Unsettled.

I don’t consider myself a blogger (not yet at least), so welcome to my online journal. I’ll be recording my escapades, exploits and explorations here for the next year or so. I’m set to travel to some pretty amazing places–here’s hoping I have sufficiently interesting things to say.

The title of this blog/journal is “Unsettled”. Currently, the title is rather inappropriate because my life actually is quite suburban-ly settled for the moment. “Unsettled” is my adjective of choice, thanks to my desktop thesaurus. Instead of going through a boring, conventional biography, I’ll use the synonyms for “unsettled” that I found so appealing.

    1. An unsettled life (aimless)—By no means do I perceive my life to be directionless, purposeless, rootless or nomadic. I have a direction and a purpose, but I’m not exactly sure what direction I’m going yet or precisely which purpose is mine. I’m a junior at the University of Notre Dame, and I’m majoring in American Studies and minoring in Education, Schooling and Society. I have changed my major three times since I arrived at ND. I have plenty of interests–the academic, like education policy & reform, libraries and social justice issues, and the more frivolous, like tap dancing. I just haven’t quite decided how to organize my passions and my academic pursuits into a viable career yet.
    2. An unsettled child (restless)—I take after my mother. During times of change and stress, I am anxious, fretful and edgy. The coming year will present me with many challenging situations. In July, I’ll be traveling to Kolkata, India for a month. In August, I move back to Notre Dame for fall semester of my junior year. In January, I will leave the US again to spend spring semester studying in Rome. In May, I’ll return to North Carolina to see my sister graduate from high school and to help my mom sell the house. Next June or July, I’ll move my parents to their new home in Chicago.  In order to cope with all of this change, I’m going to need to adapt, to grow up and to be flexible.
    3. Unsettled weather (changeable)—I’m hoping that after a year of studying and traveling and writing, I’ll be better at adapting, at going with the flow of life. I attended Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh. Like most (if not all) Notre Dame students, I got great grades, worked hard, played sports (swimming), held leadership positions, etc., etc. I was good at high school. I paid attention and made it apparent that I actually cared about school and learning and life. I continue to stay in touch with Gibbons teachers—I wouldn’t be who I am without their influence. However, I’m becoming a more complete person as I experience college and life after high school, away from home. Now that I’m halfway through college, I notice differences in the ways I handle stressful situations. I’m getting better at relaxing and lightening up on the perfectionism; I’m starting to realize and accept that I can’t control everything and that life is uncertain, inconstant, unpredictable.
    4. The question is still unsettled (undecided)—I need to go back to a topic weighing heavily (or not-so-heavily) on my mind. Getting a job. As I noted earlier, I’m still trying to figure out a way that I can make money doing something that includes at least some of my interests (which range from special education to Frank Sinatra to gender studies to Harry Potter). For now, the grand plan/hope/wish/dream is to participate in Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) program upon graduation, teach for 2 years, get a Master’s degree in Education and then go work in education policy at the state or local level. But if I’m doing that, then how will I find time to continue teaching swim lessons or to read the Great Books or to go to museums? To be determined. Open for debate. Up in the air.
    5. The debt remains unsettled (unpaid)—“American Studies? What are you going to do with that?” Usually I answer with some glib remark about being in a Starbucks training program or folding sweaters at The Gap, but as I’ve talked to my parents and mentors more and more, I’m realizing that a “useless” major (read: anything in the liberal arts) might actually be an asset to me. The question of finding a job, a career, a vocation that plagues so many students doesn’t bother me right now. I’m hoping that when I graduate, I’ll be able to write creatively, think intelligently (as my dad says, “in paragraphs”) and reason objectively. In a competitive job market, aren’t those qualities just as valuable as a management degree? Over the past year or so, I’ve decided that a liberal arts degree doesn’t condemn me to a life of barista-ing. On the contrary, I’ve decided that if I’m doing something that makes me happy (be it teaching or shelving books at Borders), I’ll work hard enough and be good enough that eventually, money will come. Things work out.
    6. Unsettled areas (uninhabited)—I don’t see myself being in an unpopulated, desolate, unoccupied place at all during the coming year. Cary’s got a population of over 100,000 people, Notre Dame is home to 8,000 undergrads (I live in a dorm with 260 of them) and Chicago and Rome both have nearly 3 million residents. Kolkata, my next stop, has over 13 million residents. I might feel lonely on boring weekend in Cary or a noisy night in Kolkata, but I certainly won’t be alone.

For the next year, I’ll be making my way around the US and across the globe, through at least three states and definitely three continents.  Welcome to my unsettled life.

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