Tag Archives: experiences

Carreling Fall 2012

As I sit here in my thesis carrel, my mind bursts with the potential of the ideas that surround me (literally, I put my notes on the walls).  Narrowing in on those ideas, is a slightly different ordeal and is why I’m still here.

Despite firework-exploding epiphanies that have gotten me closer to the ever evolving question of what exactly I’m writing about, I sit here, not quite sure how to procede.

There’s something that is desperately exciting about this process.  Something inside me that recognizes that I have never read anything like what I am intending to write, something that recognizes the potential of a well thought out and convincing argument on my topic of choice, and that’s breathtaking.

The last week has delivered a variety of experiences– nearly all of which are deserving of their own blog posts.  Unfortunately, the nature of college life is that they don’t all get written down, which is indeed a shame.  As reading some of my own old posts has taught me, it is easy to forget.

So as I find myself mesmerized in jaw-dropping academic wonder and discover in more and more meaningful ways how to lead and love in with a Kingdom vision, I just have to take a note of how incredibly cool this is.

Because it is here, deep in the catacombs of Olin library, up the hidden staircase on the 4th floor, carrel 435 that all of that slowly swirls into a single line of thought, a single story, and it is one that I intend to tell.  Just give me time.  #senioryear #thesis2013

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Not a blind spot, a sunspot

I have a real knack for putting myself in uncomfortable situations.  I’m not quite sure you’d call it a skill or not, but I possess it nonetheless.  On one hand, life is rarely normal (whatever that is), but I am constantly forced to grow.  On the other hand , I usually have a very high stress level.

Today, was expedition #2 to Toledo.  It was quite the whirlwind trip, but still nice.  There is something mesmerizing about visiting places that have layered histories.  I love Alexandria, Virginia because it was important early America, the Revolutionary War, and the Civil War.  Toledo is like Alexandra, except thousands of years older.  We visited the mammoth Cathedral, the Mosque, and the Synagogue.  It was like a visual religious history of the country.

Lunch was at another super classy restaurant.  This time, I actually liked most of the dishes.  The blood sausage was a little strong for my stomach, but the rest of nice.  Ate the best fish I’ve had in my life.


I realized something very important during lunch though that might actually relate to my whole knack for putting myself in uncomfortable places thing.  I (can) enjoy the food and I (always) enjoy good company, but I hate having to drink water with my fancy meal because I don’t like wine.  I want a coke.  I hate having to reach for that obnoxious water glass with my right hand (I’m left handed) because my bread plate is on the top left my place at the title.  I want to put my elbows on the table.  But I smile politely at white linens and funky fish knifes, because I never want to face a people barrier I can’t break.

I feel like this is the ultimate application of my type-A, extrovert personality.  By forcing myself through that which isn’t exactly 100% my style and by pushing through the awkward, uncomfortable moments I get one step closer to understanding people for who they are.  And perhaps more importantly, I enter other people’s worlds rather than waiting for them to enter mine.  I think that’s how I make it at Wesleyan.

It’s not like my midwestern style is too unrefined for crystal glass, it’s just that crystal glass lacks that homey touch.  For example, yesterday I went to McDonald’s because I was feeling quite sick and wanted familiarity.  My hamburger was drenched in mayonnaise, but had no ketchup.  It was just fine, I mean, I like mayonnaise, but it just wasn’t what I was craving/expecting.  That’s what fancy lunches and new situations feel like.

Tonight, as we were getting off the bus in Madrid I became acutely aware of reality.  Orientation is over.  Classes start Monday.  I still am unsure of how many CEH and grado classes to take.  I’ll still see people from the program often enough, but now stuff’s not scheduled so much.  The free schedule really is great, but I’m always nervous when I’m forming a routine.  After a very lonely summer, I just want to make sure I don’t end up any kind of social situation that vaguely resembles my experience New York.

Today was an English-speaking day, so I got on the subway home trying to switch my thinking to Spanish.  But the only thing that was running through my mind was English songs.  When I walked in the door, my host mom had to translate a couple of embarrassingly simple questions.  However, I do think she understands that it takes me a little time to boot up, because we had extended/deep conversation about American politics at dinner.

I like to think of mildly uncomfortable situations as sunspots.  You can’t see in a blind spot either, but a blind spot is dark.  I might not quite know where I am going when I’m in a sunspot, but at least I know I’m headed someplace bright…

 

P.S.

I could actually breathe today, and I barely coughed!  Someone helped me buy allergy meds at the pharmacy.  I feel much better.


Thursday Night Rush

I feel like it’s time to own up to something.  It’s something akin to that feeling I get on Thursday nights when I have a great idea for an essay, but no idea how in the world I’m going to defend it.  Usually, at that point I just have a fascinating, yet somewhat outrageous thesis that I picked just because it seemed fun to write about.  But here’s the secret: (shhh) I really just make it up as I go.

And that’s how I feel tonight, like there’s a thesis burning on my chest and I haven’t figured out how to articulate it yet.

I had dinner with an old friend a couple nights back.  We did a full year catch up summary of our lives.  I was astounded by how much has happened in the last twelve months.  I went so through much that life 1.5 years ago almost feels unrecognizable.

This year, I stood before an angry crowd and with softly quaking knees, and though I nearly feel backwards in sheer fear,  somehow my voice remained loud, steady, and strong.  Though I was intensely frightened in a way I had never known, my eyes were sharp and observant, instead of welling up with tears like they should have been.  I don’t think the feeling I had in my gut at moment will ever fully leave me.

I’ve had opportunity to freely disregard every principle and virtue that I cling to, and yet I still cling to them.  Sometimes I get so tired of fighting it and defending myself.  I know everything doesn’t have to be confrontational, but it seems as though there is so much in my face that necessitates a response, especially at Wesleyan.  I’ve been in so many situations were if I didn’t say anything, no one would.  Then there’s that whole actually trying to effectively communicate with people who aren’t always completely open to my ideas or just, honest to goodness, have no idea where I am coming from.

That leads into another important thing I’ve learned this year, how to pick my fights.  Maybe I should be more clear on this point.  I’ve started learning how to pick my fights.  In music, pianissimo often has a greater effect than forte.  The world is loud, which makes quiet stand out and the louds more meaningful.  And how you say something (definitely) matters just as much as what you say.  Furthermore, always fighting, especially when it includes some loosing, generally leaves one a bit exhausted, and I would hate to become a bitter old woman.

This year, I learned how to pray for who challenge me.  I’ve faced no real giants, so I’m not claiming to have triumphed over anything extraordinary.  I’m just saying that prayer has become my response to that “oh-my-gosh-I’m-going-to-burst-why-doesn’t-anyone-see-the-flaw-in-that-logic” reaction to something that seems to me to be extraordinarily nonsensical.  It’s how I’m able to keep from becoming a bitter old conservative at Wesleyan and actually learn to love the place despite its flaws.

I’ve learned how to recognize nuances and think independently of the people I look up to and admire.  It doing so, I’ve learned how to view my own accomplishments, mistakes, and failures a part from what certain people think, and while it means almost nothing to anyone else, knowing that I had the opportunity to sell-out like you would not believe and didn’t, makes me think that I might have the ability to successful in this area later in life too.

I’ve learned how reachable my goals are and committed myself to a defined short-term calling.  I’ve been pondering this whole goal-setting thing for awhile.  Some things I’ve wanted in life have been unobtainable, like the grade I wanted to get on Comps (epic 4 part, 8 essay, 7 day test) or getting into Yale as an undergraduate.  Not meeting these goals hasn’t done anything to to keep my mind from its task as a linear cartographer.  I set a path, and I see where I’m going.  Now, I’ll veer off that path if necessary, if I think God is leading me in another direction, or if I just fail, but that path gives me something to work toward.  To me, it’s like mental push-ups.  I hope to always have the courage to call the goals I’ve not met in my life failures, because that’s what they are.  But more importantly, I hope that I always have the strength of character to recognize that failure in meeting my trivial goals 1) by no means means my life is totally derailed 2) In no way changes my value as a person.  That comes from God and that doesn’t change.

So, with that in mind (failures and all) I’ve been awestruck by realizing how accomplishable certain goals I have for my life are.  I had the pleasure of being seated next to Chris Long, CEO of ISI, at dinner last week.  We had a great chat, but what was impressed on me the most was that I actually knew the people he was talking about — personally.  The world of American conservatism really isn’t unreachable.  I don’t know exactly where I’ll end up or what I’ll be doing (other than the fact that I am definitely going to law school), but I have some general ideas and realizing that this world that I’ve spend my whole life looking up to really isn’t that far away really means a lot.

My friend at dinner a couple nights ago, pointed out that I am an initiator.  Perhaps I should have been aware of that, in fact, I can think of friends who would smile at the obviousness of such a statement.  But I had never thought to describe myself as an “initiator.”  “Leader”, occasional “risk-taker”, “friend-seeker,” sure, but “initiator”, that’s a new adjective.

I guess initiator implies that I’ll soon be running head first into a fair number of big mistakes in the future, like those that lead me to grow in all the ways I have in the last year.  But at least it also implies that if I’m open to something, or maybe more importantly, if I’m open to creating something, good things will come.  At least that’s what I’m hoping for.