Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Deep thoughts

Despite the fact that I have mentioned it at least twice previously, it truly hit me this week that I'm turning 30. Something about the age of 30 makes me cringe inside a little. Maybe it's because I'll be halfway to 60. Or the fact that, at 30, I'd always thought I'd have my life together in some sort of fashion. For some bizarre reason, the major part that makes my head hurt is remembering sitting in a personal finance class at 21 and thinking "I'll definitely start investing in a 401k or Roth IRA before I turn 30, just like it says in the book, because then I'll have more money for retirement". That didn't happen.

Anyway, I'm not going to linger on it, because life is meant to be enjoyed, not just endured .

Instead, I'm going to make a list of the top 5 things that have happened in my life that have made me who I am today.  In a somewhat chronological order.
  1. I was born into an amazing family who loves me and supports me. The only reason I have been able to accomplish anything in life is because I have such extraordinary parents who are always there when I need them. I'm not really one to share deeply personal feelings that aren't couched in a sarcastic comment about needing a barf bucket, however, this is one place where my emotions take over and I show my gooey marshmallow center. My heart sometimes feels like it's going to explode with all the love and gratitude I have for my amazing family and I thank God every day for them.
  2. I worked five summers ('01, '03, '05, '06, and '10) at Brighton Girls Camp. In 2001 (a mere 13 years ago), I was a Junior in high school and looking for direction in life. I had a friend direct me to Brighton, where they had worked the previous summer. It was life-changing. I feel like Brighton allowed me to be more outspoken and a little bit crazier. It taught me that we are all children of a Father in Heaven, that we are loved, that we deserve to be loved, and that we should love one another without reservations. It taught me the value of planning, although leaving room for spontaneity, of working really hard, laughing with friends, singing at the top of your lungs, being a steward of our environment, and of sitting still and listening to nature.
  3. On November 5, 2005 I broke my arm in a car accident. This was no ordinary break either. I broke my right humorous completely in half and I broke a small chunk of it off at the same time. I have a metal plate that surrounds the entire bone and they screwed the little chunk back in. I also don't really have a funny bone on my right arm because they had to move the nerve. This is kind of a weird one, but being in that car accident forced me to change where I was going in life. I had this plan that I was going to work really hard (lose some weight) and go on an LDS mission, then I would come back and finish school. Instead, I just went off to school, which set me on the path to where I am today. At the time, I was deeply bitter and more than a little depressed that what I wanted in life wasn't what I was getting. Now, with some perspective, I can see that I am exactly where I was supposed to be. Also, I have a wicked awesome scar on the back of my arm.
  4. On a whim (and because I was hungry and they were serving free pizza at the information meeting),  I went to Moscow, Russia and taught English for a semester. While the program I went with (which shall remain nameless) wasn't the greatest, living in Russia entirely changed my view of the world. When you have such an earth-shattering revelation, it is difficult to put into words how you feel and how it has changed you so completely. I literally had no concept of the world outside of Utah. What's worse, I had been to Hong Kong once and traveled over most of the US (although still haven't been to the northeast or the deep south, except for Louisiana) and I still didn't quite get that the world was so integrally interconnected. Living in Russia, even for a relatively short period of time, showed me how we are all parts of a great whole.
  5. I  swallowed my doubts and went to the University of Michigan. When I was applying to grad schools, I had decided in my head that I was going to Indiana University Bloomington. It was a fine school, good program, cheap housing, within a 2 hour radius of Ikea, and their tuition seemed much more reasonable than UM. I had really struggled with the idea of going into debt for school. I knew it was something reasonable to do (although, some people could have bought a nice house for what I paid), but when you look at the total it really makes your head spin. Especially after I had worked two jobs and taken 7 years to complete my Bachelors. For some reason,  I felt very strongly that if I was going to go to grad school, then I needed to go to grad school and take on the full experience at once. I remember praying about where I should be and if Indiana was the right place for me and, as if someone were sitting there talking to me, I heard "you know Michigan is right and you've known since you started applying, why are you fighting it?" So I went and I was blown away by how inadequate I felt, yet knew that I had found exactly where I belonged. I met tons of awesome friends, had a Michigan drivers license, worked at several different libraries, took a bus to school almost every day (public transportation nut right here), started reading more, met an incredible mentor, had at least two sobbing breakdowns, was published in three books, participated in countless pub quizzes, broke down my pre-conceived notions of society, became politically moderate (thanks Obama!), received a world-class education (not without its faults, of course) and overall developed a sense of how I could make a difference in the world.