Sunday, October 13, 2013


"I just want to get out of here as soon as possible."

"Well, we'll have to see what we can do."

"I've been here for seven years--I don't know how much longer I can stand it." I was sitting in my advisor's office at school. He was munching on little red bell peppers and I was fighting back hysteria.

"Let's take a look at your transcript," he said.

For half an hour we chatted about classes and internships and grad school applications while he created a master schedule for me.

"So, it's a tall order but if you don't mind crazy work loads, it looks like you can be done in Spring 2015." [Sam (that's my advisor's name) does this thing where he kind of shrugs with his whole body--his shoulders come up, his arms flop over, his head tilts sideways, and his eyes get really wide, all at once. Usually when he's saying "so."] He full-body shrugged throughout this pronouncement.

"You know, I think I can handle a full schedule in the summer. Could that help? Could I do it by Fall 2014?"

"Well--"shrug"--It's possible, but I don't recommend it." Shrug. "Some people do it, but since it's a block schedule, it's a lot of work in a short space of time." Shrug.

I sighed. "I've been here for so long. I just want to move on with my life."

"I know. But if you think about it, figuring out what you want to do with your life is kind of a big deal. Your education is kind of a big deal. And in the grand scheme of things, seven, eight, nine years is not a lot of time when you're going to be working for the next forty, fifty years of your life. No two people are the same, and the educational process is different for everybody. I say it takes as long as it takes. If you finish in four years, great. If you finish in ten years, great; you've learned a lot. It takes as long as it takes, and you shouldn't worry about it."

It takes as long as it takes...

I thanked him, wrapped up the meeting, and wandered down the hall to a bank of unoccupied chairs. Normally, such a statement would have driven me crazy.
It takes as long as it takes?! Pah! I should be done by now! I should be long gone! I should be running wild through the Scottish lowlands, being all international and independent and free from the burden of the last ten years of my life! It takes as long as YOUR FACE!

But that day, those were the exact words I needed to hear.

It takes as long as it takes. I'll finish when I finish. I have my whole life ahead of me to worry about my life, about bills and jobs and seeing the world. I'm here now and that's that. This is my situation and I can live through it gracefully or I can squander my time feeling sorry for myself, pining after a future that isn't certain anyway. So, live gracefully it is.

With this new philosophy fresh in my mind, the next few days were different--brighter, easier, more comfortable. And then I realized that I was falling in love with someone who had just fallen in love with my friend. And a fresh wave of lonely impatience rose up and razed my newfound confidence.

Seriously? Again, Aubrey? You're really good at this. At this rate, you'll be 65 when you get married.

I'm pretty sure I can't recognize flirtatious behavior. Or maybe I have really bad timing. Or maybe I don't know myself very well. Whatever the problem is, three times in the recent past I've fallen in love and realized it too late. Three times I've decided to risk everything on a guy the second after he picked someone else. Three frickin' times I've been shy and emotional and slow on the uptake, and then when I finally think, yeah, maybe this is it, maybe it's my turn to belong to someone, to have comfortable conversations about mundane things, to hold hands, I turn around to face this possibility and he's holding someone else's hand, tracing patterns on her palm.

Three times I've looked on and thought, if only I'd realized it sooner, I could have prevented this. But that's wrong. Prevented what? Prevented happiness? Prevented two wonderful people from developing a loving relationship? Prevented an eternal marriage, that thing so precious and sacred? In my selfishness and my cowardice, I would prevent all of that so that I wouldn't feel passed by, because I thought it was my happiness, my relationship, my late-night talks about the possibility of us.

I completely missed the point. Three times I was so far off the mark that I couldn't see this invaluable truth: it takes as long as it takes. I'm still here, I'm still alive, I haven't died of a broken heart. In fact, I have a pretty good thing going (except that my new pants smell like mothballs and it's driving me CRAZY). Obviously it isn't my turn yet, and that's okay. Really, I'm okay with that. I know that I have so much to learn and so much to do and so much to give. If I can't graduate for another year and a half, that's fine. I'll survive. If I don't find a boyfriend in the next fifteen years, that's okay. I'll survive. I'll keep learning and doing and giving and receiving so much in return and trusting in my Heavenly Father and cultivating lasting relationships because that's what's really important.

And everything else? Well, it takes as long as it takes.

Recorded 9/14/13

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