Saturday, January 16, 2010

Back in Beantown

I am officially back in Boston, trying to remember what "my real life" is like. Being back in Minnesota for almost a month made me feel like Boston had been a dream or a study abroad trip. When I checked in at the Minneapolis airport, the ticket agent said to me, "Oh you're going back home." I was taken aback; no, didn't he realize that I'd been "going home for Christmas," that Minneapolis was my home? But I heard myself agreeing with him. Yes, I live in Boston. My apartment is there, my school is there, my job prospects are there, my internship is there, my church is there, my adventure is there.

Ah, adventures. I set off for Boston several months ago, knowing it would be an adventure. But this excursion is a longer, grittier adventure than any I've ever had before. When I traveled alone to England for a whole summer, that was certainly an adventure. But it ended after three months. My Boston adventure is not some whirlwind trip filled with excitement and non-stop action. It's real life. "And that has made all the difference."

You all may be sick of me saying this, but I really have this sense that I was "meant" to come to Boston, that this adventure is a crucial step in transforming me into the person I am meant to be. And I don't say this lightly: God has been working in my life since I came to Boston in ways I've never felt before. I keep telling people that "things just happen in Boston." I don't know how else to say it--things are happening in my life here; nothing is stagnant; and there's a sense of purpose in all that is transpiring. On my trip back to Minnesota, I saw how I really have become a slightly different person already. I'm not trying to brag, and I hope this blog post doesn't sound that way at all. I know I sometimes have a tendency to be prideful, but that's not at all how I feel when I think about how my Boston adventure has been changing me as a person. Rather, I feel gratitude and awe and excitement and inspiration and hope.

So there you have it, folks. I am back in Boston and I'm looking into the face of the Unknown with a "bring it on" smile. ;-)

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Year in Review (2009)

Though New Year’s kind of seems to fit in the "bogus holiday" category rather than the "deep and meaningful holiday" category, I actually really like it because I like reflecting on the major changes and challenges that occurred in the past year, and I like setting goals for the coming year.

Here's my personal review of 2009:

Winter (January-March)
I was working at the non-profit Christians for Biblical Equality as an editorial and administrative assistant. In March, I was given full-time hours and additional duties in the finance, development, and bookstore departments. I was also still working at the Barnes & Noble in the Eden Prairie Mall, though I did reduce my hours significantly when my CBE job became full-time.

Spring (April-June)
I finally got so fed up with Barnes & Noble that I quit. I hadn’t needed the job for several months, though the [very small amount of] extra income had been nice. I believe the “straw that broke the camel’s back” was when management decided to put yet another photocopied flyer in each of the booksellers’ mailboxes. This particular flyer showed a picture of a well-organized bookshelf next to a messy one and had a list of bullet points describing the above pictures. Please, like anyone could possibly be so stupid as to need such a flyer!

I got my official acceptance into both Emerson and NYU’s publishing grad programs. And I also got my tuition/financial aid statements from both of these schools, which caused me to ask myself perpetually, “Do you really think you can do this? Can you really make this happen without ending up on the streets?”

Summer (July-September)

My struggle over whether to move to Boston to go to Emerson intensified. My parents thought it was a risk that wasn’t worth taking. I, on the other hand, thought that if I didn’t take this risk, I would regret it for the rest of my life. If I couldn’t bring myself to do something like this now, would I ever end up living the exciting life I’d always dreamed of?

In August, I quit my full-time job in the middle of the worst economy since the Depression. I rented an SUV and drove to Boston, along with Ann without whom I would not have made it. Once we got to Boston, we immediately faced a bunch of mini-problems that seemed like a bigger deal to me than perhaps they should have. First of all, we had to carry all my heavy stuff in at 11:00 at night. Fortunately, the hurricane-like rainstorm had slowed to a drizzle. Then, we realized that the toilet wasn’t working properly and we didn’t have a plunger. Or toilet paper. Or a shower curtain. The next morning, I managed to lock myself out of the apartment by bringing a key that fit into the lock but wouldn’t actually open the door. Then we rented a U-Haul van, got lost in Boston’s hopelessly confusing and unmarked roads, got to IKEA and purchased a huge amount of HEAVY furniture, drove back to my apartment, and carried all of that back-breakingly heavy furniture inside (again, while it was raining). That was all within my first 24 hours in Boston.

But that was only the beginning of the challenges. Classes started in September, which actually felt like a breeze. I have handled school my entire life, but this was the first time I was encountering the major real-life dilemmas that come from relocating, becoming independent, and living as a real adult.

Fall (October-December)

This year, October was the cruelest month (sorry, T.S. Eliot). I’d had two interviews for a dream job as the Director of Communications at my church. I knew I shouldn’t count my chickens before they hatched, but I really thought I would get the job. The people interviewing me were so positive, and the position seemed perfect for me, albeit a big step up from anything I’d ever done before. Unfortunately, I was not offered the job.

Also in October, my roommate decided that she wanted to break our lease and move out. This alone would have caused some amount of stress because it’s very difficult to try to find a new roommate in the middle of a semester. However, despite my efforts to maintain a polite and peaceful living environment, the tensions between us quickly grew out of hand to the point that we barely spoke to one another. This eventually made my apartment feel like the place I had to go to avoid living on the streets rather than my home.

But I am not trying to whine and complain and ask for pity. Though October was difficult for me, I grew a lot through it and I really am glad for these challenges. In November, though my circumstances hadn’t changed, my attitude had. I no longer felt that I would simply die if things didn’t work out as I’d hoped they would; instead, I began to truly believe that God’s grace is enough to get me through anything (see my “Yes, No, Wait?” blog post).

I also started a social media/PR internship at Harvard Common Press in November. I am helping out with a travel newsletter/blog that they are starting up. I’ve been learning a lot about how companies can use social networking and new media to create an online presence for themselves and inspire people to visit their website.

In December, my old roommate moved out, and my new roommate will be moving in any day now. I’m still waiting to hear about a job I interviewed for, but things sound fairly promising. (But again, I should not count my chickens before they hatch!) I finished up my first semester of classes, which ended up being really fun and enlightening. And now I’m back in Minnesota for Christmas and New Year’s.

2009 was a defining year of my life, and I am so glad that I took the risk of moving to Boston. I am looking forward to new challenges and triumphs in 2010.