Throughout the last week of 2011, I was reflecting on the past year and how much has changed – as well as what has remained the same. Much in the same vein as my thoughts on 2010, I decided to chronicle the highs, lows, and various notable points of 2011. Memories change over time, so I want to preserve these while they’re still fresh in my mind. This is a stream-of-consciousness journey through the past year, with a destination yet to be determined. Here goes.
The past year, I have continued to attend Concordia University here in Austin, and am on track to graduate with a double major in Business Management and Marketing in the spring of 2013. International business remains my focus, so I always strive to put what I learn in the classroom into a global perspective before filtering it back into my own life. I worked hard in my studies and was blessed to maintain a 4.0 GPA. Even more exciting is the clarity that all of my studies have given me what I want to do with my life. This is a process that seems to compound year over year, and it far transcends what any grade or quantitative metric can indicate. I wince when people ask me what I want to do after college, because I am painfully aware of how life can drastically change beyond our control in a short period of time. I know where I would like to be in 5 years, however, I cannot assure that I will be there with any degree of certainty. I cannot predict the future; I can only project it. Nonetheless, overall I am relatively satisfied with where I am academically. God is good.
On the travel front, I was able to get around a decent amount this year, and was fortunate enough to go at least somewhere every month of the year. One of the highlights this year was travelling down to Belize and Guatemala in March to study tropical biology and marine ecosystems with a collaborative class of students and faculty from Austin and Portland, Oregon. It was an incredible experience – not only did I learn a lot about tropical science and history, but I made some great friends and memories. Hiking around the Mayan ruins, diving on the world’s second-largest coral reef, and relaxing on isolated islands are all experiences I will never forget. In July, I traveled up to Washington DC for a week, followed by another week of visiting family in Ohio and Kentucky. It was fascinating seeing the historical center of America as we know it today, and I learned a lot. In early October, I went to Louisiana for an international relations conference – this was a precursor to a competition I helped out with on behalf of Concordia in San Antonio in November. Immediately following that trip, it was off to a business leadership conference in Atlanta as part of the Thrivent Scholars Program. It was a memorable trip with some great friends, and the diverse range of speakers we heard there were fantastic! The next day, I flew up to the Pacific Northwest for a week and visited my uncle and his family in Washington, as well as some friends at Concordia Portland, in Oregon. This was followed by a trip to Minnesota for Thanksgiving, and a relatively quiet month of December. Hopefully there will be more adventures to come in 2012!
Detouring back to school for a moment, it was a good year for extracurricular activities as well. We had another great semester with Concordia’s business club, The Executives, with some fun events and many good conversations. Here’s to another great semester, guys! I continued to co-host Not.fm, a weekly internet radio show with three of my friends at school. It’s shaping up to be an exciting year for music, so I’m sure our show will be as well! Another fun project has been helping to start up Storm Chasers, an on-campus bike-sharing program for Concordia students and faculty. It’s been an exciting process, and I’m excited to see where things will head in the year ahead!
As is the case in all of our lives, a unique set of challenges presented itself this year. It was stressful at times balancing a full class load, 35+ hours a week, and whatever else I was involved in at a given time. I’m incredibly thankful to still be working in real estate management and property preservation, as it provides a degree of flexibility for scheduling during the school year. In the latter part of the year, I broke my right wrist and had surgery on it, from which I’m still healing. While not the optimal way to end the year, it’s taught me to slow down (at least a little) to relax from time to time. As an added bonus, I even got a little extra sleep! It’s also given me an increased amount of gratitude for the otherwise outstanding health I do have.
Every challenge is a blessing in disguise.
To recognize the light within darkness is sometimes the most difficult thing to do in life, and it’s something I’ve been working on for years. Currently, I liken it to trying to take a step back and survey the landscape of life while on a speeding train. You can do it, but it’s pretty difficult. Nonetheless, the faster life forges ahead, the easier this gets. Not because I have an ever-expanding canvas to look at, but because I can so much better see how all of the pieces fit together, and this gives me peace. As my mom once told me, “Now I can see some joy through the clouds.” It’s so true. There’s so many little lessons I learned while she was alive that are turning out to be big lessons now, and I’m so thankful for the time that I did get with her on earth. There’s so much I have to improve on personally in life, and I am thankful for the fact that I have had good guidance to direct me along the way. Life has been full of difficult experiences, but I try to use them as catalysts to positively influence others, directly or otherwise. For better or for worse, I’ve been endowed with what sometimes appears to be a slightly different perspective than others, and this brings me to my next thought.
This year has been yet another exercise in patience, and it remains something I need to work on in the year ahead. Too often I try to explain things to people who sound overly judgmental and forget to remember that they don’t know any better. In an ironic twist, the judged becomes the judger. I now realize that no matter how eloquent or concise I may make my words, sometimes the message just isn’t going to get across. There could be any number of barriers to this, and I now know that sometimes it’s impossible to make someone “get the point”. They haven’t lived my life, and I haven’t lived theirs. I am okay with this, for I try to make my words as impactful as possible. Control is retained up the point of dictation, and I will be at peace with whatever reactions may follow.
But at the end of the day, actions speak louder than words, so I am going to focus simultaneously on being even more mindful of my actions and discretionary in my wording, both in speech and in text. Actions are important, but words are immortal – and if your actions are indeed significant enough to be immortalized, then words will be the vehicle for doing that. So yes, words are powerful indeed. Shoot for more than just an epitaph on a tombstone.
I’d like to say thank you to everyone in my life this year. Our paths all intersect for different reasons; I’m not sure what all of the reasons are but I do know that the composite of the story arcs of all of our lives will be a sight to behold when all is said and done. To my family and friends, I’m endlessly thankful for your encouragement, unconditional support, prayers, and friendship. You all are valued more than you know.
One last note to those readers who are detractors of retrospectives. People say to live in the present and look towards the future rather than dwelling on the past, but you know what? Sometimes the past bleeds into the present, which helps to shape our future. Without a proper mental context of where you’ve been, how are you to know where you will go?
Alright, that’s all I have to say for now. I hope you all have a blessed 2012, here’s to another incredible chapter in our life as we know it!