Sunday, April 21, 2013

What were you doing when you were younger?

Penelope writes about looking at what you did when you were younger as an idea of what you should do in the future. Her story involves ditching Hebrew school.

What's your story of where you were when you were younger? It took me awhile to figure out mine, but I believe it has to do with boarding school and Uganda.

When I was fifteen years old, I researched a boarding school to get myself out of dodge my parents' house. I had been homeschooled up until that point (aside from a rogue semester at a Christian private school) and knew that I needed more independence than my parents could tolerate giving their fifteen-on-thirty daughter.

The whole thing was planned out. I found an all-girls college preparatory school that was roughly an hour and a half away, had Christian heritage, and it was perfect. I completed the application and paid the fee myself. I would have driven myself there, but I think I only had a permit. My mother and I hit the road after picking up coffee and muffin from Starbucks.

During my time at Salem, I spent a lot of time dodging Resident Assistance who were out to get me, spent a lot of time in detention hall (the library. it was a very, very tough punishment for Luddite like me. I'm still grateful for the magazine records that place had). The time in the library lead me to read about high schoolers in Illinois who were raising money for schools in Africa.

I also read about the holocaust in Uganda and found a list of organizations at the end of the article that were serving in the area. Instead of starting a new organization in Uganda (where I had never been) why not take the pressure off the organizations to fund raise, allowing them to focus on what they were originated created to do. These organizations were doing great work but were often too small to be ale to handle the demand of needing a full fundraising/marketing team.

I started a blog (and then an organization) and raised awareness. Connected with some other folks who were passionate, too. Found a lawyer to do pro-bono work to get us incorporated. I approached the dean of students and proposed my idea and she told me that I should focus more on raising my European history grade. I called my parents and asked to come and instead of going back the next year, I went to Uganda with a medical missions team.

 So, what does this story tell me about myself:
I'm a visionary.
I like making connections.
I'm not worried about being conventional.
I like to take risks.
I love to travel.
I care about helping people.

As I sit with moving boxes around me, getting ready to say goodbye to friends and move back home, I still think that a lot of these things are true for me today, and there are some definite patterns from my time in college and in my career so far.

This is really an important exercise to keep in the back of your mind when you're making large decisions for the future. Right now, I have a year of blank space between me and a doctoral program starting in the fall of 2014. When you root yourself in what was true of you in the past -- of who you are and what made you happy -- you can make more secure decisions for the future.

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