To Make Sense of This

When I write things down, they feel more real, more official. I gain a more holistic perspective of my circumstances when I write them down. So let me try to make sense of 2015 and then, let me right a wrong decision.

  • January came and went. Michael joined me in Colorado and we became roommates, which is basically the dream of any pair of best-friends.
  • February, I was accepted into AmeriCorps NCCC, to be stationed in the Pacific Region. I would spend the Fall of 2015 and Spring of 2016 doing that. I didn’t have a backup plan because I was never given the idea that I might need one.
  • Later that month, I ended up in a treatment center for a week, because my mental health was not alright.
  • March, I found out that I wasn’t selected to be a summer intern with To Write Love on Her Arms, but I did, however, get to meet its founder, Jamie Tworkowski.
  • After that let down, I scrambled together some summer options. I applied for a job at the Denver Zoo and as a camp counselor with the YMCA.
  • In April, I was in contact with AmeriCorps and I was told that I was being considered for a Team Leader position! I thought, “Awesome! This is really happening. I’m really giving up this next school year to serve others.” Again, they never suggested having a backup plan. Everything was set in stone.
  • Then the bomb dropped. On April 14th, AmeriCorps decided to tell me that they were reconsidering my acceptance into the program, because of my mental health history. Why they waited until April to tell me? — I have no clue. I felt like everything good was being taken away from me, because of my past. During the fall semester, friends gave up on me and I was fired from a job, because of my depression. TWLOHA wouldn’t take me on as an intern and now AmeriCorps was on the brink of being taken away from me, too. I rushed to pull together a backup plan, just in case, and it didn’t seem like it was going to be school. All of the classes I needed to take that fall were full. No, not just the ones I needed to take in the fall, but all of my major classes. I don’t know how that happened, but God was definitely saying, “take a semester off from school, regardless,” echoing the words of an old friend who begged me to take time off to breathe a little.
  • The next day, three weeks before the spring semester ended, I made the decision to stay in Boulder over the summer and take classes in an attempt to get the most out of school before I took time off to do AmeriCorps or whatever the future had in store. I was offered both the job at the Denver Zoo and as a camp counselor, but I turned them both down so I could essentially extend my academic burdens by 3 months.

Clearly, the worst decision ever.

  • May came and somehow I survived finals week. Michael moved out and that friendship ended for like the third time. No, it wasn’t pretty, but that’s a different story for another time. While taking summer classes through August, I worked at a gas station and interned at the Boulder County Justice Center as a Deputy Probation Officer.
  • June was when AmeriCorps finally made the decision to revoke my acceptance and I was left with basically no plan for the next year.
  • In July I turned 20-years old and was offered an internship with Aurora Mental Health Center for the fall! The spring was still a mystery. The plan at that point was to take the spring off from school, as well, gain experience in social work, and then return to CU that following fall.

In August, that all changed. Within a week, I had applied to Southeastern University’s Social Work program in Florida and I am now set to start there in the spring. It wasn’t a well thought through decision, to be honest. I was still in Boulder when I made the decision and I was at the end of a 12-month school year. I was burnt out. Of course I would entertain the idea of leaving and never coming back.

This time that I’m getting now, off from school, is something beautiful. After a fantastic month of seeing some of my closest friends on the east coast and visiting my family, I start interning at Aurora Mental Health this week. I know that this time is essential. It’s giving me an opportunity to refocus and recuperate after a trying two years at CU Boulder. It’s giving me a clear head and this is what I have concluded:

To leave CU would be to leave some of my best-friends behind and to cause all that I’ve worked for there… and all the struggling I’ve survived… to be in vain. Earning a Bachelor’s in Social Work and being closer to my sister are the only benefits of transferring. Growing up, we moved all the time. The military took us where they wanted. It sucked. I don’t have to leave what I have in Boulder. For once, I have the choice of staying. Why in the world would I leave? Sure, it’s painful to think of what I’ve lost and some of the things I’ve gone through during these past two years, but I’ve gained so much, too. When I think about leaving what I have here I get sick to my stomach.

I have friends, a job, a chapter of To Write Love on Her Arms, a choir, a research lab, an honors program, in-state tuition, a beautiful campus, and a plethora of social-work related opportunities awaiting me in Boulder. My entire life I have longed for stability and I realize now that I have it. My tagline for leaving Boulder was, “When I think of Boulder, I think of all of the hurt I’ve experienced at CU, and I feel like I can’t grow there.” But the fact of the matter is, I am not the same man I was two years ago. I have grown… and into someone I am so proud of.

If I’ve learned anything from 2015 thus far it’s that nothing is set in stone. One minute you could be off to AmeriCorps for a year and the next, you could be left empty-handed with no direction at all. One minute you could be set to transfer universities and the next, you could be ready to stay right where God first called you when you were just a junior in high school.

I’ll see you next year, Boulder.

Rejection is just people telling you they’re not ready for your awesomeness, and it is their loss, and always will be. Be like a freight train, you may have a lot of weight on your shoulders, and you may have a lot of baggage, or even engine problems, but don’t you let yourself worry about all of that. Get to your destination and wow people with your speed. –Stephanie Magid

This whole experience of “almost-transferring” has put so much of my Boulder-story into perspective for me. I do indeed belong there. I don’t know if transferring would’ve hurt my chances of getting into Berkeley’s MSW/PhD program, but if there’s anything I want graduate schools to know about me when they receive my application, it’s that I persevered.

With much hope,
Donaven

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