Wednesday, April 20, 2011

2nd Challenge: Revise my Life View Paper

For those of you that don’t know Hope College requires all of their seniors to write a life view paper at the end of their time in college. It serves as a type of closure, a document to have and look back on all that you learned and experienced at Hope College.

I chose to revise the education section of my life view paper, because I’m still getting a grip on what- exactly- I have learned over the past four years. 


I used to think that once I arrived at a certain point in my life, I would have everything together, everything figured out.  College graduation seemed like an appropriate time for that point to come.

But as I near graduation, I continue to wonder, what have I learned?  What do I really know? 

Before I thought hard enough about it, I was discouraged because I kept coming up empty. I have nothing narrowed down in terms of what career I would like to pursue and I’m not sure where I’m going to live come fall.  I’ve retained slim to none of the facts I had to memorize for tests, I still struggle with APA and I literally have no idea what happened in my religion 100 class sophomore year. 

However, I’ve come to realize that beyond all the facts and figures and theories, my college education can be defined in two different ways.  The first has to do with what I experienced in the classroom: the research papers, the art projects, the labs, the homework, the tests and quizzes and late nights studying. 

The second type of education includes what I learned in between all the classes and homework- the lessons I learned in the unexpected twists and turns that occurred over the past four years.  The moving into college part and being on my own, making new friends and learning how to cook.  Visiting a gym for the first time, falling in and out of love and figuring out my relationship with God on my own terms.

And the more I reflected on it, the more I realized that in the past four years I have learned how to be.

I’ve learned how to be a good student, to be good at what I do and in tern I’ve learned how to be ambitious and go after what I want.  I know what it takes to get an A and how to write a really good paper.  I know how to make something sound good when I really have no idea what I’m talking about- a necessary life skill- also referred to as bullshitting.  I’ve experienced what it’s like to step up as a leader and finish projects on time. And in the past few weeks, as senioritis has kicked in on full notch, I’ve learned that I have a very hard time turning in work that I’m not proud of.  These, I think, are good things to know.

I’ve also learned how to be myself, to be honest with how I feel and as result I’ve created a solid foundation for the woman I am.  Some of the best teachers I had in college where my friends.  They helped me understand the person I am, loved me at my worst moments and caught me every time I slipped or fell.  They’ve held me accountable to follow through when it would have been easier to give up and they told me the honest truth even when it was the last thing I wanted to hear.  They have built me up and helped shape me to be this strong, confident young woman.

There’s this great quote from Cold Tangerines that I recently discovered and can completely relate to: “I want to arrive… But I’m learning to just keep moving, keep walking, keep taking teeny tiny steps.  And it’s in those teeny tiny steps and moments that I become, actually, who I am.  We won’t arrive.  But we can become.  And that’s the most hopefull thing I can think of.” Shauna Niequist

Life is this ongoing work in progress and I’m beginning to accept that I will never arrive at one point and think to myself, “there… I’m all done!”

But it’s in those quiet moments during chapel, or those frustrating meetings with a group project, or the subtle exchange of affirming words between friends that have deeply affect the person I am.  So I will keep moving, keep walking and keep taking those teeny tiny steps to continue to learn.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

1st Challenge: One coffee date per day

This past week my challenge was one coffee date per day. 

My challenge quickly evolved into more than just coffee and more than just one a day. I went on three coffee dates, one happy hour date, two dinner dates, and a breakfast date.  I am still in the process of rescheduling a few dates that need to happen.

At the beginning of the week I was pleased with my crazy schedule.  I finally scheduled in all the coffee dates that I’ve been putting off and committed to those people in my life who I keep telling, “we’ll have to do something next week, this week is so busy for me.” Being busy had become a bad habit, an excuse and a burden.  So I finally got to sit down and catch up with a handful of people that I’ve been meaning get together with for months. 

And it was great.

The people, the conversations, the insight and the advice all brought me back down to Earth.  I’ve been floating around in a dangerous territory lately full of self-doubt and anxiety; job hunting will do that to you.  I noticed after this past week that my friends have this funny way of indirectly reminding me of who I am, and now more than ever I needed those conversations and that reassurance. 

But at the same time, when I was with my friends I noticed that my mind was always wandering a little.  This past week happened to be one of the most eventful weeks of my semester: school work, sorority events, internship projects, mock interviews and real interviews.  When I wasn’t doing something related to school, I was on a coffee date and when I wasn’t on a date, I was preparing for an interview. At times I felt like I couldn’t give everyone my full attention. 

So while there is definitely something to be said about making people a priority in life, there is also something to be said about balance.  The key to keeping balance is knowing when you've lost it. 

And last week I lost it.

I felt like I was in a circus act, juggling six different balls.  And when I concentrated on just one of those balls, the rest came tumbling down. 

I overcommitted myself to being a friend, which lead to neglecting my role as intern, student and job applicant.  And when I attempted to make up for my negligence, I couldn’t be 100% present in the conversations that were important to me.

So I’m trying this new thing where I hold myself accountable to all the roles I play in moderation.  I am a friend, a family member and a student.  I am a girlfriend, an intern and a member of the sorority.   

I’ve been feeling this tension lately to fulfill all my roles at once, which is exhausting and impossible.  Instead of doing it all at once, the tension has taught me to be aware that there are, in fact six balls to be juggled.  And my ongoing challenge will be to learn how to keep those balls in motion.