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  • Writer's pictureLara Draxler

My Travel story, post-grad school

So, I am pretty sure I left off the last chapter with myself spending a summer in London interning at Keats House and doing the Victorian Summer School. I returned home from that experience ready to travel back to Waco and complete my last year of grad school at Baylor. I had started my thesis and made good headway in London, and I felt prepared to keep going that fall semester. I distinctly remember my little apartment stacked sky high with books. My new best friend was the Inter-library Loan system. I spent many weekends with myself, my laptop, and a "productivity" timer that let me work in 15 minute increments with 5 minute breaks. That technique really works btw. I still use it today!

I graduated from Baylor in May of 2012...I was the first person in my cohort to have secured a job before graduation. I had taken a position with the Texas Historical Commission as a museum educator at Fulton Mansion State Historic site. My job would entail working with the director of the museum to create programs and events for the community and our guests. In other words, handling all school programs, field trips, outreach into the schools, and large scale events held at the site such as Easter egg hunts, spring festivals, etc. It was an amazing place (Victorian era house that belonged to a cattle baron) and an excellent first job for a recent grad. So, I made some trips down to the coast of Rockport, TX (charming coastal town where Hurricane Harvey smashed through a while back), signed an apartment lease, and prepared to move 5 hours south of Waco.

Baylor grad

Fulton Mansion, where I worked

I thought I was moving to Texas to do this job..and I did. But, God had other plans in mind. I did do the job...and actually, I think I was quite good at the job if I do say so myself. But, just as had happened in Wales, it was time for me to completely grow up. I had made leaps and bounds, but God knew I was ready to really be challenged.

During this time, I didn't travel that much. I was too busy getting settled and nested in my first real "grown up" apartment/job. I did enjoy traveling around Texas a bit during the three years that Rockport was my home base. I visited friends in Austin and San Antonio, took a yoga retreat on Padre Island, and made a yearly trek to San Marcos (outside of Austin) for the amazing outlet shopping and to stay at Viola Street Inn (a place that I discovered while I was in Waco and loved immensely.) I think it may have since closed, but I have nothing but the fondest memories of that charming B&B.

I went to Disney in 2013 with my family. This was the first time I had visited Disney as an adult, and I must say, this is where my LOVE of Disney really started. I also share this with my sister. We both hope to become Disney travel planners one day and own a business together.

sisters in Disney's Epcot (France) in 2013

I wouldn't go on a big trip again until 2014...which was the BIGGEST life changer...this deserves its own post, so I will wait to delve into that later. But, I digress. I spent the next three years in Rockport successful in my work. But often, the state of my personal life was abysmal. I was often lonely. My first year there, I was transitioning from a highly active social life in grad school. I am a very introverted person, so I thought I could make it without much human interaction. I also adopted a dog with my first paycheck! Jasmine (my chiweenie) and I could take on the world...or so I thought. When I accepted the job, I was clearly told that Rockport was a small retirement community and that my social life would be a challenge. Again, this introvert thought she could truly handle it.

I had also loved my church in Waco very much...I knew it would be a challenge to find a church that I liked as much. I was also challenged in making the realization that my friend group might not look like a gaggle of 20 somethings any more. I spent a lot of time alone and developed the idea that I didn't need anyone...until a year later and I was almost desperate for social interaction. I learned quickly that in that place of isolation and desperation, I had created a scenario for a very unhealthy relationship setup. By year 2 in Rockport, I had managed to get more involved in a local church. I had managed to make more friends and accepted the fact that my friends didn't have to look like the ones I had in Waco; however those friendships were still in their early stages and I was desperate for male interaction with someone my age.

With every life change, I kept telling myself, "surely you'll meet your husband when _____________________," and then when I didn't, I kept trying to take the reins and make things happen on my own. I did SO many dumb things in this era LOL

(some of this had started in year two of grad school). Dating jerks, accepting scraps of unhealthy male attention, letting very codependent and manipulative men into my life and letting them stay for WAY too long, and believing the lie that it was my job to "fix" men and make them "better." It was time for me to truly learn to trust God in the area I trusted Him least--relationships. I have heard it said that you are the most vulnerable in the area of the THING you want MOST. I learned this the hard way during this season.

During the course of the three years I lived in Rockport, I lost two grandparents, I became more desperate to be married, and I kept trying to make round pegs fit into square holes. I continued to look for validation through men and unhealthy dating relationships, and I would let this get to a boiling point by participating in a very unhealthy romantic attachment with a narcissist for almost 2 years. I was settling big time. I found myself compromising and letting this person dominate my life. When he and I were in "off" periods, I also pursued another unhealthy relationship with someone I had met while I was in Waco. He was also extremely arrogant, selfish, and condescending at times. Yet, I kept him around as a "plan B." Which come to find out, when I stopped resorting to any of my "plans" in this area was when my life really started looking up.

The consequences of all these bad choices were me being brought to my lowest. Once I had finally gotten that down and miserable, I decided things had to change. I let God in to fill those cracks. I made a decision during that time to get healthy emotionally and to geographically move AWAY so I get away from all the toxicity. God got me through it, and gave me the most wonderful blessings to get me to a new calling and new place *see next chapter for how that transpired after my BIG trip in 2014.** I was as low as I could get when I finally surrendered to God. I needed a fresh start in a new place. I had experienced a wonderful three years at the museum, but it was time to move on.

I can look back and be thankful that God provided amazing friends who became like family once I let go of some of my personal pride issues. After some really rough trials and heartbreaks, I found some very sweet friendships in Rockport...people that made profound impacts on my life. Those women lifted me out of THE PIT. Their love and encouragement saw me through some very low times. I can look back now and see so much good in that time that came from special people.

I look forward to thinking about the year 2014-2015. It was one of the most important in my travel story. Please enjoy some old school pics from my time in Rockport :)

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