Challenge 4: Looking Back to Look Beyond

Last week I refreshed my UMich Gmail account to find an unread message I had seen many times before—Michael Zakalik was in my inbox once again. As Writing minors, we’ve all been receiving emails from him for a few years now, but this particular Google Form was different: Paragraph Reflection of Your Time at Michigan and Future Plans/Goals. 

How did we get here?

Throughout my short, yet ever-eventful, twenty-two years of life, I have faced many challenges. Whether they be psychological, emotional, health-related, or academic—the world has thrown many a challenge my way. As I’ve explored through my Capstone Project, all of these challenges seemed to have boiled to one thing more than most other factors: self-love and lack-there-of. For far too long, I have used alternate means to mask the pain I have caused myself. I have left that burden to fall on others and isolated myself because of it. In doing so, while it may have shielded the pain for a short amount of time, I ultimately did myself a great disservice.

In this next stage of life, I hope to continue to learn more about myself as I grow in new environment. Despite the challenges that I fully expect to come my way as life continues on, I hope to be resilient and take time for myself. By calling attention to the way I feel in each moment, I hope to rectify the blame I have placed on others for the majority of my life. Looking back on college, I know I have changed; I know I have improved. But I have also taken steps backward. There is still so much to learn.

So as Michael asks, what are my goals?

“It is impossible to quantify just how much I have grown in these past four years at the University of Michigan. I enrolled as a numbers student who once flinched at the mere thought of writing in any capacity and am leaving driven by all forms of written communication. I am looking forward to spending the summer months at home with family in Los Angeles. Come August, I will be joining the Anheuser-Busch organization where I will spend the first eight months of my employment traveling throughout the United States. While I am excited for what the next phase of my life has to offer, I am forever grateful for the lasting friendships I have made here at Michigan in the wonderful town of Ann Arbor. Forever and always, go blue!”

2 thoughts to “Challenge 4: Looking Back to Look Beyond”

  1. Kelly,

    I come to you as someone who put this “assignment” from Michael on hold until the very last minute. I hate lingering tasks and unread emails, but I just wasn’t ready yet, and I received two more reminder emails from Michael to complete this. I didn’t want to force myself to reflect; I wanted the words to find me when I was ready. You’re right– reflecting is weird because it simultaneously forces you to recognize your own growth and also recognize how much more work you still have to do. When the words finally did find me, they mirrored yours almost verbatim: How did we get here?

    The only reason I can actually believe that we are here is because I, too, am not the girl who I was four years ago. While the amount of the time that has passed feels more like two years than four, I feel as though I have experienced twelve years of personal growth. In preparing for the next phase, we are lucky to take these four years of lessons with us, and if time continues to move this quickly, hopefully that will mean that we are continuing to experience this kind of growth.

  2. Hi Kelly,
    Totally in the same boat. When I first saw that email, I flagged it and then ignored it for a solid two weeks until Melony told me in class that it was due that day by midnight… crap. The idea of summarizing four years that (as cheesy as it sounds) completely changed my life made me a little nauseous. I don’t even remember the person that I was in high school– how am I supposed to explain the impact that this university has had on me? It’s limitless.
    I’m not sure I told our group this, but I actually applied to the art school by accident and sort of rolled with it from there. So again.. same boat. I got to college thinking that I would maybe major in, I don’t know, comm or something, and maybe minor in like business. And here we are… me majoring in art, both of us minoring in writing, something neither of us ever dreamed of.
    I guess “they” are right when they say that we never can actually predict the future and to just trust the process.

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