So, today marks my one year anniversary of having a blog!
While it might not appear that way at first glance for you, those of you who have been one of my avid readers from the beginning know that I had a blog at a different website previous to starting this one, so when you combine the two, I’ve now been blogging for a year!
During this 365 day time-span I have successfully completed a year’s worth of graduate school, while working approximately 25-30 hours a week and still put out 176 blog entries. Not too shabby if you ask me. ;)
So, with all this in mind, I think one of the most important things to do with this anniversary is to reflect on what has happened to me and influenced me over these past 12 months. First, I want to comment on my top five events of the past year:
5. I got my first car.
I’ve never had my own car till I bought one on July 6, 2004, and that was quite possibly the BEST purchase I’ve made in my life (college doesn’t count because in all actuality I haven’t really paid for that yet….gotta love loans…HA!) I bought a 2000 Toyota Camry and she has been very very good to me! It’s funny, and though you’re going to laugh…I’ve always been one that has been brought up to be appreciative for what we have and to be grateful and there have been many time I’ve been riding in my car and just looked at her while I was driving and thought, “You’ve been the BEST…thanks, pal!” HA! Seriously, I sometimes feel bad for her because she can’t talk and I haven’t given her a bath in a long time and I think if she could talk she’d let me have it! HA! She has taken me for nearly 20,000 miles in our first year together (HA!). I got her and she had about 58,800 miles on her and just this past week she hit 76,900. And through all this she hasn’t given me any problems! Thanks, pal!
4. I marked having lived with my uncle, aunt, and cousins for a year.
This is funny because, before moving to Texas for school, I hardly ever saw this brother of my mom’s growing up! HA! I was always closer to the other two of my mom’s siblings because they lived in Missouri, but now I’m easily closer to him (and his family). It IS a big family at that: him, my new aunt (got married in October), my uncles two girls, and my new aunts 1 daughter and 2 boys. During this year I’ve been noted as my aunt’s “favorite niece,” I’ve become the boys “godmother” (should my aunt pass away in the next three years before their older sister turns 21), and I’ve played nanny, school tutor, escort, mentor, and friend to all the kiddos over the year. I’ve gotten really close to the two boys and me and Brandon are practically best buds! It’s funny…HA! We are a lot alike! Living with my uncle and the fam has not only been a blessing for me while I continue my schooling, but it has also let me see a lot of other views on life. It has been quite the ride!
3. My mentor Charles Trevathan passed away.
Going through a big transition in your life, such as graduating from undergraduate and then entering graduate school and making big career and life decisions, daily it seems, one can begin to question their own judgment and need someone to ask questions too and bounce thoughts off of. Well, for someone who doesn’t like to ask for help, and is very picky in whose advice she’ll seek, losing Charles Trevathan during the past year was rough on me. I went through a stage of bereavement I’ve never experienced before, possibly from being blessed to not having lost a good friend before, but nonetheless, it was difficult. It was during this time that I let my first blog “lay to rest” with Chuck. Though I still miss him today, I have learned to appreciate the time we had together and when I need advice, I’m able to think, “What would Chuck have said?”
2. I completed a year of graduate school.
Note that it says “a year” not “half” since by the end of summer I’ll still be 2 hours short of halfway through our program (but let’s not focus on that, back to the positive). So in the past year I’ve experiences college life at a state level; classes where I’m EASILY in the minority and youth out of my peers when it comes to age; classes which are 90% female and probably 75% liberal. I’ve learned that though I still appreciate the psychology views a great deal more than the social work views when it comes to therapy, I understand that there is simply more than one mean to getting to a finished product, and if taking a social work route to become a therapist is the best route for me right now, then that will do! I also learned that it is possible to write a 20+ page paper in a two-day period of time. I’ve learned that even in graduate school it is possible to pass your tests not having read the required readings (well as least not reading ALL of them…HA!). I suppose one of the biggest differences in graduate school versus undergraduate is the course load. A typical class consists of about 4 grades normally: a couple exams (mid-term & final), normally either a smaller paper (about 10-12 pages) or a project (sometimes group, sometimes presentation), and a large paper (about 15-25 pages…or in that one class 45 pages…HA!) So overall, with school this past year I’ve gone through MANY ups and down, thinking maybe this isn’t for me and then rebounding and seeing graduation not TOO far over the horizon. Of course, I can’t forget the hard time I had dealing with the fact that I won’t be able to graduate with my masters in two years since our program is just that long (64 hours). But I’ve accepted the fact that that doesn’t make me a “failure” or a “loser” for not getting it all in in 2-years; let’s face it, I’m at the point in my life where I can’t rely on loans for my “survival cash” so I’m having to work quite a few hours while going to school full-time. Plus, I’ve decided what is just one more semester of schooling when I will get to work the rest of my life—nothing!
1. I’ve grown up.
Of course, physically I’m a year older. But then there is the year’s worth of furthering my education which has enhanced my knowledge, as well as insight I’d have to say. Though there have been times throughout my graduate education that I’ve said to myself, “I feel like I’m learning NOTHING in these classes!” I still realize that while maybe the gained material and factual knowledge might be limited, I’m learning great lessons in life. And then there is the growth I’ve experienced through taking on more of an adult-centered lifestyle. Working several hours a week to pay for newly acquired bills (many revolving around having a car), limiting my loan outtake for college finances, and other expenses. I’ve grown in the friendship department as well. Not only in making many new friends through my new school atmosphere, but also at the work level. And not only have I added more friendships in my life, I’ve got to watch changes with my previous friendships. I’ve been blessed to see some friendships from my “growing up days” come back around (gotten back in touch with some high school friends, which has been GREAT). But probably the most encouraging thing to watch with friendships is the evolving of my undergraduate friendships. While there is of course some of the friendships I had during undergrad that have tailed off, there are the closer friendships that I’ve gotten to see strengthen through dedication on both ends to keep the friendship going, regardless the distance, different schedules, or whatever the case. There is no doubt graduation can affect friendships, but it doesn’t have to be for the negative. While I’ll always be grateful for the education I got from ACU, nothing will ever compare to the friendships I made there! I have some amazing people in my life now thanks those 4 years of my life! Thanks to all of you. You have encouraged me in many ways and the growth is immeasurable.
Finally, I want to mention the things I’ve learned the most through my process of blogging over the past year.
First, I’ve learned that not only can it be fun, but it can be therapeutic and good for ones self to express their thoughts through words. Journaling in any sense is a good release for inner feelings. Some choose to blog about needs (i.e. prayer requests; advice). Others want to keep people informed on their life through an occasional update of their daily routines. Still others just like to get their deep thinking and opinions on matters out in the open for discussion. I’d have to say the latter is my favorite to write and read for that matter. I can’t say I’m one of the best at this form of writing, because I read SEVERAL other blogs and there are some folks that I think can put things into words in a great way and can really make you think, but I can say over time I’m working more and more at improving.
Second, I’ve learned there are more people that I thought who care enough about me to keep up with my blogs on a daily basis. It has amazed me over the past year how many times I’ve gone to tell someone about something that has happened to me recently and they are like, “Oh I know, you mentioned that in your blog.” And I would just be thinking, “I had no idea you read my blog.” It is a cool feeling, and I must say an honor, to know people would take time out of their busy schedules to keep up with what I have to say about my life and life in general. So on that note, I want to thank y’all!
Finally, I’ve learned to become more and more comfortable at expressing who I am. I can openly blog about my feelings, whether they be about religion, death, hurting, happiness, or even confusion. I truly believe it is when you are able to be comfortable enough with who you are and willing to express and share your true self with those around you, that others will be more willing to do the same with you. Yes, so maybe you and your ways of life might not be the same as a lot of other people and maybe you’re just a little different in some ways. Maybe you and others disagree on some things, but it is our uniqueness that makes each of us so interesting.
I just ask, as you’ve accepted my blog into your life, that you accept others who might be willing to put themselves out there and become what an attacking society might view as vulnerable. Embrace each others differences and be willing to use them to make us stronger, because what you might not know or be able to do or more importantly, what you might not be able to identity with, maybe they can and with a combined effort we are even stronger!
May my next year of blogging help me to grow more and maybe challenge and encourage you as well along the way!