Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Three's a Crowd: You, Me, and Jane Austen

Faces on the Road - made possible thanks to Jane Austen & you!
When you work in the field of international education, most if not all the entirety of fall is consumed by making university visits and attending regional conferences. So here we are. All together again at the end of October, and finally taking a deep breath as winter encroaches upon Colorado. 

In the months since I've posted on WWJaneDo, I've celebrated the marriage of one of my younger sisters, traveled to Australia for WYSTC, moved apartments, and connected with many new and familiar friends on the road. A whirlwind? Yes. But the kind of whirlwind that keeps a smile on my face after every adventure has concluded.

As I settle into being home in Colorado, it struck me a bit by surprise this week to receive a unique notification from my LinkedIn account: it was a message letting me know that October marked the three year anniversary of What Would Jane Do. It was enough to make me smile once more. To some, three years might not be much, but this anniversary continues to hold a special place in my heart and in my professional life.

From the first year I celebrated having this blog to today, there have been numerous highs, a few lows, and a multitude of changes (which you can read more about in my GoAbroad Author Interview). As I grow in my career and in life, it's these changes and the unexpected outcomes I learn to treasure. Rather than focusing so hard on what the next step should be, I've learned to embrace ambiguity -- to trust in my choices and know that even if I don't end up where I planned, I'll find myself where I need to be. I like to think that's something to which we all aspire. 

That being said, here are three things I've come to better understand after three years of calling What Would Jane Do my second home.

You Can't Change Yesterday, So Stop Trying

What's the the point in constantly looking over your shoulder, regretting what you did, didn't do, or should've done? At best, you're going to give yourself a terrible neck cramp. At worst, you're going to focus so much on the past that you lose sight of what's happening right in front of you. Through every failure and accomplishment over the last few years, it's become clear to me how essential it is to live in the moment. 

There will always be experiences of "shoulda, coulda, woulda" and as important as it is to learn from these experiences, it's just as important to keep forging ahead. Learn from mistakes, but don't let them drag you down. You're stronger and more resilient than that, even if you don't realize it.

Technology Can Be Your Best Friend

I say "can" with a grain of salt here. There's a difference between embracing technology and social media, and letting it overrun your life. Without the power of social media, I wouldn't be sitting in Colorado today, reflecting on all that's come to pass in my time with GoAbroad. At the same time, I recognize that it's important to disconnect, to absorb experiences without an Instagram filter or through the lens of a camera. Finding that balance has allowed to me to foster a thriving online network alongside a community of amazing friends and family in real life. 

When in search of your own professional opportunities, I urge you to take advantage of the resources available. There's nothing that can compare to a face-to-face conversation, but technology can help with that coming to pass. Choose platforms that work for you, be authentic in your interactions, and don't be afraid to ask questions. Technology evolves and changes as often as we do, and it's okay to make mistakes. Like any other best friend, it will be there to lend a helping hand when you need it most.

Gratitude, Gratitude, Gratitude

This isn't something I've learned just in the last three years, but it's the one thing that becomes nearer and dearer to my heart as time goes on. Whether you're still working through your undergraduate courses, fresh into your professional career, or transitioning to a new role, there are people who help to make these things happen. Don't neglect them along the way. It can be as simple as sending a postcard or letter once in awhile - which is still my favorite way to say hello when I'm traveling. Use your imagination and get creative with how you showcase your appreciation. Not only will it make your relationships stronger, but it will help you to better appreciate the challenges you've overcome and the accomplishments you've achieved.

Bringing Australia to the friends and family who helped me to get there


And Now, Here's Looking To You 

It wouldn't be possible to even write this post without once again thanking every individual who has been a part of my own journey. This adventure with Jane Austen never would have been possible if not for your support, your commentary, and feedback. I'm a firm believer in learning as I go, and it's been amazing to do that with so many friends at my side. I raise my teacup to you and look forward to many more WWJaneDo birthdays to come!