Wednesday, April 20, 2016

On Being Hope-full

Rob Bell defines despair as "expecting that today will be like the next day and the next day and the next day."

The idea that everyday will be the same.
Nothing special.
Nothing to look forward to.

I've understood that definition of despair lately (ever since we landed back in the States). Feeling that certainly our fun and games are over. We did the exciting things and now we need to buckle down and do the "adult" things. After all, my peers are getting promotions, buying houses and having kids. And I'm working as a barista and living with my parents. This is not what I had in mind, but this is what's happening. And that idea of being a "grown-up" is one of the most depressing things I've ever thought about. Because it comes fully-loaded with the expectation that there will be "no more fun." I mean, no one uses "grown-up" as a compliment or a life goal. It's always a reprimand.

But on a good day, I know
This is not my forever story.
This is my for now story.

So that's why the idea of social work grad school got me excited. Something fairly "adult" to do, but also something that made me happy to be doing something. And then, I started the application process and that faint light of hope felt like it was covered by a heavy blanket: career goals statement, transcripts, academic and professional references, resumes, and lest we forget, the hefty financial burden.

In March, after visiting a Denver grad school, by some work of magic I was put in touch with Carole. She is a 70-something-year-old "retired" social worker who has been all around the world and simply has no time for self-doubt or indecision. Within 5 minutes of our first phone call, she asked why I hadn't applied yet and I told her I felt like maybe I was too old to be starting grad school. She laughed at me for an uncomfortably long time. "Honey," she chuckled, "I got my PhD at 56. It's never too late for anything!"

After that phone conversation, I wrote on my bathroom mirror:

"Heather-girl,
You survived Cambodia.
You survived anorexia and bulimia.
You have not earned the right to feel hopeless.
You are hope-full."


Since then, Carole and I have met a few times and talked social work, religion, politics, and applying to grad school. This is the woman who in a short period of time talked me into applying to my #1 choice school after I had missed the deadline by four months. She's persuasive that one. "All they can do is say 'no' right?" Carole...

I finished my application on Sunday.


I'm reminding myself a lot more lately that I am hope-full.
Filled to the brim with reasons to hope.
With reasons to feel confident.
Because, frankly, Carole thinks I'm the bomb! She talks to me like I am special. Like I am so different from the other several hundred students she has mentored in her lifetime. Like in a way that makes me uncomfortable. So I told her last week, "I'm worried what all this praise is doing to my ego.."

She cocked her head and furrowed her brows as if she was encountering a foreign odor: "How could I possibly do that? You've got enough self-doubt for the both of us. Enough of that nonsense," she chided.

Everyone should be so lucky to have a Carole.
I certainly am.