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With a little more than 5 weeks of my final semester of my undergraduate left, reality is starting to set in. Within weeks I will be a college graduate and will have surpassed a life goal. I don’t know about y’all but that screams SUCCESS to me! Over the past few weeks I’ve been working on some major decisions. At the start of this year I was 100% certain I wanted to move to DC after graduation and that opportunity presented itself.

However, I realized my heart is not there right now. This epiphany occurred the during the phone interview I had with the National Resource Center for Youth Development for the Level II internship. When talking to Clay and Lupe about the work I would be doing and sharing why I wanted to do it opened my eyes and my heart. It’s been the only interview where I’ve laughed, almost cried, and ended knowing exactly what I wanted! So my decision to move to DC took a 180 and I accepted the internship with NRCYD in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Excitement is an understatement when describing how I feel and not only for all the opportunities the internship has in store but also to be sharing that experience with my All-Star brother, Shaden. Several factors went into this decision. 2011 has brought several changes, eye openers, and “ahh-ha” moments. A major change this year is a job I took for the semester.

My thought when taking the job was “finally a chance to make some extra money”. Well, while that is a nice bonus the job has offered so much more. I’m working as a Community Youth Mentor for a non-profit in my county and am contracted to work specifically with at-risk youth. Through this position I have the opportunity to work one-on-one with tutoring and teaching students, facilitate a girls group, and manage a caseload of clients to mentor.

Each day I am excited to go to work and be surrounded by such inspiring individuals. I cannot express how much “my kids” (as I like to call them) mean to me. Although I knew going into the position it would be temporary it will have a life long effect. Through this job I’ve came to realization that at risk youth are my passion.

Working with them brings me more happiness than I’ve ever experienced. It will leave me inspired and ready to begin my next chapter! My eye opener, I’m not ready to move across the country and leave my family and friends. This year my relationship with my family has strengthened more than I could have ever prayed for. My mom and have been connecting more now than ever. To be honest I’d given up all hope on this and when I least expected it, it happened. I’m so thankful that our relationship is growing and am looking forward to that continuing.

Relationships with aunts, uncles, and cousins have also been re-forming and it makes me happy. I’ve been receiving love and support that I haven’t felt for years. The only word I have to describe how it feels is AWESOME! On to my rocks—the friends I have in Missouri. I would be selling them short if I didn’t say they were the most phenomenal, supportive, loving, and fun group of people a person could ask for.

They accept me for me and still are there to hang out. Vast majorities have been there since elementary school and others since high school or college but regardless are not going anywhere. I’ve grown into the woman I am today with my friends. Some know me almost better than I know my self. Being the relational person I am it was a huge eye opener for me when I realized I wasn’t ready to move to far from them.

Needless to say this was a key factor when making my post-graduation decision. Not only do I love the mission and work of NRCYD—it being only 3 hours from home didn’t hurt. I’ve always been the girl who has said, “after graduating I’m moving to a large city out of Missouri”. If you had told me that was Tulsa, I would have laughed in your face. But in reality, I’m happy and that’s all that really matters. Oh and I don’t feel like I’m letting myself down which I have always been afraid of doing when making this decision.

Finally, my “ahh-ha” moment—figuring out what you want is easier said than done. In fact, this was a tweet of mine recently that my All-Star Sister Janessa #cosigned. I’ve toyed with so many thoughts of what I wanted for my life after I lose the one consistent element of my life for the past 17 years. Decisions have been made about relationships, careers, moving, staying, and trying to decide what I want for my life. For those of you who haven’t already figured this out it’s hard.

I’ve come to the realization that it’s a process. I’ve found that trial and error is working for me. Through the trial and error process this is what I’ve determined;

(A) I’m not at a point in my life in which someone else (i.e. boyfriend) can be a part of it. As selfish as it may sound my focus is on me. With me changing my mind daily and still figuring out what I want it isn’t fair to try and through someone into the mess.

(B) I want a job where I can help others. Honestly, I don’t care how cliché it sounds it’s what I want. Most of you have probably heard the quote “If your happy with what you’re doing, you’ll never work a day in your life”. Well, I want that!

(C) To leave Missouri or stay this was a major compromise for me. I chose to take an internship in Oklahoma, which is moving but not that far. However, the internship ends in August I have faith it will guide me into whatever is next.

Although I have no clue what that is I just have a gut feeling it is going to be some thing amazing =)! For those of you still reading I hope I haven’t lost you. The feelings I’ve shared with you in this blog are as candid as they come. As I mentioned school has been the one consistent in my life for 17 years and I’m ending that chapter. It’s scary, exuberating, hectic, and mind boggling all at the same time. I know every soon to be college graduate knows exactly what I’m talking about. I could lie and say I have it all figured out but in reality, I don’t.

Through this blog I’ve shared some of the madness I’ve been pondering. Each day, I continue my trial and error process of navigating this so-called game of “Life”. I’ve come to the realization that’s all that really matters. It is a process and I’m not going to have everything locked down and SURPRISE it’s okay.

I’m going to take the last few weeks of college to enjoy my time with the people I love, make as many memories as possible, and live it up with no regrets. This year has been one filled with changes, eye openers, and “ahh-ha” moments and I don’t see that changing any time soon. The next chapter of my life is right on my heels and I’m ready to take in on full-force!

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Mar 29, 2011 By ashjack0808