I think it's crazy how it has been 7 months since I graduated! So much has changed, but I am trying to enjoy every minute of it. I moved away from Austin and am back home with my family. I am currently working full time at a private doctor's office and am really enjoying it, regardless of how crazy busy it is. During my time back home, my eyes were really opened to how much I missed my family during my time in college. Currently, my sister is a senior in high school, so I am vicariously re-living my senior year through her. She is way busier than I ever was though, so it has been interesting.
My biggest takeaway these past couple of months is to really live in the present. I know that sounds really cheesy, but I tend to stress over the future and often find myself dwelling on the past. I forget to really be present and enjoy what is in front of me, so I am doing my best to enjoy my time with family while we're all under one roof again. I am doing my best to cultivate my friendships and working on improving myself in every aspect-- physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. I am also learning to keep my peace and put my whole complete trust in the Lord and His plans for me. It is easier said than done, but I believe that His timing is truly perfect. Who am I to tell Him how my whole life is going to play out? Yes, it is uneasy at times to not always have the answers when people ask me what my future holds or other stress-triggering questions, but at the end of the day, I realized I do not have to answer to anyone but Him AND I have my amazing support system to cheer me on and encourage me.
During this time, I have also learned not to compare myself to others. There were multiple instances where I deleted my social media accounts for a while just to take a break because I often found myself comparing my life to others' lives. I started to shift my focus away from God and what He has done in my life and started focusing on the things I was lacking. There were times where I was disappointed and frustrated at myself because taking a gap year wasn't my "ideal" plan right after college. However, God is SO good and faithful. Once I started to shift my focus on myself and comparing my life to others' and instead, focusing on Him, I became more content and truly realized how blessed I really am.
There is a song by Hillsong United called "Not In A Hurry" and I really feel that it describes my life motto right now. The lyrics go:
"Lord, I don’t want to rush on ahead
In my own strength
When You’re right here.
I’m not in a hurry
When it comes to Your spirit
When it comes to Your presence
When it comes to Your voice
I’m learning to listen
Just to rest in Your nearness
I’m starting to notice
You are speaking"
I really don't want to be a hurry with my life plans or where I think I should be versus where I am right now. I don't want to be in a hurry and do things my own way, but not feel His presence or listen to His voice. As someone who was constantly busy in high school and undergrad, this season of resting has been new and to be honest, at times...uncomfortable. However, I think we all go through seasons where it is time to rest and just really listen to the Lord speaking and enjoy His presence. After all, what more could I ask for?
Philippians 1:6 says "And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" and I don't know about you, but that makes me excited.
Let me share about my little adventures at home! Like I said, I have been able to watch my sister thrive during her senior year, but also be able to cheer her on during her MANY school endeavors like band, choir, and college apps. Our family also went to a really cute pumpkin patch this year, so we braved the heat and attempted to take some cute fall IG worthy pics. It has also been really great that I had a chance to actually be there during my parents' birthdays and celebrate with them since usually when I was in college, I would go home during the weekend after or before their birthday.
I've also had a chance to try many different food places here and let me tell you, they did not disappoint!! My friends and I tried a Korean restaurant called Mong Chon and it was soo good!! They even gave out a Yakult (Korean yogurt smoothie) after our meal. I ordered a beef bulgogi that came with lots of sides and it was delicious! Side note - I haven't really had much Korean food though so I don't really have anything to compare it to.
I also ended up finding this super cute diner called Hullabaloo Diner and if you watch Riverdale, it looks like Pop's inside! My sister loves Riverdale, so she had a really fun time taking pictures there. Their chocolate shake has been my favorite in town so far!
In September, I had a chance to attend my first (and probably last hahah) Aggie football game!! They played ULM and won 48-10. I was clearly their lucky charm, duh. Hahaha. t was super fun and really interesting just because they had soo many traditions and different chants and I felt like I was watching the people more than the game...oops. The friend I went with though was really patient and answered all the questions I had about all their traditions, so I learned a lot that day too! Obviously it was different than the previous UT games I've been to before, but I really didn't know what to expect. It was still really cool though and I had a lot of fun and it was definitely a memorable experience!
It was my first Halloween back home and my dreams of handing out candy to the neighborhood kids were crushed because it was POURING that day! I still had a chance to dress up with my coworkers though as the Pink Ladies from Grease which was fun! I also FINALLY watched Grease for the first time! As soon as I got home, my dogs, cat and I all dressed up as cowboys and let me tell y'all...we were CUTE. I was able to hand out candy to a few kids after the rain calmed down a bit, but we did have sooo much leftover candy.
I wasn't feeling too well during Thanksgiving, but having delicious food cooked by my amazing parents helped!! Since it's always just us four during Thanksgiving, we also had family friends come to eat and celebrate, which is always fun. I ate my way into a food coma and it was amazing. We had homemade pandesal (Filipino rolls), Pancit palabok aka my FAVORITE (Filipino noodles), bbq, turkey and lechon (roasted pig). For dessert we had Filipino dessert called puto, suman (rice cake) and pecan pie baked by mom!
Being home meant having more opportunities to catch up with old family friends and friends which I have really enjoyed especially when there was food involved. I have also met some really wonderful and awesome people that became my really good friends! It's been so great not having to study or write lab reports, but my favorite part has to be the different people I've met and became friends with. Everyone came from different walks of life and it's just so interesting learning about each of them and hearing their stories.
The end of the year is always my favorite because of the holidays and because Christmas time is my favorite time of the year!! My life group at church went to Lights of Tejas which was really cool and very family friendly. You can buy tickets for $30 that includes a s'mores package, dinner, a hay ride, and two activities! The activity we chose was ziplining and it was really fun, but also kind of scary because you just kind of have to jump off the ledge yourself. Overall, it was a really fun experience and I totally recommend going with a group or with your family!
The Brazos Valley Filipino-American community held their annual Christmas party and this year's theme was Hawaiian Texas Christmas! It was so cute seeing everyone dressed up in Hawaiian-type of clothing even though it was super cold outside. We had a great turnout this year and like always, the Filipino food was great and there was lots of dancing and laughter! My mom even ended up winning a raffle prize. My friend from Austin even came down to learn about our culture and try different flavors of Filipino food, so that was exciting!
Not trying to end on a sad note, but one of the most difficult things to happen to me recently was losing my first dog Raffy. It was so heartbreaking seeing him go, but I am glad he is no longer in pain and I know he is running around in doggie heaven! Enjoy this photo of us laughing at something I said because I am hilarious :-)
I am truly blessed to be where I am at today and am enjoying my gap year a lot more than I would. It has been nice to just relax and rest and surround myself with the most important people in my life. I have been able to read more (blog post later on that) and help my family around the house aka wash dishes b/c washing dishes is fun (no sarcasm for real). I'm trying to learn how to cook, especially Filipino food so hopefully I can write more blog posts on that, but to be honest... I'm not that great and my mom's a REALLY good chef so I mean why bother learning right? Kidding. I'm going to try to make blogging more of a priority so if you have any requests, please don't hesitate to let me know!
That's all for now.
Nicole aka the girl with upside down dimples