Sunday, May 31, 2015

Follow your fear - inspired by Grace Helbig's commencement speech

I adore Grace Helbig. I love what she does and what she stands for. As a matter of fact, once I finish writing this, I am going to Barnes and Noble to buy her book. Grace is an extremely successful Youtuber and comedian who makes videos targeted toward teenage and early twenty something women about life's often comical realities. Girl crush aside, Ms. Helbig gave a pretty great commencement speech at her alma mater, Ramapo College. The message in her speech really struck a chord with me. That message being, follow your fear.

Grace outlines the two kinds of fear - one being real, physical fears like "snakes, sharks, small places, or the Real Houswives franchise mysteriously disappearing." Next, she talks about "good fears." Below is what she says: 

Fears that are born out of love and out of ambition. The things that you are afraid of because you care about them so much. The opportunities that you are afraid to take because you don't want to screw them up and the people you are afraid to talk to because you don't want to embarrass yourself in front of them. And the paths that you are too afraid to take because it seems to uncertain, too unpredictable, and just too uncomfortable. But when you are uncomfortable that is when things get really interesting... being comfortable is truly being alive. Much like an improv show, life is a series of these beautiful and awkward and random and delightful and inspiring and painful and terrifying and just all around uncomfortable moments. And we are all feeling them. All the time. Constantly, together. 

One of my favorite parts of her speech is when she acknowledges that failure is okay,  because perfection isn't a human thing to relate to. She says that being boring is more terrifying than being a failure. I have to agree. One of my driving principles is embracing the imperfect realities of who we are and being honest about the times that we have failed. 

This really resounded with me because in one week I am moving to Chicago. I've never left Columbus for longer than a week, so that in and of itself is horrifying. Additionally, I'm not following the standard path of getting a job in my expected career field right away. Instead, I am spending a few years doing something that I think will be a more robust experience. What if I don't like Chicago? What if I don't like teaching? What if I miss my mom too much? What if Chris and I don't manage the distance? Yeah, I am pretty expletive scared. But maybe that is a good thing. It's definitely better than being boring. 

So Grace, I'll heed your advice. I'll follow my fear. Let me know what you thought of Grace's speech below! Did anything in particular stand out to you?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Everything Teach For America so far!

You may know that I recently graduated from The Ohio State University. You may not know what I am doing now that I have graduated. So for the big reveal... I'm spending the next 2 years as a corps member of Teach For America!

Teach For America describes itself as a highly selective organization that selects motivated leaders to teach in low income communities. Corps members undergo an intensive 5 week "institute" that prepares them to enter their classroom. Throughout the 2 years, there is continued training in educational practices and professional development.

I have been assigned to teach "diverse learning" (more traditionally known as special needs) in Chicago. I'm excited, scared, overwhelmed, nervous, gung ho, anxious, and even more all at once.

The decision wasn't an easy one for me. You know that feeling at the nail salon when you are trying to decide what color to choose for your pedicure? Making the decision to accept my offer with Teach For America was sort of like that, only harder. What if I like it now, but don't like it later? This is a nice option, but so are all those other ones available to me. 

Right now, I have less than 2 weeks before I pack my bags to live and attend Institute in downtown Chicago. Institute is a 5 week training program that introduces us to basic teaching principles and eases us into controlling a classroom. Yeah, in 5 weeks I'm supposed to learn how to be a teacher. It's nuts. A cool part of Institute? We get to live right across the street from Grant Park!

I know that there are a lot of criticisms of Teach For America. Some people think that 5 weeks isn't enough time to adequately train a teacher. Some people have arguments regarding the paths of funding to schools with corps members and to corps members themselves. I've read the criticisms, but I have responses to every single argument. In Chicago, classrooms with a TFA corps member consistently show increases in test scores and report having a profound impact from their teachers.

At the end of the day, I believe a world WITH Teach For America is better than a world without it. TFA is more than just a fast path to teaching; it is a social movement.

Let me know if you have any thoughts or questions regarding Teach For America! Wish me luck on this new adventure.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The great scrabble debacle of 2015

There are 2 things to know before reading this post. 1.Chris and I rarely fight. When we do fight, it is almost always about something really, really stupid. 2. I really like board games and I am a little (read: a lot) competitive.

In an effort to switch things up from our normal routine of tv and falling asleep, Chris and I decided to make a trip to Target to buy some good 2 person board games. We chose Yahtzee and Scrabble. On a related note, I highly recommend playing board games more often. It makes you feel like a kid again, engages your critical thinking, and is an awesome change of pace.

Yahtzee was pretty standard. We played 3 rounds and Chris handedly won 2 out of 3. I never even got a "yahtzee" which was pretty lame. That's okay, though. Yahtzee was only the previews for the main feature - Scrabble.

I only bought the standard version of Scrabble. However, I'd like to note that someday I would love to indulge in quite possibly one of the most pretentious/frivolous/extravagant purchases ever: a DELUXE Scrabble board. Check this thing out! On Amazon for only $199.99. Anyways, I digress.

I always have taken pride in my Scrabble skills. I remember my smug 6th grade self challenged my teacher to a Scrabble battle. She was so sure she would win that she promised me a no-homework pass if I won. Let's just say that after I won by over a 70 point margin that my ego was never the same. I'm surprised it didn't explode right out of my head. I've always taken pride in the important things.

Chris and I decided to play a low-key game, if possible. We agreed to not use the "challenge words that aren't words rule" and only use words that we truly believed were real. Tensions were already sort of high when I swept in on a triple word square using the word "quarts" gaining me tons of points. But the real fight began over an exposed triple word score next to the world "hurl."

I'll save you the semantics of our argument, but it arose over a disagreement regarding the world "churl" which is indeed a word and means a "rude person." I must say, I was being a real churl over the matter. After arguing and angstily completing the game, we both got back on a positive page when we were finding ways to place the final tiles.

The best part of the game? The final tile we placed was a "u" connected to a hanging "s." That's right. Even though I was being a churl, at least we ended on us.

Yeah, I'm a sap. Whatever. What is your favorite board game? Have you ever gotten a little bit too compeititve? Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Getting lavaliered!

In the simplest of terms - this weekend was wildly eventful. On Friday, I accepted a 2 year commitment with Teach For America in Chicago. On Saturday, I experienced my first Kentucky Derby. The most eventful of all - On Sunday, Chris lavaliered me. 

For those that don't know, lavaliering is the act of a fraternity man presenting his letters to his significant other. In Greek life, your letters are essentially the dearest interest of your life. When someone lavaliers their girlfriend, they are signifying that their girlfriend is as dear to them as their fraternity affiliation. The exact significance and traditions change from region to region and chapter to chapter, but for the most part - it is a promise that they are serious about the relationship and would like to be engaged in the future. It always involves the presentation of a lavalier necklace, a pendant with the fraternity letters arranged in a vertical row.

Chris and I have been together almost 2 years (1 year and 11 months as of yesterday) and our love has grown each day since we started dating. I'll save the mushy gushy stuff for our anniversary though because I want to write about how the actual lavalier went down!

After driving back from Kentucky for the derby, Wes (a mutual best friend of Chris and I) asked me to meet him at a campus bar for dinner and a drink. Wes and I meet up just about every week, so this was totally normal. When we were finished, he asked if I would be willing to walk with him to the campus library to pick up a book he needed. Begrudgingly (because I'm lazy), I agreed.

There I am, unsuspectingly walking to the library to "pick up a book."

And then, I realized... Also, yes my hair is sopping wet because I didn't have time to dry my hair before "dinner and drinks" with Wes. Lesson learned! Ladies - never leave the house with a wet head because your boyfriend may be lavaliering you and you don't want wet hair in all the pictures!

I didn't even make it earshot from Chris before tears are streaming down my face. He kept it together, though! Hands and voice shaking, but no tears. If he would have cried, I would have been a big, ole blubbery mess.

The Oval (Ohio State's campus quad) is especially important to Chris and I. When he started the conversation that ended with me being his girlfriend, he asked what I would do if I saw him on the Oval. For the record, I answered a little too honestly by saying I would probably nod and wave because at the time we were in that weird limbo between friends and dating that makes for very awkward run-ins. Oddly enough, we never actually have seen each other on the Oval after these 2 years. So for the first time the way I responded when I saw him on the Oval looked a little more like this...

Lots of excited, overwhelmed, teary-eyed, thankful, over-joyed, giddy... kissing.

And there it is! That's how it happened! This is possibly one of my favorite pictures of all time now. There I am wearing a totally fluorescent romper with sopping wet hair but happier than ever with my favorite people in the entire world. The men are some of our closest friends in his chapter and the women are just a few of my closest friends in mine. However, it does sort of look like the iconic statue of William Oxley Thompson (OSU's 3rd president) is presiding over the ceremony.

Next stop? There is a tradition that if you and your significant other walk across the bricks down the middle of the Oval while the bells of Orton Tower are ringing and non one crosses your path, you are bound to be together forever. We're planning on making a late night walk soon. ;)

I hope at least someone enjoyed my lavalier story! It isn't over the top, but it was perfect for Chris and I. While writing this, I have reached up to feel my lavalier necklace at least 25 time and almost teared up at least 5 times. Until next time!

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