Graduation stages and life stages.

In May 2006, I graduated from high school as a mere 17-year-old.

I was a planner then, too. Graduating stressed me out big time. I thought I had to have my whole life planned by the time the ink dried on my diploma.

Boy was I wrong.

Back then, I envisioned myself as a rich architect, living in the city far away from my small town.

Life happened while I was busy making other plans.

Six years later, I’m only an hour from my small town, and I love the proximity to family and farm life. I’ve got a husband and a baby. I was married at age 20. I have a degree and a professional career. We own a home. We pay our bills. We’re grownups.

Yes, grownups. Sometimes I’m amazed at how much has changed, how much life has bloomed and dreams have shifted, in those six short years since crossing the stage.

And while I’m in the thick of the next stage, the one where business suits meet spit-up and weekends mean catching up on life, not much has changed. I’m still determined to do it all. I stress myself out sometimes. I worry too much. I dream of the future, so much, in fact, that I sometimes forget to enjoy the present.

I took our class graduation quote to heart: “In a world where you can be anything, be yourself.”

I’m still my same old planning, dreaming, doing-it-all self.

If I could time travel back six years and whisper some advice into my 17-year-old ear, it would go something like this:

Relax. Breathe. Enjoy. Take life one step at a time. Follow His plans, not yours. Worry does nothing. Prayer does everything. And remember that everything’s not going to be okay; it’s going to be wonderful.

(Yes, I totally stole that last line from Grey’s.)

The learning doesn’t end after graduation. This is advice that I could use now, and again, and again, and again.

Spotless homes, empty laundry baskets, checked-off to-do lists. These things can wait.

Babes grow. Quickly.

Whatever stage you’re at, enjoy. Because life moves fast.

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