Meanwhile, Back in Reality…

Every once in a while, there comes a point where we have to wake up and smell the rancid manure that is real life.

Recently I have found myself in an awkward position. I am less than eight months from graduating college, and I have no idea what I want to do once I graduate.

Should I go to graduate school or just start looking for a job right away? Should I stay in Provo, move back to Arizona, or find somewhere else completely different to live?

Maybe I should just find a random woman on the street and demand that we get married at once! After all, everyone around me is literally getting married and having babies. The other day, I was talking to a girl who was sitting behind me in class. I turned back to the front of the classroom to listen to the lecture, and the next time I looked back, the girl all of a sudden had a baby in her arms! Where did that baby come from? Did she give birth in class while I was turned the other way??? Why are people so obsessed with getting married and having babies????! Admittedly, I guess it’s all a part of religious culture. Even I have been known to make a joke or two or six thousand about being pregnant. As a result, people often claim that I’m baby hungry. But I in fact have absolutely no desire to eat any babies!!!

I think the best thing to do in such a time of uncertainty is to make a plan and then go for it. I for one like to seek God’s approval after making a plan. Other people might not take that route: that’s completely up to them! But religious or not, it is best to work toward something, even if it ends up falling through. And who knows? Maybe in the process you will be taken down another, better path.

Unfortunately, no matter how much you plan, many aspects of your life are simply out of your control. I have learned that the hard way throughout the years. Sometimes there is a distinct and even painful difference between what we expect life to be and what it actually turns out to be.

Les-Miserables

That’s pretty much the tune I was singing last year. (No, I did not literally go around singing like Fantine. Even though I can relate to Fantine–remember that one time I went into prostitution to support my child???–I do not feel the need to walk around singing about how difficult life can be. That would be a tad melodramatic.) There were a bunch of crappy things going on that were completely out of my control, and my life pretty much fell apart at the seams. It was awesome!

But you know what? Things change. And I’m doing much much better now. I still have a long way to go, but at least I’m in a better place now. That’s not to say I have died and am blogging from heaven–I mean a better place emotionally. In fact, if I were to pick a song to describe my transition from last school year to now, it would be this:

Is it embarrassing that I feel empowered by a Katy Perry song? Perhaps. But it doesn’t matter because it definitely captures my change in attitude over the past year. So even though life didn’t go exactly as expected, I can’t say that’s necessarily a bad thing.

Another example of unexpected outcomes was from my study abroad trip. (I know I said I’m done blogging about that, but I promise it’s relevant). I went on the study abroad just expecting to see new places and, I admit, to possibly… find love. Don’t mock me!!! There were eleven girls and two boys, OK?! The odds were definitely in my favor (like the Hunger Games)!

Instead, I left Europe with some unexpected outcomes, most of which had to do with connections. The first type of connections have to do with possible future jobs. In an economy where who you know is so important, it’s exciting to have a couple ins with employment opportunities. Even if those connections don’t amount to anything, I feel like the application process will provide me with valuable experience. And if these connections do amount to something, even better!

Of course, the main type of connection I was referring to earlier was that of interpersonal connections. I certainly have experienced that as a result of my study abroad. Even though the closest thing I got to finding love was a CONTROVERSIAL fake engagement, I established many close friendships–especially with my beloved study abroad roommate Jacob. I went to Europe looking for romance, but I ended up finding a BROMANCE! We are quite hilarious… like two peas in a pod! He is the Marcie to my Peppermint Patty… you know, minus the thick glasses and strong lesbian vibe. *

In fact, here’s a picture of us!

JD-Turk-jd-and-turk-24924126-400-300

Can you tell we’re best friends? Anyway, part of why I’ve been doing so great lately is because I have someone who I can talk to and just be my complete, unfiltered self around. That is really refreshing. So although I didn’t go on the study abroad expecting to find a brother, a brother I got, and I am very grateful!

That just goes to show you that our preconceived notions of life can be quite different from what ends up actually happening. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

What does the future hold?

So what lies in my future? Well, if I were to choose, it would go something like this:

I will be a psychologist specializing in the study of child stars… but not in a creepy way. Instead, I will have won the Nobel Peace Prize for discovering what it is that causes child stars to eventually ride wrecking balls naked and set their dogs on fire. I will of course have come up with the solution. That combined with the prize money will enable my wife Emma Watson Gilliland and I to live in a beautiful mansion in Wales. My close friends and family will of course be living in our guest homes.

"Matthew Gilliland is the love of my life. I want to marry him IMMEDIATELY!"--Emma Watson, My Dreams, 1 October 2013

“Matthew Gilliland is the love of my life. I want to marry him IMMEDIATELY!”–Emma Watson, My Dreams, 1 October 2013

Assuming all that doesn’t happen, however, I’m willing to accept whatever the future has in store for me… come what may!

*This is a quote from an episode of Scrubs, as much as I’d like to claim it!

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The 159th Hunger Games

It was a Sunday evening like any other, perhaps.  Little did I know that I was facing one of the most intense weeks of my life– a week full of deception, distrust, and yes, you guessed it, death.

It started with a name in a cup.  Each person had to pick a name out of a cup, which was the name of the first person we were to kill (and by “kill” i mean clip with a clothes pin).  I came home that night to a threatening and unsettling note that read: WATCH YOUR BACK.  Somebody was after me, and they weren’t going to stop until I was dead.

The Provo YSA 159th Ward Hunger Games had begun.

Day 1

Work and school kept me away from my apartment for most of the day.  I braced myself for an attack, but it never came.  Night fell, and I knew I had to spring into action.  I went over to one of the girls’ apartments to borrow a calculator.  Upon arrival, I found that most of them were already dead.  Only one survived.  She and I decided to work together to kill our targets.

We started with my victim, an innocent and joyful lad named Nathaniel.  He wasn’t home, so we locked ourselves in his apartment and awaited his arrival.  I realized this was my first time ever entering his apartment… and I was there to kill.  I guess I wasn’t what you’d call the ideal guest.  When he came home a few minutes later, I hid behind the door as he walked into the apartment.  Once my accomplice blocked his escape, I lunged forward and clipped the clothes pin on him.

As for Tamara’s target, he proved to be a bit harder to kill.  He was just too paranoid.  Unfortunately, Tamara ended up being betrayed and killed by none other than Paul’s own sister.  Since you automatically pass your target onto your assassin when you are killed, this paved the way for Paul’s sister to finish the job Tamara was so brutally prevented from doing.  It was bedtime for me, but I asked some of my spies to send me word if Paul ended up biting the dust. The result of this request was a text that would have been traumatizing under any other situation.

And thus ended my first day in the Hunger Games.

Day 2

Again, I was gone for much of the day.  Matters became more urgent as I received news about who was after me.  His style could be compared to that of the career tributes in the actual Hunger Games series–he stalked his victims until he killed them.  Violently.  I was pretty much a sitting duck, but I had to try.  At night, I targeted my second victim while she practiced for an intramural softball game.  I had some of my allies drive me to the softball field.  I casually walked toward the back of the field, hoping I wouldn’t be noticed by my victim.  I tried clipping her from behind, but this proved to be a more difficult task than I had suspected, for the clothes pin didn’t stick.  Obviously she figured out what I was doing, so she screamed and made a break for it.  I wonder what her teammates (who weren’t part of the Hunger Games) must have been thinking as  I chased her across the field, but the important thing is that I got her in the end.

The funny (and somewhat tragic) part of this incident is that this particular victim (a girl named Yuko) is one of the nicest, tiniest people you’ll ever meet.  I was pretty much the Marvel to her Rue.  Not to mention my first victim Nathaniel is also one of the nicest people in the ward.  How could I even look at myself in the mirror after killing such wonderful people?  Oh well, I would pay for it the next day.

Day 3

By the end of the day, only eight people were left, and the game was getting super intense.  A suspicious text led me to hide in one of the girls’ apartments for a good portion of the evening hours.  Unfortunately, this would end up being my demise–well, that and an unlocked door.  After receiving word that my assassin thought I was out of town, I admit I let my guard down just a little bit.  I had spent so much time locking doors behind me, it felt nice to be able to leave a door unlocked for once.  At about 10:00 that night, my assassin walked right into the apartment.  We stared at each other for maybe five seconds before I registered what was happening.

I was about to die.

I said, “Oh, crap!” and stood up, but he was blocking my escape.  Tamara, my now-dead accomplice, said, “Matt, run!”  I did, but as my assassin pointed out, I had “nowhere to go” because of that cursed chastity line in all BYU singles’ apartments, which prohibits members of the opposite sex from going past the kitchen.

Who would’ve guessed that an unlocked door and the BYU Honor Code would be the death of me?

I put up the best fight I could, but after wrestling with my assassin and running out onto the stairwell, I was finally pinned.

And thus the games were over… for me, anyway.  The actual game did not end until the next day.  Only seven people ended up living longer than me.  8th place?  Not bad, I’d say.

So there you have it.  Most college students have their fun by getting drunk.  BYU students just pretend to kill each other.  Though such a game might seem a tad morbid to some, the truth is that this experience helped me strengthen old friendships and form new ones.  As cheesy as it sounds (I’m throwing up a bit in my mouth as I write this), it’s the truth.  Who knew pretending to kill each other could bring people closer together?

For just a glimpse of what went on during that intense week, watch this video (which I did not make, just so you know, but I do make an appearance in it):