I am having to try extremely hard to embrace this particular truth on a dreary Sunday afternoon, when the reality of my recent decision to leave my job and life in Leeds is lurking in my mind.
Couple this with the added universal pressure of passing time. Time wasted pursuing unhelpful habits; time unallocated on precious weekend evenings; time unlimited by the vast expanse of the future. You can’t even escape the pressure of time when engaging in light-hearted leisure activities – such as shopping in the humour section of the card shop, when involuntarily faced with my particular new favourite design which reads: “the answer to avoiding a hangover? Being under 25”. While the contextual side note is that I have just had (no, not endured) my 25th birthday, it seems that this added cause of anxiety is an unavoidable reality – the nature of which is entirely inescapable. I would be lying if I claimed that this reality did not have its moments of consuming me whole.
I look back in envy at my study of the concept of time as a fresh-faced first year philosophy student; amused by the prospect of time being anything other than this linear rope – the beginning of which I was near enough not to panic or fret about – at least, not yet. But now, I have days where I genuinely cannot have a single positive or joyful experience without spiralling into a frenzy of ‘what if??’s and ‘what on earth am I going to do now???’s. Just yesterday, I was enjoying a perfectly uneventful lunch with my parents, only to be interrupted by the infectious giggling and cooing of a sparkly-eyed toddler. Instead of fully embracing my instigated role of ‘peeker’ in the game of ‘peek-a-boo’ that followed, I found myself falling head-first into that dreaded spiral of thought:
What if I remain perpetually single?
What if I can’t have my own biological children?
What if I don’t end up with the job/ house/ family unit which will allow me to adopt?’
What on earth will I do then?
BUT then, thankfully, somewhere along the way:
Calm down, you’re only 25. Yes, only.
Despite a multitude of influences shaping my ‘self’ assurance, a light bulb moment helps me to recall the one influence that really matters to me – and that voice belongs to God: (Proverbs 30:25) “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe”
This scripture at surface level may seem vague and therefore void of comfort or assurance. But I challenge you to consider that these exact lack of specifics may allow for a specific outcome which you cannot conjure up, let alone consider. When engulfed in a web of anxiety, these words are honey to me – they are nourishing, and I can feel them energising me with every taste of them. I reflect on previous moments of despair about time and how I am carving my use of it – and then am lead to remember the solution of this despair, the common factor of which is always that I could not have come up with the answer myself. And so, my faith in God’s plan for my future, is restored.
Don’t get me wrong; this is by no measure my default thinking pattern. As I implied earlier, we must consciously choose to listen to those influences which positively impact us – and shut out those influences which send us into a frenzy of fear and panic.
For me, God’s promises make much more sense – aloof as they are – to me than any subtle persuasion from a card, instagram post or television advert which suggests that I need to consider my current circumstance at 25 a shambles and great lack of accomplishments.
So, I eagerly ask you to consider: what primarily influences your self-assurance?