How To Ruin Your Life (Without Even Noticing That You Are)

Jack Korpob:

This is beyond beautiful! Read it!

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

Erin KellyErin Kelly

Understand that life is not a straight line. Life is not a set timeline of milestones. It is okay if you don’t finish school, get married, find a job that supports you, have a family, make money, and live comfortably all by this age, or that age. It’s okay if you do, as long as you understand that if you’re not married by 25, or a Vice President by 30 — or even happy, for that matter — the world isn’t going to condemn you. You are allowed to backtrack. You are allowed to figure out what inspires you. You are allowed time, and I think we often forget that. We choose a program right out of high school because the proper thing to do is to go straight to University. We choose a job right out of University, even if we didn’t love our program, because we…

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A New Sense of Freedom

These past couple of weeks have felt very different compared to the rest of the year. It’s summer, so it definitely feels differently weather wise, but it’s not that. I feel a lot more free, mostly because I have a car. My car had about 70 miles when I drove it off the dealership lot, but now it has over 700 miles (gained in about 2-3 weeks). That’s not too bad, but the car has provided me access to things I didn’t have before, and freedom to just go places (sometimes, much needed).

One of the things I told myself was that if I got a car while living in Vermont, I would need to get an appropriate car that I could drive into the mountains. Well, check and check, because I definitely got the most ideal car for Vermont, an Impreza Sport, and I have already taken it to the mountains (and other hikes and such). So, I made good on my promise to myself.

Now, I understand why people have cars and what it provides. It provides me access to escape and to just get away (or get places a lot quicker). I’ve driven it into Boston, taken it around town, and into the great outdoors!

Well, the car also supplements my hectic and often stressful work lifestyle. Even in the summer, my work load still seems to be high and I still deal with many of the student issues and other tasks I had during the year (just a little less). I still work in the same environment, so although things feel different, they often feel the same. So, the car purchase came to me at a really good time and has allowed me to get away from home/work (being a live-in staff member makes it so hard to go “home” at night and feel like I am actually away).

So, this past week has been a trying one. I totally enjoy my job and the people, but there are certain things that happen that really get under my skin. Luckily, it’s involving none of the people I directly work everyday with and interface with within my department, so that’s so reassuring and encouraging. So, I have less control over those situations and people. I think this new sense of freedom comes at a good time because it allows me to take lunch “off-campus” and often alone. I allow myself to do things on my own, not waiting for anyone to come with me.

This past weekend, I had a mixture of both. I watched movies, hiked, and had meals with people, but I also found to do all this things by myself as well. I am not in a relationship nor do I feel urgent attachment to have co-workers and friends with me 24/7, so I’m learning to embrace being alone and sometimes, I enjoy it. It gets me away from thinking “I hate people” to thinking “I need to be alone right now to recharge so I can be positive and cheerful around people”.

So, friends, co-workers, etcetera. Don’t get mad at me if I go do things on my own or I didn’t invite you. It’s nothing personal. I love doing things with people. However, I can’t forget that when I stand around waiting for others, I may end up with nothing in the end. Sometimes, I actually need to be alone to sit in whatever I’m feeling or experiencing so that I can be my full self again. I mentioned that this week has been tough and I haven’t been the most inviting of others around me. That’s because I actually need to be by myself, and for once, I have access and the privilege to have a sense of freedom to make a choice to be here, on an outdoor adventure, or whatever it is my mind takes me.

I have no idea if this all makes sense, but sometimes, you just have to do things by yourself and embrace that individual freedom to do anything you want to do.

Look for Depth: Reconnecting to Passions

I haven’t blogged in a while, and so I decided that I need to get back into it. There’s a reason for it! Here’s the little story and what I hope will be more blog posts to come. The academic year has finally ended and things are changing. I recently purchased my first car (hooray!). It’s a 2015 Subaru Impreza 5-door if you’re wondering (I named it Jake, as it represents my “alter ego”…I often present as a by the books, organized, and focused person, but I often have my ridiculous, hot mess, and spontaneous side).

The other change is that I have a cat. His name is Chester and he’s an orange tabby. I adopted him from my friend Brett, who has been fostering him for a while. I figured it would put me into more a routine and to actually get up to take care of another living thing that actually depends on me.

Soon, I will be packing up my current apartment and moving across campus to a new complex and I will be supervising a new grad student. Things are definitely changing fast!

Well, today was a great day. My office manager got to meet my cat and basically spent the entire day with him in her office. He totally loved it. Then, I had lunch with my supervisor for next year. Good food and conversations. We watched Pitch Perfect 2, which then sparked me to drive to the bookstore to get a good book to read. I stumbled upon some good finds and put some down because I knew I could get them cheaper online. However, I needed to come home to blog about my inspiration for blogging and getting back to the things I want to do, but always put aside.

I stumbled upon a book by Patrick Lindsay called Make the Most of You. It features “170 ways to be the best you can be” and the first thing says the following:

Look for Depth

Our world pushes us towards shallowness. All width and no depth. Driven by the fear of missing out, we’re constantly plugged in to our devices at the expense of real relationships and passions. Make the technology work for you; find your passions and explore them.

Passion is universal humanity. Without it religion, history, romance and art would be useless. -Honore De Balzac (1799-1850)

So, today was a day that I forgot my phone in the car during lunch and it was great to have lunch and a conversation that was meaningful without the need to check my phone. I knew I would get back to it in about 2 hours. I think there are so many excuses I have made up (we all have made up) that take us away from doing something, experiencing what is in front of us, and truly doing what brings us joy (passion).

So, while I was at the bookstore tonight, I decided to pick up a book to read for pleasure and I’m going to start it tonight and promise myself to read everyday until I finish it (and move onto another book, so on, and so forth). I enjoy reading, but I never make time for it. However, I make time for a lot of things that require my phone and my computer. So, I’ll crack open that book and enjoy a story once in a while.

The Make the Most of You book has a summary in the back that says that it will ask some deep questions. They are:

  • Who are you?
  • Where are you headed?
  • What could you yet be?
  • What holds you back?

Big and deep questions, indeed! I think that every day (or every couple of days), I’ll read a few of these and blog about them. It’s a good place to pause life and reflect on what actually is happening. As I enter my 2nd year of my career, I need to really think and reflect on those deep questions. I’m definitely excited to do that and start to be the best I can be for myself and for others.

If you’re curious, I bought an exclusive collector’s edition of John Green’s Looking for Alaska. I’ve been wanting to start reading his books, so I think this will be a good starting point. I hear this book is excellent and inspiring! Excited to get started!

Because Brett Asked Me To Blog

Here’s a blog post I promised Brett Fink (soon to be Boston College grad) that I would write.

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I haven’t blogged in a while. That’s a problem! I used to blog all the time and my writing skills were great (or at least I thought so). Anyway, a lot has happened since last summer and fall and life has changed a ton. Here’s the briefest of brief overviews of my life in a nutshell.

My Mom & Vacation

Fall going into winter was tough. Work wise, things seemed to be moving slow because the weather dictates energy level in the Northeast. It’s a busy time of year before Thanksgiving and Winter Break. I then learned that my mom wasn’t doing well, so I actually few to Thailand. I met with my sister and family and visited my Mom everyday over the course of almost two weeks, but my mom was unconscious the entire time. Doctors explained she had a number of ailments–heart problems, kidney problems, infections–on top of her diabetes. So, everything she didn’t do to take care of herself was catching up quickly. We knew that it was a matter of time until she would pass, but we could not stay in Thailand. So, my sister and I had to head back to the U.S.

Winter break began and again, I wondered when my mom would pass. I knew my family would keep us updated on her condition. Meanwhile, I knew my life had to move forward. I decided to take my first legitimate vacation to Disney World and Universal Orlando. I knew I needed to get away and just have fun, because if anything, my mom’s ailments told me life is short and that it was always my dream to go to Disney World. This was a time I could actually afford it, so I decided to make the trip with Luis. All in all, it was a fun experience and just a good time to just focus on myself while experiencing what vacation really feels like. I realized that people go on them because it really is relaxing. It’s a privilege, for sure, so I’m not saying everyone should go on vacation, but that if you can, do it. It was my form of self-care among everything happening in my life.

Thankfully, my job is full of wonderful people and people who understand situations come up. When I returned back to Boston, I learned my mom had passed. I quickly had to come up with money to be able to make the trip back to Thailand (going twice in a month is really expensive). So, I eventually came up with the funds and made it back to Thailand. Although the time before felt a little more like vacation, this time, it was for a lot of funeral services and my mom’s cremation ceremonies.

Thai Buddhism consists of a lot of praying, but a lot of celebration, too. Leading up to the cremation, lots of people come out and pray every night with the family. Food is served and services don’t last long, but it brings people together multiple times. Once the cremation happened and we took my mom’s bones and ashes out to sea (in a beautiful spot), things were just a lot happier. Everything is just more beautiful in Thailand and doing something like this in the U.S. wouldn’t have been the same, so I’m thankful my mom passed in Thailand and not in the U.S. I think the entire experience just provided closure and I know my mom is resting. Life was just hard these past couple of years and I know she’s in a better place, wherever that is.

My Job & Weather

Like I said, weather dictates my mood and energy levels. It’s been hard-working through an entire day without being tired or wanting to take a mid-day nap. I hate winter and I can’t wait for actual spring and summer and even fall! Warmth. I need sunlight. I think this year has been such a learning experience and is going a lot quicker than I had ever expected. As I start a day, it’s the end of the day and it’s a new week and new month. I can’t believe it’s already March (as I’m writing this). It’s been great to learn how to do my job and learn to do it better each day. I know I entered not knowing a lot about residential life, so all I can say is that I’ve learned a lot and I’m hoping as I end my first year, I can reflect on how to do the job even better.

When the summer heat comes, I’ll be in training again (maybe this signals the most productivity in terms of learning for me).

Everything Else & Nothing Else

It’s always interesting to go through each new stage of life. People come and go all the time. People I think I’m supposed to be friends forever with one day just stop talking to me or walk away. I can’t control that anymore than anything else in life, but it’s just so interesting. I was asked by a couple of people over the last few months to blog, and this time it was Brett who asked me to write about my life and experiences, and so he gets the credit on this one. Tory gets the credit on the last post (which was months after the last post before it).

I plan to run the Boston Run to Remember Half Marathon again this year over Memorial Day Weekend and I’m hoping to sign up to run the Disney World Marathon in January 2016. I think of all things I have been thinking about, it is how I need to get healthier. I don’t want diabetes, heart problems, kidney problems, or high cholesterol. I don’t want to be over weight and sick all the time. I don’t want to die before the age of 70. So, it’s true when I say my mom taught me a lot about what not to do.

So, I’m taking names of people who totally would make the trip down to Disney World in January to run the marathon with me! Seriously. Do. It.

The First 90 Days (In My First #SAPro Job)

This was a post I submitted for the CSDA Alumni Newsletter. I don’t know if it was ever used, but I figured I should post it on my personal blog, since I haven’t blogged in awhile.

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It’s officially 90 days past the start of my first job out of the CSDC program here at the University of Vermont, so it’s a perfect time to reflect on the experience as a new #SAPro.

Being a Residence Director right out of grad school was not in my 5 year plan. It was not in my life plan at all. However, I still remember back in January when I decided to attend the Placement Exchange (TPE) in Baltimore before the NASPA conference, I had to be open to the possibility and opportunities that presented themselves. I still remember the list of things I was looking for in my first job: a challenge to me professionally and personally, a department that values social justice, a job that changes day-to-day, the ability to supervise a staff (possibly a grad), the ability to facilitate or teach a class, a department committed to my professional development, a fun and caring work environment with people who actually want to get to know me, and a fair salary and benefits for the amount of work I would perform. My list seemed like it had a lot of things, but I was determined to find where I needed to be, with the assumption that I would have to give some things up along the way.

As I did my search and decided to apply to jobs, I started to not focus on every little thing on my list and looked into jobs within residential life. Eventually, I interviewed and was offered a Residence Director position at the University of Vermont. I was thrilled to even be employed, but I realized that the job I took had all of the things in my wish list. Looking back, it was when I opened up myself to any functional area that met my criteria that I was able to find what I was looking for.

90 days in (at the time of writing), I will say that I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at UVM so far. I will say that I have been challenged personally and professionally. I have had to learn what it means to work in residence life and had to hit the ground running. After a month and a half of summer training, I realized that my cohort while in the CSDC program really informed me of what my job would entail. Through informal conversations and class conversations, I was able to hear about the challenges and everyday job functions of those who had graduate assistantships in residential life. I have also found that the Law & Ethics in Higher Education course has been one of the most useful classes that I feel the application of the material every day in my job.

So, I realized I did not have to give up anything on my wish list when it came to finding my first job. What I did have to do was open myself up to working in residential life. I’m glad I made that decision because I’m really enjoying the various aspects of my job. I have the chance to develop and supervise a staff of 12 resident advisors in a building that is composed of over 50% international students from all over the world. I currently facilitate an 8 week RA course geared towards develop understanding of identities and how they play into social justice. This class is a challenging course because it asks new RAs to reflect on their own lives and experiences and learn from each other. We have this course because of UVM and the Department of Residential Life’s commitment to social justice and diversity and inclusion. I feel very blessed that the Division of Student Affairs here really “talks the talk” and “walks the walk” when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Last of all, I actually have coworkers who I genuinely like and I am friends with. I think I have been able to form some kind of community and really like who I work with.

My advice to student in the CSDC program is to remain open. Acknowledge the things you want from a job, but be open to positions you might not ordinarily consider and be open to many functional areas in your job search. If you focus too hard on the wish list, you may feel like you’re not getting anywhere in the search. If you don’t have a wish list, you may be wandering aimlessly through tons of job postings. Even if you don’t end up applying or interviewing for a position, at least give everything a chance to interest you. Once I opened myself up to many functional areas, I found the job I was looking for, even though it was in a functional area I didn’t plan to work in out of graduate school. The last piece of advice is to use connections to further your search. Ask people you know about the things they know about functional areas, positions, and institutions and ask them who they know for even more connections.

Now that I’m past my 90 days as an #SAPro, I’m excited to see what comes next for me in my position as a new professional and I’m excited for all the learning opportunities that present themselves! In my first 90 days, I’ve learned that I do like this job and functional area more than I thought I would. It took some risk taking to get here, but I honestly feel like I have gained so much already from this job.

The First 7 Days of My #SAPro Life

Even though I’ve been in Vermont for 20 days, today is officially my first 7 days of my #SAPro life. That means I started training and all that jazz! I thought it would be nice to reflect on my transition so far as it related to my personal and professional life in hopes of making sure I take a pause to think about everything that has happened, as well as allow myself the opportunity to hopefully keep this perspective somewhere for myself when I transition into my second job one day, as well as help others (if they decide to read this).

Leaving Boston was very hard. I spent nearly 4 full years in the city and really got used to the day-to-day life I was living. Two years of AmeriCorps/City Year and two years of graduate school at Northeastern University made me feel like I had structure. I knew what I was doing and everything was convenient. When I moved on July 1st, I felt sad about moving for the very first time in my life!

I admit that I cried once before moving. What made me the most sad was that I was leaving my friends that became my family over the course of 4 years. I also started to realize how convenient everything was in Boston. The bus and T shuttled me everywhere and mostly everything was walking distance. But, the big move came and went and here I am in Burlington, Vermont!

I have to say that moving in was relatively easy. I had help from my Compass (returning RD) other RDs, and grads. I truly appreciated this because I have a lot of stuff from the past 4 years of my life. It took a couple days to get things unpacked and for me to feel like I’ve settled in. I think coming into a completely new environment made me feel a little like I was on vacation. I sometimes went to sleep and thought I would be waking up in the middle of Boston with the sound of cars driving by outside. But, that wasn’t the case. I woke up to students walking the halls or silence (seriously, it’s so quiet in the summer to the point it feels loud).

I’ve had the chance to hang out with Mike Prinkey, who works at Champlain College, meet the other ACs (Area Coordinators) he works with, as well as check out the ArtsRiot Food Truck Rally! I got to check out the Burlington Farmer’s Market and walked around the different malls and Church Street.

On work side of things, I had my New Staff Orientation at UVM, which was really helpful. I did lots of paperwork over the last couple of weeks and met lots of people. Overall, I’m really liking everything. I have missed a true university/college campus feel, and UVM definitely does not disappoint on that end. Everyone has been super nice and helpful to me as well, which has been great!

My building, Marsh-Austin-Tupper Complex, or MAT, is nice. It has the traditional ResHall style corridors with singles, doubles, and triples, and my building houses the Global Gateway Program, so I’ll have lots of international students among the general population that makes up my complex.

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My building, Marsh-Austin-Tupper Complex (MAT)!

The first full week of work has been filled with lots of different training sessions and meals to get the RDs together, which has been really nice! I also got to meet my grad and Assistant Residence Director (ARD) Atiya McGhee! We had lunch (from Wings over Burlington, which I had no idea there was even one here) and started our conversations about the year! It was nice to have an informal time together before we start the year with training!

This past weekend, we had our RD Retreat at Jay Peak, which was completely what I needed! It really was rejuvenating, even though we were all so sore and tired by the end of the first day! Jay Peak Resort has a water park called the Pump House. There are various slides, a lazy river (which is not so lazy, more active than you’d like), pools, an indoor wave machine, and hot tubs. This was my first time in awhile going to a water park, and my first time going on a water slide!

We got in, and because I had researched the park before, I knew there was a scary slide called La Chute (the red slide). Basically, you climb up the stairs and go to the highest point that juts outside the rood of the building. You enter a chamber and the door closes. The operator turns the key to lock you in while starting a countdown. The voice inside the chamber counts down from 3 and then the floor drops below your feet. Before you know it, you’re plunging down a nearly vertical slide (and it feels like you drop rather than slide). Your stomach feels like it goes into your throat and you feel like you just fall through a hole. Before you know it, you’re shooting up a large over-banked turn/loop and you’re sliding down (while water rains down within the slide) and you splash down.

The whole thing is over before you know it, but it’s pretty thrilling to say the least. So, what happened was, we got to the park and decided to get it over with and walked up. So, I thought there was going to be some kind of line. I was totally wrong. A couple of the RDs went first and then it was my turn. There was literally no time to think and off I went. Well, I got it over with and I had enough of that. I will say that La Chute is scarier than any roller coaster I’ve been on! I just feel like water slides are scary in general because you can flip or get stuck.

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Anyway, we had a great day overall! We headed back soon after to our condo to take showers and make pizzas for dinner. The food was absolutely delicious. After that, we played some board games to get to know each other more, and you know how that goes! I will say that the Game of Things is probably now my favorite party board game compared to Apples to Apples.

After we all woke up, we cooked breakfast and left to our meeting space at the main resort hotel. They had signs for us and everything! Our view was absolutely incredible as well! After a really good talk, we got back into the cars for our ride back!

I think I’m warming up to Burlington. I have to remember that I grew up in a regular city and didn’t always used to have things so conveniently placed. I do enjoy the food in Burlington and the relatively lower numbers of people in general around town. I also became a Vermont Resident on July 18th when I converted my out of state license to a Vermont license. I waited about 40-45 minutes from walking in to leaving (with my new license in hand). That is amazing compared to the 2-4 hour waits that are regular in California!

So far, it has been a really great first 7 full days in this new job! I have a lot to learn and this year will test my ability to think on my feet and navigate a completely new environment. But, I’m trying to remain confident in myself that I will both get the support I need and that I can do my job. I probably will want to recap this next week or so with RET (Residential Education Team) training beginning, then come back again after RA training! Until then…

More to come from my new #SAPro life! The journey continues!

The Journey Takes Me To Vermont

I haven’t blogged since March, but the journey has been filled with some really great things! The last time I blogged, I was in the middle of interviews for jobs. After some on-campus interviews, I landed a job at the University of Vermont as a Residence Director in a very social justice oriented department!

When I entered the interview hall at the Placement Exchange in Baltimore, I was not very confident. How would I succeed and land a job amongst the thousands of people in this building?  I won’t lie. I thought it was impossible! Well, behold, I am one of TPE’s successes and managed to snag a position. I am very grateful and lucky in many ways. Yes, I knew some people at UVM on the ResLife staff, all of which made the interview process at UVM very fun and enjoyable, but I saw many people get their names called to interview at TPE, so the fact that I got the job in the end is just amazing to me.

I think it’s also funny. I entered the job search not really wanting to do Residence Life all that much. But, when I interviewed, I realized how much I wanted to see what ResLife is all about! I also think it has some great transferable skills. I turned down on-campus interview offers relating to service/leadership in the process, which I have to say, shocked me at the time. They were great institutions and  great jobs, but I think for my first job, I needed something that would expose me to a variety of things and experiences.

If you’re reading this and want help with the job search, I’m all ears. I feel like I asked so much people for help and assistance on my resume and cover letters, as well as advice on my search process, so feel free to ask!

So, what else have I been up to?

Well, I graduated with my Masters of Science in College Student Development and Counseling from Northeastern University! Finally! It was pretty glorious. Finally done with school (at least for now)! My mom and sister made it out to my commencement ceremony with my bestie Yaa! I was also mentioned in the President’s speech, which took me by surprise! I really enjoyed all the love I got for the two years of hard and tiring work. My multiple jobs and internships definitely paid off, because I walked across the stage with a job in hand and a future ahead of me! After Commencement, I had a lovely dinner with family and friends, which was really awesome because my group of friends come from all different parts of my life. To have them all sit at the same table was just great for me to see.

After that, I did the impossible. I served as a Cluster Facilitator for the National Session of LeaderShape for Boston. It was a very great experience and I had an amazing group of students who named themselves Captain Jack’s Pirates (named after yours truly). Right after this, I went home and napped, because I went to Boston Calling. The next day, I went to Boston Calling again! I was very tired when I got home, so I went to sleep and woke up very early to run a half-marathon.

That’s right. I was exhausted as hell and went to run the Boston’s Run to Remember Half-Marathon for the 2nd year in a row! Amazing stuff. I have to say, I had zero confidence that I would be able to run it. But, I ran the entire thing with Alyssa and I pretty much got almost the same time I got last year (with even LESS training than last year)! Once again, I proved that you can do anything you want to do if you just figure it all out and just do it.

Okay, so I continued to be crazy and that night after the half-marathon, I went to Boston Calling for the final night. Amazingly, I was able to stand with little to no soreness. I massaged myself, iced a lot, and rested before the night of standing. Luis was more sore than I was at Boston Calling.

The next weekend, I went Sky Diving in Pepperell with Kledio and his friend Mike. In one word: AMAZING. It really was. Bucket list item has been knocked out and I would do it again in a heart beat.

I then went away to do another session of LeaderShape, again with MIT-SUTD like I did last year. I served again as the Cluster Facilitator and this time, had two of my friends from my program serve as Cluster Facilitators.

So, in all of this, I befriended this cool guy named Luis. The funny story is that we live near each other and I noticed him on the T one day back in September, but didn’t meet him until February of this year. Anyway, we did everything together the past couple of months, including the Imagine Dragons concert, Six Flags, OneRepublic concert, Amaluna (Cirque du Soleil), Boston Calling, and countless days and nights of eating and watching Game of Thrones. He will hate that I am writing about him in my blog, but I’ve never had a friend or any other human like him who I truly love to be around 24/7. He can kill me later for writing this, but I don’t care.

What saddens me about everything is that I just moved to Burlington, Vermont for my position. I left all my friends behind and Luis. This really makes me sad, but I know I need to start my career, especially that I just finished graduate school. I know they are all still just 4 hours away, but I’m still sad. This is probably the first time I have ever felt sad about moving and leaving people behind. I hope to get a car in the next couple of months so that I can travel to Boston to visit and so that I don’t have to walk everywhere in the snow when winter hits!

Anyway, that’s my update for the past couple of months! I hope to blog a little more regularly without months in between each post.

Below is a gallery of photos from the MIT-SUTD LeaderShape Institute!