Gabrielle Ruffeno is a powerful influencer. From my first encounter with Gabrielle, I was completely intrigued by her poise demeanor. Gabrielle graduated from Texas Tech University and is now traveling for Chi Omega, doing the same job as myself. A couple weeks ago on a group call with the other National Leadership Consultants, Gabrielle shared a bit of her heart. As she did, she mentioned the idea of growing pains. Instantly, I texted her to tell her to write this story down because I want her to share it. Let this story change your perspective and softly whisper sweet comfort to your distress, regardless of your season.
After recently graduating from college and thinking about what the next chapter of life is “supposed” to look like, I’ve found this season to be the least measurable. School has always been quantified in years, classifications of freshman, sophomore, junior and senior, degrees and graduating with (or without) a job. A traditional high school experience takes place in four years. Undergrad is completed in four…maybe five years. And then what? Some continue on with their education, some start a career, some get married, some travel all around the world, and others are content with letting life play out and enjoying the freedom of playing along.
I personally set out to find a job. I was guilty of succumbing to the pressure of finding security through all the things that grown ups have--employment, a salary and benefits, dental care, vision care, all the healthcares. When people asked, “What are your plans after graduation?” I craved to confidently share with them that I had a great career ahead and was starting out my young adult life as a fun, single, twenty-something taking advantage of all life has to offer. And guess what? I did find a job! I was overwhelmed with pride that I was able to tell people what I was doing and I immediately found comfort in knowing I had a plan. I began to imagine my life in the role as a National Leadership Consultant for Chi Omega Headquarters and saw job security as a cure for the insecurity in what I was doing with my life. And then the growing pains hit.
The security I once had in telling friends and family I had a job and a plan and a new, fun-filled life after college began to waver. I struggled to find the words to explain what I do in a way other people understood. Additionally, I would sit at my desk to begin my workday and couldn’t even remember what it was that I was supposed to be doing. The plan I created and dreamed up was no longer my reality and once again I needed a new cure for the insecurity I had in what I was doing with my life.
My ailment was growing pains and the discomfort I felt in new learning curves. I tried to self diagnose by looking to other people my age who had recently graduated and what their new life looked like. I even began to compare what I was doing in my role as a National Leadership Consultant to other NLCs, despite each one of us coming from a wide range of colleges and experiences, regions of the U.S., and traveling to different campuses for work. I was testing out different prescriptions to ease the growing pains and while I found temporary relief, I couldn’t find a cure.
I was becoming more and more restless with this discomfort and then I had the realization that my growing pains might be the cure for my insecurity. While I had been looking forward to the next phase of my life and creating a new normal, I was also out of shape with change. Just as sore muscles from a really good workout are proof of your body becoming stronger; I began to see that my growing pains were in fact making me more resilient and formidable. Each new lesson, mistake, and opportunity has strengthened me and I continue to find comfort in learning those measures of success. Although the growing pains are never fully cured, I know that the prescription that’s developed through my own self-love, the amazing women in my job and friends who support me, and pure patience are a sure way to ease the growing pains of insecurity in newness.
Photo by Katherine Mendieta