The 700+ page companion to last week’s adventures in Minnesota provided some mental rest after a heavy statistics week.
I’m writing this blog entry while taking a break from doctoral homework and sitting across the street from the starting line of the marathon I’ll participate in tomorrow. The fact that sentence describes my list still surprises me.
When I was in elementary, middle, and high school, and even in college, I had dreams and expectations about who I would be by this age in my life. With my 33rd birthday this past week, I’m feeling a bit extra reflective on who that person was supposed to be and who I am instead. I was supposed to be married. I was supposed to be a marine mammalogist, a lawyer, a teacher, or a youth pastor (depending on the age you asked me). I was supposed to be thin. I was supposed to be a college graduate. I was supposed to live in a house. I was supposed to be famous (I can’t remember why). And I was never supposed to get old.
When I go back through that list, there are some aspects that I achieved or changed or even succeeded beyond (my parents are getting a little tired of going to my graduation ceremonies). The biggest gap is definitely in the romantic area, unless you count some very long-term crushes and three blind dates that went nowhere fast. But most of the time I’m patient on that one and today I’m not worried about that stuck spot.
Instead I’m thinking about who do I want to be in the future. I know that things and relationships can and will change in the future, but it is important to have a vision to work towards to help decide which opportunities to fight for and which to release. For example, I want to complete my doctorate degree in July 2017 and participate in the 2018 Boston Marathon (either through qualification or charity donation). I also want to find new ways to be a leader in my current and future career roles. When I traveled to the ACSD conference last week, I got to visit with staff members from colleges throughout the country and often shared about my vision of student development for adult students. I described how institutions are not fulfilling their full mission statements with this population because of the lack of challenge and support adult students may not want, but they absolutely need. After two days of these conversations, I realized that my dream for this expansion had been limited to only one school, when really it has value for an entire nation. Wow. That would be a lifetime of work, but a meaningful one that could truly transform higher education.
So as I prepare for a physical marathon tomorrow morning, I am also reflecting on a life marathon. Two new leadership books are already waiting beside my bed, and a long list in on my Amazon.com account for the future. Even my birthday dinner and movie was an inspiration for this longer journey and includes a quote that ends this blog reflection. Every part of my past had visions for who I would be now and every part of my present has vision of who I could be in the future. I have no regrets about this journey (okay, except on Valentine’s Day) and believe there are new doors that will open moving forward. I have hope.
“Just because someone stumbles, loses their way, doesn’t mean they’re lost forever. Sometimes we all need a little help. It’s not their pain you’re afraid of. It’s yours. And as frightening as it can be, that pain will make you stronger if you allow yourself to feel it. Embrace it. It will make you more powerful than you can ever imagine. The greatest gift we have is to bear their pain without breaking and it comes from your most human part – hope.” – Professor X