MBA…Check! | My Journey Through Grad School

It’s here. It’s finally here.

After four long years of taking one class a semester in conjunction with a full-time career, planning a wedding, participating in charitable organizations, moving, spending time with my husband, pups, family and friends, starting a blog all while “doing life” in between, I can finally say that I have completed graduate school with honors. It was certainly one of the more challenging things I’ve gone head-to-head with in life…particularly the nights I wanted to go out with friends but decided against it, when I had to force myself to take my laptop with me on practically every vacation, or when I literally thought I had hit my breaking point with extracurricular activities when I took on wedding planning and Blondes vs. Brunettes (*whew*, what a year that was).  But when you want something, I mean, really, really want something…perseverance sets in and you become an unstoppable force.

Yes, graduate school enriched my life and has allowed me to expand on the knowledge I’ve previously obtained, but this process has done much more for me than that. Who I was when I entered graduate school four years ago is not at all who I am now.

Here are a few things it has done for me:

1. It’s shown me strength I never knew I possessed. The countless hours of studying, paper writing, exams, discussion boards and projects. Knowing that I had to leave my 8+ hour work day to come to home to…guess what? More work. The times I so badly wanted to quit, but pushed through. I never knew I had any of this within me until I was tested. Sometimes that is what it’s about though, right? Getting back up after being kicked down? Proving to yourself that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to? Finding inner strength and fortitude? It’s amazing what we can actually achieve if we put in the effort it so merits.

2. It’s given me more confidence and self awareness. Let’s be real here, I’m the “nice” girl. I’ve been the “nice girl” my whole life. “You’re so cute”, “you’re so nice”, “I wouldn’t have let that happen, you’re way too nice”. These are things I have heard on a fairly regular basis. Call it being a pushover or call it being compassionate…I’m not actually sure how you would classify it. But what I do know is that I will never be a doormat again. Unfortunately, sometimes people will take advantage of others, mistake their kindness for weakness. Going through graduate school has given me a boost in confidence. Not because I was doing it to prove someone wrong, but because it made me value myself a little more. I will never stop being the “nice girl” because that is how I am programmed. I was raised to do well unto others and to treat people the way I would want to be treated. But this self awareness and new found confidence I now possess will never allow me to be walked all over again in any scenario.

3. It’s made me more resilient. I’ve always been an intuitive and emotional person. It’s taken many years to develop “thick skin” in both my personal and professional life. Graduate school has contributed to this immensely. I’ve listened to professors rip my work apart (and I’ve nearly been in tears over it), but it was all in the name of constructive criticism. In turn, it’s made me stronger and given me a degree of tenacity that I never knew existed.

Although my journey through the MBA process has come to an end, what it has given me is much more than a decorated degree. I now know just how important a support system is as I would have never survived school without the support of my husband, family and friends. I am also much more confident and strong-willed than ever before. I am a 29-year-old woman who believes hard work pays off. I enjoy a challenge and view every opportunity as a learning experience. I think change is inevitable and necessary for growth. I believe in being kind. I am comfortable in my own skin and a force to be reckoned with. I am excited for new adventures, new challenges, and the next chapter of life. But more importantly, I am ready for you, world!

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{ Thankful }

Hello, friends!

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I wanted to do a special post this week.

It’s really so easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day with what we each have going on while almost becoming blind to the “big picture”. The big picture meaning, what life is actually all about. It’s not about the money, the stress you are dealing with at work, the bills you have to pay, the coworker at the office who is getting under your skin, the car problems, a job hunt, the argument you had yesterday, the friend you feel betrayed by…sure, these things matter, but when you look at life from a macro perspective, is that what you want to remember spending your life worrying about and dealing with?

To be quite honest, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it’s just sincere and effortless. No one has to worry about picking out the right gift or feeling pressured. Thanksgiving is about family, friends, and loved ones but even more, appreciating what you have. We live in a society that wants “more”, “bigger”, and “better.” I would be lying if I said I do not ever plunge into these temptations too – it’s human nature. However, it is beneficial to have a period of reflection…to center yourself and be sincerely grateful. It’s time to stop living selfishly and get back to our roots. Below are the things that I am genuinely thankful for this year.

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1. My Husband + Better Half

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Yeah, it kind of goes without saying. But Shahin is the ultimate spouse because he’s beyond just a husband…he is my best friend, my biggest cheerleader, my stability, and the only person who makes me feel like it will all be okay. He brings me laughter, challenges me, makes me more resilient and gives me courage. Courage I never knew I even had. I am so thankful for this man in my life and will make a point to show him how much he means to me every day of my existence.

 

2. Double Trouble (Duke + Carolina)

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My dogs are essentially my children – I do not actually have children of my own yet, so really, these two little pups are the light in my life. Sean and I have had these litter mates for over 6 years now and they’ve provided us with so much joy over the years. Even though they have an obsession with socks and getting on the bed when they’re not supposed to, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

3. My Family

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Between Sean’s and my own, I would really like to think I hit the jackpot in the family department. Could I honestly ask for better people in my life? All so kind and accepting. I am so thankful today and every day. My family is my backbone, my support system, and the people I trust more than anyone in the world.

 

4. My Closest Friends (Guys + Gals)

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As I get older, I’m learning that it’s not about the quantity but the quality. Friendship is something that I take very seriously. If you are good to me, I’ll be good to you in return and then some. It’s that simple. The people that I hold close to my heart have impacted my life so drastically. Some of you I’ve had the pleasure of knowing since I was 9-years-old, some middle school or high school, some during college, others in my adult life. Even if we do not see or speak to each other as often as we like, you are all so very special to me and have changed me for the better. I am beyond grateful for each of you – I want you to know that.

 

5. Music, Baby!

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In all seriousness, I love music. It’s my therapy – I mean, it literally keeps me sane. I feel like there are so many different songs that speak to me and there is one that matches the mood I am in. Feeling intense? I listen to Mumford & Sons. Feeling joy, I listen to The Avett Brothers. Feeling nostalgic, I listen to classic rock. Feeling valiant, I listen to Lana Del Rey. Feeling stressed out, I listen to gangster rap.

 

6. My Education

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You know that phrase, “knowledge is power”? Well, it is. I am a firm believer that you can never stop learning. This is what I thrive in – education. As I’m wrapping up my last three weeks of graduate school and realizing that this four year long journey is soon coming to an end, I cannot help but reflect and look back on where I’ve come from. A loving, established home where my parents believed in me and supported my endeavors. I grew up with the understanding that education was critical. It was instilled in my mind at an early age and I took that with me as I grew. Now, I realize – this is something I’ve done by myself. Without help from anyone else. I did not do it to prove anyone wrong, I did not do it for anyone else, it was something I did for myself – and it’s something that no one can ever take away from me. My education is sacred and I am so thankful that I’ve been given the resources to go back to school and obtain a higher education.

 

7. The Natural Beauty Around Us

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Sometimes, even when you’re just driving down the road, you’ll notice the abundance of vibrant burnt orange and Merlot colored leaves. Or an amazing sunset. Or a cotton candy sky. I’m thankful to have these moments. It makes me realize how immense the world is and how small I actually am, even if it is just for that instant.

 

8. Coffee + Me Time

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There is really nothing like sipping on a cup of fresh coffee and taking some time to yourself. Whether you decide to put in your favorite Lush bubble bar in the tub and taking a soothing bath, scouring Pinterest so you can build the perfect gallery wall, or reading a good book (right now, I’m reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed), there is nothing that compares to doing something for YOU.

 

9. Eat Well, Travel Often

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One of my favorite quotes of all time – if there is anything that I am about, it’s eating well and traveling often. I have an affinity for food – I would even like to consider myself a foodie of sorts. I’m willing to eat just about anything – and the weirder, the better. Even more, I am captivated by traveling. Every. single. aspect. of. it. Why? It’s so culturally enriching and it really humbles you. When I become old and gray, I want to have memories. I’m looking for experiences, stories and adventure. I have to thank my lucky stars that I have had (and continue to have) the opportunity to travel. I love being immersed in a completely different culture and environment – I cannot think of a life experience more powerful than this.

 

10. Traditions

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As my husband likes to say, “you’re such a nerd-alert.” I have no shame in admitting how big of a dork I am in regard to the things I am obsessed with – one being my fondness of traditions. They are really special – and I love the idea of making something your own. One tradition Shahin and I have implemented in our relationship and marriage is each New Year’s Eve, we go see The Avett Brothers…in whatever city they are playing in. Their music is something we have a deep bond and connection over. This tradition not only gives us the opportunity to see our favorite band live, but it’s also an excuse to visit a different city and broaden our horizon. Another tradition I love is our annual friendsgiving that our friends Evan and Alyssa host each year. We had it this past weekend and it was incredible as always. It’s a great way for everyone to come together, share dishes, mingle and hang out by the bonfire. I am so grateful for the traditions we implement in our lives.