Do I go to grad school? Where would I apply? Do I work? Who would want me? When do I even have time to be applying and searching? Where do I go? Where am I meant to go? What is a meaningful future to pursue?
There was a certain peace that came with knowing that a God who cares and knows my purpose already had it all figured out. But my relationship with him this year has been... well... pretty terrible. It was hard to hear his comforting and guiding voice when all I could think about was my shame and all the things I've done that hurt him. I'm far from the good little church girl that some think i am, and it's hard to feel hopeful about the future at a time when I've never felt like more of a failure. It's kinda strange... feeling like a failure in the midst of attaining what most would consider great success. 'sophia, what are you talking about? you're going to harvard next year for crying out loud.'
I guess it depends on what you value. To me security always comes from knowing I'm on the right path. Big name schools, having a job, good grades, having a plan for the future... all those things could easily fall apart and not be all they promise to be. But jobless, uncertain, rejected, and on the right path... I could still know there's a good future waiting.
God was faithful though. I guess that's no surprise for a God who promises to be faithful even when we are not. I've learnt that God is the only one who will not go back on his word, the only one who I can truly expect to keep his promises. I don't know how many times I've heard Christians asking, 'how do i know what God's will is? how do i know it's not just me hearing things that i want to hear?' I know I've asked that question. It's like we think it's this enigmatic puzzle that we have to struggle to solve. But its not like God is trying to hide his will; he wants us to know it. This grad school thing was one place where i felt like I could see God just laying out the bricks to the path.
Although I'm terrified of heading back into studio so soon... I feel certain that it's where I'm called to go. I did struggle with the question of whether I just wanted Harvard to be the right answer because of my own pride and my own desire for the status it symbolizes, but its never been something I've sought after for myself. And of all the periods of my life, this year was probably the best one i could be in to be making the decision. Freshman through Junior years I learnt humility in realizing that there are so many other talented and amazing people that can do more than I could even imagine doing; but this year I learnt humility in realizing how weak I am... how much I don't really deserve to be blessed with admission to any top architecture programs.
The first thing was the coincidence of a spring break internship in Boston. I chose to go there based on it being the only typical interning city where I had free lodging. There were no other really compelling reasons for me to want to be in such a cold place in the middle of winter, but maybe God had his own reasons. I... really liked it. It was the same sense I got when I first visited Ann Arbor and I knew it was somewhere I could see myself.
And then there was the strangeness of being admitted to Harvard but not Princeton, Yale, or Cornell (until later)... leaving the decision between Michigan and Harvard. In a way it felt like God saying 'look, you don't deserve this, your work is not even strong enough for these other architecture schools, but I'm opening this one door for you.' ...The fact that this happened to be the year where the ivy leagues decided to try to make their education more affordable also opened up the financial door... a surprise from a school I'd heard does not usually give out much money.
Lastly, all the places most people would turn to for advice about their futures pointed me the same way too. Advice from trusted friends, advisors, and professors who know my work pushed me to leave, to explore my potential at a school that satisfies my educational and career interests more than Michigan has.
The decision was actually a lot harder than I'm making it sound... and for a while Michigan was actually the better choice in my mind... but looking back, I see God working to help lead me in a certain direction. To those confused about God's will I would say to 'look and listen' because it's not so very hard to find.