Monday, May 29, 2017

For Rachel.

Attending General Conference April 2017, with MPA friends

A couple of months ago, I got this sweet text from a dear friend:
Hi, Lauren! I just read your blog post 'Thoughts on 26.' You've always been so committed and have dreamed so big. I was just wondering where all your motivation comes from? Is it just there, or do you have to fight for it? And how do you keep hold of the confidence in yourself that makes you dream that big when various pressures tell women that there worth lies in so many conflicting places? Maybe someday you could ponder these thoughts in your journal and share them with me. I want to take on the world like you, but I have trouble with the motivation and confidence aspects. Thanks for being a strong female role model!
I've been pondering this question ever since! This question is part of the reason why I decided to read All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation and take on a new year's resolution of reading a Church message a week from the first church-wide meeting directed at Women to the present. I'm still not quite sure what to say, but this is an attempt to gather my thoughts.

On the wall of my work cubicle hangs this picture
It features a determined girl with Pocahontas goals hair. She is larger than life, fearless and unstoppable. I like to imagine that I am that girl, that the sun is shining brightly on my path, and that I can do all things. The older I've gotten, the more that reason has started to take over my brain space and things start to seem impractical. We are our own worst dream killers. 

Why are we fearful of big dreams? During one car ride to Salt Lake, I heard a story on NPR (yes, I'm one of those people!) highlighting research about women and ambition. The study found that single women were less likely to show career related ambition compared with men and married women. While the researchers couldn't quite prove it, they believe it was linked to a desire to continue to have appeal in the dating market. 

The study focused on a class of MBA students. Students were told to fill out questionnaires about summer internship desires some students were told that only career services would see their responses others were told their classmates would see the results. The results? When they thought their classmates could see their responses, the single women reported being less driven and asked for smaller salaries than if they had been told only career services would see their responses. 

I was shocked! & honestly, frustrated and bothered. I thought about the report for the remainder of my trip and realized that I myself would sometime "downplay" my grad school studies. I was disgusted with myself and made a vow to never sugar-coat my dreams from that point on. Maybe this does stem from a false idea that ambitious women are less desirable? I'm not really sure, but to prevent any ill-effects, I've tried to remedy this by making a special effort to get out of the Provo-bred habit of asking "Are you dating anyone?!?" as soon as I run into an acquaintance. I've realized that I should take a genuine interest in individuals without inquiring about their coupling or lack of with another human being--you are interesting enough on your own!

In a world full of mommy blogs and insta models, I've been trying to highlight and recognize achievements of women (let it be noted, I say this knowing that motherhood is a wonderful achievement, and I certainly do not seek to downplay the contributions that mothers have made in this world! I have a goal to be a mother one day). I want to highlight women for more than their sense of style, their physique or the way they decorate their homes. I want to surround myself with women who have beautiful souls and intricate minds.

I do feel down sometimes. 

There are times when worldly pressures that are 100% NOT true will creep into my brain telling me that I'm not enough because of my body, my lack of a significant other, etc. But, rather than dwell and dissect my "problems" incessantly, I give myself time to mope, I give myself time to be down, and then I highlight truths I know about myself. I say a prayer, express how I feel, and proceed to surround myself with purpose. There are times when I worry about singlehood, and life after graduate school, but I hold fast to the idea that my life is in the hands of the master planner. 

I also combat negative self-deprecating thoughts by surrounding myself with amazing women! I find everyday heroes, and I try and spend as much time as I can with them. This is a bit easier for me to do because I'm in such close proximity to game changers thanks to my two grad programs. I try and surround myself with ambitious women—individuals with a drive full of endless possibilities. 

I'm all for therapy sessions and dating talks, but sparingly. There is a notable difference in levels of happiness between friends I have who consistently analyze dating and the lack of it verses my friends who see their singlehood period as time to grow and serve those around them! Seek mentors. Support is everything! Seek like minded ladies, women who will lift, support and cheer you on rather than compete with you for social graces and the affection/time of men.

Finally, know that the greatest champion for women's rights is the Savior. While I was serving as Relief Society President, one of my counselors shared the following passage with me:

The Savior taught women in multitudes and as individuals, on the street and by the seashore, at the well and in their homes. He showed loving-kindness toward them and healed them and their family members. In many parables, He told stories of women engaged in ordinary activities. He demonstrated deep familiarity with women's lives and drew timeless gospel lessons from their everyday experiences. He forgave them. He wept with them. He had compassion on them in their specific circumstances as daughters, wives, homemakers, mothers, and widows. He appreciated them and enobled them.
You have greater potential than you could possibly realize. I'm certain of this. Everyday can be a new opportunity for change, a chance to change your mindset. I paired with this blog post photos of my MPA/Law friends and some of the happenings from throughout the year/graduation. In many ways, the people in these photos are my inspiration. Though I'm sad that both my cohorts graduated without me this year this is more than balanced by my excitement to see where life takes them in the next year.

After our MPA Christmas party at the Wall at BYU
Mackenzie, Abigail, and I after an MBA/PA/JD retreat

The 2017 Barrister's Ball
The Annual Treat-Yo-Self Law School finals celebration
^^Elisse has QUICKLY become my law school BFF. We had all the same classes this semester, and are both passionate about civil rights and education reform. She's the kind of Mama I want to become. Not only is she getting her JD, but she just started a PhD program as well! (#goals) Elisse and I will also be running the Education & Law Journal this upcoming year, I'm so excited to be her right hand girl as she serves as Editor in Chief. 

These photos are from a little gathering we hosted for the journal at Elisse's house before school let out.
Erika, Me, and Katie MPA friends. 
My MPA cohort
I just really love this photo of Lauren A. and Ted! Lauren made the tie that Ted is wearing. Lauren & I shared an innertube during MPA orientation and floated down the provo river together, crazy to think she won't be here next year!
Katie a.k.a. Bair Bair is one of the greatest friends I could have ever asked for. I am still so grateful I convinced her to come back to grad school with me. I can remember sitting in the movie room at her house, selling her on the program and helping to edit her personal statement. I love this girl!
Law School Convocation
PRIMA! Raquel and I have been confused for one another so many times throughout our law school careers. I've gotten her address on my grades, been emailed about her law school finals, and been called Raquel many a times. We were in the same section our 1L year and always sat near each other which made it really difficult for our Professors to call on "Ms. Flores." Let's be real, they were always picking on me. 
Walking with Abby to the ceremonies.
Abby served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Education & Law Journal this year, and we just became really good friends. I knew I could count on her for CrimPro notes, and had the greatest of conversations with her! I'll miss her dearly.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Great Expectations

It's spring/summer! Which means I can feel un-guilty about reading for pleasure, and can therefore devote time a plenty to it. There were a couple of books on the BBC booklist that I read in between this and my last BBC entry (To Kill a Mockingbird), but I never got around to create mood boards for them. I spend two hours of my work-week day on the train commuting from Provo to Salt Lake. That may sound awful, but I'll take public transit (+reading) over driving and getting frustrated with traffic ANYDAY.

I had heard the general plot outline of Great Expectations prior to reading the book, but was really surprised with how inter connected all the characters were. I really enjoyed learning the backstories to all the characters and making discoveries every now and then that were really unexpected.

There were characters who I feel in love with. I think my favorite character is Aged P.! He doesn't appear much in the story, and his lines are more or less, "all right John, all right," but he sounds like the cutest man who has an infectious amount of happiness to share. And Joe and Biddy! How I love them. They are true north characters—individuals who never lost their way, but were so loving and forgiving to Pip after his great expectations journey.

Both Estella and Pip were raised up my adoptive benefactors, one to wreck revenge on the male sex, the other to help a convict realize his personal dreams. I'm glad that this didn't have your typical happy ending, it seemed very real. I watched the 2012 version of the movie which I really enjoyed. My one complaint with the film is that we didn't see the late Mrs. Gargery's transformation into a more docile and repentant creature. I also wasn't a huge fan of how they made Estella seem slightly softer than she really was, but I know it could have been so much worse.

I think Pip was much too hard on himself, when really there was so much goodness in him. One of my favorite passages of the book is when he reflects on his secret dealings of helping Herbert.

"Day by day as his hopes grew stronger and his face brighter, he must have thought me a more and more affectionate friend, for I had the greatest difficulty in restraining my tears of triumph when I saw him so happy. 

At length, the thing being done, and he having that day entered Clarriker's House, and he having talked to me for a whole evening in a flush of pleasure and success, I did really cry in good earnest when I went to bed, to think that my expectations had done some good to somebody."