Monday, February 27, 2012

On turning 23

Since it's my birthday (tomorrow), you get a baby picture:

Admit it, I was a cutie. Also a red-head; true life.
 When I was in college, it felt like everyone was always looking towards being 21. Then, once you hit 21, everyone just assumed everything was downhill from there.

I don't get that. Why are we so afraid of getting older?

My year as a 22 year old has been a wonderful one; I've had so many new experiences, from graduating college to falling in love to having my first job, and visiting so many new states. I've become mostly financially independent, been responsible about putting aside money, started thinking about my future. I've discovered new talents and reaffirmed old passions. Being 22 has been pretty awesome.

I have no doubt that 23 will be even better.

I have this theory that life only gets better as it goes on. College was a wonderful time in my life, but when I finished, I approached it as starting a new chapter, rather than looking back on what I would be giving up. Growing up means that you begin learning from mistakes, start settling into who you are as a person, and finally start to figure out what you value, and what's important to you.

Twenty-three. It's going to be a fantastic year for me, full of learning, loving, being happy, experiencing new things. I am looking forward to settling somewhere for a little bit, finding my own place, continuing to maintain old friendships and creating new ones. It's going to be a year of staying healthy, finding balance, and changing lives. I have big plans for this year, let me tell you.

Plans like: thinking about graduate school, taking the GRE, visiting even more major league parks, finishing my first full marathon, running another half, starting and finishing P90X, volunteering more, joining a yoga studio, becoming a better cook.. the list goes on and on.

Growing up actually feels pretty good.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

We are led to those who help us most to grow

This week has been a week of reflection for me. Something about "Big Sky Country" does that, I think.

Timeout. I'm in Missoula, Montana, and I got here last Tuesday, flying across the country from my previous visit at the University of Maryland. It's been a week full of bonding with new women, being included in a nightly workout group, eating way too many spoonfuls of Nutella, gawking at mountains, and even a trip to the hot springs. It has been an incredibly fun week, but also a week where I have spent a lot of time journaling and with my thoughts.

The title of this blog, "We are led to those who help us most to grow," is one that has defined my Delta Gamma experience for a long time. It is a line from the song "For Good" from Wicked, and it is the song my chapter, Delta Iota, sings for preference. It is a song that evokes incredibly powerful feelings each time I hear it, especially the aforementioned line.

Being a Delta Gamma at the University of Georgia helped me to find myself, and to develop into someone that I am proud to be. It gave me lifelong friendships, taught me how to become a better leader, and even gave me my first job. It gave me a core group of women who were there with me every step of the way throughout college, from bad grades to new jobs to heartbreaks to late night talking sessions. It gave me some of my best friends, women who I am proud to be friends with and who I can call whenever.

This line has continued to resonate throughout my year as a CDC so far, and over the course of the last week, I've been able to really reflect on how much I've grown. I think living out of a suitcase and making new friends each week does that to you. More importantly, I've taken time to think about all of the people that have been put into my path over the last year, who have all helped me grow over the past year:
  • Each collegian who has instantly befriended me just because we wear the same badge.
  • The adviser who took me on a walk to get coffee after I got an emotionally draining phone call.
  • The 10 other CDCs who have continuously responded to late night text messages or called to check in, and have really become women who I can confide in.
  • The collegians who have taken the time to write me notes for when I leave their chapter, or have friended me on Facebook to stay in touch.
  • The incredible women I have met who are interviewing to be CDCs for next year this very weekend, and who inspired me to become better when I visited their chapters.
  • Each former CDC who has welcomed me with open arms into a sisterhood that spans decades, including taking me out to meals when I am anywhere near them.
  • Each volunteer -- Council, Cabinet, regional officers, advisers -- and staff member that I have met who gives an incredible amount of time to an organization that has played such a huge part in shaping who they are, absolutely and completely free of charge, expecting nothing in return
  • And obviously, family and friends who have been with me every step of the way; late night phone calls and skype sessions, putting up with my crazy time zone changes and sometimes having conversations cut short.
The truth is, I have met hundreds, maybe even thousands, of women throughout my travels this year, and each has played a part in shaping me into who I am now. I am a stronger, more secure, more patient (still working on this one), calmer, and more collected version of who I was when I started. I have begun to develop a deeper understanding of people, and have continued to build upon my sense of empathy. And my passion? My passion is working with people; I know it's what I'm supposed to be doing for the rest of my life.

Here's to three more months of the most challenging and rewarding job I will ever have in my life.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Back to school: my first college class in months

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to attend class with the chapter president at Maryland. The first thing I learned? I miss class – it was nice to be back in a setting where I could take notes, learn things, and interact with other students. Anyways. This wasn’t just any class – it was President’s Class!

The University of Maryland offers a class for presidents of all Greek organizations – NPC, NIC, NPHC, MCG –  that meets three hours per week. The curriculum involves learning about leadership and discussing community issues.

What a brilliant idea.

The class not only ensures that chapter presidents are continuously thinking about values and what it means to be a leader, it also strengthens the Greek community – every council included. It is facilitated by someone from the Fraternity and Sorority Life office, and serves as a way to monitor and maintain the integrity of the Greek system.

During the class I attended, we discussed what it means to be a leader. We also talked about stereotypes of each council, and learned things about councils other than our own. I was impressed by how open, honest, non-judgmental, and participative every member of the class was.

Why doesn’t every University place value on training it’s campus leaders and building a sense of community?

Honestly, how many problems could be solved by bringing all parties to the table and teaching them how to be mature, responsible, values-based leaders? By teaching them what is expected of them and helping them to take personal responsibility not only for the success of their own organizations but also for the success of the community?

I really miss the feeling I used to get following a really great class – the mind-going-a-mile-a-minute-processing-all-the-new-ideas feeling. Maybe I’ll start requesting to be taken to class with collegians?