One month ago, I graduated from Ohio State with my Master’s degree with my dream job at the NCAA lined up to start only a few weeks later. I thought the transition into my next role would be easy. Not only had I been counting down over 276 days to prepare for a moment that I knew would be life-changing, I had done this before when I graduated from the University of South Carolina. To further boost my self-confidence, I knew I had learned so many lessons over the last two years, both in and out of the classroom, that helped me become a more intelligent, wiser, and holistically healthier human being.
One day later, I realized I was totally wrong.
After all of the celebratory tequila shots and IG shout out’s, I sat in my room in silence. The transition out of graduate school has been VERY different. As of May 6th, 2018, my identity as a college student, one that had been salient to me and my college student discounts since August 2011, was gone. No more homework. No more papers. No more tests.
Don’t get me wrong. I am extremely happy that I don’t have to proactively procrastinate to make 11:59pm deadlines for at least the foreseeable future. However, I did not expect the overwhelming amount of sadness, uncertainty, and worry to present in the transition process.
These are emotions I had been internally struggling with over the last few weeks, unable to pinpoint exactly why I did not have the crystal-clear vision I had in previous years. It was easy to see God’s plan when I knew I was working towards something tangible like a college degree. But now that I had graduated, I felt like I had lost myself in the academic grind and couldn’t delineate what God’s plan was for my life anymore.
Then I made an impromptu decision to fly to California for Memorial Day weekend.
While running around the City of Angels, it finally made sense. For roughly the last decade, I had been so focused on fulfilling my personal agenda that I failed to acknowledge, embrace, and honor the assignments God’s plan has for my life. Throughout college, I have developed as a scholar, mentor, and servant leader, but had I really evolved to become the best version of Timothy in the process?
A life-changing revelation because it changed how I will choose to live my life moving forward. This breakthrough also reminded me of three important messages that I want to share with those who may be experiencing similar emotions:
- Take inventory: I’ve met a lot of people over the years from traveling, attending conferences, and networking. Each one of these persons served an integral role in my development to where I am today. Moving forward, everybody is not going to make it to my next season and that is okay! They served their purpose and I can’t grow with old habits or people who aren’t committed to evolving with me. Identify persons with whom you share a mutual exchange of positive energy and leave the rest in the past. Everyone will not be on your dream team.
- Unapologetically, prioritize self-care: At one point or another, we’ve all been told to practice self-care in our lives, but have you sat down and thought about what self-care means to you? We are going to interact with stressors in every life phase and it is important that we do not eliminate these practices during periods of perceived chaos. To me, self-care is protecting my joy and peace through healthy habits to ensure my mind, body, and spirit are on one accord. I recently started “Tim’s 10%,” a practice to devote 2.5 hours each day to my own development (working out, reading, writing, etc.) Define what self-care means to you and do what it takes to see and feel growth within yourself first.
- Live YOUR best life: In 2018, everyone seems to be living their best self – at least that’s the perception on social media. During an era when social media drives a lot of our relationship building with others, it is time to be more social with ourselves. DO YOU! Two-word command that gives you the agency to DO whatever makes YOU feel happy. Regardless of age, everyone is at different stages on their purpose journey and it’s a disservice to compare ourselves to one another. Do what rings to true to you and run your own race. I promise your lane is better than everyone else’s.
For twenty years, I had been a student who has taken pride in his academic achievement. In this journey, I realized I had over-identified with my student identity and the troubles it has presented in the process. The transition out of graduate school, surprisingly, threw me into the fire and yet I am writing this post not smelling like smoke. I am thrilled to begin my new role as an NCAA Postgraduate Intern at the NCAA National Office! Over the next year and beyond, I will choose to take inventory of those around me, unapologetically prioritize self-care, and to live Tim’s best life.
The best version of me gets better every single day, because my purpose can’t fail when I follow God’s plan.
I hope y’all will join me and meet me at the top!
Encourage somebody to be great today!