Going Back and Giving Back

March 13, 2014 at 9:55 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Tonight I received a phone call from the University I attended for my undergraduate studies. It was a typical annual fund call that I receive every year, and every year I say no.  I’m not the type not to give back and I donate to many causes, but in my mind, as long as I’m paying back my student loans, my college doesn’t need any more of my dollars.  But tonight was different.  Tonight, I changed my mind and gladly gave to the school that gave me so much, and here’s why.

Quite serendipitously, I actually spent the day on campus at my alma mater.  I had been connecting online with other alums and was asked to speak to current students about communications careers in the non-profit sector.   I had not been up on campus in several years and was looking forward to checking out the place I spent 3 formative years in my young life.

I was excited taking the 3 hour drive this morning and I found it surprisingly natural.  Every curve of the road was as if I had been on that road just the day before.  Driving through the town I had spent so much time in, I saw all that had changed and all that had stayed the same.  I drove passed my old apartment and my old dorm rooms before parking on campus.

Walking through the campus with students going about their day was almost like an outer body experience.  I must have looked strange, standing there in the blistering cold taking in the sights, but I wasn’t lost.  I was home.

Having the opportunity to share my experience after college with current students was a real privilege.  I knew all too well everything these students were feeling — the confusion, the anxiety, the wonder, all of it.  I watched as their faces lit up with excitement for all the possibilities to come.  What myself and my co-alum were saying was hitting home for them in a way no professor could.  We had been there, and look how far we’ve come.

Look how far we’ve come.  My, my.  I graduated from college at the end of 2004.  I have been working consistently in a steadily progressive career for 9 years.  I have climbed the ladder. I have learned so much.  I have a ways to go, but I have come so far.  

I set hefty goals for myself, and I push myself to achieve these goals at all costs.  This may sound like a good quality, but the downside to this is that when I don’t achieve what I set out to, I really beat myself up about it.  I have been so hard on myself as of late trying to determine what’s next on my journey, that I haven’t quite taken the time to reflect on how far I’ve come.

Talking with these students may have meant a lot to them, but it meant just as much for me.  In giving them hope, I allowed myself to be proud for at least a moment.

I am a proud alum. I have come so far and there is so much more greatness to come.  And that is why I gave back.

Nothing As it Seems

March 7, 2014 at 4:19 pm | Posted in Life and Living | Leave a comment

The saying goes, “What screws us up the most in life is the picture in our head of what it’s supposed to be.”  It’s something I repeat to myself time and time again as I walk through every day of this life, watching the picture I painted morph into something un-imagined.

The truth is, I’m a product of the culture and society I was raised in.  I was raised in a world that strives for happiness looking a certain way, a society that tells me what is right and what is wrong, not only by law, but by socially accepted “norms.”  Everyone is judging the decisions I make, even when they say they don’t, and I’ll say I don’t care, even when I do.  It’s the nature of society, in turn, humanity.  It’s the inherent need to “fit in” to what is socially acceptable.

So in this country of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,”  I find myself continually setting goals and expectations, and sometimes, no matter how hard I try, they are seemingly unattainable.  I picture things happening a certain way, I plan for things to happen a certain way, but inevitably some factor beyond my control comes into play, messing with my timeline, my end goal, my picture. I’m unprepared. I’m scattered. I don’t feel the way I thought I’d feel, the way I thought I’m supposed to feel.  I don’t know what that means, what any of it means, or if I’m supposed to do anything about it.

The only thing that is for sure is that life will continue on, and most things will change in their own time. You can try to make things happen, but sometimes things need to happen on their own timeline.  Sometimes things may seem to be going as planned, that the pictures we paint are pristine, but nothing is as it seems.

And none of this is new.  I’ve had many a picture altered, mangled and even destroyed.  I’ve had to pick up the pieces of many broken mirrors to see a new reflection.  Life is not linear.  What we think is meant to be in not always meant to be.  The pictures that we paint for others to see don’t tell the whole story.  There are many layers of paint to each picture and some things will never be uncovered. And that’s okay.

But with each setback, with each unexpected event or feeling, we have to adjust.  We have to continue to pursue happiness at whatever the cost.  We have to try to set aside judgement and recognize what makes us happy and keep at it. Because when we are happy, the picture we paint will be beautiful no matter what.

Dealing with Finality

February 24, 2014 at 4:04 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

This past weekend I attended a going away party for a friend of mine.  He has decided that it’s time for him to leave New York for a while and is heading off to Hawaii to participate in a work program of some sort.  He will be out there for at least two months, but doesn’t know where he’ll be after that. So this week, I say my proper “goodbye”, or perhaps more of a “so long,”  because the truth is, good byes are really hard.

My husband has always been acutely aware of time and the finality of certain situations.  When I’d complain about some annoying part of a good situation, he’d always say to me, “don’t take it for granted — this isn’t going to last forever,”  and he was right.  We had some great parties at his old apartment, but it wasn’t going to last forever. Sure we had a lot to clean up and there was always some drama, but overall, it was a great era.  When a good friend of ours lived around the corner, he always made the effort to hang out. It was convenient and fun but sometimes resulted in long nights which made me cranky. But that situation didn’t last forever.  Sometimes it is hard when you are in the moment to realize that it is fleeting, that time has a way of slipping by.

And sometimes, you do recognize the finality of situations. But in recognizing it, that doesn’t always mean you know how to handle it. So often finality comes with entering the unknown.  When are you going to see this person again?  Will you ever see him/her again?  And even if you do know that you either won’t see this person again or it will be many years before you see him/her again, how do you really say good bye?

Somehow, things aren’t going to be the same.  In a fleeting moment you connected with a person, really connected. You don’t know when/if you are going to see him/her again, and you don’t know what that connection will mean.  A few years back, I ran into someone who once meant so much to me.  We hadn’t seen each other in years, and I ran into him by surprise.  We didn’t get to talk, but we didn’t need to — because in that moment, with one look, we said all we needed to say.

Time can change things, but if you are lucky, you can pick up where you left off, should that person ever come back into your life. Because some things are never final.  Some connections, some memories, are strong enough to withstand the test of time.

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