Flash Forward

The 20s are all about welcoming your future. This decade of your life is supposed to be where you come into your own and make the transition from young adult to fully established professional. The transformation and the steps along the way leave much to be desired. It seems like it's just supposed to happen overnight. You wake up and suddenly know what you want for your life. I don't know about you but the epiphany moments I have are way more subtle than that. It's only in taking the time to notice how I am reacting in certain situations that I realize how I have grown up. Let's take a glimpse into the future - this is flash forward.

It's the question that every senior ever has dreaded, "what are you doing after graduation?" I have some general ideas about what I would like to do but as of now not really in specifics. In actuality I cannot even decide what I want to watch next on Netflix left alone choose the next step into adulthood. It seems like everyone expects you to know but like I have said, you really don't. In fact most people don't know what they're even going to wear, eat, or do tomorrow. In all seriousness though, you can walk across the commencement stage without a damn clue. It doesn't really matter. You accomplished something and that is cause enough to celebrate. We can often be too forward looking and pass over the worthwhile moments that occur daily. With that being said, there are ways to figure out where you're supposed to be in the future. Time to flash forward. 

Spending this year trying to find my purpose in life has been a serious journey of epic proportions (like Star Wars, Narnia, etc.). I have discovered my passions for writing, advocacy, and meaning making with people. Taking suggestions from others led me to journalism or higher education and student affairs. Taking the next steps in applying to fellowships, internships, jobs, and graduate school was a time-consumer endeavor in and of itself. My winter break was spent researching opportunities, gathering materials, tailoring resumes & cover letters, and writing essays. In retrospect I wish I had started earlier but that would have required me to be decisive about what I was interested in from the get-go. I just wasn't there and I realize now that the search within myself was an important part of the process (Avatar). I say take your time, reflect to yourself (take a long shower, journal, sit in silence, etc.), and trust that you know what you need next.  Maybe you want to travel, are ready for a full time job, or need to further your studies. Whatever it is - go with it, run with it, and know you have so much time to explore, enjoy life, and make your dreams come true. Look ahead and flash forward. 
When you decide what you want to do how do you know that it's the right thing for you? For that one, I cannot definitively say. The feeling is different for everyone. Some people feel excited, others feel settled, and for me it's the absence of nervousness, and instances of déjà vu that let me know that I am supposed to be someplace. Sometimes you have to get it wrong and point out what you don't want or like to point you in the right direction. Make a list of things you are not about and take note of what's left that you possibly do enjoy. That's a great place to be. That's how you flash forward. 
This past weekend I travelled back home to Cincinnati for spring break. After a day of rest I made 3.5 hour drive to Kent State University outside of Cleveland. The miniature road trip had me singing, car dancing, and snacking while following a GPS. Driving was nerve-wracking for me but when I finally started seeing signs for the college town I couldn't help but grin from ear to ear. I pulled into a parking lot buried deep in fluffy white powdered snow and went inside. It was day one of their Higher Education and Student Personnel orientation and graduate assistantship interview day. I enters the room where everyone was gathering and felt out of place. Everyone seemed to be more mature, sure of themselves, and just plain older but soon I was connecting with people and letting my passion for people shine. Introductions, campus bus tours, and group meetings went on and slowly but surely I felt more and more comfortable. 
 
Current students organized a panel to share some of their experiences and it was a hilarious mess in the best possible way. Questions may not have been answered directly but seeing their camaraderie is exactly what I was looking for in being part of a cohort. We had a quick break and some of us naturally gravitated towards one another. TJ, Pam, Tyler, Nikole and I bonded over our anxieties. A mock informational fair went on where I received worthwhile about the positions I would be interviewing for the next day. Returned to my hotel room after some newbie shenanigans and spent the night talking with my new friend/roomate for the night in Erik. Whether I was ready or not I was flashing forward. 
Waking up with the sunrise is something I have enjoyed but I had a big day ahead of me. Dressed up I checked out of the hotel and drove through campus (albeit the wrong way). The university president greeted us and her genuine are care for the program and the students came across loud and clear. For the first time in a very long time I didn't feel nervous, scared, or uncomfortable. I clicked with some of the other men there in Jason, Shane, Justin, and David. Soon we were being ushered into the callout room and whisked away to our interviews. And in a flash I turned it on. I brought my best, most authentic self, and just spoke from my heart. It paid off. I used all I had earned in making a long lasting impression to distinguish myself. Hand shakes, water sips, and strong eye contact marked the 8 hours and 14 interviews. Each one was so unique and I made sure to let my personality shine through. Contrary to my initial beliefs I was qualified, had relevant experiences, and was a desirable candidate. I finished my time writing thank you noes and reviewing all that had written one to me expressing interest in working with me. I was totally floored with all the positive feedback I received. It felt so good to have all my work in college be validated and valued. I ranked the offices I was interested in most working with and stated my journey home. Everything had gone way better than I expected. I caught a glimpse of my future and I liked what I saw. Ready to flash all the way forward. 
Interview Tips:
  • Come prepared - dress properly, bring extra credentials (resumes & references); do your research and know what you're interviewing for and who with; take notes
  • Be on time - early is a must for interviews
  • Shake hands, look people in the eyes, and smile as big as and as often as possible
  • Ask smart follow up questions - thoughtful questions will make you stand out and give you more insight on the people you're interviewing with
  • Have prepared answers but take the time to sit in silence, mull questions over and respond naturally
  • Speak your personal truths and don't be afraid to take it there; better to be real than rehearsed
  • Ask for a follow-up; write a thank you note
My blog post question for the day is ... what is your dream job? Honestly, I would love to the be the ambassador to the UN for the US. Currently the position is held by Samantha Power but someday I would be apt to have that be me.

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