Home » Ending a summer of discernment (HIATUS).

Ending a summer of discernment (HIATUS).

TLDR I’m going to spend in a week completely disconnected from the world, working, thinking, relaxing, and floating in the ocean and deciding what the heck to do with my life.  See you all when I get back from Bermuda next Friday!

The beautiful island of Bermuda, where I've decided to take a vacation...to end my vacation...
The beautiful island of Bermuda, where I’ve decided to take a vacation…to end my vacation…

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As I write, this my next birthday is 4 short days away.  September 1st is coming, and it’s coming quick. I originally sat down with the intention of recapping the past year – beginning with my last birthday, spending New Year’s Eve in San Francisco, spending a week in Las Vegas…

I was so blessed to be able to kick off 2014 in San Francisco with Kristin and ring in the year further in Las Vegas with my brother, Bill.
I was so blessed to be able to kick off 2014 in San Francisco with Kristin and ring in the year further in Las Vegas with my brother, Bill.

Well, I soon realized that would be almost impossible and I would never get to packing for an upcoming trip. So, instead, I wanted to take a few moments here to reflect on the summer that has been and why its been the summer that it has.

Spent my last birthday in Atlanta, GA cheering on the Hokies!
Spent my 2013 birthday in Atlanta, GA cheering on the Hokies! Clearly on top of the world here!

As a 20-something who has travelled the country, met one new person a day for years, graduated from college, (twice!), held numerous jobs and odd jobs, and met people who have taught me stories from across the globe, you’d think I would know what I want to do with my life, right?  Hah. Fat chance.

Two of the most proud moments of my life: graduating from Virginia Tech in both 2012 (top) and 2014 (bottom).

I completed graduate school this past spring and was closer, but not quite ‘there‘ just yet,  to truly deciding what it was that I was passionate about and what I wanted to spend 40 hours each week doing over the course of the next few years.  I decided to take this summer to not waste my time earning money while being miserable. Instead, I decided to take the time, no matter how broke I would become and how difficult it would be, to just figure. it. out. Internally, I called it a summer of discernment.  What I anticipated being a few weeks post-grad to clear my mind and refresh myself turned into a month.  What I thought would be a month turned into two.  And now, as it comes to a close, it’s been just a bit more than three full months that I’ve taken, more or less to myself. In the spirit of reflection

I slowly packed up my town home…

Boxes on boxes on boxes in this place!!


Taking a BREAK from packing up an attic, kitchen, 1.5 bathrooms, bedroom and living room all on my own. WHOO that was exhausting. So grateful for all of the amazing help I had to MOVE those things! The list is endless a.k.a., COMMUNITY.

…while reconnecting with and then coming to terms with leaving my 6-year home of Blacksburg…

Spending my very last night in Blacksburg at the place where I became who I am: the pylons of Virginia Tech, in between Squires Student Center and the Drillfield.

And crossed an item off my bucket list by traveling to my first  music festival…it was amazing…

Hammocks at Firefly
Relaxing near the Hammocks at Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DE.

I networked in the Nation’s capital,

One of the many +SocialGood conferences I had the opportunity to attend, with the Diplomatic Courier & The UN Foundation.
At one of the +SocialGood conferences I had the opportunity to attend, with the Diplomatic Courier & The UN Foundation.

road tripped to Music City, visited with family I haven’t seen in years, and definitely got my fill of Heads Up! Love that game…

Spent many lazy days applying to jobs and new speaking engagements…in between floats on the river

Spending a lazy summer day with Kristen boating and floating around on the Potomac River in Northern Virginia.

and garnered new and meaningful speaking engagements plus volunteering with youth with disabilities in my community, to still give me a daily purpose, help me feel like I’m making a difference and to meet someone new and  keep me productive all in between…

At VBPD’s 2014 Youth Leadership Forum where I was proud to serve as a keynote speaker and staff member in July 2014.

and, of course, also keeping in touch with the people back home who may be scattered all over the world but still find time to help keep me sane.

So grateful for almost-weekly Skype chats with these two! Love you, Gab & Shereen!

This summer helped me realize that when I’m doing things that I love I am able to maintain a focus on being calm, happy, and thinking about what it is that I want to get out of this world.  Even as it may relate to a working experience.  Sure, I may have been busy – but I’ll call it a “gap summer“, or: a summer of discernment.

I got the idea from one of my all-time favorite TED talks.  I’ve posted it here before, but I’ll post it again. It’s by a Wahoo clinical psychologist named Dr. Meg Jay, and her talk is titled “Why 30 is not the new 20.” Her book, The Defining Decade, is also epic.

When I watched her talk the first time, Dr. Jay’s ideas really resonated with me; especially those about creating identity capital.  I decided that 2014 was going to be an identity capital kind of year for me.  I didn’t want to grow up into a young adult and a young professional looking back at what I wish I had done and especially what I wasn’t going to be able to do in the future.  I owned the fact that, although “unemployed”, this would be the last time for the foreseeable future until retirement that I would be able to just pick up and go to a festival or sleep in for more than one day in a row.  And let me tell you – it was wonderful. I feel refreshed for the first time in years, and I’m ready to kick some butt.

So as I embark on this next, and seemingly final adventure, I feel like I’m finally meeting some discernment. I feel as if I’m going to be able to conquer what I’ve always worried about as a kid and as a college student – will I be happy? 

I finally feel as happy as I’ve ever been.  With the opportunities that are beginning to come to fruition and present themselves, I am as happy as ever.  And I know for a fact that my life will have been better for it in the long run.  Is it frustrating to have had to TIGHTLY pinch pennies and spend many nights in thinking, reading, wondering, exploring? Meh. It sort of was.  But, most importantly, I feel like I’ve gained that identity capital, I feel like I’ve discerned what I truly want out of life, and I plan to continue to monitor and adjust and fine-tune all of these things so that I can remain the best version of me possible. Whether it’s through consistent professional development, self-improvement, or all of the above, it’s necessary.  Because after all, how can you spread joy to the rest of the world if you aren’t even happy yourself?

There will be some big announcements and even bigger decisions will be coming with the month of September. Stay tuned. In a week. Until then…

VT Football 2014 Calendar
Here’s the Hokies full 2014 football schedule, beginning with William & Mary this Saturday!

…as we get ready to take on William & Mary this weekend…Go Hokies!