Tag Archives: change

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.


International Women’s Day

Are protests really the answer? 

Today in France, protesting women left the workplace twenty minutes early to bring awareness to gender wage gaps. In Rome and other places, protesters blocked traffic and shut down public transportation. In the United States, women called for a “day without women,” resulting in closed schools and empty jobs. All of this was in the name of “equality and empowerment.”

But do protests really bring that about? 

Today I was in Madison for work. Around lunch, a small group of women began marching around the capital, waving signs and declaring their desire for change. I am sure they had a variety of motives for being out there, many positive and genuine. However, while they were protesting and waving signs with words like “This pussy fights back,” my co-workers (mostly females!) and I were working hard to bring about actual change. 

This really hit home for me during a meeting we had with political and social thought leaders this afternoon. Outside, we could still hear the women chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, the patriarchy has got to go!” Inside, my group gathered to talk about the heavy tax burden and over-regulation that make life harder for men and women. The meeting was definitely gender-skewed; there were about 5 women and 20 men present. Was this representative of the patriarchy keeping us down? Hardly! We had an equal voice at the table. 

What would have happened if we decided to take a day off of work and protest the fact that there were fewer females than males represented? The meeting definitely still would have happened, but without our voices. 

Protests play a role in democracy, but they won’t solve the world’s problems. If you want to make a difference, you have to work for it. Change takes drudgery; it takes showing up day after day, even when you are in the minority. The only thing a #daywithoutwomen accomplishes is another day when women’s voices – and true solutions for equality and empowerment – are absent from the table. 

Image may contain: 4 people, tree, basketball court, sky and outdoor

A few of my fabulous, female co-workers. These ladies inspire me to keep fighting. 


A glimpse of Janus

Do you know what an inane question is? Asking people if they feel any different on their birthday. “How does it feel now that you are…?”

Six. Able to appreciate your party, cognitive, still clueless.

Thirteen. A real teenager.

Eighteen. Practically an adult…except not.

Twenty-one. Legally able to drink…and maybe drive a rental van.

In some ways, it is a dumb question because we all know nothing magical happens while you sleep that transformed you in some profound way. At some point in the night, or during the day, you slipped by the sun one more time. Maybe that is all a birthday is. Another year of existence. But it is a question we ask anyway. Do you feel different being older?

And I have decided…I like it. I just think we say it wrong. Because when you ask the question like someone ought to feel cognitively different than they did 24 hours before, there is obviously very little to say in answer (unless something extreme happened to you during that time. Like you developed super powers or got a letter to Hogwarts or discovered you are headed to Camp Half Blood.)

But think about the question contained within the question. We recognize that something has happened. Time has passed since the last time we paid attention to your age. Are you different? Maybe the question isn’t, “do you feel different from the past 24 hours?” but, “do you feel different than you did 365 days ago?” How have you changed over the past year?

That ought to be the real question. One year of existence is never “just a year”. Its moments, moments filled with emotions and experiences. You change over the course of a year, and sometimes it is important to reflect on that.

So, hi. My name is Amy, and I turn 21 tomorrow.

A lot happened over the past year. I studied abroad at Oxford. I took the LSAT. I worked 60 hours a week. I made new friends, lost old ones. No year passes silently, but for me this has been a particularly rich one full of “coming of age” and “self discovery” and all that good stuff. I traveled to Washington DC. Served as President of College Conservatives and the Debate Team. Won two academic awards. Got dragged into countless photo shoots by my artistic, wonderful friends. Stood up as a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding. Saw Les Mis in England. Took tea in Jane Austen’s old bedroom. Got lost and found again in London. Learned to drive in inner city Milwaukee. Destroyed the paper shredder at Pieper Electric.

I am not who I was, but then, we never really are by the end of the year. I have learned confidence and gained in wisdom. It did not happen in a vacuum. Once again I find myself with an irreparable debt to everyone who helped, mentored, and interacted with me over the past year. I mentioned a few experiences, but each one would not have been possible without the people around me at the time. For those who helped me get to Oxford, who prayed and gave financially, thank you. But even outside of Oxford, to my friends and family, thank you for everything you have done to help me mature and experience life over the past year.

I named this post “A glimpse of Janus” because I am reflecting on what was, but the Roman god Janus also looks at what is to be. Especially on this poor, neglected blog, I have not been good at updating people. And, as my life has taken a dramatic change over the past week, it is time to update.

I have been hired on full time with Americans For Prosperity (AFP) working as a Field Director in Wisconsin. For me, this reflects an opportunity to work long term at a “grown up job”. I love what AFP does and am super excited about this opportunity. It is like working a Generation Joshua Student Action Team full-time. AKA…awesome.

However, believe it or not, this change in job for me very likely affects you (if you actually know me) and your ability to see my face. I will not be returning to Bryan College in the Fall. I will still be a student there, but I will be taking classes online from Wisconsin. I will return for the Spring semester and graduate in May. In a way I am studying abroad again…just not very exotically.

I will miss all my friends at Bryan but as I approach this next chapter in my life, I enter it with peace. I see God’s hand at work. It is time to begin a new adventure, one maybe starting a little earlier than I expected. It is a new challenge. Instead of going where I don’t know anyone, I am staying where everyone knows me. Where family members and childhood friends remember…everything. Twice I have been given the chance to “reinvent” myself in a new, completely different world. Now I am challenged to face adulthood in the very place I have always been.

It has been a good year, but the time has come to look forward. I have tested my ability to adapt to a new environment, now I will learn if I can take on a new role in an old one place. I think I can say with confidence, by this time next year I will have plenty to say to How have you changed over the past year?