Tag Archives: Goals

Today: 21st birthday, 50th post, 1000th hit

“And yet there is something so amiable in the prejudices of a young mind, that one is sorry to see them give way to the reception of more general opinions.”  -Col Brandon, Sense and Sensibility

I’ve always liked that quotation.  It’s like it gives you permission to be optimistic.  I’ve spent more than a fair amount of time contemplating long term plans recently, basically the kind of plans I couldn’t ever actually piece together at this stage in life, but I think about them anyway.

I’m leaving for Madrid in less than a week, and I don’t even know who I’m living with yet.  I don’t know how I’m going to pull second semester together or, despite my best efforts, if I’m going to be able to pick up a second (or third) job.  I think I know where I’m going to be next summer, but I don’t know how I’m going to get a good paying job.  I don’t know how early I’ll be able to crack down on my studies for the LSAT or how old I’ll be when I finally pay off my students loans.

I don’t know when I’ll get married or where I’ll settle down. I have not idea how long it will be before I can apply my law degree in the way I actually want to use it.  I don’t know where I’ll be able to get into law school, or if I will be able to visit them over spring break like I want to.

…but I still like to think about it.  I love living in anticipation, because I thrive on my goals.  In my mind, I often think of challenges as mental pushups.  Uncertainty has always made me uneasy, and it easily brings out my worst traits.  That may be why trumping uncertainty and fear about what’s next with a smile and a peaceful heart means so much.  Maybe that’s why looking forward to what’s next is so sweet.  After all, if you didn’t look forward and imagine what was coming next, you wouldn’t enjoy it nearly as much when you got there.

And so, with that, I’ll continue to hold onto Col. Brandon’s wise words and the amiable prejudices of my 21 year old, (still) young mind.


I think it’s awesome that today is my 21st birthday, that this is my 50th blog post, and (if 7 more people read this today) that I will have had 1000 hits.  Just a lot of nice, round numbers.


Color-Coded Accompaniments: Tori’s Map to Law School

I made it tonight.  That list. The big one. The one with percentiles, LSAT scores, and GPAs, all broken up by geographic region of the country.  The bulleted list of everything I have to do for every season between now and winter 2013, including number of study hours per week, test dates, and times to research schools too.  I charted my current academic benchmarks and goals, and it hangs to the left of the agenda just to serve as reminder of all that I have to do to get where I want to go.

I do realize that I openly stating this online, I am admitting that I am in fact 100% geek, but I have no problem owning up to that.  My little color-coded charts might just be enough to label me a nut, but it’s like this.  It’s the only way I know how to handle it.

It– the pressure.  I’m yet to start my junior year, and I already feel as though I am out of time.  The summer’s half over, and while it is a great honor, I’ve committed myself to several hefty additions to my reading list by participating the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s Honor’s Program. In August, it’s off to Spain.  When I get back, I’ll be devoting myself to putting together a conservative lecture series for the fall of 2012.  Wesleyan might not be abundant with folks of my political persuasion, but I’m not going to leave without having done everything in my power to express my thoughts to my peers.  That’s been an up and down adventure, but I want to leave having done it right.  My mind has been spinning with senior thesis topics since I was a freshman, and you can bet that I’ll soon be completely sold out to some micro-specific topic that almost no one else will have any interest in at all, but I’ll get a total kick out of it.

My crazy charts and lists are there to prove that the fear that I will not have time to prepare for the LSAT ever becomes a realization.  It’s there to prove that while I might not be sleeping, I’m not sleeping with purpose.  And I think that makes all the difference in the world.

I am going to law school.

Last night, I took the Indiana team to the Getz’s for pizza and ice cream on the rooftop. They do this with every team.  It’s a way for his family to spend a little time with every group that comes and for them to hear about missional living in the city.  While they talked, I listened and stared out Jeff’s window at the Queensboro Bridge.  I didn’t mean to start praying, but it was just like I was quiet and God started talking, not like with words, but with peace, order, and sense.

Queensboro Bridge at sunset

For a long time law school has been a short answer to the question “what do you want to do with your life?”  It takes a enough time to explain to someone what the College of Social Studies is (my major).  If they listen to that, they usually don’t have the attention span for a 4 minute well-if-I-move-back-to-DC-I-might-do-this or I-know-what-I’m-skilled-and-passionate-about-but-not-sure-how-I’ll-be-using-them-yet speech.  So law school works, but it was more of a default then anything.

I know a few important things about law school.

1) It’s mighty pricey with little to no financial aid.

2) It requires a significant time commitment (before to study for the LSAT, during to graduate, after to pass the bar, and after to pay debt)

4) It will compromise time that I could spend building important business contacts that I could get if I just went for my Masters in Public Policy instead.

5) It will affect my relationships.  I will not have the time to build as many strong friendships, limit when I can see my family, and very likely delay when I will get married and have a family of my own.

But I know several other things too, more important than anything on the above list. My decision to go to law school has nothing to do with how many checks I have on a pros and cons list.  I only want to go if I can get in a top tier law school, but this has nothing to do with pride either.  I am fully capable of spending my whole life taking out the trash and cleaning restrooms in public schools.  To be honest, I think I would make a wonderful custodian.  I would do a good job and use it as a place to live out my faith missionally.  I don’t feel like going to fancy law school makes me any better or gives me the ability to influence any more people than a custodian or a bus driver has.  I just feel like law school is place where I will better be applying the specific talents and interests God’s given me.

It’s like this.  I have certain skill set.  I love reading old books on history, government, and political theory.  I love the CSS (College of Social Studies) set up- making my own arguments, defending them, and writing about them.  This year I am fellow in the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s undergraduate Honors Program, and I just received my first shipment of books.  It’s amazing.  It’s like doing CSS, but only with books that I love.

When I think about education and knowledge, I always think about that parable in Matthew 25.  It’s the one where the three servants receive a certain number of talents from a man.  The servants do different things with the talents, but the man who only received one buried it in the ground.  When the master came back, he was the only one that did not return more talents to his master than what he had originally been given.  His explanation?  “I was afraid.” (vs. 25).

This morning, I joined the team on the prayer walk around New York City. We go to various locations, discuss their significances and what they symbolize, and use that symbol to pray for the city.  The New York Public Library symbolizes knowledge.  There are a lot of intelligent people here, but very little wisdom.  I have the interest and ability to acquire the knowledge and bring Godly wisdom to places that would otherwise be inaccessible.

At the South Asian Community Center, they breach language barriers to reach people who otherwise would never come in contact with the Gospel.  I’m going to do that at law school.  I don’t imagine language will be an obstacle there, but there are mighty high barriers to entry.  I know I can cross those barriers, and once I’m there, I will let my approach to my studies glorify God.  I didn’t understand how to do that for a long time, but I think I figured it out this year.  I was stressed, very stressed, but I learned the difference between stress and fear and fear and worry.

I pray that this explanation doesn’t come across as a mere Christian platitude.  If you’ve heard me talk about law school, it might not even seem like a big deal, but it was, because now law school isn’t just something I’m thinking about.  It’s something I’m going to do, because it’s the place I’ve been called.


Sunday Endeavors

I was really looking forward to church this Sunday for several reasons, but there was one reason unique to this week.  Like I said earlier, I don’t know a lot of people in the city, and I knew church would be a place that I would be able to connect with people who would understand what I’m doing this summer and begin building relationships.  I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to join a small group or something for a couple of months.

I went to a church that Jeff recommended, and it was a good experience, although I’m not sure I’ll be going back.  Of course, I’m not sure that I’m not going back either.  I spoke to a couple of people at church yesterday, but I still don’t really know how everything is set up.  I read something about small groups online, but no one said anything about it yesterday.  The girl I spoke to after service invited to an event the church is having this Friday, and while I didn’t quite get what it was, I think I’m going to go.  It will give me an opportunity to find out what they’re all about, but between now and then, I think I’m going to have some conversations with Jesus about where I should get connected.

I’ve been in lots of different churches with lots of different kinds of people in different size congregations with all kinds of different styles of worship.  I like that.  I think it’s really cool to see people sincerely worshiping and seeking God and see them do it in totally different ways, but  I also have a strong inward aversion to church-hopping.  I’m here for three months, which is enough time to go someplace, get settled, and build some relationships.  I don’t really have the time or interest in taking a month to visit various churches in the city, which to a extent would be cool.  I would learn a lot by observing, but not much in terms of getting to know people or having any system of accountability.

After church, I came to the church I live in and enjoyed a nice long nap.  (fyi: I can’t go to the church I live in because service is in Portuguese).  In the evening I had a rather comical run-in with a bug.  Gerald and Miriam were out showing some friends around the city, so there was no one here to kill it.  I ended up turning all the lights on, dancing around the fellowship hall, and calling my mother for directions about how to catch it.  I hate actually killing bugs, although not for the dear humane reasons that some people cite.  I mostly just don’t kill them because that requires that I actually get close enough to the bug to touch it.  I ran to the kitchen to grab a pot to trap it, and then resolved that it would be better to use an empty trash can.  I figured I could throw the trash can from a longer distance with greater accuracy.  Mind you, during this whole fiasco, I’m still dancing around, now talking to my father on the phone, and still in pursuit of just one bug.  Anyways, by the time I emptied the trashcan the bug was gone, although I did stuff a towel under my door to make sure it didn’t make it into my room.   I’ve been facing bugs and spiders my whole life, I should really be over my fear by now, but I’m not.  At least I have the sense to recognize how silly I look, even if it isn’t enough to break my fear.

Feet on the Ground

Ah, getting settled…

My train arrived midday on Tuesday, and since then it has been an excellent mix of getting started, figuring things out, and getting lost.  I’ve been staying with Jeff (NYIC director) and his family, because the Brazilian Church that I’m living in this summer is currently being re-carpeted.  I’m suppose to be able to get into the room I will be staying in tonight, which will be nice.  I’ve been in the process of moving for about two weeks now, so it will be nice to finally fully unzip the suitcase and get comfortable for a while.

This summer is definitely going to be exciting and challenging.  A lot of the work I’m doing is focused on NYIC’s long term goals, which means I’m creating projects to do in the short term that we anticipate seeing the fruits from in 2-5 years.  This is great, but is most assuredly a new kind of experience.  Working on a project with few short term goals, is great, but it also means lots of planning to make sure the path you’re starting down is going to lead where you want it go.  I’ve only been working for a couple of days, but I have already gotten to the point several times where I need to really stop working and think about how the project I’m working on now will shape my work in month or two.  I’m finding myself in lots of situations where I really need to stop and pray, what’s next?  There are a thousand projects that would serve as excellent uses of my time, but a lot of them are really unformed, many to the point that even the first step is unclear.

Right now, I’m in the middle of creating a rather large database.  Think about it as a an address book that includes information on all your interactions with your contacts and includes an entire section on proactive ways to build relationships with people you are acquainted with, but don’t yet know very well.  I’m creating the structure and trying to anticipate what it will look like when it starts swelling with information.

Last night was my first time out exploring on my own– definitely an experience.  I’ve been to New York and small handful of times, but I’ve always had the advantage handicap of having someone show me around.  While walking around, I tried to related it to how I learned my way around DC last summer, but I don’t really think there is much comparison.  The sidewalks are much more crowded, everyone walks much faster, and everything is much bigger.  It’s very different.  That being said, it was still nice, although I will admit, it was nicer on the way back.  Finding my way back to my starting point after a couple of hours proved 1) Despite what my father says I really do have a sense of direction (love you dad) 2) I am beginning to learn my way around.

It will probably take a while to get fully settled, but I am getting my feet on the ground.