Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Beginning in an End

I'm graduating! Oh happy day! Praise the Lord!

My undergraduate career is drawing to a close, and I could not be happier. It's been a long time coming. Seriously. My time at BYU has been good. Yes, we've had our disputes, most of them revolving around the line between culture and truth. I think Brigham and I are ending this part of our lives on fairly amicable terms. Actually, there still may be some frenemy (friend+enemy) feelings left.

If you had asked me in October, November, or even early February what my plan was for my post-BYU life, I would have told you that I was going to Kansas City to teach middle school English Language Arts as a part of the 2013 Kansas City Teach For America Corps. Teach For America has been my dream since getting home from my mission, and that dream became a reality on 1 November 2012 when I was accepted as a part of the Corps. The decision to join the Corps came easily, especially after watching President Obama's historic reelection and listening to him call Americans to do more for each other.

In accordance with that decision, I enrolled in classroom management classes and dove into lesson plans, classroom organization ideas, and developing outcome goals for my future students. I took the PRAXIS, found a couple potential apartments, and had planned out my road trip back to the place that has become my second home. Side note: The PRAXIS = DEATH. I did, however, get a 190 out of 200, so I'm OK with that.

Then, in February, one of my best friends invited me to his wedding in Idaho. My parents were out of town for the weekend, so I had their house to myself. During and after the wedding, I found myself mulling over my life plans, goals, and desires. I knew what I wanted, but Heavenly Father thought it an opportune time to interject His thoughts. "Maybe you should reconsider going to graduate school at BYU," He said. "Hmph," said I. I was in a place where I had a lot of bio-psycho-social concerns and needs not being met or adequately dealt with. Realistically, I didn't want to deal with most of them. Vulnerability hangovers are not my thing, and everything Heavenly Father was suggesting I do required a lot of vulnerability.

When I returned to BYU, I was a bit angsty and incredibly frustrated about these redirections. I talked a lot of things over with a couple of my professors, both of which are incredible men and mentors. In the end, I had a decision to make. I needed to decided if I wanted to apply to BYU's School of Social Work and most likely accept the offer. Mind you, this was now almost a month past the application deadline. The admissions committee gave me a week to get ecclesiastically endorsed, write a letter of intent, secure three letters of recommendation, and apply for scholarships. Poop. Thus began one of the most stressful weeks of my life to date. On 15 February, I turned in my application. On 19 February, I found out that I had been officially accepted into the MSW program at BYU. Quickest turn around of my life.

I did not anticipate staying at BYU after graduation, let alone staying for an additional two years. In reality, I'm still kind of coming to terms with that idea. I'm not entirely sure why Heavenly Father thought it would be a good idea to stay here. And, no, it wasn't so that I could get married. Heavenly Father knows me too well to do that to me at this stage of my life. Staying at BYU has made less sense in the last month than any other option I have ever considered. Ugg. I do not get this omniscience business.

These next few days will be punctuated with endings -- the end of social theory class, the end of sitting through another terrible English lecture, the end of sociology classes, the end of finals as an undergrad. They are also many beginnings wrapped up in those punctuated endings. I'm beginning a hunt for housing outside the two-mile undergrad radius, I'm beginning work with my social work mentor, I'm beginning final preparations on manuscripts for publication, and I'm beginning to explore parts of my being that have long been kept silent. Those are some big beginnings.

In the end, this experience has been an exercise in faith. I'm not sure what is going to happen in the next two years, let alone the next few weeks and months. And sometimes, that's OK.