Say Cheese

Not really sure why, but we’re celebrating cheese day at work today. I’m not complaining! Any day that involves cheese is a good day.

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White Water Rafting

I have no photographic evidence of the adventure, but after I got lost last Sunday, we went white water rafting. It was my second time going but my first time with adults and not screaming 7th grade girls. It was a really fun time and I did not fall in!

By the end, though, my foot was killing me from shoving it in the side of the raft. I’m amazed it didn’t swell up. It still hurts! Someone needs to invent a better way of staying in the boat. Speaking of hurt, today is the first day I don’t feel my abs every time I move! What a workout! 

If you ever find yourself in Buena Vista, Colorado, I highly recommend Noah’s Ark Whitewater Rafting and Adventure Co. https://www.noahsark.com

If you can get Kat as a guide, I recommend her! She was awesome! 


Never Pee Alone

At this point last week, I was wandering around a campground hoping someone would eventually notice me missing and come find me. 

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For the first, and last, weekend of the summer, all 14 of us interns were in town. We decided to then all leave town and go camping in Buena Vista, Colorado. 

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As those who know me well, or not so well, know, I’m not a big camper. But I did spend all of last summer as a camp counselor in a wilderness camp, so I thought, how hard can it be? I felt particularly scornful of the mattress pads and tents. I was a real mountain woman! I did not need such luxuries! (Though I’d take ’em!) 

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Sunday morning I woke up and needed to do my business. I started walking away from the campsite to find a convenient bush…and kept walking…and walking…and eventually it dawned on me that I had no clue where I was. 

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I listened for the sounds of my somewhat loud compatriots but could not hear them. I looked for familiar landmarks but suddenly felt unsure. Was the house on the hill behind us? Or did we drive pass it when entering the campsite? And where had that river come from?

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I considered my options carefully. I could follow the river but, as there was definitely no river by our campground, this would get me nowhere. I could sit in one place and wait for someone to find me. However, I was not confident they had even noticed I was gone yet, or would think to walk this far out in search of me. Further, I was not dressed for the heat and already felt myself sunburning. 

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Worse, the only thing on my feet were cheap, Wal Greens flip flops. Every rock and thorn punctured them and went straight into my foot. No matter how judiciously I avoided the cacti, they somehow found me. 

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After wandering for what felt like days but in reality was only 30 minutes, I realized that if I could find the road that looped around the whole campgrounds, I could find our specific campsite. So I shoved my way through the brush until I located someone else’s campsite, and from there the road. I started walking on it until I heard distant shouting. Up on the largest rock they could find stood three of my fellow interns shouting my name. 

Apparently, they were the 4th group sent out in search of me. 

We made it back just in time for breakfast! 

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Moral of the story? Always take a buddy when you have to pee.


Not Actually An Adult

Apparently, despite what I thought yesterday, I am not actually adult enough. I went out for dinner yesterday with my friends and could not buy alcohol because I posses a vertical license. I was the oldest person in our party by three years but the only one not not allowed to have a beer to celebrate! 

It was a fabulously fun day otherwise. I am surrounded by wonderful people who made me feel loved all day! I received surprise donuts in the morning; went out for spicy, pork ramen for lunch; mini-golfed with all the interns after work; had Mod Pizza for dinner; and wrapped it all up with angel food cake cupcakes and a black-and-white movie, My Man Godfrey. 25 and feelin’ alive!


Officially An Adult

Today I turn 25, making me officially-officially an adult. At 18, people say you are an adult, but in reality your options are fairly limited to voting and buying lottery tickets. At 21, you can buy alcohol, which is nice, but can’t rent a hotel room.

But once you reach 25…then you are legit. You can rent a car without getting charged extra. You can rent a hotel room without worrying about age restrictions. You can basically do anything. Go anywhere. Be anyone.

All while remaining on your parents’ health insurance for one more year. Because, wouldn’t want to grow up too fast, right? (I’m kiddddingggg.)

I’m excited to turn 25. It means I made it a quarter of a century, quite a respectable achievement if I do say so myself. I’m solidly in my mid-twenties now. (Which, actually, makes me feel quite young, because who says mid-twenties? I feel like you don’t worry about the decades slipping by until you hit your 30s)

It also means my 24th year finally comes to an end. And I’m so okay with that.

It was a strange year for me. Not a bad year. I find myself quite content with the way things worked out. Many good things happened. But also many stressful things.

For starters, I slept on a mat on the floor of a living room for most of it because there was not enough space in the apartment I shared for me to have a bed. I moved into the world of undergraduates and nightly fell asleep to the sound of pounding music, drunken carousing, and the occasional whiff of pot. I gave up my van and a paycheck and learned to be a broke, dependent student again. I limped by on student loans and survived financially only because of my parents’ and Signe’s generosity. I experienced gut-wrenching anxiety for the first time in my life and spent days battling nausea that was all in my head. I struggled to make meaningful friendships and find my footing in the pressure cooker of law school. I spent my first semester back in school wondering daily if I should drop out (and if I did, how I would pay off all those law school loans!) It was a whirlwind.

But so many sweet things happened too. I made it almost my entire second semester without wanting to drop out. I found community in the Federalist Society, the Christian Legal Society, Ridgeway Church, and my AFP network. All the stress and panic about finding a summer job led to three different, amazing internships (and let me tell you, I probably would have dropped out without those internships and their reminders that 1. yes, I am an adult, and 2. there is a light at the end of the tunnel.) I gained mentors and experience and discovered a passionate hatred for the public trust doctrine. 

Law school aside, 24 involved reading 124 books, wrapping up a summer in Idaho, standing up in two weddings, seeing old friends, making new friends, flying to Tennessee, white water rafting, moving to Colorado for an incredible, restful, fulfilling summer internship, and becoming an aunt! 

My 24th year centered around learning to live in the tension of being not-quite-an-independent-adult but also not-quite-an-inexperienced-student. I didn’t always find the right balance, but I like to think I am ending on a high note. I made Law Review. I am President of my school’s Federalist Society and Treasure for the Christian Legal Society. I was accepted to study abroad in Thailand in 2019. I’ll have my own apartment this fall with an actual bed. 

There is a saying about law school: first year they scare you to death, second year they work you to death, and third year they bore you to death. As I look to 25 and the upcoming year, I already feel flickers of anxiety about how crazy my schedule looks. But I’m also excited and eager to take it on. I do not think I will ever learn to love this social place of half-student/half-adult, but I’m going to enjoy it while I can. It certainly affords me many unique opportunities. 

Today I turn 25. I’m officially-officially an adult. And maybe in being an adult, I can more confidently be a student, because no matter how it feels, the two are not mutually exclusive. Just mutually challenging. Here’s to one more (hopefully-slightly-less-roller-coaster-ish) year!


Not the CEO

I thought I was done geeking out about the Strength Finders test. But I’m not. 

I learned something new about myself today!

The Strength Finders test measures strengths based on 34 different attributes. So much I knew. (As previously blogged, my top five are Strategic, Communication, Positivity, Learner, and Input.) However, what I didn’t know was that Clifton Strengths classifies those 34 attributes into 4 different types: Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building, and Strategic Thinking

The sheet I received describes the types like this: People with dominant Executing themes know how to make things happen. People with dominant Influencing themes know how to take charge, speak up, and make sure that the team is heard. People with dominant Relationship Building themes have the ability to build stronger relationships that can hold a team together and make the team greater than the sum of its parts. People with dominant Strategic Thinking themes help teams consider what could be. They absorb and analyze information that can inform better decisions. 

Guess what I learned? I do not have a single strength in Executing. Not this time I took the test. Not the last time. I guess not ever! 

Slightly less shocking given my recent discoveries, my dominant strength comes from Strategic Thinking. I absorb facts and find problems. I look for solutions. I’m happiest and most effective when doing this. I do not know about Amy 2017, but that sure describes Amy 2018. 

And I think I am okay with that. 

Strategic Thinking doesn’t sound like me. It sounds like someone who likes math, or plays chess, or runs the War Department. But I guess it also sounds like someone who loves writing research papers and playing Sudoku and growing community field offices. So that’s me. 

My results illustrate two other things about me that I did not previously realize: 

1. Leadership Style.

When I think of leaders, I think of the executive type. Those people know how to get things done. They have descriptors like Achiever, Arranger, Discipline, and Responsibility. I want those strengths and to be the sort of person who leads others with a single-focused drive. But that isn’t me.

Just because I am not an executive leader doesn’t mean I am not a leader, though. My leadership skills reflect big-picture problem solving. I plot. I plan. Sometimes I even follow through on those plans. I am less the executive CEO type…and more the in house legal consultant. (Hey, that’s convenient!) 

2. I might not be as entrepreneurial as I thought. 

I love entrepreneurs. I want to be one. But when I started thinking about my strengths, the lack of executing stands out pretty strongly. It also explains some of my previous difficulties running a field office. Just because I can see a problem does not mean I am good at fixing it. I need to work with others who can. 

No one functions entirely solo, but turns out I really can’t. I would never accomplish anything and I would unhappy if I tried. It isn’t the way I am wired. Far from depressing me, I find the realization somewhat freeing. I do not need to build, or accomplish, anything on my own. I am most effective when working with others.

I suppose that is probably true for everyone, but I still find it gratifying. I do not need to partner with an Executing type because I am weaker or underdeveloped in that area, but because I am better and more fulfilled doing something else. Heck, that’s the beauty of the free market. I do not know why it surprises me so much to find that in my everyday life!

On a more personal level, my discovery looks like this: Maybe I do not actually want to start my own law firm like I thought. Maybe that was the expectation I placed on myself because I am not a natural, executing leader but I still want the independence that comes with authority. So I told myself I needed to start a law firm to gain that independence. You know what that tells me, though? Independence is the value I crave, not authority. 

Where does that leave me? Somewhere between a need for others and a desire for independence. I do not know what that looks like yet, but I do know that when I find that sweet spot, I will be set


Shifting Strengths

Law school does things to you; it changes the way you think and the way you interact with people. You start viewing language differently. You exist in a pressure cooker all semester and when finally released from it…the world seems different. I have struggled to explain the difference to people. I feel…firmer. Or grounded. More analytical. Possibly more capable, or at least developed. 

Yesterday I took the Clifton Strength Finders test and I might have more words now. 

The strengths test measures your inherent “talents.” It isn’t supposed to change much, at least not once you hit adulthood. Yet over the past year, my strengths shifted dramatically

I took the test the first time almost exactly a year ago. At the time, I was leaving my adult job to move to the mountains of Idaho to work as a camp counselor and hopefully attend law school in the fall. Uncertainty was my watch word. It shows in my strengths:

Adaptability
Activator
Positivity
Intellection
Includer

Roughly translated, that tells you I am a flexible, happy, smart, inclusive person. Which I like to think is true. 

I took the test again yesterday. This time my top five strengths were: 

Strategic
Communication
Positivity
Learner
Input

First off, I don’t think anyone has ever called me strategic before, much less ranked that my top strength. 

Second, while input sounds cool, it really just means I collect things like words, books, and ideas. 

Third, initially, these results really shocked me. They seemed so…different. But then I started reading about them. And, y’all, these are me. Future oriented, chatty, enthusiastic, thirsty for new ideas and intent on remembering them. Throughout, the test emphasizes my love of books and reading.

I really do love books. (Though the test also says I think speed reading is a waste of time because I want to ponder each new idea, which isn’t true by a long shot. But I do process things fast.) 

These results are not as far off from last year as I initially thought. Adaptability and Strategic strengths share a common theme of flexibility – just with the Strategic strength I have learned to pick an option and follow through on it. With Activator I got people excited about projects, now I use Communication to carry through on the whole project, not just the beginning. 

My main purpose in sharing all this stems from a broader theme I’ve learned over this past year. Going into law school, I felt a bit like a fraud. Detail-oriented people are supposed to go to law school. Not big-picture, idea people like me. You go to law school to put things in boxes, not to turn the box upside down and beat on it like a drum. 

Or so I thought. Over the last year, I have learned my talents aren’t that uncommon for the law, and are in fact quite valuable. Where I am weak, I have learned to adapt. And where I am strong, like in communication, I flourish. 

I am waiting for one last grade, but in all but one class so far this semester I’ve gotten an A or A-. You might find that par for course knowing me, but in law school that is hard. But I am learning and I am loving what I learn. It is a bit of a relief to realize that I am not a fraud and 6-year-old me wasn’t crazy when she announced she wanted to be a lawyer.

Moreover, I am good at this. Just saying that makes me feel a little bit crazy, but also happy. I see God’s hand at work around me and I cannot wait to see what comes next.