I felt the need to reflect back on my year, personally and professionally, as I settle into the comforts of winter break. I've been able to sleep in, see family, work through my Netflix queue, spend time with my wonderful partner, and generally not have to do anything I don't choose. This has been a relaxing, calming experience since the residence halls closed. I've been able to center myself again after the sort of manic-ness that is the end of the semester. Looking back, this past year had a few ups and downs but I feel as though it was a year where I challenged myself in a few new ways, and grew because of it. I'm thankful, with the clarity of hindsight, to see that it all happened for a reason to make me a better, more confident person.
To work chronologically, I honestly started the year in a bad place. I had a rough time getting through the holidays, having spent them pretty much alone. In response, I just kept to myself in my apartment and didn't really get up to much. I actually looked forward to the semester started since it would give me a purpose and something to do with my time. As the semester went forward, I was volunteering some of my time in various offices and was honing in my focus on the type of work and skills I wanted to cultivate. I was doing some things I didn't find that rewarding and others that I had a blast being a part of, namely doing marketing work for the Division of Student Affairs here at Rutgers. I worked with great people doing cool new things I'd never tried before. Flexing these new muscles, I was able to gain confidence that I could be a quick learner and contribute meaningful things to a new team.
A huge new adventure for me this past year was flying out to Las Vegas for the annual convention for ACPA (a national college student affairs organization for those who don't know). At this time, I hadn't flown for years, much less gone across the country. I'd always just stuck to the East Coast so going to a whole new place, also never having gone to a big convention before, made the experience an amazing one once I came back and crashed on my bed in New Jersey after a whirlwind week. While I wasn't much of a fan of the city of Las Vegas, I had a very rewarding time challenging myself to go far out of my comfort zone; learning new things and meeting new people.
Next, after feeling great finishing my first year of graduate school and getting through a year supervising a residence hall community, I quickly transitioned right into my summer working with New Student Orientation here at Rutgers. The journey to get here, however, was not what I thought it would be. I applied for various NODA (the national college orientation organization) internships around the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions of the country. I interviewed for several of them and got rejected for all of them. I simultaneously applied for opportunities here at Rutgers as a backup plan, hoping to continue my spirit of adventure at another institution for the summer. Nevertheless, I ended up here, at the very least doing the sort of work I wanted to do, so I was happy enough. Little did I know I was getting myself into one of the best summers of my life, personally and professionally.
First off, I was able to deepen connections with fellow members of my cohort who were also in the area for the summer. Second, I garnered a newfound respect for Rutgers and everything it is capable of as a large institution. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I met my new partner, Jenn. I would not have had the pleasure of having her in my life if I hadn't stayed here. I feel different about her, as opposed to others I've dated, and it's been an amazing ride so far these past few months so I look forward to what's next. She's pretty awesome. I can't say that enough. I'll have to introduce you soon.
My last interesting experience I wish to quickly share was going to the Firefly Music Festival that takes place in Delaware (my home state). I went with a friend and it was a wild ride. I have to mention it and share the fun I had since even though it was just a brief part of my year, I never thought I'd do something like that and I am proud to say I did.
So here I am, having completed 3/4 of my master's degree, on the precipice of the job search, and having a wonderful relationship to support and inspire me. I feel very grateful and while everything may not have worked at times like I thought they should, as I tell folks all the time, it all happens for a reason, whether or not we can see it yet or not. Be on the lookout for a post on the year ahead.