When Your Life Plan Goes in the Trash

“If you wanna hear God laugh, tell him your plans.”-Iyanla Vanzant

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I’m a planner. I want all my ducks in a row, and I can get cranky if one steps out of line. But, I’ve come to learn, that plans are not all they are cracked up to be…my plans aren’t anyway.

My master plan was in place. I’d get my bachelor’s degree, meet the love of my life, go on to get my master’s degree, and get married. Perhaps, I would get my doctorate, but if I didn’t, I’d have a full-time job waiting for me upon graduating with my masters. I’d move out and get a place of my own. Then, set life to cruise control. Pretty good plan, huh?

My master plan is essentially non-existent now.

So, what happened? Why is my carefully designed life plan obsolete now? Because, it was MY plan, and as much effort, thought, and emotion went into that plan, it wasn’t good enough. I just didn’t know it.

I thought I knew exactly what I wanted, but how can you know exactly what you want when you don’t know all the options? I thought I had the perfect plan, but I didn’t. God did. He knew that there was a far better plan than the seemingly fabulous one I had concocted.

Don’t get me wrong, God didn’t do away with everything in my plan. I got my degrees. I met my man. The rest, though…well, let’s just say when God heard my plans, he laughed and turned me down a different path.

Before graduating with my master’s, I started panicking about getting a job. So, I began to scour the internet. I deliberated so hard about applying for several jobs, but ultimately, I just didn’t. As May got closer, I got a job lead. I interviewed. I was offered the job-a full time job. A good job. But, instead of jumping up and down, I had a nagging feeling of doubt. I cried. I prayed. I talked it out with those closest to me. Then, I turned the full-time position down. I turned my back on my master plan, and I am so glad I did.

Since then, I have been given so many opportunities that have been the perfect fit for me… opportunities that I didn’t know existed. Someone else did, though.

In the months since graduating, I have been asked countless times, “what are you doing now?” Good question. I’m teaching Presentational Speaking at my alma mater, Campbell University, a dream of mine since graduating there.

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I am also teaching Intro to Communications at Wilson Community College (yes, I drive a lot). I am Director of Engagement for NC Farm Families, where I fight for an industry that I love and combine my love of agriculture with communications (bonus: I’ve been on TV but my autographs aren’t worth much).

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I have also snagged several contract jobs–all with agricultural emphasis and communication. In case you were wondering, I’m balancing a total of 5 different jobs.

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My photography was published in the Pork Report and even featured as the cover.

The path I’m on is a tad unconventional, but it is perfect for me. Because of this path, I have a lot more flexibility. I have been able to attend so many of Isaac and Gideon’s activities and competitions because of that flexibility. Because of this path, I didn’t have to choose a career; I get to do several. I couldn’t have chosen a better path for me. I didn’t choose it, but then again, I didn’t know it existed.

Come to find out, God knows me a lot better than I know myself. I’m doing everything I love. Does that mean this is what I’ll do for the rest of my life? Not necessarily. I’m not going to make those plans, though. I already did that once. Apparently, I’m not as good of a planner as I thought.  I will say, it drives me nuts, though. I’m a planner. So, not planning important things like my life, is hard. It takes a lot of trust, patience, and simply letting things go. That’s how I got onto the path I am now.

I wasn’t confident to make this step. It was scary as heck. I doubted–hardcore. I had told myself for so long what the plan was. It was hard to let MY master plan go, but I came to realize that the Master’s plan is way better.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails”-Proverbs 19:21

Just Call Me Master Marisa|NCSU Graduation

Some of you may have heard, but I graduated…again. This time the powers to be decided that I was a master at communicating so gave me a piece of paper that said so.

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After two years at NC State University, I met my goal of getting a master’s degree, and am officially an alumnus of the Wolfpack. Let me tell you, though, running with the pack was not always easy. However, I learned more than I ever thought possible–things that go beyond communication theory, research, and papers. Some of these lessons were small, and others were much larger. Most were learned somewhere between Coliseum Deck and Winston Hall.

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  1. Always make a mental note of where you park your car in the parking deck–after a stressful first day of grad school, I couldn’t remember where I parked my car. I walked aimlessly around, praying and trying not to cry. Finally, Blueberry came into view and I drove off into the distance.
  2. You cannot possibly predict the many scenarios you’ll be faced with as a teacher–I thought I had imagined it all. I was wrong. Almost on a weekly basis, a new scenario came up that I had to scratch my head at and supply an answer. The things those students came up with never left a dull moment.
  3. Somehow the 6 flights of stairs never get easier–I just knew I’d be oober fit by the end of my 2 years. Alas, nothing changed.
  4. Even a communication major can do statistics–I suck at math. I don’t exaggerate either. Somehow, though, I chose to do a quantitative thesis filled with numbers, and finished it!
  5. You can research anything, so do what you love–If I was going to write more than 60 pages, it was going to be on something I liked. So, I chose pigs. It made the hours of writing and research much more enjoyable and exciting!
  6. Night classes will complicate your eating schedule–when classes start at 6 and go till 9, figuring out when to eat gets complicated. Cookout was my saving grace on the way home at night.
  7. It is possible to deal with a forest of papers and never get a paper cut–this is only a quarter of the papers over 2 years, but I’m proud to say, I never got a paper cut.

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Of course there was a lot more that I learned. Like the first few days are scary and really hard. You wonder how the heck they let you in to this place, but soon enough, you find your way…and your confidence. You learn to prioritize the millions of readings and assignments. You may find yourself learning what to do in a tornado warning with your students. You will definitely know what late nights are, and the joys of finishing a paper.

And, now after all of the lessons, I now hold a Masters of Science in Communication. I couldn’t have done it without some dear people like my thesis committee. They put hours into proofing, editing, and guiding me. Without them, I wouldn’t have a thesis that encompassed 2 states, 300 participants, pigs, and communication. A huge thank you to Dr. Keyton, Dr. Taylor, and Dr. DeJoy, and all of the other professors I had along the way.

I certainly couldn’t have gotten through grad school without  my family. Their prayers and support got me through every paper, assignment, and long night. They were my lifesavers so many times.

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Speaking of lifesavers, I would be lost somewhere in the one way streets of Raleigh if it wasn’t for Garrett. He helped me navigate Raleigh, answered my many statistics questions, listened to my struggles, and always reminded me to get lunch.

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So, I’m done. I came. I worked. I graduated. Just call me Master Marisa. I’m off to the next chapter in life, but first here’s some pictures from graduation day!!

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