Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 in Review

When I first thought about this year, it seemed like not much has happened. There hasn't necessarily been a defining moment, like a mission call, coming home, going back to Moscow, or graduating. But it's been an important year--a year full of steps and building blocks and slow discoveries.

January--Spent some time being unemployed. Tracy and I founded the Cult of Learning. It was a month full of self-rediscovery, people I love, and job searching.
February--Started a new job at Boostability as a writer and editor. It was a month of love and friendship and joy, especially with the trip to Spokane for Sarah and Jake's wedding. It was literally the best weekend full of wonderful moments with my favorite people.
March--Jessie's and my room flooded and got moldy, requiring us to move into Tracy's room for a few weeks while it was being repaired. It was a month of Atlantis and Journey to the Center of the Earth and late night chats and cuddling.
April--Walked in graduation (even though I graduated in December), changed my hair up with bangs and highlights, and packed up and moved from my beloved Lookout House down the street into Arch House. It was a month of change and new beginnings.
May--Traveled to Illinois (Chicago and Nauvoo) to see one of my best friends get married, and then sent my sister off to the same place. It was a month of good friend times.
June--Got a new computer, made new friends, and had a blast. It was a month of just living life.
July--Went to Hawaii for a week with my best friends to see another one of them get married. It was a month full of adventure and love and some of my favorite summer memories (both in Hawaii and at home) with some confusing emotions thrown in there too.
August--After I turned 25, I decided I needed a drastic change in my life to end my quarter-life crisis (#QuarterQuell), so I quit my job and moved to Salt Lake. It was another month of new beginnings.
September--Officially started looking into grad schools. Took the GRE, made some big life decisions, and loved being "funemployed" again. It was a month of taking steps and non-traditional productivity.
October--Attended my 4th (and last) wedding of the year. Two of my favorite people married each other and all of my other favorite people either flew in for the wedding or just magically happened to be in town. It was a month of being reunited with old friends.
November--Overhauled a paper for my writing sample and stressed out about money. It was a month of being grateful for the every day things in my life.
December--Turned in my first grad school applications. I also became an aunt to a beautiful roommate goddaughter. It was a month of reflection and processing a lot of the important things that happened this year.

TL;DR--It was a year full of weddings and lovely people and adventures. It was a year of deciding what I do and do not want to do with my life. It was a continual process of new beginnings. 

Often, I when I reminisce I get sad at the times gone by, the good years that will never come again. But honestly, this year is different. Don't get me wrong; there has been so much good that has come from it. I made so many new friends, got to see the old ones quite a bit, and there were so many adventures (big and little) that I will treasure forever. But mostly, it's been a year of slow and steady progression on so many different planes (academic/professional, personal, romantic, etc). It's been really hard in a lot of ways, and really rewarding in others. Mostly, I just have a feeling that this gap year is a huge stepping stone for the great things that are to come in my life.

That makes 2015 so daunting but so exciting. But I'm ready for it.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Grad School Journey

A long, long time ago, back before my mission (which feels like a galaxy far, far away), I had aspirations to go on to grad school. I'm not sure why. It just seemed like something I would do. That kind of got lost in my post-mission identity crisis, but it was still always in the back of my mind. When I graduated a year ago, I wanted to eventually explore my options down the grad school path, but it got pushed to the side in the hustle and bustle of finding a job and then working full time--not to mention the fact that I was burned out from school.

When I walked at graduation in April, I knew. I was sitting in the Marriott Center at the Humanities Convocation, and I was reflecting on my undergraduate experience and I just knew that I needed to go back to school. Which was terrifying because 1) the possibility of rejection and 2) I still didn't know what I wanted to do as far as a career. I couldn't just spent thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars to get another piece of paper and still be in my same situation in a year or two. But I missed school, I wanted to go back, and I really started feeling like I needed to make it happen eventually. 

The following Sunday, I was reading my patriarchal blessing during Church. There's a lot in it about my education, but one sentence has always . . . I don't want to say "bothered" me, because family is important and my highest aspiration in life is to eventually be a mother, but it always kind of made me wonder about whether or not I'd actually go on to grad school. It basically tells me to always remember that the most important thing will be to teach my family correct principles, and I used to think that meant sacrificing personal goals like school or a career for my family. But as I was reading it that Sunday, it changed. It became the catalyst for me to go to school. It doesn't matter if grad school will or will not lead me into a good career (although that is definitely a BIG hope). What matters is that I love to learn, and this degree will make me a better person, and it will help prepare me to teach my friends and family about the Gospel and life. And so even though I still wasn't sure that it was right, I had confidence that it was. I felt like I could justify a decision a leap in the dark going to school without a definite path, because God had told me it would be beneficial. 

Well, long story short: work happened and summer adventures happened and I got bogged down by a lot of things and grad school plans got pushed to the side until August when I got fed up with my life. I was moving to Salt Lake, hated my job, and couldn't find another one, so I took it as a sign that I just wasn't supposed to work right now. I took the plunge, quit my job, and decided to focus solely on grad school.

I've since had a blessing where God told me that this is the right thing. He wants it to happen, and it's part of his plan for me. I have often returned to my patriarchal blessing, because all throughout are promises about my education and my future. I felt a lot of guidance in deciding which schools to apply to. I had a lot of divine help when I took the GRE, as manfiest by a perfect score on the verbal and writing. I have had a lot of professional help on my application from friends and professors. And I even have had a lot of emotional help from the Lord because I have only really freaked out about this whole thing once, which is a big deal. 

I submitted application 2 of 8 today, which is what inspired this post. There are still a lot of fears and worries. But honestly--it's okay. I know that this is right. I don't feel a pressing need to know where I'll be in 8-9 months, because I know I'll be where I'm supposed to be. I'm still far from done with this journey, but for the first time in a long time I feel like I'm actually on a path that leads somewhere.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Reflections on Some Goals

December 1 might be too early for a "reflection on the year" post. And there is a good chance that I will learn a lot in the next month of my life. However, with the holiday season starting with this past week, I have thought a lot about this past year. The last time I was home for longer than just a day or two was last Christmas and New Year's. I had just graduated, I was feeling very lost in my life, and I remember sitting on what has become my bed in the guest room thinking about life and what I wanted my goals for 2014 to be. I started making the traditional list:

  • Spiritual things like scripture study, prayer, temple, etc (Obviously not perfect, but much improved in many ways)
  • Working out 3xWeek (Nothing until September, but it's been pretty good since then)
  • Become a morning person (hahahaha)
  • Travel someplace new (check, check, check)
Quite surprisingly, actually, I have realized all my goals about trying to find my way in life. I found a job, took (and rocked) the GRE, and looked into grad schools. I may not have decided what to do beyond the next year or two, but I did decide that, and grad school will be a huge step in fully making that long-term life goal come true. 

However, despite all these wonderful, wonderful things that have happened--and trust me, I don't want to downplay any of the above paragraph, because those are literal miracles that have happened in my life--there were some large goals that are very close to my heart that haven't come any closer. These goals have always been there, but I felt very strongly that this year was the time to really work on them, and that came directly from God. And there have been things that have happened this year in relation to those goals. But they are still so far and out of reach. 

I had a blessing this summer where God told me that many "drastic" changes that will majorly change my life were coming up. 2 months later, I was quitting my office job, moving to Salt Lake, and starting to really get the grad school ball on the road. Later, I had another blessing which let me know that this grad school path is not just right, but an integral part of God's plan for me. And I am so grateful for all those things, because I am excited for grad school and I have learned a lot and I feel so much more at peace about my future than I did a year ago. Drastic changes, indeed.

And yet, the first blessing was originally in response to my fears and worries about the goals that still haven't happened yet, and I have to wonder: when will those drastic changes happen? When will I get those answers? Yes, I have faith in the Lord's timing. Yes, I have learned a lot about myself in relation to these goals. But sometimes I feel like I'm back on my mission: I have all these righteous goals but have seen almost no success in them, even though I prayed about them, set them in faith, was doing all I could, etc. And then, God gives me something little, a good contact or a small miracle or a member-present lesson and I think "THIS. This is it." And then after I'm excited and faithful and hopeful, everything just falls apart. That was more or less my entire mission. Do I not have enough faith? What am I doing wrong? What do you do when God tells you to work hard and prepare for one thing and so you do and then you end up taking 1 step forward and 3 steps back? In some ways it is even more crushing to have a glimpse of that bigger vision and not see it realized then to see absolutely no success at all.

I really don't mean for this to be depressing. I am try to be (and generally succeeding at being) hopeful and focus on how much I have grown and progressed and the answers that I have received, because I am so grateful for those. I just thought about my goals for this year, almost bittersweetly, as I sat on that same bed again this week. I really don't know what's going to happen and where I'll end up and when these answers I want will actually come. But they will. 

And now I don't know how to end this post and I need to go work on finishing up a lot of things.