Friday, August 19, 2016

So It Has Come To This

A few things have happened in my life since the my last post.

To summarize, I finished acquiring my Bachelor's of Business degree with a concentration in Accounting back in December. Then, in early January, I started what was supposed to be a three and a half month internship at the large accounting firm, Crowe Horwath, LLP, in the tax department. After the three and a half months were up in April, I was offered a full-time job starting next October and was given the opportunity to extend my internship through mid August. Shortly after that, I popped the question to my girlfriend who then turned into my fiance and who will transform again in October of this year. In May, I started taking the first of the classes for the Masters of Business Administration degree that I hope to finish by the end of next spring. Fast forward to the present, I just wrapped up the last day of my internship at Crowe, and earlier this week, I finished my fifth graduate class. On Monday I begin the fall semester and start working as a math tutor and business teaching aid again. Today, I was also offered the opportunity to work at Crowe again for part of next spring and through the summer of next year leading up to my full-time employment as my school schedule and studying for the CPA exams allows.

If that paragraph felt like a lot to read, trust me, it felt like a lot to experience. Needless to say, 2016 has been a wild ride and we still have a third of it left to go.

Today, as I packed up and turned in the work equipment from my internship, I reflected back on the last eight or so months and looked forward to what appears to be coming down the pipe in the next twelve or so. I have done a lot of things in the last year, and a lot of things have happened to me. Even so, it doesn't look like the upcoming year is going to be any quieter or less eventful. Remarkably, however, nearly every major event that has recently occurred in my life or looks to be coming up in the near future, has been resoundingly positive. Sure, there have been days and weeks where things didn't seem to be going quite as well as I would have liked, but those days and weeks have been the exception. Overall, the progression of events in my life has been overwhelmingly positive and forward moving.

I was given pause as I contemplated just how lucky I've been, and I realized that it really has nothing to do with luck. None of the things that happened to me in my opening paragraph just happened because of chance. Over the last year, and really over the course of my entire life up this point, I have been exceedingly blessed by the opportunities and people that have surrounded me. Part of me wants to give myself a pat on the back and congratulate myself on accomplishing so many remarkable things. The truth is, however, that while none of these good, momentous things just randomly happened, none of them would have been possible if I was just left to my own devices and made all the decisions I would have liked to make over my lifetime.

So many things have brought me to the point I am now and continue to push me in the direction I appear to be headed in. None of the things I've mentioned were accomplished independently, and none of things I hope to accomplish in the upcoming years would be possible if I was facing them on my own and without the support of the people that have been placed in my life. My life has been the farthest thing from a solo mission.

Since the beginning, my parents have been there guiding me, teaching me, and when necessary, disciplining me. (Also, as a side note, it was necessary on a rather frequent basis for a very, very long time.) My parents set the foundation for my education, both academic and theological, my work ethic, and my approach to life in general. My dad taught me how to be a man, a gentleman, and a professional. My mother taught me to be independent, bold, and assertive. Throughout my childhood upbringing, they set the tone for everything that has followed since.

My siblings, all nine of them (eleven if you count those that have married into our ranks), have taught me more life lessons than I care to admit.They've taught me humility, compassion, patience(ish), and more importantly, they taught me what it means to be a piece of a whole. When you are growing up as the third of ten, you cannot help but learn what it is like to be part of a team and something bigger than yourself. My two older siblings have also given me incredible examples of what it means to be spouses and parents as they have grown their own, wonderful families.

There are more friends that have played instrumental roles in shaping me and preparing me for adult life than I could ever hope to mention in the span of a single post. Some of the standouts include the woman who taught me math and science through high school, and who adopted me as part of her family and acted like a second mother throughout most of my teen years. Her husband also stands out for giving me what was basically my first job as a farmhand chucking hay, logging trees, and building footbridges through swampland. Both of them taught me perseverance, dedication, and commitment to my work and the people around me. Several of the men who, in a couple short months, will stand alongside me as groomsmen and my best man have shown me what it means to be a loyal and steadfast friend. They've listened to my plights and complaints, they've been there for me when I needed a hand, and they have shown me what it means to stand up for an ally and companion.

During my first round of collegiate studies, my employers in both the university Box Office and Math Tutoring Center were remarkable role models and excellent friends as I learned to navigate the labyrinth of higher education and formal employment after seventeen years of homeschooling and working only for family friends. They helped turn me into something resembling a professional, and they showed astounding patience and cooperation in helping me learn how to be a reliable, professional, and semi-competent employee. Next week I will be returning to the employ of the tutoring center, but even after I was no longer employed by either of them, both of my former bosses showed an interest in maintaining a relationship as friends. They taught me that your place of work can also be a place of enjoyment and camaraderie.

Then, when I transitioned the big boy world of professional, public accounting this spring, I once again found myself surrounded by superb mentors and coworkers who made my internship one of the most enjoyable, as well as one of the most educational, experiences of my life so far. In the eight short months that I worked at Crowe, I had the opportunity to befriend and learn from some really amazing people. Even knowing that I will be going back before too long, I was sad to leave the office this afternoon knowing also that I was leaving behind friends as well as a place of employment.

Last, but most certainly not least, I can hardly go through a list of people that have positively influenced my life without mentioning my lovely, bride-to-be. Honestly, my fiance and I have not known each other for that long. Eighteen months ago, she was a complete stranger, but that rapidly changed when we went from not having spoken a single word to each other ever to spending ever single night talking and messaging each other until two or three in morning in the space of something like four or five months. There is no way I deserve a companion as intelligent, industrious, and dedicated as my spouse-to-be. She's constantly pushing me to do my best and not slack off, but she also always lets me know when she thinks I'm doing well and that's she's proud of me. There's hardly a motivator in the world greater than a woman who loves you. 

A lot of really, really good stuff has happened to me in the last year, but I only reached this point because of all the people who helped me and guided me along the way. A couple of weeks ago, when I was talking to one of my coworkers about my plans for the next year, they commented that I seem to be an ambitious and non-stop kind of person. All allusions to Hamilton aside, I suppose she was right. I am relatively ambitious, and I really don't like to stop and sit still, but if it wasn't for the crowd of people at my back cheering me on and pushing me to go further, my laziness and fallen, sinful human persona would have me sitting on a couch playing video games, binge watching Netflix, and mooching off my parents' good graces.

Whatever comes my way in the next twelve months or the next sixty years, God has showered me with an abundance of gifts and blessed with me with far more wonderful people than any man deserves. Even though there are plenty of days when I fail to appreciate it, and even though the road won't always be clear and smooth, God has made me a very blessed man.

A few things have happened in my life since my last post; for that, I give thanks.

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