2013 Reflections and 2014 Ambitions

With 2014 just around the corner (as in less than 12 hours away), I figured I would make a list of “resolutions” for the new year! Yeah!

Now I have some reservations about the idea of making New Year resolutions in January because

  1. I think we should reflect on our lives and have goals for the future all the time, not just when the clock strikes midnight on the 1st of the year.
  2. Being in school for the past 19 years, I guess I’ve been brainwashed in thinking of a “new year” as starting in September. In all those years as a student and future years as a teacher, I’m of the mindset that, “it’s only January; we still have a whole 6 months of the year left.”
  3. I think a lot of times people make these great resolutions with good intentions but without realizing how much they have to change their lifestyle or mindset in order to accomplish them. So as soon as they falter, they don’t have a plan B set in place or a way to get past the roadblock. They end up letting the feelings of defeat get the best of them and, soon after, they simply give up.

Not only did I include goals/resolutions for the upcoming year, I figured I would include regrets and accomplishments from the previous one. So without further ado, let’s get to it!

2013 Achievements:

√  Moved to and lived in New York City

√  Completed graduate school at Columbia University

TC ID

√  Kept my Crohn’s under control

√ Created and maintained a blog (except for the past 3 weeks…but with the holidays and work and completing grad school, I think I have a legitimate excuse)

√  Obtained 3 different jobs in NYC (TA at a private middle school, cashier at a small pharmacy, aide for a high school student)

√  Got engaged – I guess that’s more of an accomplishment for Tom (proposing and getting me to say yes)

Christmas ornaments!

2013 Regrets:

  • Stumbling in my spiritual life and thereby trying to control too many aspects of my life
  • Constantly worrying about what others think of me
  • Lack of self-worth/esteem/ambition/confidence
  • Not reading enough – about the world, about math, about teaching, about God
  • Watching too much YouTube (read about my addiction here) and Netflix (currently on season 5 of Gossip Girl)

2014 Goals:

  • Get married! (this one’s more of an event than a goal…woot!)
  • Get a teaching job (I miss being in the classroom – check me out student teaching back in 2011; I’m the one in purple, holding paper in the front. I know, I get mistaken for a student a lot.)Student Teaching - October 2011
  • Push through the premarital book we were recommended and started last month; I didn’t expect it to be this difficult! Let me give you an explanation:

You see, it’s not so much the discussions we end up having about our roles in the marriage or our expectations or whatever the exercises ask us to do or reflect on. The part I struggle with is the fact that we have to constantly reflect on our parents’ marriage, our relationships with our parents, and just our pasts in general.

These questions honestly make me question who I am because I can’t even rationalize some of my thoughts and thought processes. I end up so deflated after doing an exercise in the workbook that I honestly don’t want to do any more. But I know it’s helpful to look at myself and reflect on my past in order to set my sights on what I want in the future and in our marriage. It’s just tough when you didn’t grow up a cookie-cutter life of two healthy, married parents.

Tom has been a real trooper, coming up with ways to alter some of the exercises so that we don’t have to necessarily focus on those things that frustrate me. For example, one week we had to analyze our expected roles in our marriage. However, the book asked us to write down which of our parents were responsible for which household and/or professional responsibilities. Going through the list, I realized that after the age of 10, I did quite a few of the duties, my dad being absent and Mom’s health not so great. After the age of 15, I did most of them. Gee book, thanks for bringing that up.

Well, since Tom marches to the beat of his own drum and since my parents’ marriage ended when I was young and Mom’s MS made it difficult for her to do things, he suggested we just focus on our marriage because that’s all that really matters at this point. We ended up agreeing on most (with the exception of maybe 1 or 2) of the “roles” we plan to split or share in the book.

  • Buy a house
  • Find a church to attend consistently and become an active member in
  • Keep up with student loans
  • Survive the remaining 6 months of my current job, 4 hour daily commute and all
  • With said 4 hour commute (making for 12 hours out of the house every day), find time to run or go to the gym. Come on, you can’t honestly set resolutions without including health and fitness.
  • Create and use my own math/education blog (this is halfway done already…I created a blog, Chatting About Math, on edublogs.org, but feel like I have nothing to contribute since I am not in the classroom full-time yet)
  • Read more – about the world, about math, about teaching, about God. This should be made easier with my daily commute.
  • Write more – on this blog, on my math blog, maybe contribute to someone’s blog or something?
  • Learn how to argue/debate and stick to my ideas/decisions – this may sound like a weird one, but I tend to avoid arguments or debates because I suck at them. I don’t want to create arguments just for the sake of arguing, but I would like to become better and defending my position on topics.
  • Gain more self-confidence/esteem/ambition/worth and not be so dependent on what others say or think

So there you have it folks. Kind of a long list, I know, but I think there’s a good mix of small and large goals, some more easily obtained than others. What are you most proud of from 2013? What are you most looking forward to in the new year?

I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year’s Eve as well as an amazing 2014! Cheers!Happy New Year

Be Positive? Challenge Accepted.

I’ve decided to make a promise to myself and the people around me. I want to be a more positive person. Now, hear me out because this is part enlightening commitment, part self-doubt-inflicted rant.

Thumbs Up

Get ready for a mathematical representation of my dilemma:

Picture a number line; you have zero in the middle, negative numbers to the left, and positive numbers to the right. Well, boys and girls, adding negative to anything positive brings you closer to zero. You will eventually get to zero (no, zero is not asymptotic in this analogy) and you only become more negative from there. At this point, I feel as though I’ve passed zero (and no, you don’t collect $200 when this happens) and am continuing down the line.Right or Left?

My problem (at the moment) stems from the fact that I’m really unsure of what I want to do in life after graduate school. I realize that I am only 23 so I don’t need to have my life planned out to a T. I mean, I wake up and have no idea what I want to wear most mornings, and it usually works out just fine. But, come on, this is my life we’re talking about. Meaning, like, until I die. It’s not a debate between an everyday T-shirt and a cute summer-y top.

While browsing jobs online, I find ones that sound intriguing. And, hey, look at that! I even meet the basic qualifications! But then I start asking myself questions that a potential employer might ask. “What sets you apart from other candidates?” “What one word best describes what you have to offer our company?” “Why do you think you would be better qualified for this position?”

Essentially, I start asking myself, “What makes you think you’re so special that you would be able to perform this job better than anyone else?

And it’s not in a polite tone, either. Go ahead, reread that previous statement in the meanest, most patronizing way. Got it? Yeah, I can get pretty rude to myself sometimes.

So, naturally, since I try to stay away from rude and condescending people, I decide to walk away from this uncomfortable situation.What's wrong with me?

Well, there goes another job opportunity that I didn’t even press the “Apply Now!” button for.

Now reflecting on these repetitive situations, there is a common denominator.

No, it’s not the type of job I applied (or almost applied) for.

Yes, on paper I meet the basic requirements for education.

And no, I didn’t miss the application deadline.

The common denominator, the greatest obstacle, the one thing that keeps me from searching and applying for jobs is ME. That scoundrel Holliday (that’s me Holliday. I’m referring to myself when I say Holliday) makes me feel like complete poo every single time I open my internet browser and start searching for potential jobs.

I usually start my searches with an open mind, freshly pumped up after a pep-talk (usually not from myself) about how smart and great I am. I look for jobs in math – both teaching and non-teaching – and might find a few that seem interesting at first. There are even some that I click just because I don’t know what the heck they entail. I might narrow it down to a couple that I would actually be interested in applying for, so I get my resume and cover letter ready to upload.

I'm ready!

And then I reread the qualifications:

Two years experience a must? How am I supposed to get said experience if everyone requires said experience?

Must be a good communicator? Shoot, my mom tells me I mumble a lot.

Leadership experience a plus? I mean, I was usually the first of my suite mates ready for dinner in college, and therefore the first of us in line.

Honors, awards, and certificates? I still have my diploma from kindergarten, does that count?

You know nothing.

Now, all joking aside, getting this far in life and being in graduate school for mathematics education should say something, right? But no matter how qualified I may be I always find faults in myself that start pushing me away from submitting my required documents and information.

No, I wasn’t the president, vice president, or even a back-up treasurer in any groups in high school or college. I worked from my senior year of high school through my four years of undergraduate, so I didn’t have a whole lot of time to get super involved in clubs and intramural sports. My mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when I was nine, so I did a lot of growing up before I was a teenager. Does that count as leadership?!Going mental.

And see, that’s not something you put on a resume. And I wouldn’t say anything like that during an interview. So, aside from my resume, my application would seem to be very sparse. So then what’s the point of applying since they’ll probably have fifty applicants who are much more qualified?!

And that’s how it ends. I exit out of my browser tabs of potential jobs and go on Facebook or YouTube, stewing for the rest of the day/night. I dwell on my employment inadequacies until another week passes without any progress on figuring out what I would like to do with my life and my Masters degree I will earn in December. And I gotta tell you, it’s annoying, exhausting, and ridiculous.Exhausted.

I realize how ridiculous it is. If someone else were going through this problem, I would assure and reassure them of their positive attributes and remind them of their experience and all that jazz. I would be more than happy to pump up my friends if it means they’ll apply to a job they want. But do this for myself? Unheard of!

Thankfully I have friends and family who constantly boost me up. I hear more positive stuff from them and yet I’m more willing to listen to all of the negative garbage from myself. I am the outlier. And in statistics, we don’t consider the outliers to be helpful in finding trends or making relevant conclusions. Boom. Math application.

So here’s a pact to myself. I will only say positive things about myself for the next week. If some negative comment or putdown comes to my mind or lips about myself, I will write it down and try to figure out two positive reasons that it is wrong. I will do my best to follow these rules when applying to jobs as well because I am sick of talking myself out of potentially awesome opportunities.

Positive words

And my goal is not to become arrogant or conceited, but positive and uplifting. I think that if my positivity starts with myself it will be so much easier to be positive for others. If you’d like to join me in this challenge, please feel free! Here’s to positive thoughts. Cheers.

Halfway There

So I have not written a post in a couple of weeks. I have a good reason, I promise. Just hear me out!

I started graduate school this past January at Teachers College, Columbia University. And just an hour ago I finished my last final for the semester. I survived a semester of graduate school in New York City!

Up until about 2 weeks ago, I had planned on getting my degree next May. However, 2 weeks ago, I realized something. I am only 1 credit shy of being halfway done with my Masters requirements. What the what?! After crunching and re-crunching the numbers, reading and rereading the requirements, I spoke with my advisor just to make sure I was not overlooking something. Sure enough he confirmed that this is more than doable.

I kid you not, the clouds opened, the angels sang, and God said, “Holliday, you shall finish in December.” So that’s what I plan to do.

How awesome will it be to save a whole semester worth of housing and credits and the God-forsaken ‘College fee’ that is mandatory but no one knows what it is used for. Oh, maybe to supply us with those goofy ‘Student Senate’ plastic Ray-Ban wannabes. And our 20 “free” printed pages per week.

Anyways, so saving money will be fantastic. Except then reality hit:

“I will be done in December. That means I have to be an adult that much sooner. I will need somewhere to live. I will need a job to support myself. Not to mention, student loans will kick in that much sooner. Gah, what did I get myself into?!”

But, in all honesty, I am excited to see what will happen. I am over the moon that I get to start my “real-world” life sooner. I have been exploring careers outside of the typical ‘math teacher’ realm; coming to TC has really opened my eyes to the possibilities outside of the classroom.

funny_math_teacher_womens_light_tshirt

I am not completely abandoning the idea of becoming a classroom teacher (especially because I totally want that shirt!), but it is exciting what new and improving technology is creating in terms of jobs and experiences.

So the point of this post was:

1.  To apologize for not posting in awhile. I’ve been a good girl, telling myself that instead of writing a blog post I should be studying and doing homework.

2.  To let out some built-up fear and excitement for the future.

3.  To share this journey and hopefully help others who may be going through or will go through similar situations and may have similar decisions to make.

So what are your thoughts? Any ideas about what future endeavors a Masters in Mathematics Education could possibly explore? What do you hope to do by the end of this year?