Tag Archives: community

Unpacking the Summer

At the end of my adventures in Idaho last summer, I wrote a blog post where I talked about finding a new side of myself. I, bookworm and indoor aficionado,  learned to sleep under the stars, hike for fun, and white water raft. Part of the appeal of going to Colorado this past summer was the idea of further developing this new side of myself. 

And in a way, it was. I camped. I hiked. I white water rafted. (It is a lot more fun without the raft of paranoid middle school girls.) 

Image may contain: sky, mountain, cloud, tree, outdoor and nature

Yet looking back, I would not say this was a summer of discovery. Rather, it became something more precious: a summer of remembering. 

Image may contain: 13 people, including Heather Sherrill, Shelby Hoovler, Alexavier Xue, Abby Welch, Haylee O'Hearn, Kathleen Mattina, Caroline Adams and Amy Buchmeyer, people smiling, people standing and outdoor

Law school is stressful. It is a melting pot of emotions and nuances and feeling like a failure. I emerged war-torn and exhausted. Going to Colorado felt like a terrible idea. As the weeks leading up to my departure became days, I kept wondering if Young Life would really would miss me too much if I just…didn’t go? After all, they’d told me there were two legal interns. Maybe they didn’t need me?

Image may contain: Amy Buchmeyer, smiling, plant, sky, tree, cloud and outdoor

I knew better than to bail last minute, though, so I got on my plane, read 4 books, and started a truly amazing internship. What made it amazing? 

  • I had work that mattered and that I loved. 
  • I worked with incredible people who made me feel loved. 
  • I lived with 8, wonderful, sometimes crazy women who loved me and took the time to let me know it. 
  • I participated in an internship program that provided mentors, speakers, and a small group that all poured into me and left me feeling…you got it, loved
  • Finally, I got hour after luxurious hour to read and think and be alone, to truly love myself. 

Image may contain: 13 people, including Liz Knepper, Andi Seaton, Kathleen Mattina, Haylee O'Hearn, Shelby Hoovler, Alexavier Xue, Caroline Adams, Heather Sherrill, Amy Buchmeyer and 3 others, people smiling, people standing, mountain, sky, outdoor and nature

The theme you should notice is that I was spoiled this summer. I was spoiled because people treated me like someone remarkable, someone smarter and funnier and more pulled together than I ever felt. They made sure to invite me to all their activities and never took offense when I declined to instead stay home and read. I always felt included but never pressured. And considering how many times I turned them down to read, that is saying something. 

Yet while I felt beloved for my reading and bug-killing abilities, I also felt the love did not stem from my personal attributes. I was surrounded by God-loving people whose love for each other stemmed from that love for God. Certain personalities might mix better and certain skills be more praise worthy, but at the end of the day, those things mattered less than the fact that each intern represented someone loved by God and thus worthy of love.

Image may contain: Kathleen Mattina and Amy Buchmeyer, people smiling, outdoor and nature

I was spoiled this summer because I felt unconditionally loved. I was spoiled because I got to do work that interested and excited me. I was spoiled because I got to live in the incredibly beautiful mountains with no humidity. 

I called this a summer of remembering. Why? Because it was a summer of remembering that my worth is not in what I do, or where I live, or what grades I get. It was a summer of remembering who I am when not stressed, not busy, and not networking. A summer of just being…me. Was it hard sometimes? Oh, you bet. But for all that, it was a summer beyond my expectations. 

The thing I want to take away, the thing I need to take away, is that this path wasn’t the most natural, the most prestigious, or even the most sensible. But in the end, it was the most fulfilling. God knew what He was doing even when (especially when) I doubted the most. 

Image may contain: 15 people, including Haylee O'Hearn, Heather Sherrill, Shelby Hoovler, Alexavier Xue, Caroline Adams, Amy Buchmeyer, John Sivils and Abby Welch, people smiling, people standing, mountain, sky, outdoor and nature

 

(And because I couldn’t find the right place for it in this post, extra grateful shout-out to my awesome fellow legal intern, John, who now knows a lot more about Wisconsin’s Supreme Court, public sector labor law unions, and agency deference than he ever could have wanted, but who always let me interrupt him and patiently listened while I rambled away. Thank you.)

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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!


Gratitude

A lot has been changing for me lately and I will be free to say more about that in the next few weeks. For now, I just want to share in the vaguest possible way how grateful I am for those around me. I’ve been feeling some strain because I haven’t been able to share on this blog some of the emotions whirling around inside my head. Gratitude, however, is not one I need to keep contained. 

I’m grateful for my family. Moving home after college could have been a really hard decision. I have never regretted it. My parents and siblings are incredibly supportive and kind. They put up with a lot from me and are fun to be around. Seriously, I have a wonderful family. I’m grateful for this time with them. I’m grateful for my extended family too. I have the best aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents. It has been so nice to be near them, even if I do not see them all the time. 

I’m grateful for my friends: both the new ones and the old ones. I never expected to find such community in my small home town. I’m grateful for continued friendships from college and high school. I’ve got to travel and visit and bond over the past two years with some really awesome people. 

Though full of ups and downs, life is good. God is good. I’m grateful for where I am at.