As a child, I knew I wanted to be a writer—or maybe a lawyer—but mostly a writer. Writing was what I was good at and what I enjoyed. I always made As in English, and I won a few awards. I became the editor of our high school yearbook, and for the first time the yearbook was completed early and turned a profit. With my extra time, I started a school literary journal. Such things looked good on my application to UNC-Chapel Hill. I was accepted. One night—torn by practicality and personality—I cried at my family's kitchen table, "All I want to do is be an English major!" My father, an attorney, walked out of the room cursing.
I majored in journalism—the working man version of an English major—with a concentration in graphic design and outside concentration in political science. I volunteered with a student-run program called Journalists United to Maximize Potential in which we worked hands-on with sixth, seventh, and eighth graders to produce a school newspaper. I joined the staff of The Daily Tarheel, working my way up to managing editor. Over various summers I interned in the public relations offices of Western Carolina University, the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching, and the Morehead Planetarium. I graduated. I got a newspaper job. I hated it. I left.
I got a new job. It was better. I moved up the ranks from reporter to special sections editor. I am now the managing editor of a nationally published magazine. I also teach English to remedial level students at the local community college. I am months away from finishing my master of liberal arts degree with a focus on writing and literature. My graduate work led to my being selected to present a paper at the First Graduate Liberal Studies Conference at Georgetown University.
Despite these accomplishments, despite my continued upward momentum, I still feel so green, so filled with wide-eyed wonderment at all the possibilities the world still holds. My life is not a matter of what I have done but of what I have yet to do. Such promise is exhilarating and terrifying. What a gift to awaken to the realization that the best is yet to come!
As the lucky recipient of a scholarship to Medicine 2.0 at Stanford University, I spent the past weekend discovering my life's next path. The three-day conference in the sunshine resplendid city of Palo Alto brought together a true meeting of the minds. I learned about the integration of social media into healthcare—of interest to me as a writer, a public relations/marketing geek, and as a patient. The lessons were invaluable and will serve as motivation for many months worth of blog posts, tweets, Google+ and Facebook updates. However, the technical lessons pale in comparison to the lessons learned from the host of passionate and compelling speakers and attendees. I am enthralled. I am engorged with excitement. I am ebulient.
Conference guest speaker Jennifer Aaker, General Atlantic Professor of Marketing at Stanford and author of The Dragonfly Effect, spoke of the effect of small acts creating big change and her selection of the dragonfly to represent that ability—by using its four wings, the dragonfly can fly in any direction it chooses. This is me, happily learning to exercise all four wings.
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