Sunday, January 20, 2013

Of Treasure Hunts and Future Plans

Remember when you were a kid and going on an adventure to find a treasure was as exciting as being allowed to eat ice cream and cookies for dinner or getting to stay up past your bedtime. Perhaps there'd be a map with a dashed line leading somewhere with a GIGANTIC "X" marking the spot. 
Or maybe there were individual clues that led you to the final treasure.  Oh! the excitement that radiated through your bones as you embarked on The Ultimate Treasure Hunt grasping a plastic compass and a paper-towel roll "spyglass", because you knew there was the coolest treasure where "X" was.  Half the joy coming from solving the mystery of just figuring out what the treasure was going to be at the end.  And to be honest sometimes the treasure at the end was kind of dinky compared to your expectations (Although in reality are you really going to find a Leprechaun with a Pot of Gold, a Space Alien Time Capsule,  or Pirates Treasure with Authentic Spanish doubloons).  In the end, however, it was the thrill of the adventure and the excitement of the unknown that made the whole experience worth it! 

Now flash forward a few years and your childhood treasure map has been converted into a life map so to speak.  Various obstacles and achievements dot your map.  Photo albums, scrapbooks, and boxes of loose photos have documented life's adventures.  Perhaps you can even add a few trophies, passport stamps and diplomas as evidence of life's adventures.  Each picture and memento marking a step in your journey.  Tears have been shed and lessons learned as you forge ahead towards the "X"- that Ultimate Goal.  And upon reaching the goal you jump and you scream and you declare to the world that you have conquered and you now have achieved success. But after reaching this goal are you content to set up camp or do you start to wonder- what's next? Surely this can't be the end of my journey? Yes Hollywood tends to draw the movie to a close around this point, but haven't most of us asked, WELL WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? and then we're left to wait for the sequel to come out or we have to come up with our own continuing story.

In Life, unlike the movies, we unfortunately don't get to wait for the screen writers to come up with a new plot for the next movie. Nor does someone draw a map for us like when we were kids.  Instead we smack straight into those really big X's in our lives.  Maybe the rest of you are a little more coordinated with the whole Life "X" thing than I am, and don't smack into your "X"s.  But lately I feel like I've smacked so hard into my last "X" that I got vertigo and my head is spinning as I try to plan my path to my future "X."

Now in the umpteenth attempt to write about what I've been experiencing lately I think I've finally been able to, in a way, summarize my current perplexities with life. I honestly did't know what I was going to be writing about, but I just started writing and I'm figure it out as I go, and you've been blessed to come along for the ride. I don't think I've bored you to much, at least I hope not! I've noticed, however, that my blog is in a way my free psychologist--- so at times I'm sure you feel like you're holding a notebook and saying "Ah huh.  Tell me about that... How does it make you feel?.. etc" And right now I have to admit that at the moment I'm in a funk.  Probably brought on by several culprits, PMS probably being one of them, but a lot of it is just I feel like I'm at a really awkward moment in my life, the feeling brought on by my last head whacking with my last "X" and the ensuing vertigo it's left in my life.  

I guess now I'm headed into a monologue  "Each of us have those really big milestones in life that cause us to reflect and ponder and go, WHOA! WHERE AM I HEADED???
 Then we set dates, adjust plans, or reinvent our vision of the future and then continue along with Life. Moments like these can be classified as Wake Up Calls, midlife crisis', or Graduation.  :) These moments are often associated with tears both of joy or sorrow, sometimes whoops of excitement or even just a blank stare at the wall.

Well for me, stepping off the plane and leaving "Mission Life" and reentering "civilian" life has left my head spinning as I try to figure out my future.  I remember in college someone mentioning how important it is to have something concrete to come back to when you return home from a mission.  Go back to school, to work, whatever.  Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the way my life post mission ended up.
I got my BS degree pre-mission and I had worked for over a year and I really liked my job, however upon coming home there have been some big changes in the field I was working in and it isn't really possible to return to my former position.  And really once I got past my week of "I'm not going to think about work and my future" I thought about my possibilities.  Plan A- get a job in a similar position, with the same company or different company, Tried looking into possibilities and they just didn't feel right. So I started thinking about Other Plans. Plan B is a job offer I got in Twin Falls, part time, but I could live with my cousin Jenn and get a fresh start. Plan C go back to school to see if I want to become an Occupational Therapist, the idea's been there since I was an undergrad, but timing has never felt right. Or Plan D- Work Full time somewhere or Plan E- Vege in my Parents Basement, and actually why not throw in Plan F- Get married.
Well Plan A had been eliminated, Plan B- The idea of moving to Twin Falls piqued my interested, Plan D- didn't really know what I would do.  No dream job caught my attention, Plan E- was kinda what I was doing post mission and it didn't have any future potential and Plan F- well I don't really see that as a "near future" option.  So that left Plans B and C. Plan C well  it was the middle of October by that point and in regards to Plan C- hard to start classes in the middle of the semester.  So I started to look into potential options. If I were to become an Occupational Therapist I would need to get into a Grad School Program, but in order to do that I have to take all those fancy science classes I didn't have to take as an Education major including Anat. and Phys. & Chemistry.  As well as Statistics and Speech.
Being post-grad and no longer having a scholarship to cover the cost of my tuition I started looking into my options for the undergrad courses I still needed- ISU where the Grad Program is $300+ a credit, BYUI ~$150 a credit, and CSI $100 a credit and they charge your county $50 if you're not from a neighboring county.Well knowing how much I will potentially be paying for Grad School I want to keep these classes as cheap as possibly.  So ISU out.  And being 26 and going back to school and not wanting to live in "BYUI" approved housing , nor drive a half hour to get to school each day or deal with Honor Codes (hence no BYU option) has led me to CSI and Twin Falls.  Which works in conjunction with Plan B.

And so I moved to Twin Falls just before Thanksgiving. I really like it here.  I moved into a YSA ward that's for 24+ cap kinda at 30, but not really.  I think I know more people over 30 than under... I've made friends, been to a couple of birthday parties, went to the Idaho Potato Bowl and I've been on a couple of dates.

Classes start Tuesday and I have to be honest, I'm kinda intimidated. I haven't been in a lecture since 2009 and I'm not signing up for any fluff classes and after seeing the initial cost of my textbooks from the bookstore $679.00 it has been very tempting to back out.  (Thankfully has saved me again!) Taking these classes has been something I've thought about, probably since I was a Sophomore or Junior in college, but part of me has rationalized saying it's going be several more years of school, yuck! Why put yourself through that torture? A BS degree is enough.  Go earn some money! It would be nice if Life's map would just place a gigantic X saying "Hello Dee! Do you see me, this is what you need to be doing!"

But now here I am, post mission and really after "achieving" so to speak all of my former goals or "X"s, BS degree, mission, go to Philadelphia and D.C., the thought of working the rest of my life just doesn't sound appealing. I know that the answers are there and that Heavenly Father is very aware of my needs and concerns and what my future will be, but unfortunately/  fortunately this appears to be a time that he's going to let me decide what I want my "X" to be.  I haven't got a yes/no answer.  Instead I get reminders of "I trust you. Keep doing what you're doing and if you are going to do something stupid I'll let you know." Okay, so the answers are probably phrased a little better than this, but that's the general idea.  

And so I try to figure out my life, even as my head swirls around with the confusing of to many options.  Someone once asked me this question and it's obviously stuck with me.  He said- "At night when you look at yourself in the mirror, can you say that the work that you do makes a difference?" And I think that work can be replaced with whatever thing we're taking part in in life.  Lately I've been thinking a lot about this question and trying to picture myself in 10 yrs and figuring out where I'll be and if what I will be doing to make a difference.  As a missionary I could say that no question I was making a difference, although I wasn't really doing the work the Spirit was. And pre-mission I definitely felt like the work I did made a impact on the world.  However, considering where each of the options I currently have would take me in 5-10yrs being an OT seemed to be the one to make the most difference. I guess I should add that of course marriage and motherhood will also make that difference, but there really isn't a whole lot you can do about those until the opportunity presents itself.
 And so given the options that I've presented and most of my rambling thought process , for the here and now, Grad school Prep sees to be my current "X". And I just realized that I've talked your ears/eyes off and I need to get to sleep.  Goodnight! Hopefully I'll be able to update you much sooner about how classes and work are going.  Thank you for taking the time to be my pseudo therapists.