Whew! Week one…ish

Ok, yes, you caught me. It is really more like week two and a half at this point but I really did intend to write this post after week one!!

So far it has been a little bit of what I expected and a lot of what I didn’t. I knew there would be a stressful amount of bills to pay and a big girl job to go to from 9-5 (or 845-515 at least which has been my life so far). I knew I was going to a city versus my beautiful bluffs and rivers of Decorah. I knew these things, but they still hit harder than expected*.

*Not like… knock me out cold hit. Not… upper cut or kidney kick. Just a semi rough push or strong arm.

I knew I was taking this new leap into a world that I am unfamiliar with. I thought maybe I would be scared. Maybe a little overwhelmed. I feel neither of these things. I am handling the work I’ve been thrown into at my knew job with great poise, and the bills are getting paid/sorted out and I’ve only been honked at on the interstate once*.

*Ok… maybe twice but the second time I just laughed because it was totally her fault!

What I feel to is a little lonely. I am an extremely social person and therefore being in a city where I don’t really know anyone has been a challenge. In my other big moves I had the arena to meet others, it was an entire coordinated set of buildings made for giving people a chance to make connections. That’s really what college was for me, both in-country and abroad. Ok, I guess I learned a thing or two about the brain functions and institutional racism, but really I just met a whole lot of people!

My goal in the next week (or two and a half ) is to find my New Orleans arena for people meeting. It’s out there, I just have to reach a little farther than I did before. It’s like the universe is teasing me with a cookie*, but each step I take towards adulthood the cookie moves a little farther away.

*Can you picture it, because if you’re not trying to picture it you’re wasting your time reading this post! It’s a kind of sad/funny right?!

But it doesn’t mean the cookie has disappeared. I can still meet those people destined to take in some of my awesome rays of light. I just have to shine a little brighter and extend the circle*.

*You should be picturing this too!

So here we go people! Let’s shine some light, make some friends, and eat some cookies!!

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Journey to the Big Easy

Well it may not have been the smartest choice to have my tonsils removed and then move a little over a thousand miles away to an unfurnished house, but here I am, four days after my journey began, sitting on our new (to us) couch after having a semi-soft dinner at our dinner table that we’ve only moved the positioning of twice! I’d say that’s not bad for only a handful of days!

I wish I could say the path down was enjoyable, but that is not the vocabulary I would use… I was in quite a bit of pain still even after a week of recovery and my energy levels were not running at top speed, but thankfully my aunt came with me and drove ‘almost’ the entire way. After about 800 miles and 14 or so hours of driving on the first day, we stopped in Canton, Mississippi and took of for the second leg of the trip bright and early the next morning. We finally got to New Orleans, after stopping in Baton Rouge to do some paperwork, around 1300 and then the real work began.

(see my snapchat documentation of the journey below)

The next couple days were spent filling our nearly empty apartment. It’s hard to imagine, unless you’ve done it, the sheer amount of items that go into a house… From the big things like a couch and dinner table to the smaller thinks like a strainer for kitchen sink and a shower curtain. We are surely not done getting the things we need to make the house a home but we did quite a lot in a very short period of time because we don’t mess around!

After driving my aunt to the airport Friday morning, which was a tear filled departure as you can probably imagine, I  came back to the house… my new house… and crashed. But after staring around my room for a bit I had a deep urge to make this new room mine. If I’m going to call this place home it should at least look like home. And today I am quite content with my homemaking choices.

I don’t know if I’ve processed everything as fully as I should have by this point but I am feeling alright. I’ve been exploring a bit and figuring out the lay of the land while also mentally preparing myself to start a new job on Tuesday and commence a ‘second’ job hunt.

There is still much more to do and explore in this life I’ve begun here is the Big Easy, but that’s the excitement of it all. I don’t feel like it would be considered a journey if I knew where I was going… it would just be a trip or a holiday, a journey is much more that that and I’m ready to take it head on!

Adulthood?

Adulthood?

What does it even mean to be an ‘adult?’ Usually when I hear the word adult used to describe something it means there is alcohol or vegetables involved. I mean there may be alcohol and vegetables in my future but I’m pretty sure that’s not the whole story.

Recently I’ve been going through a lot of big changes/events. In 11 short days I will be moving from small town Iowa to the city of New Orleans, Louisiana! I was offered a job through AmeriCorps but was then tasked with finding a place to live in a city over a thousand miles away. Oh, and right in all of these big changes, I am leaving a job that I absolutely love and getting my tonsils taken out!

If adulthood is making lots of life changing decisions in the matter of three weeks, I think I’m in it!

Although I have been completely overwhelmed with these significant (and even the seemingly insignificant) decisions, I have been trying to take time to process how I feel about taking these steps. I am doing things the right way? Am I really just on the path to Neverland? I am even stepping at all!? This frame of thinking is a terrifying place to be and therefore makes the act of deciding even harder.

What I have come to find, however, is that maybe it’s ok if I don’t know the end of my story.

Maybe I am going the wrong way right now… but maybe I’m not.

Maybe I am on the path to Neverland… a new place to explore!

Maybe I’m not really stepping… what if I’m leaping?

Adulthood may mean making big, scary decisions. It means taking changes that might not have rewards. It means putting yourself out there with a little less cushion than when you were a ‘kid.’

Being an adult is not categorized by a number. It’s not an age, or a height, or the amount of money you make. It’s being able to take those risks and stick through the good and bad. It should not be glamorized nor should it be feared.

I don’t know what will await me in New Orleans, that’s what makes it exciting. What I do know, is that it will change me! I will come out of this situation having learned some important lessons, taken leaps and bounds in my career and personal life, met people and seen places new to me, and so much more!

I could fall flat on my face.
I could soar.
I will step.

I think, I don’t know for sure, but I think, these may be the steps that lead me into adulthood. I guess we’ll find out.

What does your family say about you?

What does your family say about you?

I don’t mean: Do they say you are pretty or smart or an ass-hole?
I mean: What does your family history say about you as a person?

I want to say that the answer is nothing. I want to say that I am my own person and I make my own decisions and none of that has to do with whatever shit has happened in my past. Saying this, I wouldn’t be totally wrong but I would not be right either.

From the psychological and biological perspective, there are many characteristics that are passed down genetically that indicate clear connections in a family line. Mental and physical diseases are part of that package. Socially, the family you know and are surrounded by play a huge role in how you interpret and handle the environment around you. You learn behavior and morals from the people who ‘teach’ you behavior and morals.

So then, yes, your family is quite the talker when it comes to saying stuff about you as a person.

But it doesn’t have to!

Look at me. I am a 22 year old women who has graduated from Luther College, traveled the world, works a full time job (that I’m pretty good at), and volunteers in many groups and organizations in the communities I have been a part of throughout my life. I am by no means perfect, but I am a hard worker who genuinely cares about the world around me.

However, if you were to only look at my family line you would see a depressed mother who committed suicide at age 26 and a biological father who was hardly a part of my life and is a clear case drug addict. There is also my step dad, who I considered a dad because he taught me how to ride a bike, who is now a raging alcoholic. If you were to look at me from my family line you would expect to see a depressed and/or anxious girl who resorts to drugs and alcohol to keep herself together. Even if you don’t expect it, you wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case.

I have lived my whole life refusing to live in the shadow of my family tree. Ashamed may not be the perfect word, but it is not far off. Afraid might be closer.

I sometimes feel depressed. I sometimes feel anxious. I don’t always make the right choices.

I can’t be perfect. I can only be Branna.

That being said, I have made it this far on ‘the path of Branna’ with the help of the people who have supported me and the person I am now. These people are still in my life because they believe in me and who I am as a person, not who all those -ology sciences tell me I should be.

I am not my mother, or my father, or my step-dad, or my neighbor down the road. I am Branna Lace and I will not be defined by what’s behind me. I will be driven by the path a make before me and the journey I’ve made my life become.

 

My reality of settling

I would like to picture settling in the form of sand slowly falling to the bottom on a sea shore after a long summer day of feet wading in and out of its salty waves.

My reality of settling, however, comes in the middle of the night when all is quiet around me leaving room for the racing thoughts in my head to change the stillness from calm to chaos in seconds.

They hide in silence and come out when all seems clear to bring up fears of insecurity, loss of control, and inability to move. They snicker in the silence knowing only I can hear their voices. They grow in the darkness, merely subdued by busying my mind with the toxins of social media.

I used to fear the silence. I feard these monsters and the power they continue to hold over me. I still fear the consequences if they win.

But more resently, I have come to embrace the silence. I confront the demons head on, an expert in these interactions by now. I face them knowing that the dreams of settling sand on the sea shore can never be my reality if the monsters of my mind infest the waters.

My hope is that the waves kick up enough sand to land right on top of those fears and bury them beneath the settling ground. But that wave can only come from me and I can only create such a thing by embracing the silence that I shouldn’t have to fear.

Maybe the settling will never happen; maybe it’s not supposed to. But each day I take another step and create another wave that may just be the one that saves me.

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Goodbye for Now

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On Sunday May 21, 2017. I completed the goal I’ve worked the last four years to reach. On my big bucket list of lifelong dreams, I was finally able to check this one off. It truly was a beautiful and bittersweet moment. It did not go smoothly, as things rarely do, and by the end of the day I was completely whipped, but I did it!

 

And in the midst of all the ‘lasts’ I still haven’t cried. My last day of classes, my last final, my last asian bowl (ok I almost cried at that one), and my last time time walking on campus as a Luther student. I expected that these things would be emotional and painful for me, but they really weren’t.

Then came the goodbyes.

Goodbye to my professors, goodbye to my mentors, my role models, the lovely people that make my asian bowl, goodbye to my friends. I thought that this would be the time that the tears would start to flow, and yet they didn’t. I have spent the last couple of days wondering why I haven’t been emotional about this whole process. And this is the conclusion I have drawn.

The goodbyes are only temporary for me. I have spent the last four years not just going from class to class only waving at the passersby, I have spent that time building relationships that I fully plan to last me for the next four years and beyond.

The professors that have taught me the many wonderful things I’ve learned in and out of my classes are more than just people who happen to be qualified to teach at this college, they are my mentors and role models in life. You don’t just walk away from people like that, you cherish them, you keep in contact, and you continue that relationship you’ve worked so hard to build.

To the real and true friends I have made in the last four years, know that your friendship was not simply a convenience to me. The goodbyes we said on Sunday will not be the last! We have been through too much and shared too many beautiful memories for that to be so. The love I have for you all surpases time and space. It may not be in person; maybe it’s only a phone call now and then, a skype session, or a snapchat, but we will see each other again and there will be many more goodbyes for us to share.

Maybe this wishful thinking of goodbye only being for now is a little too romantic. Maybe it’s just my way of coping with this change in life. Interpret it how you will, I know that graduating Luther is not the end. What will keep me going is knowing that it’s not a goodbye forever, just a goodbye for now.

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Am I a Sociologist Yet?

We go to college for roughly four years. Some of us go on to another four plus years of school. Some go into the workforce. Some continue their education or work in another country. Some move back to their parent’s house. But when do we really become the person we are working so hard to be? For me that means asking… Am I a sociologist yet?

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When I was a kid I wanted to be a singer, a marine biologist, a counselor, a dog walker and probably a million other things. Now, my goal is to be a sociologist. This is what I have spent the last four years of my life focusing on, but now I fear that I won’t know it when I get there I’m sure (and not-so-secretly hope) that I’m not the only person facing this existential crisis right now!

However, last Friday I think I saw a glimmer of hope. On April 28th, a group of sociology students and professors headed to Dubuque Iowa to present research at the Iowa Sociological Association. I was able to spend the day hearing a variety of presentations on an array of topics in the area of sociology; including homosexuality in churches, the glass ceiling for women working in academics, and the effects of labeling theory concerning drugs, sex work, and more. I also was able to present my senior paper through a program evaluation of a midwest prisoner reentry facility. These topics sparked brilliant conversation between all the sociologists (so everyone) in the room.

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Here, I really felt like a sociologist. I was surrounded by people who aligned with what I was talking about and shared my same passion and enthusiasm. I could say that I want to work in a halfway house or in prisoner reentry and I didn’t feel the pressure to explain or justify my decision. Being approached by individuals asking questions after my presentation reaffirmed the importance of the research I have spent months working on.

20170501_140935 (1)I don’t have a diploma (yet) and I haven’t officially started working in the field but in this moment, I really feel like I’m doing what I’ve been working towards for what feels like eternity. Maybe I’ve been a sociologist for longer than I thought. Maybe I’m not quite there yet. Maybe I never will. If someone has the answers I’m all ears! Until then, I’ll just keep surrounding myself with the people and places that challenge me to keep stepping towards whatever a ‘sociologist’ is, in hopes that one day I’ll get there!