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getting in touch with my inner colorado girl

The Real World: Not quite like MTV portrays it

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Today marks my one-year anniversary of graduation from college.

In some ways, it feels like just yesterday.  But in so many other ways, I feel like I have grown up immensely since my final walk around the quad.  After graduation, I don’t think I could have ever predicted the year that I have just had.  And while the past year has been completely unexpected, it has simultaneously been completely awesome.  So to sum up my life post-graduation, I am going to do a top ten list, David Letterman style (before he turned out to be a creep).  Without further adieu, the Top Ten Things That I Have Learned Since Graduation:

10. I learned to love running again. Running cross country and track in college was definitely an experience that I would not change for the world.  But at the same time, running competitively caused me to lose sight of why I love running.  In the fall of 2009, I volunteered as an assistant coach with my former high school cross country team.  Spending hours running and hanging out with 15 year old kids reminded me why I love the sport.  I now am a runner not because I will ever go to the Olympics, but simply because I absolutely love the sport, love the challenge, and love the way it makes me feel.  And all it took was 60 high school kids to remind me why.

9. I learned to trust in my abilities. In the fall, I had the opportunity to serve as a Political Intern at the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.  I also happened to be there during a presidential coup and general election, meaning I was kept very busy during my ten-week stay.  While I was extremely intimidated initially, I was able to do a good job.  I now know that I can trust in myself to rise to the occasion, and more importantly, I know what type of future career I am looking for.

8. I learned to be independent. I have always prided myself on being extremely independent, but this year put me to the test in completely new ways.  When I was in Honduras, I literally was dropped off at a house all by myself and had to figure out transportation, food, and how I was going to live.  I was proud of how I handled myself in Honduras, and although moving to Denver was initially really hard, I think I have handled all the huge changes in my life over the past year relatively well.

7. I learned to succeed academically. Transitioning to graduate school after my internship in Honduras was a shock to my system.  Coupled with the fact that I was a business major during my undergraduate career, I felt completely in over my head during my first quarter of grad school.  However, after working really hard, I am proud to report that I made all A’s my first quarter.  (And one A- which I am still bitter about!)

6. I learned to take risks. On family vacations, my mom would always make my brothers and I do embarrassing things.  She would tell us, “It’s not like you know anyone here anyways!”  While this was hard for a too cool for school twelve year old to handle, I have truly adopted this attitude towards my life in Denver.  I have learned that it’s okay to take risks and try new things, and it can be extremely rewarding!

5. I learned that it’s okay to fail. Recently, I haven’t applied for something and been rejected.   I was accepted into graduate school and I received a State Department internship.  When I started applying for summer internships, though, I soon found myself in a whole new field.  I made it to the interview round with my top three choices for an internship, but ultimately I didn’t receive offers from any of them.  While I was disappointed at first, I have since realized that I’m not always going to get everything I want.

4. I learned that I am young – and that’s not a bad thing. I am constantly surrounded by people who are in their upper 20s.  Sometimes I am slightly intimidated by all that they have accomplished, but I have come to realize that my youth is not a detriment.  Instead, it is an opportunity!  I still have plenty of time to figure out my life, and there is no reason that I need to rush through this part of my life.  I am learning to enjoy the journey and not always be so focused on the destination.

3. I learned that my family is cool. I am so lucky to have two awesome older brothers and a great family that I know that I can always count on.  You know that your life has come full circle when hanging out with your family becomes fun!

2. I learned to set high goals. Even though the summer internship situation didn’t exactly work out as I had hoped, it’s certainly not going to deter me from pursuing the type of career I want.  I am going to continue to aim high!

1. I learned who my true friends are. There is nothing like moving across two states to find out which friends of yours are true life-long friends.  Long-distance friendships take a lot of work, and I found out which of my friends were willing to put in the work.  In the end, I discovered that I have a lot of pretty great people in my life that I know will be there forever.  You know who you are.

This year has been so unexpected, I can’t even begin to speculate what the next year will bring. I can’t wait to see what life has in store for me.

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Author: paulamahla

Typical Colorado girl that can't make up her mind. Trail running, hiking, climbing, camping, CrossFit, ultimate frisbee, and skiing? E, all of the above.

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