Six word story

I bent but did not break.



I was always supposed to be right there;

dancing on the tightropes of your insecurities and secrets.

You let down the bridge to your tall castle you built for years, keeping everyone out.

How is it in there?

Are you lonely? Is it cold?

All thoughts I ponder as you stare at me through the crack of purple window curtains;

like I’m a wild animal, a stray on the streets.


But I’m not a stray, I’m a person;

and I get scared just like you do.

But tell me why give someone a key if every other day you change the lock?

Ignite your flame

I recently filled out an application that included a question that truly struck me as original and thoughtful in comparison with most application questions I have seen these past couple months. If you are in the same stage of life as I am, I know how sick you probably are of answering the bland and tasteless “Tell us a little about yourself” question.

This question does absolutely nothing for me, and mostly likely it does absolutely nothing for the organization that is inquiring. I am a person who needs specificity. I need a focus in order to provide you with an answer that you will actually enjoy reading.

I could tell you about myself in a paragraph. But will that really give you an in-depth insight into the person I am? Will it tell you what ignites the very flame of my existence? Will it tell you what I am afraid of? Probably not.

Coming across this new and refreshing question brought such an energy and excitement into my fingertips as they eagerly typed away at my response. It lead me to question, why don’t more companies or organizations focus on the unique and personal aspects of individuals that shape the type of person they are? As a hiring organization, wouldn’t you want to know who someone is at their core? When you take the time to show you are interested in an individual as someone with passions, dreams, faults, and opportunity, you show are investing in everything that comes along with them, not just the expectation that they will make you more successful. Any job provides dual development for both parties, a chance for each side to be the student and the teacher.

Invest in people, not numbers.

Anyway, since I enjoyed answering this thought-provoking question so much, I thought it would be worthwhile to share it, as well as my response, with the rest of the world. I believe this question is a good one to answer regardless if you are applying for a job or not. Consistent self-reflection will keep your actions grounded and provide intent behind everything that you do.

Enjoy your discovery.

In the one of the questions below, you will be asked to share a copy of your resume as it gives us a picture of your educational & professional experiences. We are also interested in knowing about other aspects of who you are. Please share with us three things that give meaning to your life and why they do.

At this stage in my life, I find myself in a transition period. Being a senior with one semester separating myself from the “real world”, I have found this time to be the epitome of confusion and stress. Everyday seems to bring a new face asking the same question, “So what are your plans after graduation?” The truth is that I don’t have much of a plan. However what I do have are options, and that has always been my strategy when it comes to facing life’s many challenges. In the midst of these many options, there is one that I choose every day. I choose the option to not stress about the fact that I don’t have my life planned out at the age of 21. I willingly choose to take my time in discovering which areas I feel will benefit the most from investing my time and commitment. Unfortunately for most of us, choosing not to stress is somewhat of an idealistic goal. When my weeks do seem to get crazy as I attempt to juggle a job, work, family, and what seems like an endless amount of applications, I seek balance in what seems like unconventional ways. These activities are what bring balance to my life when everything seems out of control. I hold them very close to my heart and can see the tangible ways they bring meaning into my life each day.

The first thing that gives my life meaning is an ability to empathize. 

After losing someone very close to me, I began to value the skill of empathy as highly as I value authenticity, positivity, and integrity. After what seems like a lot of internet researching, conversing with others, and development programs, I refined my own ability to empathize with others and things. This skill allows me to extract meaning out of powerful song lyrics that I sing while playing my guitar after a stressful day. It allows me to have conversations with close friends who are experiencing heartbreak that result in smiles, hugs, and the strong belief that everything will actually be okay. My ability to empathize with pieces of positivity is what brings vibrant emotions, ideas, and touch into my life that keep me going after what seems like the most horrible of days.

The second thing that gives my life meaning is increasing my knowledge and understanding of how the world works for others.

Last semester, I took a social work class that really opened my eyes to the numerous different cultural, social, gender, racial, ect, identities there are in the world. I discovered how passionate I was about increasing my own awareness of these identities, the challenges and triumphs their respective communities have faced, as well as how I could best create cross-cultural bridges that allow for learning and awareness on both sides. To increase my own understanding, I love to attend campus as well as community events such as guest panels, speakers, video screenings, and discussions. Each time I walk away from one of these events I walk away with knowledge that allows me to create cross-cultural bridges between myself and members of these communities. Making connections with others reminds me that I am alive and thriving in this world. The more I know about where and how injustice is occurring, the easier it becomes to confront it. As someone who strives to constantly be creating positive change in every aspect of life, this education is what brings meaning, motivation, and courage in times when I need to confront injustice that I see occurring right in front of me.

The last thing that gives meaning to my life is being able to put on leadership development programs for students.

I know what you are probably thinking, isn’t that your job? Yes, as a Graf Intern at the Illinois Leadership Center I am primarily responsible for coordinating one of our day long leadership programs. There are many times where the lines between my job and my passions are blurred, and that is primary reason this belongs in the list of things that give my life meaning. Through coordinating these programs, I can see how my actions and work have a visible impact on the lives of students. For many of them, it is their first experience in leadership development, and it is what kick-starts their involvement in future leadership programs. At the end of each program I can identify specific times where students have those “aha” moments. These small moments of self-discovery are the foundation of building an individual that goes out into the world and creates positive change. This is what makes every action I make in my position worthwhile, and this is what brings meaning back into my life. Although my position may be small and filled with many thankless tasks, I never cease to feel that I have contributed something of value to this world. My job is what brings the most meaning to my life, and that is because I consistently keep my passions and values intersecting in all the actions and decisions ahead of me. It’s not work when I am doing what I love.