A few days ago I turned 25. And, guess what? I was thrilled and excited about it. I had been looking forward to being 25 for a while, and if you’ve known me or read my previous post, being happy about a birthday is a big deal for me. I’ve come a long way from being that girl who would get birthday depression every year to someone who actually enjoys growing up.

This year (and by that I mean this school year) has been a very special one. Basically my experience, personally, academically, socially, is very different compared to the first two years in grad school. The most major change that happened is the campus ministry growth at Princeton. It’s like God just turned it over completely overnight, answering every prayer that was offered in the past two years. In short, everything that I ever wanted for Princeton campus ministry is here, and even much more than what I had imagined or wished for.

This fact alone transforms my daily experience at school, since everything just seems much more bearable. It doesn’t matter if something is wrong/not going well with research; I don’t get stressed out anymore. Things that used to make me worried don’t have the same effect anymore, but even the research experience itself is different now.

Like icing on the cake, I feel like I have been growing academically as well. I’m more comfortable with the type of work in my lab, I know more tools to approach problems, and I don’t get overwhelmed anymore if I don’t know how to do something. Instead, I’m excited to learn and tackle the issue. My interest in the research project is growing and there are more questions that I want to investigate for the next year or so. I’m personally more invested and I feel more ownership of the project.

I had the chance to present the work at an academic conference a few weeks ago, and whereas something like that would make me nervous last year, this year I was looking forward to it. I was interested in how people would receive it, and I kind of wanted to know how people would criticize it and help me think about other aspects of the problem that I had not seen. The presentation was well received, but I didn’t get any significant questions, which was slightly disappointing. The whole experience was really great though.

Good quality hanging out is available at regular basis these days, so what more could a girl ask for. I’m now about half way into grad school, and I’m starting to think about what I want to do and how I’d like to be in the future. More questions emerge, mostly circa the life thesis question of how to become exactly the woman that God wants me to be. It’s an interesting process and I look forward to how God would answer them. Like the song says, “If I never had a problem, I wouldn’t know that He could solve them; I wouldn’t know what faith in His Word could do.”

So basically, God has poured out a gigaton of blessings on me. I feel like I own this 25 year old thing – it almost feels like being on top of the world and still climbing up. And this next year is going to be fantastic!

These are some people who helped me celebrate, who also bring so much joy to my days! And for Thanksgiving, I will always be thankful that my birthday falls around Thanksgiving time for the rest of my life. =) Happy holidays, everyone!

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