Turning 26

My 26th year alive was one of those years that you look back on and say “I survived.”
It was a massive roller coaster that I grew exponentially from, but I would never want to do again.

It started off with me in massive debt that my roommates were terrific at supporting me through and understanding even when I pushed them away. A month into my 26th year, I was “involuntarily separated” from a job where I loved working with my clients, and they enjoyed working with me. Where I had a supervisor that saw my energy and client commitment as a hindrance to my work performance and instead of working with me, she got rid of me. I was devastated, if you had asked any of my clients about my work with them, they would sing my praises. Many parents of my clients attempted to reach out to me after my departure, but due to my social work licensing and ethical boundaries of my profession I could not communicate with them. No being able to say goodbye to people I had spent the last year and a half in their life attempting to improve it no matter what it costs, was heart-wrenching.

After that, I took a leap. I looked into an amazing non-profit organization in Austin that was well known for their continual innovations in their social services. Less than a month after being “involuntarily separated” I was hired as a part-time employee at this amazing non-profit at their youth homeless shelter. Granted I was apprehensive; I have worked direct care with teenagers before and that turned into a hot mess. This place was different! I left my work at work and my home at home. This place was perfect for my personality. They let me use my energy to improve the workplace not just for the clients, but for the staff. Less than 3 months into employment I was awarded the company-wide “Gratitude Award” something that very few part-time employees ever see. I felt at “home” at the company. When they saw my flaws in the workplace they worked with me to improve myself, they didn’t throw me aside, they made me feel like a part of a team and a part of a family all in one.

While applying for this job I also applied for graduate school. I got accepted into SUNY-Cortland’s online Recreation Therapy Certificate program. It won’t end in a masters, but it will end in me being a qualified Recreation Therapist to be able to work in Texas. Classes started in January, and I instantly fell in love with the field.

The ending of my 26th year of life isn’t so happy. Just days before I went on vacation for my birthday, I hit a pothole with my car. I popped one tire and got a bubble in one. Both tires were replaced. My driver side seat belt also locked up and would not expand or retract; the dealership told me that I was in an accident so they would not replace the seat belt for free. I wasn’t in an accident; my car fell off the jack while I was changing my tire. They didn’t care; I took the car to the mechanic by the house and had it completely replaced. My roommates went above and beyond again. For me, my vacation started on the day my car was taken to the local mechanic. I ended up being hundreds of miles away when my roommate took my car from the mechanic to the tire shop to get my tires aligned. That’s where he found that 3 of my rims were no longer circular, but ovals. He took it upon himself to go back to the place where I had gotten my tires and reamed them for their shoddy workmanship. When I returned from my 4-day vacation, I found a new driver side seat belt and four new matte black rims on my car.

In conclusion, my past year was only survivable by the sheer love and patience that my roommates showed me. They will forever be my favorite roommates.

Double the Presents?!

My father was raised in a Jewish household. He had his Bar Mitzvah when he was 13, he went to synagogue, celebrated the holidays, and at one point spoke a little Hebrew. By a little, I mean enough for him to read the Torah to complete his Bar Mitzvah.

My mother was raised in a Methodist Christian household. Went to church on Sundays, participated in a church group, and was an active member of her church.

When it came to their children, we were mixed. On surveys or dating websites that ask your religion, I also put ‘other.’ When I was young, I was baptized, but that was it. I never went to church or synagogue, unless grandparents were in town and wanted to go, but still, it was scarce for my family to be in any holy building on the weekends. You would think that a child not having a solid faith would mess with them, but it didn’t. It did the complete opposite. Having the opportunity to grow as a person first before I found faith allowed me to question my views and to see the diversity in the world as what brings us together, and not what should be used to tear us apart. Every year since I can remember my family has celebrated: Easter, Passover, Yum Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, Hanukkah, and Christmas. No holiday is above another, and my childhood was about learning the various traditions and reasons behind each holiday. While I was unable to put a religion besides other on surveys for a long time, a year ago I participated in a Jewish Birthright trip to Israel. There I felt connected to the Jewish culture more than anything. I learned that while religion is a factor in Judaism, the culture is a more significant factor, and because of that, I completed my Bat Mitzvah ceremony next to the Western Wall in front of 40 of my new closest friends.

To this day I occasionally mark ‘other’ as my religion on surveys and dating websites, but that’s not to discount what I completed at the Western Wall, it is to commemorate my family and how both religions raised me.