A few days ago I got a reminder of a status on social media that I wrote when I arrived at college for the first time. It brought me back to ten years ago when I first arrived to my college campus as a student. I had a unique experience in that I already had been to the campus multiple times growing up and my parents had attended, my grandfather had attended, and my grandmother had taught there. The journey to college wasn’t necessarily easy. I was homeschooled and used a distance learning school to earn my high school diploma. I was a senior in high school at age 15 but the bane of my existence was high school algebra and I wrestled with it until I finally finished. Needless to say, I’ve only taken one math class since high school algebra and I don’t see myself taking another one in the foreseeable future. I finished high school about 6 weeks after my 17th birthday and I took a year off to take some classes and work before I went to college. I didn’t know what to expect 10 years ago when I started college. I was worried about how I was going to afford it and if I would be able to afford it for all 4 years. My parents had informed me from a young age that they wouldn’t pay for college so I understood that I would have to figure it out without their financial assistance. The bonus was that I had a scholarship that covered about half of my tuition. I didn’t know what to expect once I went to college and in the spirit of true preparation I brought WAY too much stuff. I quickly realized that the 8 storage containers that I brought from home would be way too much for the half of the dorm room I shared. I remember waiting in line at registration and hoping and praying that I could get in. After a small scare and an ok from the director of admissions I was in. The next three and a half years were filled with challenges and acclimation to a more traditional educational environment. One of my goals was to finish in less than 4 years and i was able to accomplish that. I actually had to study for tests and finals week meant that I pulled a few overnighters to finish a paper or put the finishing touches on a project. I focused on the books and attended every class on time. I knew that I was there because I wanted to be and the effort that I put into my education reflected that fact. I honestly can’t believe that ten years has passed by but I can honestly say that I am a totally different person than I was back then. I’ve learned a lot since then and I plan to learn and grow more in the next ten years.
I remember sitting in a chair in my therapist’s office in college. As a part of my academic program we were required to go to a mandated number of sessions. I remember telling her that I wanted my future husband to be able to sing and that it would be a deal breaker for me if he couldn’t. Today I think of that day and chuckle to myself. While I absolutely believe that music talent is wonderful, there are so many more important qualities that need to be present. Having all his teeth would be nice for starters. Qualities like faithfulness, respect, ambition, attractiveness, honesty, and compassion. Life has definitely changed in the almost decade since then. I’ll have to admit that my dating experience up to this point hasn’t been successful; But I guess it’s been successful in the regard that I’m not stuck in a relationship with someone who isn’t suited for me. I still love music but it’s harder to find a guy that will call me than a guy that can sing. While there are a lot of fish in the sea, a lot of them are hiding behind the coral reef. Apparently.
I had what one might call a pretty rigorous religious upbringing. The mandatory family worships every morning and evening and attending church services weekly. My family was at church even when other people weren’t and we did hundreds of hours of volunteer services for the good of the church. Church was never a suggestion, it was a requirement. My parents (bless their hearts) kinda sabotaged my spiritual life, I wasn’t allowed to choose what day I could be baptized on and what my religious beliefs would be. It was already chosen for me. My beliefs followed me through high school and college due to the extensive foundation. After graduation from college, I moved 1000 miles away from home and continued to attend church regularly as I had been taught. I found a church and I was very involved. However, as I was going to my graduate school classes and working I realized that I really hadn’t taken the time to develop my own set of beliefs. I learned so much from all my classes and realized that my religious background was ill-equipped to address the questions that arose. I became a bit of a religious wanderer and joined a huge church with 7,000 members and immediately became very involved. I was there at least 4 days out of the week assisting various ministries. But I eventually decided that it wasn’t for me. Needless to say, my upbringing has made me think about how I would like to raise my future children and I have to say it will be much different.
2016 was one of the most challenging years. As usual, I didn’t get to travel as much as I wanted but I had two epic all inclusive vacations that were both a week long. While some of my year (7 months) was spent in a cubicle in a job I hated answering phones and sitting in an hour of traffic each way, it didn’t last forever. I made the decision to make a change and I put my stuff in storage and moved across the country to start a new job. I got dumped by a boyfriend and loved and lost several times. I conducted several couples therapy intensives and helped people to have better marriages. I had a beach day in Miami and several places in Mexico. I had my own apartment with cable and DVR for the first time. There were many ups and downs but I’m grateful to see the end of the year. I learned a lot about myself and others and I’m looking forward to being better and doing better in 2017.
1. Just like the Jazmine Sullivan song, “forever doesn’t last always.” You can’t control the choices of others but you can decide your reaction 2. Online dating is hard and doesn’t always yield the results you want. Assume everyone is lying until proven otherwise and it’ll be ok.
3. It’s ok to live outside the box for a while. A normal 9-5 doesn’t and won’t fit everyone.
4. Appreciate the small things and don’t sweat the big stuff. Take it all in a stride.
5. Don’t take people who care about you for granted. Life is short.
This past week I had a chance to do one of my favorite things in the world–vacation. I honestly don’t know how people live life without taking a break from everything and recharging. There’s nothing like it in the world and as someone who tends to internalize everything, it’s good to take a break. For the first time in my life I took a cruise and it was amazing. There’s absolutely nothing that compares to sleeping to the rocking of the ship and the sounds of the waves from your open balcony. From the unlimited drinks to the cute guy I met, to swimming with dolphins, to snorkeling for the first time, the trip was a raging success. I’ll definitely be cruising somewhere again soon. I don’t usually post pictures but I’ll make an exception. Best trip of 2016!
Not too long ago I had the experience of being flown in for an interview. I have to admit that it was an experience that I’ve never had before and I enjoyed the opportunity to travel without any personal expense. The position was for a job at my alma mater. It felt so surreal and full-circle to walk the same grounds that I walked as a teenager and be there in a different capacity. All my former professors seemed happy to see me back as a potential colleague. I met with the president and vice president. And all I felt was confined. It wasn’t that the position wasn’t nice or that I felt that it was totally out of my comfort zone. It was the expectations that came along with it. While I had a good college experience, it was also very sheltered. There were multiple rules that had to be followed in order to escape expulsion. While I had a genuine desire to give back, I realized that I didn’t want to teach or enforce rules that I didn’t have any intention of keeping. I appreciate people who are genuine and I knew that I wouldn’t be my best personal self if I felt conflicted between what was expected of me and my own thoughts and opinions. I’ve learned that sometimes the best professional decisions aren’t the best for me personally. I want to be fulfilled in a position but also feel that I can be genuine about my experiences and perspectives while learning from others. You have to learn how to say no to things that won’t benefit you in the long run. Now, to only learn that lesson about men…