”How

I am a 26 year-old college graduate who moved back in with her parents because I spent so long struggling to stay afloat financially that I lost my sense of direction and purpose. That’s right, you heard it here first kids. I am a millennial loser that couldn’t make ends meet, gave up all her hopes and dreams and reverted back to her childhood. After 8 years of living on my own (4 in college, 4 post) I thought by moving back home my life was going to be over. As it turns out, the decision I made to move home is teaching me more about myself than I could have ever imagined.

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If you’ve felt and/or are feeling any of the following, this blog post might be applicable to you:

  • Stuck in a run
  • Not sure what you’re doing with your life or what’s next
  • Scared to make a move for fear of failing
  • Completely insecure in yourself and/or your abilities
  • Apathetic
  • Afraid to let go

I was feeling all of the above about 6 months ago. The phase of experiencing real life for the first time post- college had passed and now I was entering this new phase. A weird, ambiguous one where I still didn’t feel like an adult yet, but I wasn’t the wide-eyed innocent just-out of-college kid either. I was working part-time to make ends meet and the only solace I had at the end of the day was to hang out with my friends and try to forget that I was feeling stuck in my life. Every time I would get a shred of motivation I shot it down immediately when I tried to put it into practice because it was “too hard” and “I didn’t feel like it”. Which was really code for “I’m scared” and “I don’t really want to make this work because what if I try and I’m not good enough”. I wanted so badly to escape and ignore the vulnerability of change and failure that I focused all my energy into other people’s successes. I had begun to place my self-worth in how much other people valued me rather than in now much God valued me or I valued myself. I had plenty of dreams, but I wasn’t truly striving toward any of them. I was apartment-less, direction-less and restless and I felt completely lost. With student loan debt I was in a precarious financial situation and a change needed to be made. As much as I emotionally wanted to suck it up and make it just like everyone else seems to be able to, financially it just wasn’t going to work for much longer.

It was then that God reminded me of that ever-looming option: You can always move home.

Those dreaded 5 words that my parents have been saying to me ever since I moved out crept up and made a dwelling place in the pit of my stomach. Don’t get me wrong, I am lucky enough to be raised in a loving, supportive family and I try my best to not take that for granted for a moment. But, for some reason the option to move home was not a pleasant idea for me.

In case you’re not familiar with the negative feelings associated with moving home, here are a few of them:

  • You are giving up
  • You’re a pathetic loser
  • You’ll never get where you want to be if you move home
  • You’ll lose all the progress you’ve made
  • You’ll lose your friends
  • You’ll be making the wrong choice

The Wrong Choice

Other than sounding like the title to an obnoxiously quirky rom-com, making the “wrong choice” was a giant looming fear of mine when faced with this decision.

I can’t tell you how many nights I stayed up thinking: “what if this is the wrong choice’? “What if by making this choice, I will head down a path that I never should have walked toward and lose all the progress I’ve made? What if I‘m not strong enough to make this change?”

In my prayers, I would say, “God, please just don’t let me make the wrong choice. Please tell me what the right choice is, and I will make it.”

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So there I was living in this vortex of fear, doubt and insecurity. I felt guilty for being lazy and indecisive, but so scared to fail that I didn’t make any decisions at all. I was worried about what others might think of me and I was angry at God for not telling me exactly what to do. I figured that in times of crisis He would show me the way to go, but instead God was silent and it frustrated me to no end.

Finally, I made a decision. I was unsure and kicking and screaming the whole way. However, looking back, there were some steps I took along the way that I now realize were very helpful in me making this decision.

DISCLAIMER: I am in no way an expert on this or any sort of decision-making. I have no certificate or degree or whatever you need to give solid advice. Everybody has different experiences and circumstances and I am in no way stating that your journey should look the same as mine. These are just some steps I took that were extremely helpful for me at a very vulnerable time in my life. My hope is that through sharing them maybe someone can relate! Or, at the very least, find some peace in knowing that they’re not alone.

So, here we go! Steps that might help you make sense of a difficult decision:

1. Be honest with yourself

There comes a point when you really need to be honest with yourself as to why you’re resisting a move or a change. In the place you are in right now, are you truly content or moving toward something productive and healthy? And if you don’t know what you want, are you actually doing things to discover what it is that you do want? Really be honest. It’s just you and God here, nobody else can hear. The important step is to allow yourself to honestly assess where you are at in your own private space and not be afraid of what the answer is.

If the answer is: “I’m not pursuing anything here no matter how much I say I am because it’s too hard”, or “I’m afraid to make a mistake and motivate myself to try” or even “I still have hopes and dreams but frankly I don’t even know if I can hack it enough to want this anymore, at least not in the way that I thought I did”, then good. Those were a few of my answers. You can work with that.

When you truly are honest with yourself and know where you’re at you can really discover what you need. I’ve found that more you lie to yourself about how you’re feeling, the more indecisive you’ll be.

2. Decide who you want to be

This statement sounds pretty bold and committal, but I promise it’s simpler than it sounds. Stick with me.

I truly believe that God is at the center of my life and I have told others that on many occasions. I believe that because I have Jesus in my life, I am never truly alone and that He will always be there for me, whether times are easy, hard or anywhere in-between. I believe in his sovereign grace over everything and his forgiveness and mercy when I inevitably fall short. That is the grace I rely on each moment of every day. Yet, when faced with this decision, I kid you not I was legitimately so frozen with fear that I refused to make a decision or trust in Him.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” –Isaiah 41:10

It comes down to this: are you who you say you are? Do you practice what you preach? Do you follow through?

For me personally, it was this: This faith that I say I believe, am I behaving as though I believe it? Beyond just talking about it, do I believe that God is literally holding me up with his right hand and that He loves me enough to protect and guide me through times when I don’t know what’s next?

If the answer is yes, then I want to live that way. I want my family and friends and maybe even potential children one day to know that I’m the type of person who is who I say I am. Bold and future-y I know, but it helps to give a bit of perspective, huh?

I want to feel the depths of God’s love and promises to the fullest and I can only do that by trusting Him and leaning on statements like the verse above. If God is who He says He is, He will be my courage. He will be my helper, no matter how scared I am.

And for those of you who might not share my faith, that’s ok, this principle can still apply to you! Do you want to be the type of person that has the courage to try new things or the person that stays put? Do you want your children or maybe even grandchildren one day to know you as the person who openly embraced life and all it has to offer? I don’t know you, but if I had to take a guess I would say that nothing good in your life has ever come from you staying put. Think back to each really good thing that’s happened to you. Did it start by you taking a risk?

3. Give yourself an ultimatum

Making decisions like this is hard so if you don’t set a physical date/time to make a choice, you won’t. At least that’s how I roll. This might require a bit of logistical effort on your part. Sorry, I hate it too. But I promise it’s painless. Set a realistic time frame to have the decision made. Otherwise you’ll flip flop more than Steve Harvey at the Miss Universe pageant. Sorry, I had to say it.

4. Tell someone

Emily4This was probably one of the most difficult steps for me to take, but was so essential for me. Once you have made this decision in your mind and heart, tell someone that you trust, that you have made it. This can be a family member, friend, mentor, etc. Ask them to help keep you accountable to this decision and with following through with your deadline. This could be a decision to move, or it could be a decision to stay put, but to stay put with more drive, focus and intentionality. If they love you they will ask a lot of questions, support your decision and continue to check up on you to see how things are going. Be prepared for this once you share this step. It’s going to make it harder for you to not be productive or back down. Which is why this step is essential. I was so extremely lucky to have family and friends who sat with me through every selfish, annoying and hard moment I had through this process and they each checked up on me several times throughout to see how things were going. That can’t have been easy or pleasant for them and it truly shows that they care about me. I will always be grateful to them for that.

5. Act

Now that the decision is made and you’ve told some people you have to act as though it’s happening. It sounds like such an obvious thing, but this is harder than it looks. It’s way easier to talk about making a decision than to actually DO it. Take physical, legitimate steps to make it happen. Having the goal helps tremendously because you have something to point to. With me, it was packing my things, setting a date to move out, telling my family when I’d be home and making travel plans. Remember, this decision, whatever it may be, is nothing without action.

Now here’s something that will blow your mind. At least it blew my mind at the time:

There is no such thing as the Wrong Choice: That’s right. It doesn’t exist.

God works for the good of those who love him. No matter what choice you make, if you trust in Him and talk to Him, God will be there right by your side. This does not mean that life will go on free of mistakes or challenges, but it does mean that the “right choice” is not in our hands.

You can imagine how frustrated I was when God did not bring me deep peace or tell me exactly which choice was the “right one” prior to me making any decisions. But had God told me exactly which choice to make then it wouldn’t have been any sort of choice at all. It would have required no courage or faith and, therefore, wouldn’t have taught me anything about myself.

It turns out that you have to have the faith to pick a path and walk first, and then God can come in with that peace you’ve been looking for.

Consider that no change is un-erasable or path un-shift-able. If you make a decision you don’t particularly feel great about; assess, pick yourself up and move to the next thing. If this happens, you will move on with a greater sense of faith and knowledge. This is not an epic adventure movie. Your entire future does not hang in the balance of this one decision. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself.

Keep in mind that if it is always up to us to make the “right choice” we would have entirely screwed things up by now. At least I would have.

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Emily and her awesome familyWhen I finally got home I was exhausted from the emotional turmoil and uncertainty I had put myself through. Also, the cold I had caught on the road trip. But what I began to experience over time was a release and a sense of deep peace. Because I had pushed through to make a choice I gained a lot of perspective on my life once all was said and done. I was able to look back, breathe and assess without being in the middle of my insecurity and fear. Sure, things about it are still incredibly difficult at times. I still miss my friends, church and acting company very much and my lifestyle has changed dramatically which is a huge adjustment. I am lonely a lot of times and am trying to discover embracing the time I have to myself. However, I can look at all of these difficult things and can take them as they come without being overwhelmed. I’m discovering that although it is hard the friends that really love you will stick with you no matter where you are and at the end of the day only you are responsible for your choices and path. As I continue to figure out what my day to day here looks like I can honestly say that despite these difficulties I have felt things that I haven’t experienced in a long time. Through this continuing journey God has been revealing aspects of my character that I had forgotten I had.

Here are some of the positive emotions I have felt since moving home:

  • Strength
  • Confidence
  • Empowerment
  • Freedom
  • Rest
  • Peace
  • Solitude
  • Excitement about the future
  • Discipline
  • Self-Awareness
  • Gratitude
  • Wisdom
  • Perspective

I could never have imagined feeling some of these things just a few months ago. By taking a step of faith and trusting God to catch me when I fall He has rewarded me with His love and has shown me how to have confidence in myself without the comfort I thought I needed. To put it into a broader perspective,

God has reminded me that at the end of the day, He is all I need and He will carry me all the days of my life no matter weak or strong I feel. His love is my rock and he has shown me that in the most beautiful way.

While I still feel lonely and clueless about next steps and am no way an expert on any of this, I feel a deep sense of peace that He is with me through this transition and through each and every transition to come. For any of you that are considering taking a leap of faith…I get it. But you can do this. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and take it step by step. I promise you, it’s worth it.

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Emily ArmstrongEmily Armstrong is a 26 year-old musical theater nerd who lives at home in Colorado with her parents. She is currently working a day job in attempt to be a financially responsible adult and is one step closer each day to finding an apartment. She owes any sort of accomplishments she has made or or will make to the grace of God and her family and friends’ undying support.