Narrators of Our Own Stories

This is something I figured out at age thirteen: I get to write my own story. I don’t know if it is because I knew my father re-narrated his childhood; he turned his upbringing of maltreatment and bad parenting into his guidelines for what he never wanted to become. Maybe it was from watching my brother: watching Kevin pave his way as an educator in a Tae Kwon Do studio, then at a day-care at his alma mater, and now as an applied behavioral counselor for children with Autism. Who knows what is next for him. I don’t even think he really knows. But he knows he has a past that will support him.Or maybe it was my watching my mom transform from a hard-working nurse who showed up to work every day to an advocate for nurses even at a time when that is not a popular thing to be in her working environment.

And of course my sister Lauren. She’s the one who gave me my analogy when I was thirteen. She loves puzzles. Her feat is that she can do the puzzles without looking at the graphic side. Yep, she just sees how the pieces fit together. Lauren is lucky. Her world, at times, is in black in white. Mine is not. My pieces to my puzzle get strewn about. They shift every time I move. I lose pieces. Lose connections. Lose my spot. And then I have to change the way I’m looking at the puzzle. I step back and take a different approach. I alter my narration. I retell my story. I re-member something differently. I put my pieces back together in a different way than before and I create meaning.

Why did I have to hurt my back while rowing? It wasn’t clear then. And maybe my feelings will change, but now I see it as having allowed me to do my grad school search my senior year without having to stress about missing practice or regattas or letting down my team. Obviously, I didn’t hurt my back thinking that I needed an out… but it sure does make you believe in something bigger… or in yourself. In your own power to narrate your own life story. In your own power to make meaning out of things that at first just don’t make sense.

This is a type of psychology called Narrative Therapy which I explored at the end of reading “Helping College Students Find Purpose.” I have been doing this my whole life. It just makes me realize that it is a tool that I can use in my paraprofessional and soon to be professional work to help others find their own narratives. Stories have the power to move people. When we tell our stories and someone reads or listens to it, we are validated. Everyone deserves to be validated as a person.

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So I’m Starting Grad School…

Since we’ve last spoken, a lot has occurred. And I mean… A LOT.

I had a few stressful moments in my internship, so I ended up doing a few scrapbook pages (no text yet, just pics) and sending a few cards to people who deserved them. The boyfrand was SO much fun this summer. We’re still dating and and things are going well.. if you have any advice for a couple trying to keep the magic alive long distance, HOLLER. We’re excited and ready for whatever life throws at us. Anyways, during the last few weeks in Indy, I had thai food, saw my logo I worked on all summer on a publication, and hung out in a neck of Indy that I hadn’t discovered before.

I should probably talk about my internship a little bit more… I got to it a little bit early, which ended up being a good call. I got to hang out with my dad more than I had since leaving for college. So it was much needed.
I started helping out in the office once my dad left (and started seeing the boyfrand) and started getting to know my roommates and co-interns. In terms of the professional experience I received, I am so pleased. It was really cool and rewarding to be able to meet with so many professionals in all areas of student life, admissions, residence life, and other functional areas of student affairs. I realized that I do well with two different types of supervisors: the more hands-on and the more hands-off. I am a self-starter and will ask questions when I need to, so the hands-off approach is totally fine with me. The projects and things we got to work on and participate in were as follows: created a training manual for RAs, designed polos for the department, designed a new logo and participated in the rebranding and marketing for the department of Residence Life, sat through strategic planning meetings, helped out with brainstorming of traditions and school spirit initiatives, totally reformatted and helped troubleshoot a new room condition report and process, and helped out where ever I could. After I started wrapping up all of these projects, I realized my internship was coming to a close.

Then I realized that I had to start getting ready for Vermont. I repeat: I had to start getting ready for Vermont. I was preparing to leave for my first year of grad school. I am not gonna lie… I had a major freak out.

I started browsing through the website and looking at why other folks in the program chose this school and what they felt about it. A lot of them had felt this strong connection at the interview days… one that I had definitely felt was missing. I had walked away from interviews feeling self-conscious, underprepared, and defeated for many reasons.

I woke up the next morning from this panic realizing that my brain had been working overtime. I knew why I accepted admission into this program and why I deserved to be there. I think a lot of it came from me realizing that my internship and the folks at this institution were working hard to make sure that I came out of this summer experience prepared for grad school and ready to take on anything Vermont could throw at me. And I knew Vermont would throw a lot of things my way. I knew (and know) that it would challenge me to reexamine my past, my experiences, and my way of thinking. What I realized when I woke up that day, was not that my internship would prepare me, but that my excitement and enthusiasm for learning would also propel me far in the program.

I remembered looking at the courses that I would and could take while enrolled here and I remembered thinking that those classes were ideal. They were perfect. I remembered this. Finally. And I allowed myself to again get excited. I mean.. look at this cow. Wouldn’t you want to go to a school that had this cow posted in its student center? Yeah. Me too. So I am. I’m giving it a chance.

 

And now I’m here. Sitting in the living room of one of my cohort members and new friend. He graciously offered me his guest room when he heard that I couldn’t move into my apartment for another few weeks because it was being remodeled. Oh, and the room in the residence hall they provided for me in the meantime was really hot in the daytime and noisy in the mornings because they were doing construction and restorations on the facade and chimney of the hall (which happens to be a mansion! Super cool actually).

I peeked into my future apartment today and was delighted to see a pile of new furniture, a tangle of what will be my queen size bed, and cabinets and a sink in the kitchen. Woot woot! I’ll stop by there again tomorrow to see how things are looking. Right now, I’m occupied with learning how to be an office manager (going through training on how to do room changes, dole out keys, and prepare a hall for opening) and learning what exactly my marketing, publications, and assessment part of my assistantship entails. My supervisor has been really helpful, as well as all of the other folks I’ve met. I’m even getting a new chair for my office. Bright green, of course.

No, the bike didn’t come with it 😦

Oh, speaking of bright colors, my Jetta (the 10-year old baby my mom and pop gave to me for graduation to get me across country)… well.. she is no longer around. She needed almost $3,000 worth of repairs (for a lot of small things and one bigger thing) and needless to say, that probably would not have been the end. So, with my mom still in town from helping me drive from Indianapolis to Vermont, she went to the VW dealer with me… where I ended up picking out a beautiful red Jetta Sportswagen to lease for the next three years. It’s a stationwagon, so my dream is coming true. I’ve always wanted a mom-wagon. =] And now I have one. YAY. AND SHE’S RED. Jettish the wagon. Or, the wagon for short.

 

Additionally… the drive in the old Jetta from Indy to VT was B-E-A-Utiful… and I got to drive it with my amazing mother. We got to enjoy a lovely stay in a hotel near campus, shop for decorative items for my new apartment, try LOBSTER for the first time (for me), and eat maple creemeeeees. So so so so goooood. Everyone MUST try them at some point in their life. I though I would never have anything as good as frozen custard, but maple creemees are pretty up there. Man.. a maple frozen custard would probably kill me… I’m down.

AHH I almost forgot! We stopped at Niagara Falls on the way over here! It was SO COOL. I still need to google what the hell happened that formed the falls, but they are SO incredible. You feel so small standing next to the rushing water. But it was beautiful. Just plain beautiful.

We also got to go to downtown Middleburry, VT and attend a beer and wine festival called Midd-Fest. It was a gorgeous day.. a little hot, but overall, very awesome. And I got to spend it with my best friend. =]Anyways, I should get back to watching Felicity.. I am catching up on 90s tv shows while I can. And this is it: I am starting grad school.

Love, the ever-talkative,