Monday, December 10, 2012

What is my purpose?

Being a senior in high school, I am constantly preparing for college and, eventually, my career.  I am always being asked about my future.  It seems that whenever I talk to an adult, we can't have a proper conversation without the adult asking me about my plans.  I am never quite sure if they are really curious or if they just don't know what else to say.  It's probably a little bit of both.  I guess this is just a part of life, and maybe someday, I will be asking some people that are generations younger than me what they plan on making of the rest of their life.

Within a year or two ago, my sister found something that my grandma, Janice, wrote with a similar point.  She was writing what she believed was her purpose.  It was really great to read this because she passed away before either of us were born.  My mom always told us what a wonderful, loving grandma she would have been to us.  After reading this, I could see a little bit about how she was as a person.  She recounted special moments with my grandpa and how she was so happy to have married him.  I never got the privilege of knowing her, but Grandma Janice taught me some valuable things: "Whatever you are, be a good one," and it's okay to have a really simple purpose in your life.  When my mom was going to marry a Catholic man and convert to Catholicism, the first quote, "Whatever you are, be a good one," was the piece of advice that Grandma Janice told my mom.  She said that it doesn't matter if you are a Lutheran or Catholic or something else.  She just believed in doing whatever you believe to be right as well as you can.  She said in her paper that she wrote that her purpose in life was to love God and to love and to raise her family.  Her values must have been passed on to my generation because I definitely hope to have a life with that as my purpose.

It seems that nowadays there is so much more expected out of young people.  Maybe it has been like this forever, but it seems like the kids are being way more pressured than they have been in the past.  My aunt, Diane, who is a third grade teacher says that the government keeps forcing kids to learn complex things younger and younger.  I joked about how first graders are going to have to begin writing essays.  So many things that I have learned in school, my parents and my grandparents have said that they didn't need to learn that in school at the age I did.  I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing.  I guess in a sense people may be getting "smarter," but it's also really stressful.  People are focusing more on money, careers, and material things rather than morals, faith, and love.

Despite how frustrating the emphasis on focusing on learning tailored to standardized tests and a subsequent job is, I still feel the need and desire to pursue a college education and experience.  I feel that if I didn't follow this path, I would be disappointed in myself because I would not be living up to my potential or "being a good one."  At the moment, I am debating between attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Benedictine College.  They both have positive and negative aspects that I need to weigh to see which one fits me better.

I have many interests and things that I wish to learn more about, but I think I will study Spanish and International Relations during college.  I don't really know where this will lead me, but I am looking forward to finding out.  I believe that if I do what feels right, everything will work out the way it's supposed to.  I don't really want to have a huge plan in place.  Sometimes, the unplanned things are the best in life.  I want to have adventures, but I also want to just sit and enjoy the really simple, little things.  The movie, Up, is such a perfect description of what I want: a beautiful happy life.

I found this quote on Pinterest, and I just think it's really beautiful.  It applies to me so much.  I really have no idea what life has in store for me.  Like my grandma, I want to be a loving person.  That is the only thing that I know.  I know who I will be.  I don't necessarily know my plan, yet, but I know that I want to be someone that I am proud to call "me."

Whatever I am going to be, I'll be a good one.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Where Am I?

Sitting on my little exercise trampoline in my bedroom, I am in my own little world with my headphones on.  This bedroom has only been recently transformed.  My family moved to this house when I was only one and a half years old.  For 16 years of my life, I lived in a room with quite the mismatched decor.  The room was a blend of several different themes.  The wallpaper had a border with several little teddy bears going on a picnic.  My bathroom was filled with teddy bears from my mom's childhood.  There were leftover decorations from my nursery in the house that I don't remember living in.  Those were themed (of course) Noah's Ark.  There was also a flower theme, and hand-me-downs from my sister's pink and orange room. Now, my room has a much more modern, Pinterest feel to it.  The colors are coral and teal with white and gray accents.  Everything is really square, and there are many chevron accents.  I have things around my room that show my personality such as a small version of the Eiffel tower, my owl-shaped Scentsy, and my silver poms from Portland.

My room is located in the second floor on my home.  I don't mean to seem like a homebody, but this is where I like to spend a majority of my time.  A home to me is not just the location where someone lives.  It's something much more.  It has special memories.  As the saying goes, "Home is where the heart is."  This is where my heart is.  I spend a lot of time with loved ones in this house.  I am able to recall wonderful times in this place.  Christmas morning, board games, and many spills on mom's rug.  Our home is definitely one that has been lived in.  I will always cherish the special memories that I have here.

I go to Aurora High School.  I have never gone to another school other than Aurora Public schools.  I've grown up in this school system since I began as a young kindergarten student.  In school, I am in the hallway.  The high school hallway was once a scary place when I was a little kid surrounded by big high schoolers.  Now, I am in one of two moods in the hallway: focused or chatty.  Sometimes, I just get in a mode where I look straight in front of me, ignoring other students and faculty in the process, and go as quickly as possible to the next class.  Other times, I just love to talk with my friends as we are going to classes or lunch.  In the school, I am also in the band room.  It is where I begin my day, and it is where I end my day on pep band nights.  This place is considered a home to me in the high school.  Our band is one big family, and it is always a safe place to hang out if there is nowhere else to go.  I spend the other part of my time learning in the classrooms.  When I am actually in the classroom, it may be really dreadful at the time.  I often think about how much I would rather be home.  That is kind of an ignorant thought though.  Of course I wouldn't rather be at home.  Even though it is sometimes a pain, being at school is one of the most important things in the world to me.  Education is incredibly important to me.  I have no idea where I would be today if I didn't have some form of education.

The community I live in is Hamilton County.  I live in Aurora, a town of almost 4,500 people.  People that live here like to think that it's better than everywhere else, but the truth is that it's pretty much just like every other small town.  It's not incredibly up-to-date, but it isn't completely under a rock away from all civilization either.  I have enjoyed growing up here.  I can't imagine what it would be like to grow up in a big city.  I am grateful that my parents chose to live in a small community.  I really don't think I would be the same person if I would have been raised anywhere else.

Nebraska is a state that not many people think about very often.  I, however, think about it nearly every day because it is the state that I call my home.  We have a lot of history here.  We didn't sign the Declaration of Independence here or anything historical like that.  We come from a long line of hard workers.  My ancestors were German and Irish, and I'm sure most people that I ask in the streets of Nebraska would say that they have at least some German blood in them.  I love being a Nebraskan.  I think that being a Nebraskan, you are filled with a lot of pride because of all of our accomplishments.  I mean... Kool-Aid?  You tell me a state that can top that.

I am an American.

I am a resident of this plant.  I live here along with seven billion other people.

I realize that where I am is very crucial to my life.  Location affects every aspect of my life.  I hope one day to be able to live in a foreign country.  I don't want to just say that I went on a vacation somewhere.  I want to be able to say that I experienced that place as a person living there.  That is the true way to understand a place: to live it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Who Am I?

I'm not good at writing about myself.  It makes me feel down-right uncomfortable.  It shouldn't be too difficult considering that fact that I am probably the topic I know best.  Something about it though feels a little strange.  Maybe, writing in blog format will be a little better.  It feels much more conversation than something like an essay.

Who Am I?  It's a question that I am often faced with.  People constantly want to know.  It's not an easy question to answer.  I could tell you a few facts about myself: my favorite song or what I like to do for fun.  I could tell you that I am a good student.  But does that tell you who I am?  I can never seem to get past this and tell someone in a simple way, "This is who I am."  I believe that not being able to give a simple answer to that question is a good thing.  It means that I have at least some complexity to my existence.

Quite simply, I am Julia.

This obviously doesn't tell you anything about me.  Does it?

The members of my family are my best friends.
One day, I was snooping through my sister's wedding planning book, and I came across my name.  I already knew that I was going to be one of her "Co-MOHs" (Co-Maids of Honor), but I thought it was just because that's what sisters do.  You are in the other's wedding.  My sister had written why she chose each person to be a member of her wedding party.  She said that not only was I her, sister, but I was also a best friend.  I am so glad that she wrote that, because I feel the same way about her.  My mom and I are pretty much never apart other than school, work, and other commitments.  I always spend time with my mom.  I feel like we are attached.  I feel so close and connected to each one of my family members.  It is a true blessing.

I am a nerd.
I love to learn.  Since I was young, I've woken up with a desire to learn everyday.  This desire will never fade.  If I am old and in a nursing home, I will want something new to discover.  I don't know if scientists have discovered the "nerd gene" yet, but my "nerdiness" may be partially genetic.  My mom loves to learn, and my dad is a nerd in ways I don't know how to explain.  Grandpa Jay (on my dad's side) loved to tell witty puns.  I have obviously received my sarcastic, witty sense of humor from him.  I once had a discussion with a few friends about the difference between a nerd and a geek.  If you wonder, a nerd is really intelligent and studious, while a geek typically has a specialty such as a computer geek or anime geek.  If that isn't nerdy enough for you, I don't know what is.  I enjoy being a nerd.  It makes life so much more interesting.  I wouldn't know what to do with my life if I wasn't at least a little bit nerdy.  And plus, nerds are "in."

I want to speak foreign languages with incredible fluency.
Everyone knows.  Different languages are awesome.  Some people say, "Why doesn't everyone just speak English?"  That statement makes me so angry.  The beauty of life is that everyone is different.  Learning another language is not just knowledge.  By saying you want to learn a foreign language, you have already signed yourself up for a first-class ticket to discovery.  As I am writing about in my symposium for College Composition, learning about other cultures broadens your perspective.

I was born without arms and legs.
If you don't know me, I am sure this is a pretty shocking statement.  However, is true.  Nobody but God knows why this is.  I believe that I have a purpose on this Earth to inspire some people.  If I make a difference in one person's life, I have done well.  I am a part of an organization called Nebraska Youth Leadership Council.  This is a government-funded group of youth leaders who self-advocate for themselves and others with disabilities.  The group leader, Kristi Berst, was surprised of my anxiety about making friends in college, because she has only known me as an extremely outgoing, bubbly girl.  NYLC is the group where I feel totally "me."

At the Senior Seminar my school had yesterday, I was given a list to pick out good words to describe myself.  From a list of 126 words, I chose these:
Adaptable, Ambitious, Attentive, Capable, Communicator, Compassion, Conscious, Considerate, Cooperative, Creative, Curious, Determined, Disciplined, Empathetic, Energetic, Ethical, Fairness, Faithful, Flexible, Friendly, Generosity, Happy, Honest, Independent, Integrity, Intelligent, Interested, Joyful, Leading, Logical, Listener, Loving, Loyal, Nurturing, Open-minded, Optimism, Peaceful, Planner, Poised, Polite, Practical, Proactive, Problem-Solver, Reliable, Responsible, Sincere, Spiritual, Strong, Trusting, Trustworthy, Vibrant

I am supposed to put a picture up of my family tradition, but my mom ate the Easter egg before I could take a picture of it, so enjoy this nice picture of an Easter egg that someone else dyed. :)

This is a segment I took from an essay I wrote about what the song "Firework" by Katy Perry means to me.

“Firework” was my theme song "per se" when I went to Portland, Michigan to be a cheerleader for their Homecoming in 2011. When I arrived in my Portland hotel room, there was a sign with the various lyrics from “Firework.” That was probably the first time I realized what an empowering song it was. “Maybe you're reason why all the doors are closed / So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road.” This describes how I feel about Portland. Maybe the reason that I didn’t make the cheerleading squad in my hometown, Aurora was because I had better things coming my way. God had bigger plans for me. I think that standing up for myself in that situation could have opened some eyes about people with disabilities. At the very least, I planted a seed in some minds. At “Cheer for Julia,” a cheerleading competition created in my honor this year in Portland, I said that I was very thankful for the hardships I had to go through, because without them, I wouldn’t have met some of my best friends and my sweet coach.“If you only knew what the future holds / After a hurricane comes a rainbow.” These were the lyrics right before I went up into “Julia’s Pyramid,” a stunt which had the senior cheer team members lifting me up in the middle of two other flyers being lifted. That moment was a life-changing experience. I was flying. I consciously tried to remember every single second. The ambiance. My constant smile. The roaring crowd. My mom crying. I was filled with fear and joy. It was only about an hour before when I was told that the squad had this planned in their routine. It made me feel overjoyed when the entire Portland student body gave me a standing ovation. “You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine / Just own the night like the 4th of July / 'Cause baby you're a firework / Come on, show 'em what you're worth / Make 'em go, oh, oh, oh / As you shoot across the sky.”