Monday, January 10, 2011

Letters of Intent

Hey everyone,

Since tonight seems to be the night that people get feedback on their stuff, I thought I'd join in! I have written to Letters of Intent for Utah State University with two different styles. I was wondering if I could get your opinion on both and tell me which is better.

As a student at Utah State University, I would most certainly excel. I am tenacious, disciplined, passionate, balanced, and driven. Having successfully completed my education at Brigham Young University so quickly while maintaining excellent grades and a healthy social life can certainly attest to that.
Ultimately, I hope to be a therapist at a university counseling center. As a therapist, I would hope to help students become just a little bit better so that they may achieve their goals. I would also enjoy being a part-time professor with a few classes. I would use my case notes to show my students what psychology looks like outside of the classroom.
Growing up, I had the opportunity to travel the world and experience different cultures and encounter new and exciting people. I believe it helped me broaden my horizons further than my friends who did not have that opportunity.
My parents often encouraged me to reach out beyond myself. This was put to the test when my brother became addicted to heroine. In my effort to reach out to him, I felt powerless to help. I did not want to see his talent and personality poisoned by his addiction.
Because of the experience I had with my brother, I began volunteering at places where I felt like I could make a difference. I volunteered at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center where I taught groups of teenagers the skills of teamwork. I was also lucky enough to explore a new area with my volunteering at a clinic for sex offenders. My volunteer work at a boarding school as well as at the Utah State Mental Hospital allowed me to become more acquainted with one individual and help them just by taking their mind off their current situation.
I currently work at a therapeutic boarding school for at-risk teens. Most of the residents that come into our program are from a wilderness program. For the most part, they have experimented with drugs, alcohol and sex and let it get the best of them. At the school, I oversee the dorms and make sure things run smoothly. I also act as a go-between for the residents and their therapists because often times the residents feel more comfortable coming to me before their therapist.
Before that I worked at Copper Hills Youth Center as a milieu staff. There I was more responsible for the resident’s safety because those kids were more prone to violence. It was there that I learned the most on how to manage crisis situations, as they tended to happen more often than at the boarding school. I also developed respect for the people that can work with that kind of population.
As a gay male that came out at BYU, I began to critically analyze my core values and beliefs. It was difficult to come out in an environment that at times was hostile to how I was feeling. Because of some of the pressure that I was under, my ability to analyze situations and research became much stronger. I was able to look at moral issues and see it from a more understanding viewpoint. I knew what it was like to be thrown into a general category with all of the other people like me. I vowed that I would do my best to get to know the person behind the issue, and not just how to fix the issue.
In my research experience at BYU, I focused on pornography, sex education, depression, gender roles, memory retention, and sexual orientation. My role in most of the research was to write up our findings, as well as create and give the presentation of our data. I found that collecting and presenting our data was both challenging and exciting.
I look forward to taking this next step in my life. I believe that the program at Utah State University will challenge me to be better, work harder, and achieve my professional goals.

Dr. Bristow seems to have a nice ring to it—sophisticated and invokes a sense of confidence. Not that a name is everything, but at least it’s a good start.
People have always fascinated me. I love taking a look around in public places to see how people interact with one another. I remember in particular one day seeing a young woman at the DMV who decided to flip out on the phone while standing in line. Why on earth she decided to do it in such a public setting is beyond me. But maybe with more formal education, I can catch a glimpse at what makes people tick.
Most people cannot wait to get out of school. I am one of the rare gems (maybe nerd is a better word) who cannot wait to go back to school. I love the challenge, the knowledge, the fun, the discipline, and just the essence that fills the air. It’s as if the air is filled with knowledge and all I have to do is breathe it in to become smarter. Obviously, it takes much more than that. Skills such as tenacity, discipline, drive, passion, and balance all play an important role. And since I feel like I am in possession of most of these skills (I am allowed to sell myself here right?), I will excel at Utah State University.
I am a local boy. I was born and raised in the little bubble they call Utah Valley. I loved it there. I got to experience a very different culture from what the rest of the world is used to. But since I have relatives around the globe, I have had the opportunity to explore other cultures and areas. My drive comes from wanting to see the unexplored. The Star Trek: The Next Generation theme song comes to mind—I want to go where no man has gone before—into the human mind.
Well, not literally of course. Ultimately, I would love to work in a university setting at a counseling center. I would enjoy not only being a therapist but also teaching a few classes to show students what psychology actually looks like outside the classroom. I would push my students to focus more on themselves, which may seem like a selfish goal. However, in my experience, it has only been when I have focused on myself and made myself truly happy, that I was able to lift others up to my level. I am in a constant quest to better myself and in turn, better those I come in contact with.
My research experience at BYU focused a lot on gender roles, depression, pornography, sexual orientation, and memory retention. As a gay man who came out at BYU, I was put in a situation where I needed to critically analyze the world around me. While most of my friends thought that this critical analyzing would include me deciding if they were crazy (Because that’s apparently all psychologists do), I included it in my school work. I knew how to have a balanced life and used it to stay on top of my work as well as to simply stay sane.
I currently work at a therapeutic boarding school in Oakley, Utah. There, I am an assistant house coach and oversee things in the dorm and make sure things run smoothly. At times, I feel as if I am a therapist. The residents will come up to me frequently and figuratively spill their guts. I, in turn, try my best to empathize and if it is in my power, I do my best to rectify the situation. For the most part, I encourage them to stay in close contact with their therapist and family as I do not have the necessary skills to actually give therapy.
I have done a lot of volunteer work in the past. It was very influential in helping me find my knack and passion for psychology. I volunteered at a “space center” where I pretended to be in the Star Trek universe. I also volunteered at a boarding school, the Utah State Mental Hospital, and a sex offender clinic. And just before my work at the boarding school, I worked at an RTC.
I am excited to begin this next part of my life. I believe being a therapist will help me make the world a little bit better. Oh, and I still want my title of doctor.

Thank you everyone!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Brand New Day

If you didn't know, my title actually comes from a song that's a part of "Doctor Horrible's Sing Along Blog" which is an awesome show by the way.  It is actually one of my favorite songs.  Probably because it's kind of a dark, passionate, emotional song, but also sassy.  I dunno, I just really like songs that are more sad.  They just sound better and are a lot more powerful.  Guess they just resonate with me.
But this isn't about music.  I guess I feel the urgent desire to write in my blog for some reason.  Maybe it's because it's New Years day and I feel some obligation to create some resolutions.  But I've also been struggling and writing usually helps me feel better.
It's amazing how different people can bring out the best and the worst in you.  I know here at work, some of these kids just know all the right buttons to push and I can go from zero to sixty in two seconds.  But then there are kids here who can actually tell when something is bugging me, and I can actually see that they care.
Well, my day started out well yesterday until I received some news from a friend of mine.  He and I met recently; we've hung out every day and have gone on a few dates.  Honestly, I have never felt the way I feel about him before.  And I told him that.  That was when he told me that he's been hurt a lot and so he's locked away his feelings.  He's just not as interested in me as I am in him.
Well, that hurt.  A lot.  After I saw that, I couldn't stop crying.  He called and we talked about it, and honestly, I understand where he's coming from.  I know it's important to protect yourself from emotional pain and anguish.  But it doesn't make it any easier for me.
The problem for me comes in with my feelings.  If I had these overwhelming feelings for every guy I've ever met, I would say there's a problem and that I'm falling too easily for guys and am not letting things happen naturally.  But that's not what is happening.  I've met plenty of gay guys, and have never felt so twitterpated as I did with this guy.  So I feel like it's something special.  It is for me anyway, maybe not for him.
And of course I *love* to overanalyze everything.  It's a bad habit, I know.  I'll work on that.  Maybe that should be a New Years resolution!  Wait, I'm getting ahead of myself...
So, I'm overanalyzing things.  I'm thinking that he really doesn't like me, that he never has, that he's dating other guys on the side and making them fall for him like I did.  But of course, I have no evidence to support those assumptions.  He even told me that I have done absolutely nothing wrong.  He is just trying to work things out for himself and that he has just a different process of doing things.
This has brought up some interesting feelings for me: both bad and good.  Which is why I mentioned how different people can really change how things look to you.  So now to my resolutions.
I think my first one is to be true to myself.  Honestly I get crazy mixed messages from the gay universe!  Which is incredibly frustrating.  I keep hearing from guy after guy how much they value honesty with others and with themselves.  And I'm a pretty honest guy when it comes to my emotions, needs, and what I want.  But that seems to scare people off.  I tell them how I'm *honestly* feeling and it scares 'em off.  I can understand that, I guess.  Most people aren't used to others who are very honest and direct.  Guess that's just another way my psychology degree has ruined my life.
But hey, as I have been thinking, being true to myself, no matter what that is, is what I want to do.  I'd rather be with someone who loves me and everything about me, even when I am crazy just because I'm in tune and open about my emotions.  That way I'd feel truly fulfilled and valued.  I am a worthy person all by myself, without needing to change.
My second resolution also has to do with dating.  I am going to go on dates to have fun.  This one is going to be a challenge.  When I ask guys out, sometimes I feel differently on that first date.  Unless I've already been hanging out with the guy a little bit before I ask him out.  But I think that happens to everyone.  So I think if I am honest with myself, I will have fun on dates and won't be thinking in the back of my mind, "is this going to go anywhere?" and all those other relationship questions.
My third resolution is to be selfish.  But not in the way you think.  I find myself giving up a lot of what I want to do for the benefit or convenience of others.  I need to be taking care of my own needs first.  I can't help people up a mountain unless I myself am on a higher plane and am able to do so.  Along with this, I want to start doing things for myself that make myself happy.  I snowboard, and I love it.  I go by myself every week and it hasn't been an issue.  I don't look around and pout because I am alone.  I am at peace, and am in love with what I am doing.  I want other activities to help me do that.  I used to volunteer at the Space Center.  I now think I'd like to volunteer at the Salt Lake City LGBT center.  I used to take violin lessons and play my bass in an orchestra.  I now want to take voice lessons and get back involved in an orchestra either with my violin or bass.  In this way, I am being selfish, but it will allow me to be in a better mood, and be better able to help others in a darker place than my own.
Hopefully I will get accepted into graduate school this year.  I applied for the PhD programs at the U and USU in counseling psychology.  I also applied for the masters program at the U just in case I don't get into one of the doctorate programs.  Education keeps me busy, helps me have a goal in mind, and keeps me feeling useful.  If I don't get into grad school, I will have to rely more heavily on my hobbies and other activities.
I want to look back at the end of 2011 and think to myself that I made the most of every moment I had a live.  Life is precious.  As I know from losing my brother, it really can end at any time.  If that were to happen to me, I want to be able to say I live with no regrets.  And honestly I'm doing a very good job I think.  The only thing I would regret is not choosing to learn something from a mistake.  Mistakes are good.
I watched Memoirs of a Geisha last night and thought it was a fantastic movie.  It was beautiful, profound, fun, engaging, and insightful.  In one scene, a man approaches the young main character and encourages her that the next time she falls down, she must get up with a smile because happy moments are ours for the taking, and we must make the most of them whenever we can.
So there you have it.  I actually do have some resolutions!  And studies have actually shown that writing down goals makes you more likely to achieve them.  Most likely because it helps them be stored in long-term memory for use down the road.  But now I'm just psycho-babbling...