A big part of being sustainable is doing what you can with what you have, finding contentment with where you’re at, and not going out and pulling together new items and resources. And, you know what, sometimes that’s hard. Sometimes making do feels like a drag. Sometimes it hits you before you’ve accepted it. Yes, in sustainability you make do by reusing old materials instead of picking up nice new ones, or you go without once you’ve realized something just isn’t a necessity even though it brought enjoyment. But, there are so many other times in life where we have to make do with what life has handed us. It can leave you sad, frustrated, lonely, and wanting. This season exposes those emotions in a BIG way.
I often find I’m happier to make do in my sustainability than in the rest of my life. I’d rather let go of making purchases once they become unnecessary or begin making certain things from scratch once that becomes an option then admit that I have to put off a dream or set a goal aside when resources and opportunities become scant.
I graduated college in May 2020, possibly the worst time to graduate college in years. Through zero fault of my own, of my college, or of my community, I spent my final semester in quarantine. I never got to say goodbye to my advisor or favorite professors who taught me so much, spend final nights with my roommate and best friend (and her cat), or attend the graduation I had worked so hard to get to. There was no closure, and I still feel quite lost.
Before this all happened, I was considered pretty hirable. I have worked a number of different jobs both in and out of my field of study, and had shown loyalty and growth at many of these jobs. I never thought it’d be that big of an issue for me to find a decent, or even good, job in my field. But quarantine turned that on its head. Now, I’ve sent out dozens of job applications and have heard absolutely nothing back. It’s crushing. This is a time where I now have to make do with what life has handed me, and I haven’t been very quick to embrace that.
In this season my anxiety has gone up, and my patience has plummeted. But, I’m learning. I’m learning to set goals involving things I used to put on the back burner, to embrace the lessons I can learn outside of a classroom or an office, and to accept stillness and quiet as part of my daily living.
I’d like to share some of the lessons I’ve learned from blessings in disguise these last few months. Hopefully you’ll begin to see them in your life too.
The blessing of TIME, even when you didn’t want it.
If you’re an active, on-the-go-constantly person like me, sitting at home that entire first week probably felt like you were beginning to decay.
So much content was being posted online about how this was the perfect time to write your first novel or invent a life changing device no one has ever seen before. While, simultaneously, content about how no one should feel pressured to do anything with their time was also being posted. You chose. You can either be lazy or singlehandedly change the world.
I’d like to argue, this blessing of time has given us the opportunity not just to fall in to being active or inactive, but to reevaluate our lives before continuing to move forward.
For me (as you can probably tell by the fact that I started this blog in the middle of all the craziness), in my reevaluation I realized one way I wanted to be more active was in encouraging others to take better care of the planet we share. I had been studying sustainability and making my own DIY recipes for eco-friendly products for a while, but I’d never really shared any of that with anyone. All this time, and the lack of a job, freed me up to be able to begin reaching out and trying my hand at teaching others about sustainable practices.
The blessing of SPACE, even when things feel empty.
By space, I mean both physical and mental space. We’re socially distanced from others when we’re out or clammed up while we’re at home, but so many of us are also facing this wall of more empty time than ever.
Personally, I haven’t seen any of my friends in person (even socially distanced) in about 5 months. It’s rough, but I’m so thankful for technology that’s gotten us through it. It’s not the same as seeing their faces in person, but I’ll take it.
On the other hand, all this quiet distance I’ve had from people, places, and things, has allowed me to approach life in new ways. I took on new goals I never thought I’d be able to accomplish with my busy life, and created space for new hobbies to emerge.
Before any of this happened I had just accepted that I would never have time to read the Bible or actually start my own garden. But by allowing this season to create so much mental space, I realized these were all possible right now in this time. Once I finished my final undergrad semester, I dug right in. I set these new goals and decided I didn’t need someone else (i.e. a job or school) to dictate how I filled my days or my living quarters. And now, when I finally do find that job I’m longing for, I’ll be able to carry this lesson with me and realize there is so much more life to live outside of the goals others set before me.
You can use this lesson as well, and hopefully give yourself space to start a garden or learn something new about taking care of yourself and our planet that you can carry with you all the days of your life.
The blessing of RESOURCES, even when they’re limited.
During this so many of us have limited our time in grocery stores, have primarily shopped online, and have learned to do what we like with less. Sometimes this might feel inconvenient. You might find that you really want a certain new product online, but shipping isn’t something you can afford. Or, you really want to make your favorite recipe, but you’re not going out to the grocery store for another week.
However, there is another way to look at these inconveniences. Rather than seeing the specific things that can’t be done in the moment, look at the possibilities the resources you have in front of you can offer.
I’ve run into this a lot while cooking these last few months. As I try and limit the frequency with which I visit the grocery store (or go out in public in general), I’ve run out of ingredients significantly before I intent to return and get more. At first I was bummed out by not being able to use exactly what each recipe called for, but I found a blessing here. I found the blessing of experimentation. I am NOT a chef (just ask my sister, she’s the chef in the family), but, without being able to follow exactly every recipe I had to a ‘T’, I’ve gotten pretty good at tossing ingredients in that I think might work and coming up with something new and awesome.
This same principle applies to sustainability. In so many ways making less frequent grocery trips (or purchases in general) has helped me cut down on the amount of gas I use driving my car, cut down on my personal purchase rate of items that might not be sustainably sourced or packaged, and helped me to learn and see just how many other areas of my life I could use what I already had first.
It also made me deeply appreciate the items I do have that are reusable. Never have to worry about running out of those, thank goodness.
So much of being sustainable is making do, and I’ve realized, so is so much of living life. We have a choice to make: is making do going to weigh us down, or show us how to live life with a little (or a lot) more peace is our hearts?
I know as well that there are still so many people who have been able to keep their jobs or find new ones (congrats! and thank you for keeping on keeping on!), people who are at home with family they might not wish to be with, and people who don’t quite have enough to make do in an enlivening way. Whatever you’ve got going on in this season, I know you’re doing your best. It’s all anyone could ask, even of themselves. I’m rooting for you, and hope no matter where you’re at you find yourself a blessing to hold on to.
Let me know: What blessings are you finding in this season? Have you learned anything you’ll carry with you?