Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Look Back... And Forward

A year ago, I wrote this post about my plans for the next few years. It's interesting to see how my priorities have changed and how differently things have ended up than I expected. In May, I went to the Virgin Islands with my cousins as planned and had an absolutely fantastic time. In June, I got a new job. In July, I did not go to Chicago, nor did Nick and I go on vacation in August. In fact, because of the new job and my lack of vacation time, the only places I've gone since then are home to Maryland for random weekends and for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and maybe once or twice in the fall to Nick's parents' house just north of the city. But I had a wonderful summer complete with wine tours and weddings, celebrated my birthday for pretty much the entire month of September, had some great times with new and old friends, and watched the leaves turn brown...

In November, I planned a huge event for work that made me crazy but made me drop 5 pounds and gave me a lot of confidence in myself and my career move. As a reward, I had a staycation with my mother in a fancy boutique hotel, and we went to museums and consumed loads of wine and coffee and great food and truly had the best weekend ever. Thanksgiving came and went somewhat quietly and helped me reconnect a bit with old friends.

Then the world somehow segued into winter... Snow fell and I got sick. I went home for a week over Christmas. This trip was wonderful and filled with family and friends. It made me realize how lucky I am to have such amazing people in my life, though by the end of the week I missed Nick desperately. I worked at the bar on New Year's Eve, which was tons of fun and helped my bank account exponentially. I did not achieve my savings goal for 2010, but it was a bit lofty anyway. I got farther than I expected and I am in no way destitute. I am still working hard, though, and buying less.

And now here I am a month into a new year, and I feel that I have been relegated to this wintry city for too long. I've been going through the motions of life, working, reading, drinking, eating, watching my weight go up, getting fed up with work, getting fed up with my career, getting fed up with who I've become and what I want to do and what I've forgotten I want to do.

But there is hope. I started babysitting again, which is good for my mental health and for my wallet. I've been researching graduate school extensively and I think I've finally figured it out. But I can't act on it yet since it's not time for applications and I have to be completely sure in the first place. I've decided to take that NYU class on the psychology of dreams that I've been looking into. And I'm going to a training session next month for the Brooklyn Public Library's "Reading Troubadour" program, in which volunteers go to public health clinics in the evenings to read to children, pass out free books, and talk to parents about the importance of reading. It seems like a good hands-on program that covers most of my interests--helping low-income populations, working with children, and improving literacy. We'll see where it takes me.

At this moment, though, I just need to go somewhere. I'm itching for travel. I'm itching for something different, even for a day or two. Getting out of the city for half a day the other weekend to go snow-tubing helped. But it just made me itch more. So I made a plan to visit my friend in Providence, where he is in a graduate program at Brown. I haven't visited him in the two years he's been there, and now that it's his last semester I'll head up there on one of my only upcoming three-day weekends, Presidents' Day. Realizing how pale I am now and how beautifully bronze I was last summer made me long for sun and sand, so I've made a vow to visit a very dear friend in Florida as soon as humanly possible, possibly March or April.

I recently got a message from another old friend that she'll be in NYC in early April, which makes me very happy. Then Easter will come and I can go home to see family, most notably my cousin who lives in the USVI and with whom I haven't celebrated a holiday in far too long. I'll also go home again in May to watch my sister for a few days while my parents are in France. I'd rather be in France, but they deserve to go. And then the summer will be here, and I can take the subway 20 minutes to the beach any time I want. Ahhh... In the meantime, I can look forward to a trip to Detroit for my cousin's wedding, a little vacation on Long Island for Nick's cousin's wedding, and a week in Ireland for my mother's birthday. Yes, there is hope.

As far as the long term, I'm pretty settled on getting my MSW and going on to be an LCSW. I would really like to do psychotherapy and counseling for children and families. I love working in nonprofits, but I realize I want to actually work with the people who need help, not just work for them. I am beginning to feel that my development work is shallow. It's not, but simply writing about about problems and pandering to rich folks and foundations to get funding just doesn't cut it for me anymore. I need to make a difference directly, and I need training and experience to do that.

One thing that has not changed in the last year is that I am still committed to an international volunteering trip, and I am seriously looking into a program. I may have to do that before I enter graduate school for a much-needed break. Nick and I are going to have to figure out where we want to apply to school, but if that ends up being NYC, I'll need a break in between working and studying. A few months to a year in a foreign country is probably the solution, which will give me the real hands-on experience that I've been craving. I do realize I'm probably just helping people to help myself. Well, aren't we all? I'm not a selfless person. No one is. Except for maybe Jesus or Mother Theresa. But at least in furthering my own experience and education, someone else will benefit, right?

Thinking about those people who really need help, I realize I truly have no reasons to complain. My life is actually pretty great and full of possibility. I'll stop writing now. And just keep living.


Rachel said...

1 - You can still come to Chicago anytime. We live in super trendy Wicker Park now!!

2 - When are you going to Ireland?

Author said...

i like this idea of evaluating the past year in the blog...i may try a version of that...if i do can i link to your blog since yours is probably more uplifting than mine will be? this will stave off a rash of suicide attempts.:)

Janice said...

I want to volunteer internationally with you!! Want to WOOF? <3 Janice