However cliché this may be to say....I must. I have learned so much this year! Here's a fairly comprehensive list:
- Defensive driving. Don't get excited. I'm still an awful driver, but my defensive skills have improved leaps and bounds, all thanks to you, Provo drivers. I can't promise that I won't ever turn left in front of oncoming traffic again, but I can (with a fair amount of confidence) say that the 3 year accident-free streak shall continue (and I'm hoping that by saying so, I'm not jinxing it).
- I don't look like a Brittany. I suppose I always knew that. I got slapped at birth with the single most common first and middle name combo of the early nineties. Brittany Nicole. Isn't that just so disgustingly normal? And if you know me at all, you know I'm so far from the "Brittany" stereotype it's almost painful. Alas, my roommates had the cure. This is why they call me Birdie. Equal parts hippie and cute. I think I'll keep it.
- Time management. Of course, I'm still prone to my 3 hour pinterest parties (aren't we all?) but.....somehow I learned. I think it was my hellishly busy summer, but when I took 16 credits last fall, it didn't feel like it at all. I was always so much less stressed and fit in so much more fun stuff this year than last despite the heavier schedule. Freedom-what a great feeling!
- Plans change. Here's what I thought I was doing last August: Finish this year (check), Go to Paris (check), Finish next year, Serve a mission, Finish undergrad and get married somewhere in there, Grad school for clinical therapy (marriage and family counseling), Live happily ever after. Straightforward enough, right? But then: I get this job for the Marriott school doing research in Organizational behavior and then I get this huge slap-in-the-face answer from Heavenly Father saying, "Are you crazy? If you become a therapist, you will be depressed for the rest of your life because you can't separate yourself from the problem." So...uh....what now? I didn't want to be a social worker (even more depressing) or a professor, or a full time researcher....I was so stressed and had no idea what I wanted to do with myself, and then right on cue, as he usually is, Heavenly Father sent me a sign. I was doing my habitual eavesdropping on some of the high-and-mighty (sorry, it's true) other TAs in the office, when one of them said she had just gotten accepted into an online PhD program for Industrial-Organizational Psychology and was looking at making upwards of 200,000 a year. This hit me like a ton of bricks. I was doing research on organizational behavior (much the same thing) and loving it! Why not make a career out of it? I knew that with a Psychology undergrad, there were so many opportunities: lawyer, teacher, doctor even....why not Human Resources? I was too far in to the Psych major to switch over to the OB program, but I discovered I could finish out with Psych and not have to learn a thing about business until I got to grad school, and then depending on what happens, I can work in HR or do my own consulting. Either way, that's where the money is ;). And now with the new realization that plans change literally every day, the mission is still up in the air. I need an internship, I would like to be an efy counselor, and one of these days I'd like to get hitched. So here's the plan as of now: Finish France, Do next year, sometime around April, turn in mission papers, apply for the CIA internship in DC, apply for other internships, apply to be an efy counselor, finish school, get a job, get rich, live happily ever after. Will any/all/none of these happen? Who knows! One day at a time, my friends.
- I have become a firsthand witness of the power of the Holy Ghost to change people's lives forever. I talk about it way too much, but my best friend Zachary accepted the gospel this year, beyond anyone's expectations. He and I dated for awhile, and during that time I had always misguidedly shoved my religion in his face, hoping he would see how much I loved it. He was such an amazing person with such a great light, and I knew that he needed the gospel. But what I didn't know is that he needed to discover that on his own. Three years later, without any help from me, the bare minimum of help from his other friends and the missionaries, and all the help in the universe from Heavenly Father, he made that change, and I had the opportunity to go home and witness it. I have never had such a life changing experience in my entire life. I know now without a shadow of a doubt that we are living on God's time, He's not living on ours, and the Holy Ghost is so powerful if you let it in.
- on a similar note....If I know anything at all, I know this: I am absolutely blown away at the sheer potential for good that people have. I have had a few experiences in life (as we all have) that have caused me over time to become a little pessimistic about human nature, but I have to say without a shadow of a doubt, this year has single-handedly shown me that that is NOT the way to live life. People are just simply too wonderful and surprising to hold anything but absolute positive regard for each new person you meet. Of course, there are bad people out there, but I have learned to not ever put anyone in that category right off the bat.
And this is why.
I came into this year absolutely terrified of what was in store. Freshman year was...let's just say....not a walk in the park, so I wasn't totally thrilled about returning for round two. I had signed up for an apartment with 5 completely random girls, and not only was that scary, but over the summer 2 of them actually asked me if I could find another place to live! It all turned out to be a huge misunderstanding, but I genuinely thought I was heading into this with my roommates already having a problem with me! I figured, "Hey, at least I have a private room I can go hide in if/when I ever need to."
As soon as I moved in, however, I realized that my genius exit strategy would be far from necessary.
Sydney, Amanda, Aliana, Hannah, and Laura proved to be the most incredibly accepting and wonderful "random" people I've ever had the blessing to meet. I honestly don't know what I did right to deserve to live with these girls.
However, these are not the only people I have to thank. For those of you I got to meet and become close friends with in the 64th ward (you know who you are) I cannot thank you enough. You taught me so, so much about life, love, generosity, happiness, hard work, and optimism.
Life is beautiful, life is great, life is full of wonderful people.
But life is hard. And I can't wait to live the rest of it.
All my love, B.