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Crowdsource My Life

September 26, 2012

The author. Pictures by various photographers.

The web is swimming in aps that will analyze the content of your social media feed and tell you about yourself.  Some of them can be really fun and reveal interesting trends.  One recently told me “Monica uses larger words than 99% of other Facebook users.”  No big surprise there.  But what does that mean about who I am?  Am I intellectual?  Or just pretentious?   This is just one of the reasons I want to try a new kind of social media project. I don’t think an algorithm, no matter how smart, can really drill down to the heart of a human experience.  It can assign numbers but not meaning.

The other reason is that I will be applying for doctoral programs and jobs in the coming months.  I want to give my potential professors and employers a holistic picture of who I am, what I can contribute to their program or department, and where I still need their help to learn and grow.  I’ll be doing that via my cover letter, resume, and (fingers crossed) interview.  This is a place where you can do it!

I’m asking you, my friends, colleagues, classmates, teachers, bosses, and mentors to tell me about myself.  Was there a time when I did or said something that impacted your life?  What do you think I’m particularly good at?  What do you think I’m particularly bad at and how can I grow?  You can tell a memorable story, share a particular insight, or just finally tell me what you really think of me but were always afraid to say!

Of course, I hope people say nice things, but mostly I just hope people say honest things.  Consider this a one stop shop for both letters of reference and grievances.  I honestly don’t know what this project will turn up.  Maybe something and maybe nothing.  Maybe I’ll decide it was all a big mistake, but I’m honestly interested to find out.  So please, even if you only have five minutes and even if you’ve only met me for a brief time, leave a comment below.

Tell me, who am I?

8 Comments leave one →
  1. September 27, 2012 10:54 pm

    Was there a time when I did or said something that impacted your life? You told me to “Shut up” while in a conversation with co workers and made me feel embarrassed about a weakness I have talking too much. When ever this happens, I benchmark it against that moment and think, nope still not as bad as that time with Monica.

    • September 28, 2012 7:46 am

      Wow! Did I really? I’m sorry about that. It’s seems very out of character, but I could see that happening on a particularly bad day. You have my sincere apologies. I hope the coworkers saw my rudeness more than anything else, so I don’t think you should be embarrassed. Why do you still follow my blog all these years later?

  2. September 28, 2012 9:27 am

    I don’t think Monica is a stranger to her growing edges. And, that’s pretty unusual in a human being these days. Monica might not want me to say this publicly, but within the intellectualizing why humans do what they do, rationalizing why certain paths are more or less appropriate to take, and dissecting the finer points of grammar in a blog, there is a really soft heart that wants to love and be loved. In my opinion, all of what Monica does comes from a love for wanting to make things better for all of us here on Earth. Does Monica fall in her attempts to do this? Absolutely. Does she sometimes cause pain for others in her pursuit of this? Yes. And, when Monica becomes aware of this, not only does she diligently work through it, she also gets back up and tries again, incorporating what she has learned into her next steps. Above this, what particularly impresses me is Monica’s willingness to stay close to the fire. I have had the privilege of taking over the command of an endeavor that Monica formed and molded, called the University of the West Student Association. Recognizing its strengths and shortcomings, I have sought to enhance and transform a successful model in a way that has been emotionally painful for Monica to watch. So, what does Monica do? Does she go out and spread gossip and poison about me? Does she talk disparage about me behind my back? Does she seek to secretly sabotage the work I am doing? No. Instead, she invites me to her house to cat-sit for her and then offers to be my Vice-President on the student government. There is more going on in this woman than she will ever tell you, but if you have the eyes to see and the ears to hear and the heart to feel, you’ll catch on.

  3. September 28, 2012 11:43 am

    Monica and I led the Daily Nebraskan Op-ed section for nearly two years. We took to me that we were tasked with creating a public forum for the discussion of ideas and a private community of writers and thinkers sharpening one another. This happened between Monica, a Buddhist, and myself, an evangelical Christian, and it happened between other members of our staff. We had Josh, the self-described red neck, Sarah T., the second generation Mexican immigrant, Zach, a convinced liberal and the biggest policy wonk you’ll ever meet, Luke, a keen social-conservative Catholic, and Rhiannon, who describes herself as “an atheist feminazi.” But contrary to the common story of our polarized nation, our eclectic group of writers actually got along, learned from each other, and, I think, even came to enjoy each other’s company. Monica played a huge role in making that happen. In fact, if you took her out of the picture, I don’t think it would have happened.

  4. September 28, 2012 12:08 pm

    I spent a year working closely with Monica at Student Association of the University of the West. She was the President of the SA then, excellent in organizing, working with student body and school’s administration team. Her sincerity and careful thoughts towards others also inspire fellow classmates around.

  5. October 7, 2012 12:20 pm

    I discovered Monica, aka “Buddhist Cowgirl”, when she was living in Nebraska and going to school. I loved her writing that brought a “Buddhist” viewpoint on life in the heartland, of which there was very little (it seemed most Buddhist blogs were coming from places like California). I was halfway around the world working as a volunteer English teacher at a Buddhist center in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. Maybe coming from the heartland myself (Kansas), made it easy for us to understand each other since we came from the bible-belt and had to deal with being “different” is similar ways. In many ways, I miss “Buddhist Cowgirl” but I know that her recent years of Buddhist study have really helped her grow and looking forward to see how that shapes a “new” Monica in the future.

  6. October 7, 2012 3:34 pm

    Monica, you are the bravest person I know. You know that your prospective boss will be reading this blog. I know I would if I was evaluating your application. You have a keen and indomitable mind, and I have enjoyed our arguments immensely. You have even changed my mind a couple times. You get along well with a variety of people and situations. You are dependable and gracious. In all the years I have known you the most amazing thing has been your steady and rapacious interest in Buddhism. A lot of stuff has happened in these years, but that part of your life has been a constant.

  7. Danny Fisher permalink
    October 8, 2012 8:59 am


    Unabashedly, unapologetically herself–giving one permission to be the same way.
    Dedicated and devoted without sentimentality or ostentatiousness.
    Cool under pressure.

    Fun and funny.
    High standards, humane.
    Cerebral, but without the chill.

    A fighter with a deep understanding.
    A leader from the side.
    A thinker of true originality and great heart.

    Eccentric, exceptional.


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