uncertainty about the future left me with no choice but to rely on God for help, and that is precisely what He desires. I was learning to let go of my need to know what lies ahead and simply trust in Him.
I have been in the workforce for 5 years now, not quite a newbie but far from a veteran. Though the rather unsettling days of transition are over, I am still learning what it means to rely on Him daily as a working adult. There's a popular hymn that goes, "Many things about tomorrow, I don't seem to understand. But I know who holds tomorrow and I know who holds my hand." And I know He holds your hand too.
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