Spring Goals Update: March 2017

It’s the beginning of March, so it’s time for a goals update!

Life Goals

  1. Be intentional about communicating with others, especially roommates.  As far as roommates go, this is going fine.  We don’t talk much, but we get the important things done.  Family and boyfriends are a different matter — my boyfriend and I are quickly realizing that life happens all at once.  He got an internship, so we are planning to move cities and get an apartment together.  Neither of our parents like that very much, especially my mom.  It’s been difficult to figure out how to maintain respect while still defending my own decisions.  I’m guessing there will be some conversations this week, since it’s spring break and I’m home.  As for the boyfriend, I’m usually okay at telling him how I feel, except when I start to get overwhelmed and have to deal with PMS hormones at the same time and end up getting really mad over little things that others do and it’s all because I do feel ready to be an adult, but at the same time I don’t…this is all hypothetically speaking, of course.  I haven’t yelled at anyone, at least, and when I get upset he knows exactly what to do.  I don’t know how he stays so calm when I am so not, but he does.  And he even makes me dinner.  I’m really glad I am writing this update now, though, because it’s reminding me to take a deep breath and communicate rather than holding stuff in.
  2. Get physically stronger.  With all the studying I’m having to do this semester, it’s a struggle just to get enough body movement in so that I don’t feel like a blob.  I think this goal is going to have to be scrapped in favor of just move your body sometimes!
  3. Find ways to support causes I believe in.  This has also fallen by the wayside in favor of reading for my capstone and studying for exams.  I will keep it on here, however, because I know that this can be done anytime, and it’s good to be reminded so that I can be on the lookout for opportunities.  I suppose working as a COB Ambassador could be considered a way to do this somewhat, since I believe the COB here does an incredible job of supporting its students.
  4. Read more non-white authors.  Capstone project — check.  Once I graduate, I’ve got a lot of books on TBR that I put on there especially for this, so I’ll be trying to find them then.
  5. Food: continue cooking at least once a week; stick to ~$15 a month on coffee.  Cooking has slacked off a bit lately, but that’s also because spring break is about to be here and I’m trying to avoid buying groceries until I get back.  As for coffee, I’ve still stuck to my goal!  Go me!

Education/Career Goals

  1. COB Ambassadors: Try to help project manage an event.  I keep having opportunities to project manage, and I keep not speaking up to claim them.  We only have four meetings left, and I’m afraid I may have missed all my chances. So here’s my goal for the next two months: if another opportunity comes up, I WILL SPEAK UP.  I don’t care what, where, or when the event is, I will put my name in to project manage an event.  I will not keep quiet for fear of people thinking, her? She can’t project manage an event.  And if I don’t get another chance to, I will learn from these horrible missed opportunities and say yes to the next one that comes my way, even if it scares me.
  2. Apply to ~5 jobs a month.  I have completely redone my resume, and have been applying to internships and jobs like crazy.  I’m guessing if I hear back about any of them, it won’t be until the end of March or beginning of April.  It’s a little frustrating, because my boyfriend and I can’t really plan very well until I know how much I’m going to be making.  But I know this is how job searches go, and I’m trying to be patient.

So, I’m doing okay on some, and not so great on others.  I wish I could be doing a bit better, but no one can be perfect all the time.  I’m hoping I’ll have more positive things to say in April.

What I’ve Learned From Working in IT

As a freshman, I received a university scholarship that requires me to volunteer 75 hours each semester to the university.  A lot of students get similar scholarships, and thus it seems like half the university is staffed by students.  At the beginning of every year, we all have to go pick up our volunteer assignments and report for duty.  Most of us monitor computer labs or do basic clerical work.  Many “jobs” involve sitting at a desk and doing homework.  But not mine.  I got stuck in an IT office.

When I started working for Bill (name changed), I was declared as a basic business student.  To this day, I have no idea how they decided to put me in Bill’s office.  Bill is the head of all technology in his building, which happens to house one entire college of our university.  This means he buys, installs, maintains, and tracks every single piece of hardware and software for every single teacher and classroom in the entire college.  He’s the one teachers call when they can’t get their email to work, and he’s the one who implements new systems with heads of technology for other colleges.  He does a ton, and when I started, all of it was over my head.

When I started as a brand-new freshman, I was the first girl and the first business major that had been assigned to his office in years.  All his other student workers were guys majoring in computer science, computer engineering, business information technology, or mechanical or electrical engineering.  They all had an interest in how things work and a propensity for fixing.  And then there was me.

I had no idea what I was doing.  As student workers, we were responsible for documenting complaints and problems and then going out to fix them.  We also had to update and deliver “mobile labs” — huge carts full of 40 laptops each that professors could request for classes.  They weigh more than I do, I’m pretty sure.  I managed to push them around when I needed to, though, and I was good at documenting.  Often I would document calls that other students went out on — they could do the work, but didn’t want to document it, so I made myself useful that way.  But I spent the majority of freshman year following Bill around as he went to fix stuff that we students couldn’t handle.  I met a lot of professors that way, which was really helpful when I started having them for classes.

Gradually, I learned.  I kind of figured out how networks function.  I learned several ways to wipe a hard drive.  I figured out how to explain things I didn’t fully grasp to professors (who often didn’t fully grasp them, either).  I learned to be polite and sympathize when I couldn’t fix something, because I knew how frustrating it was when technology didn’t work.  I learned to work with people I didn’t particularly like.  Mostly, I learned to listen, because I learned that people don’t always communicate the way I want them to.

Disagreeing respectfully with a superior was a big thing to learn.  Bill is very conservative, and though he says he dislikes discussing politics, what he really dislikes is when people disagree.  He has a habit of taking a break and coming into the student side of the office to discuss current events or politics.  Usually, I just nod my head and listen, because (as I discussed some in my last post) I don’t like discussing controversial issues, especially with someone whose views are so different from mine.  But occasionally I do speak up.  Take this morning, for instance.  Bill was reading something about a Title VI document, and got hung up on the words “English is not the official or native language” (or something along those lines).  He started making comments about how English is the official language here in the U.S., and it irks him when concessions have to be made for non-English speakers.  He said he doesn’t think it’s fair for taxpayers to have to pay for everything to be written in more than one language.

Being a Spanish major, I couldn’t let that one go by.  I mentioned that we have a lot of taxpayers in this country whose first language isn’t English.  This was one of those times I wish I knew exact stats, but I don’t.  I tried to talk about how many Spanish-speaking citizens we have here (stressing the legal part, because I know how Bill feels about undocumented immigrants).  Bill did listen to me.  I didn’t expect him to agree or change his mind.  But by speaking up I at least attempted to stand up for my beliefs and worldview.  And though I know Bill doesn’t agree, I think demonstrating a different viewpoint does gain me some respect in his eyes.  He likes people who can think for themselves.  (And it reminds him not to put his foot in his mouth.)

Now, in my last semester here, Bill has gotten a lot more student workers and had to expand his office.  Having more of us means that there are fewer calls to go out on.  Not to mention the fact that the university really amped up its overall help desk, which reduced our workload a ton.  This was nice, because now professors and students can call the help desk for mundane tasks like resetting email passwords, and we can focus on bigger issues like smart boards that don’t work.  The problem for me, though, is that I was good at the mundane tasks.  I have enough computer knowledge that I can figure out which settings to change and which problems I can rule out.  But while I can fix relatively simple problems (and gain good rapport with professors in the process), I can’t fix the big ones.  When a projector malfunctions in the middle of a class and I’m the only one in the office, I leave professors feeling frustrated rather than thankful.  It doesn’t reflect well on me or the university.

But I’m going to leave this job on my resume, because it shows a lot of things.  For one, this job has taught me to work effectively with a team.  It’s heightened my communication skills.  And it’s allowed me to better understand what the crap people are talking about when they tell me to map to a certain drive or boot a machine to the BIOS menu.  It shows that while I may not have a natural affinity for technology, I can learn.  I’ve been very frustrated these past four years, because it takes up a lot of time and is difficult.  But ultimately, I’m thankful I got stuck here, because it has helped shaped me into who I am today.  It’ll be a sweet goodbye when I leave.  But there will be a tiny bit of bitter in there, too.

archivo_000
Our super-official password generator (not — it’s actually to scare new students)

 

Praying in Condensation

Prayer is an interesting thing.  It takes so many shapes and forms.  I have proof.

Today I began reading my new devotional, Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young.  She writes it as if Jesus is the one talking to the reader, not her, which makes sense when you learn that the book was born out of her listening to God.  Sometime in her Christian walk, she realized that she was the one doing all the talking.  So one day she just sat and listened, and she received a message from God.  The book encompasses some of the messages that she has gotten.  I was excited to start it.

However, I couldn’t really get into it today.  My prayer seemed stale, and even though I read today’s piece over and over it wasn’t really sticking into my mind.

Part of my family went out walking even though it is gray and rainy, leaving me and my mom at home.  Somehow we got to talking about my mom’s family.  No big deal, right?  Well, without going into detail, she has described her family as dysfunctional, and from what I know, it is.  Talking about it can be somewhat emotional for my mom.

Just thinking about the lives some of her family members have led reduced her to tears.  She went outside, and I got into the shower assuming the conversation was finished.

At the risk of sounding a little weird and new-age (or maybe just weird), praying in the shower can be really cool.  There’s just something about being completely exposed while talking to the one who made you.  You can hide nothing.

I tried to pray for my mom while I was in there, but just like this morning, the words were sort of stuck.  So I used a modification of a technique I’ve never really used before.  The technique is called Praying in Color — my church introduced me to it last year when we studied prayer during Lent.  You write someone’s name on a piece of paper and then pray for them as you draw or color a design  around it.  It helps you focus while allowing you more freedom than words sometimes give you.

But you clearly can’t use paper in the shower.  (Ew — soggy paper bits.)  So I wrote my mom’s name in the condensation on the walls, drew a circle around it, and began writing.  I wrote “peace•joy•love” all around my mom’s circle while visualizing the presence of God around her.  Then I drew arrows pointing to the circle labeled “memories” and “sadness” or “pain” (I can’t remember exactly which, but it was along those lines).  Finally I wrote a big “IMPENETRABLE” above the circle.  The arrows stayed out and did not break into the circle.

Then I did another one for both of us.  I wrote “Me and Mom” and drew a square around it, then labeled the four corners “patience,” “understanding,” “communication,” and “tolerance.”

I knew I had to erase them or they would show up when the next person showered, but I didn’t want to just wipe them out.  So, feeling a little silly (I am a Baptist after all), I placed one hand on each of the drawing and said to God, “Though I erase these from the walls, I know they will not erase from your mind.”  Then I wiped off all the condensation.