In my semester of learning, I’m unlearning a lot. I keep realizing I don’t know many things at all.
When they said college would go fast, I didn’t believe them. But tomorrow I have my final exam, and then my first semester is over.
Because this is the way my mind works, I keep thinking: did I learn enough? did I pay attention? am I going to be ready to launch into the world when classes are over in a year and a half?
The truth is, I don’t know. This seems to be my answer more than anything these days. Who has concrete answers, anyway? Certainly not me.
“What are you going to do after school?”
I smile. “I don’t know.”
Or, “What do you hope to accomplish with your choice of major?”
I smile. “I don’t know.”
And, “What’s the endgame, Aliza? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?”
I smile. “I really, really don’t know.”
That’s the truth, and I’m beginning to settle into that now. I don’t know much. Four years ago I had a detailed plan of what 22 was supposed to look like, mostly beginning and ending with a published book. But life looks different than what I thought it would, and that’s not unsatisfying. I’m in the midst of good, stretching, lovely things. And most of them I have no clue about.
So I focus on the facts I do know: my nephew Noah turning one soon, the Christmas lights keeping me warm, reading books on love and spiritual discipline, painting on ornaments and bread boards, and remembering that Jesus is coming soon.
It’s around this time of the year — just a handful of days before Christmas — when I normally begin to feel as though I’ve missed him. I begin to feel guilty and ashamed, thinking that I should have done more, or proven my love to Jesus somehow more tangibly.
I never thought being still could usher him in. I thought I had to prove it.
But this year, I can feel my insides shifting and changing, and that scares me and excites me simultaneously. There is no guilt or shame within me this year. No thing I have to prove. I’ve been reading a lot about Jesus, and listening to podcasts that have begun to change the way I view both him and me. Someday I’ll share more with you, after I figure out how to articulate the feelings swirling within me.
But for now, I’ll say this: I don’t know a lot. I don’t know about my life, or about college, or about writing, or art. But I know that I have people in my world who love me, and who I love in return. And I know I am getting to know Jesus in ways I haven’t fathomed before.
He’s coming soon, that empty manger waiting for his entrance. I look at Noah and think, “This was Jesus at one point. An almost one year old with bright eyes and a soul I feel as though I can see through.” Soon we’ll celebrate that Jesus is born, one of the most fantastical and revolutionary stories we’ll ever hear.
But he is here, too. Beside me. Within me. Around me. Tomorrow in my exam, and on Christmas day, and on Noah’s birthday, and when next semester starts, and all the days after that — even when I keep thinking I don’t know.
He is here.
I sit still and breathe quietly for seven minutes.
He is here. I am more fully at peace than I can last remember.
In all of my uncertainty, this is what I know for sure.