Finishing Well

It’s been somewhat of a pattern in my life to tire of projects before they’re finished.  This was first evidenced by the mountain of unfinished stories I have in notebooks under my childhood bed.  I would get a great idea, start writing, and then run out of ideas and peter off, until my next great idea.  This bell curve of interest bleeds over into other areas of my life, too.  When I’m at the beginning or middle of a project, I’m ready to do hard work.  I know what it will take to get to the end, and I’m prepared for that.  I am able to focus on work and get things done.  But when I get close to end, I start to get antsy.  I just want the thing to be over already.  I start rushing, or even half-assing work, sometimes at the expense of quality.  I get so close to being done that I lose interest.  I do this with papers, group projects, and even job interviews.

I attribute this tendency to my impatience.  I don’t know why I’m an impatient person.  I think part of it is that I like to be productive.  When I’m in the middle of a project, I can see things taking shape.  I can spend a few hours working and have something to show for it.  The bulk of the work is done in the middle of projects, and I like that.  I like seeing the results of my actions.  I even like editing — the big editing that comes after the word-vomit stage.  But when projects start to come to an end, a lot of the work to be done is just tweaking, perfecting.  And I know this is important, sometimes more important than the production of the project.  But to me, it feels less productive than sheer content creation because there is less to show when I’m done.  The words or results are already there; I’m just changing them to look or sound better.  It feels like busy work.

My mom noticed this about me early on.  At the end of a school year, or at the final level of a competition, I would lose interest in my work and start complaining about how I just wanted to be done.  And she would remind me to finish well.  “I know you’re tired of this,” she’d acknowledge, “but you need to finish well.  You’re almost done, and you need to keep doing your best until the end.”

Those words came to mind this week as I was going from class to class.  At this point in my life, I’ve been in school for 17 years.  I enjoy learning, but I am so tired of sitting in class.  I cannot describe how pointless it feels at this stage.  I am now what most people would call an adult, and I’m ready to live the adult life.  I’m ready to officially have my own home that is not a college apartment.  I’m ready to spend my days working for pay (and learning on the job!) rather than paying to learn.  I’m ready to be financially independent; I’m ready to make decisions; I’m ready to contribute to society in a way I haven’t been able to yet.

But like it or not, I still have 5 weeks till graduation.  I know it’ll go by fast, but it’s felt slow.  I still have two group projects and a capstone paper to finish, not to mention finals in my other two classes.  I still have meetings to go to.  I still have events to work.  As ready as I am to just be done, it’s not going to go any faster because I’m sitting here wishing it will.

That’s why I’m going to try to take “finish well” as my motto for the rest of the semester.  If I can remember that, I’ll be able to enjoy these last 5 weeks instead of wishing them away.

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Why Do Students Cheat?

When I was getting ready to start college in 2012 and 2013, warnings against cheating were everywhere.  College search sites, scholarship databases, and universities themselves were yelling about how not okay cheating is.  “There are consequences to cheating!” they said.  “Cheating will get you nowhere in life!”  I was warned that there would be cheating all around me, and given tips on how to avoid the peer pressure, and on how to study so I wouldn’t need to cheat in the first place.

But until I actually saw it, I had no idea how much cheating goes on in universities.  I was like, yeah, I’m sure people cheat.  But not any of the people I know.  Most people are too smart to think that’s a good idea.  I would never hang out with anyone who cheats.

But you know what?  I do.  I could name at least a dozen people off the top of my head that I know for a fact have blatantly cheated on exams.  And I’m not just talking about using the textbooks for a take-at-home, online test.  I’m talking about people having test banks and emailing them to each other and actually pulling them up on their phones during class and looking at them while they take the test.  This is the kind of cheating that gets people expelled, and it happens literally every day.

Honestly, it boggles my mind.  But I can understand why people do it.  Here are my theories:

  1. University students are so focused on “success” that their priorities change.  College educations make us more marketable, and raise our societal value so that we can get jobs.  Jobs are important.  But the way we become valuable is by having a true education.  So really, the underlying, basic point of college is to learn.  Makes sense, right?  But learning doesn’t necessarily mean good grades, and grades are the thing that most students focus on.  We get so obsessed with getting good grades that we forget that we are supposed to be learning in the process.  (I know multiple people that freak out if they get anything less than an A, even on assignments that are worth 1% or less of their final grade.)  College becomes something to get through, rather than something to shape us.
  2. Many students are simply not prepared for college work.  One of my friends pointed this out to me when we discussed this issue: both she and I went through college prep programs in high school.  We both had been writing papers, including long research papers, since middle school.  We were both encouraged to challenge ourselves, and so we learned good study habits as well as the subjects we studied.  We were both well-prepared for college, and we were both still challenged enough by our college classes that we had to take a step back and re-learn how to study, or adjust our habits in order to adapt.  So if it was hard for us, how much harder must it be for students who were in a bad school district, or who had teachers who didn’t challenge them, or whose classes in high school were easy enough that they didn’t have to study?
  3. Students, just maybe, really are lazy.  In one of my senior capstone classes this year (I’m in three total — gross, right?), I was baffled to hear people complaining that the work was too hard just two weeks into the semester.  At that point, we hadn’t even started our project, and were turning in practice assignments meant to prepare us for the real one.  The assignments weren’t complicated or long, and the professor (unlike others in that major) was good at explaining how to do each one.  People were just pissed that they had to turn in one a week.  It was like they didn’t take into account that the course was a senior capstone course, designed to give as much real-world experience as possible without actually throwing us into it.  Honestly, I still can’t understand this one.  I want things to be easy as much as the next person, but that’s not how the world works.

Before I started college, I thought everyone who cheats must be dumb.  But I know plenty of incredibly bright people who cheat on a regular basis.  Some of them, I think, are bored by college, or are frustrated by professors, or just don’t think they have time to learn between classes and jobs and family.  I can’t speak for everyone.  But I can speak for me.  I’ll be honest — I’ve been offered test banks, and I’ve been very tempted to say yes.  But in the end I couldn’t do it (not because I’m better than anyone else, because Lord knows I have my share of flaws).  I don’t have a 4.0 GPA, and I’ve been in some classes I was elated to get a C in.  But because I didn’t take those test banks, when I walk across that stage in May, I’ll be able to say truthfully that I earned every single grade I’ve gotten, all on my own.  That’ll feel a lot better than looking at a list of As.

 

History: Best Learned in a Classroom?

If you’ve read my about page, you know that I’m currently majoring in Marketing and Spanish.  I didn’t add my Spanish degree until second semester of sophomore year, though (before it had been a minor), so this year, I got stuck doing some required gen eds I normally would’ve taken as a freshman.  I had to take a second literature class last semester, and also European Civilization 1.

The lit class was a breeze.  The professor was finishing up her doctoral thesis, so we had hardly any homework.  (Also, the level of analysis she gave was really more suited to a high school class, in my opinion, but I wasn’t complaining.)  But the history class was another story.  A lot of majors have to take Euro Civ 1 and 2, so it was a big lecture.  And the professor was one of those who likes to scare freshman.  She was personable, but she didn’t put up with people not taking notes or having their phones out.  And she wasn’t one to give students material, either.  She walked in every day and started talking, and we were expected to figure out what was important and what wasn’t.  There was no outline or study guide, or even a PowerPoint.  She showed photos of artifacts she’d seen and trips she had taken, and that was all.  She was your typical freshman professor — like hey kids, it’s time to get serious.

A lot of kids need that.  College really is tougher than high school, and it pays to learn how to study early.  But I’m a senior.  I do feel young and unequipped at times (especially dealing with apartment stuff and other legal matters), but I’m disciplined, and I know how to succeed at school.  Going from intense, focused group projects in Marketing and Spanish — things I’m interested in and may actually use — to a history class was not very fun at all.

I get that history is important.  But I’ve never really enjoyed it.  Which is a little weird — normally students who like English and writing also enjoy history.  It makes sense — history is essentially a collection of stories.  And it’s stuff that actually happened.  They say the truth is stranger than fiction, and I fully believe that.  Some of the stuff we’ve done as humans you just can’t make up.

But I just can’t get into history when it’s taught in a class.  For one, I have an awful memory.  I grasp conceptual stuff fairly easily, and I’m good at learning processes, but please don’t ask me who it was that signed this or that treaty, because I won’t be able to tell you.  I’m not good at remembering dates, and while I have a vague timeline of world events in my head, I usually have to look up the details.

The other thing is that in class, there’s too much to cover to be able to get into the interesting stuff.  Unless it’s a very specialized class, you can’t get into the personal lives of important people, or how the culture affected certain groups — there is just not enough time.  When I was younger, I read a lot of historical fiction, and that’s where any interest I have had in history comes from.  I liked learning about how ordinary people lived in certain time periods and how major world events affected their lives.  I care about history on the small scale.  I want to know how I might have felt if I had lived during colonial America, or during World War II.  I read stuff like Soldier in Blue (which I can’t find on Goodreads), Copper Sun, all the American Girl historical novels, and the Dear America and Royal Diaries series.  Books like those, more than anything, are where I learned the things I remember about history.  It has to be relate-able.

Sometimes I wonder if more of history should be taught like that.  It’s probably not very practical, because I know not everyone loves reading like I do.  Some people are interested in big picture history, and some people learn best when listening to someone else.  But there’s a lot to be said for looking at the details and making it interesting.  History is easier to remember when you can imagine it happening to you.

I spent a lot of my Christmas break studying for the Euro Civ II CLEP test, so I could test out of the second half of the class.  There were no other options than the same professor I had last semester, and I didn’t really want to waste 3 hours a week on a history class when I’ll also be doing senior projects.  History, for me, is one thing that’s best learned on my own.

What has your experience with learning history been like?

 

What I Realized About Christianity My Freshman Year of College

Over Christmas break, I met with one of the few friends from high school I still talk to.  It had been over a year since I’d seen her, we figured out, and it was nice to catch up.  While we sat drinking coffee, we started discussing how each of us had changed since high school.  As it turns out, neither of us are all that enamored with Christianity anymore.  As we talked, I put something into words that I didn’t quite realize had occurred until that moment.  I mentioned that one of the reasons I grew disenchanted with Christianity was honestly because college was the first time I realized that non-Christians can be good people.  Imagine that, right?  I know it sounds stupid (because it is), but that’s honestly what I thought.  It wasn’t a conscious thing; it was just a very black and white worldview. 

 If you’ve followed my blog for awhile, you might remember that I was homeschooled.  Homeschooling is becoming more prolific these days, but there are still stereotypes — homeschoolers are all prudish, strict Christians who don’t trust the government with their kids, and all their kids are naive and sheltered, and none of them know what birth control is — okay, so it’s not that bad (at all — I’ll give you the side-eye if you actually believe that about homeschoolers).  But I know it is easy to assume that we are more sheltered than kids who went to “real” school.

We can get into my thoughts on all that another time.  But for me, the accurate description is not that I was sheltered, but that I was ignorant and self-absorbed (more so than now, anyway).  Yes, the homeschooling community where I’m from is made up of a lot of Christians, but there were plenty of other religions and non-religious people in the mix as well, and there was never any hate against those who weren’t Christians.  The large Christian presence had more to do with the fact that I live in the Bible belt than that I associated with other homeschoolers.  Also, being a Christian does not mean adherence to one exact set of beliefs — some are more liberal and some are more conservative, like with any belief system.  But in high school, I was more worried about my appearance and fitting in than I was about finding nuance in my community.  It just wasn’t on my radar.

When I started college, I quickly met a core group of friends that I hung out with all the time, plus random acquaintances from classes.  Again, because I live in the South, a lot of people do claim Christianity as their religion, but I quickly realized that not all of them really practiced.  I joined the Baptist student ministry, where 90% of the students claim Christianity, and ended up not really liking a lot of them.  Then I would meet other people in different settings, decide I liked them, and then realize they did not claim Christianity in any way, shape, or form.  I also watched one of my friends from my core group kind of have her own falling out with religion, and didn’t appreciate her any less as a friend.  I didn’t realize what was happening at the time, but it was sort of a wake-up call.

I had a few issues with Christianity before college even started, too.  In high school, I kept an on-again, off-again pattern of reading my Bible every day and keeping a prayer journal.  It was more of a discipline than an enjoyment, but that was okay because everything good in life takes work.  My main problem was that I never felt good enough.  I know that by traditional Christian belief, Jesus died for me, and nothing that I could ever do or fail to do could change that.  But still, there are a set of moral principles that Christians are expected to live by, and I’m not perfect.  I knew what I was supposed to do and not do, and I kept doing the wrong thing for one reason or the other.  I was probably too hard on myself.  But then I didn’t think I was hard enough.  This led to feelings of guilt whenever I thought about my spiritual life, and that added on to insecurities about acne and my desirability to males and all those other things that characterize high school was not good.  So when I started college with an already-fading desire to continue with Christianity, and then realized that there are a lot of types of people in the world, I kind of dropped it.

That I thought Christianity was the only “right,” “good” religion wasn’t an attempt to turn me against others. I assume I would have been the same way if I had grown up Jewish or Muslim or anything else. And I don’t regret or resent being raised the way I was at all — on the contrary, I respect my parents for instilling in me the set of morals that they thought would turn me into the best person I can be. Really, my regret is that I was actually naive enough to think that to be Christian equals everything good in the world, and everything else must be bad or wrong. I know now there’s much more nuance. I feel silly not to have known that then. 

What I’m Reading: November 2016 – Learning Outside the Classroom

My whole family has a legacy of loving education.  We like to learn stuff, and we all like to read.  My dad is a huge history buff, and as an ex-Marine, you can often find him devouring a book about World War II and other conflicts.  My sister, and brother to an extent, inherited this love of history.  My brother has done school projects on famous generals and war machinery.  His main interest, though, is building things, and he prefers to learn by watching YouTube.  My sister, on the other hand, reads everything — history books, theology, care and keeping of farm animals — you name a topic, she’s probably read something about it.  My mom prefers to read biographies and novels — we joke that “based on a true story” is her favorite genre.  I’m more similar to her in reading taste than anyone else, but I read more popular stuff than anyone in my house.

The only similarity we all have is that we all read to learn.  Even my brother, who doesn’t love reading, has done it.  It’s part of being in my family.  It’s in our DNA.  Recently, I’ve been thinking about learning outside the classroom.  I hope to go into the marketing industry, and I know that learning doesn’t end when classes do.  So here’s what I’ve been reading to try to stay on the up-and-up.

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Source

Hubspot’s Marketing and Sales Blogs

I started following these as a result of my Marketing and Public Relations class.  I’m genuinely interested in the Marketing blog, and often read (or at least skim) an article every day or so.  The Sales blog is not my favorite, but since so many jobs are described as sales and marketing, I figured it couldn’t hurt.  I kind of have to force myself to read the sales articles, though.

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From webinknow.com

WebInkNow

This is the blog of David Meerman Scott, a self-made marketing expert.  He’s the author of our textbook for Marketing and PR, which I’ve enjoyed so far.  He’s been studying the marketing aspects of the presidential election, and it’s been very interesting to read his take on the candidates’ marketing techniques.

 

Magazines

Inc., Fortune, and Entrepreneur are a few that I read articles from on a semi-regular basis.  Honestly, a lot of times I’ll read articles because they touch on something I’ve had to research for a class.  In a couple of my classes we had to take the day’s topic and find a news article that related to it, and these magazines were invaluable.  I also follow all three of these on Twitter, which is easier than visiting each site every day since I’m not a legit subscriber to any of them.

Companies

Since I’m searching for full-time jobs, I spend a good chunk of time researching the companies that are posting on the job boards.  I don’t want to waste my time applying to a company I don’t actually want to work for.  While I don’t do extensive research on every single company I put in an application for, I make sure I at least visit the website and have a pretty good understanding of their mission, customer value, and company culture.  I consider this learning because I’m finding out what companies like to emphasize about themselves, and I can compare this to what I’m learning in my classes about how this should be done.

Career Goals, Dating, and Parks and Recreation

Recently I’ve been into Parks and Recreation.  I know I’m super late to the party, but I’m fully on board now.  I love this show.  Not only does it make me laugh out loud, but the characters are lovable and realistic — any one of them could be an actual person, and I have really enjoyed seeing their lives unfold as I watch every season as fast as possible.

One of the things I love most is that every character has a full life.  Leslie Knope, of course, has a loving family, a fulfilling job, and is surrounded with friends.  Tom Haverford, though it took him several seasons to really blossom, achieved his dream of owning his own business.  Ron Swanson is very much his own person, but still cares about people in his own gruff way, and ends up doing exactly what he loves — construction.  I know they all are fictional characters, and that their lives are planned by writers to be the perfect balance between crazy and wonderful, but honestly, that kind of life is what I aspire to.  Every single one of the characters in the show is eventually able to do what they love in one form or another, and they all balance their own dreams with those of the people they love.  They have it all, and somehow they make it work.

I know that real life isn’t that simple.  Sometimes things just don’t work out, and I know a lot of people end up settling for a job or a spouse more out of necessity than anything else.  That’s not to say that happiness can’t be achieved even if dreams aren’t — people are really pretty good at being happy where they are.  And I try to be, too.  But I know I want as much from life as I can get.  I’m a typical American — I want it all.

One of the bloggers I recently began following wrote this post about millennials and dating — specifically, that they aren’t, and why she (the author) is okay with that.  I loved her viewpoint — the majority of my friends are single, and have said the very same thing.  In the words of my first college roommate, “Your twenties are for you,” and being single in your twenties allows you to really develop yourself and chase your dreams.  It’s the time to be selfish and figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life.

That’s what most of the characters in Parks and Rec did — the majority of them didn’t get into a serious relationship until they were in their 30s.  By the time they were ready to invest in someone else, they had already invested in themselves and were at least on the way to being where they wanted to be professionally.

I’m about to turn 21.  I’m about to graduate college.  Now is the time for me to invest in myself — I have a billion different ideas for what I want to do and none of them really fit together.  Just to give you an idea, I’ve thought about opening a coffee shop/bookstore, working for a study abroad program, getting my real estate license, tutoring Spanish and/or flute on the side, trying to write for a magazine, or trying to get a job at Mattel or American Girl.  And those are just the recurring ideas.  I don’t know what the crap I want to do, and I’d love to be able to attempt any one of these, even if it meant moving around for a few years.

My life has a catch, though.  I’m in a committed relationship, unlike many millennials.  I don’t really have the freedom to do whatever or go wherever I want, because I have someone else to think about.  It’s a completely different dynamic.

I’m not trying to say that I wish I wasn’t in a relationship, or that I regret it.  That is so not the truth.  My SO is my best friend, and I don’t know what I would do without him.  He’s my voice of reason and my comfort zone, and I admire him immensely.  He’s talented, friendly, and handsome.  He’s one of those people that gets along with everyone (how do people do that??).  I love him, and I feel so lucky that I’m the one he wants to spend his life with.

However, I’m not denying that relationships complicate lives.  That’s just the nature of being involved with people.  As much as my independent hermit spirit would love to be able to just fly to Spain and live in a hostel for a few months, I have to admit I need people too much.  I need and want to be around the people I love, and that is why even though it’s going to be so hard, I’m focusing on the dreams that are realistic for my life.  I’m willing to give up on some ideas because I love my friends and family more.

This may sound like a ridiculous thought process.  It’s not like I’m giving up actual job offers or anything like that.  But when you get to this age and stage of life, you do have to give up possibilities.  It’s like opportunity cost in economics — by choosing one thing, you give up another, and you’ll never know how you might’ve benefited from the other option.  It’s just one of the risks of decision-making.  And at this point, I may never know what I might be giving up by balancing my job aspirations with my SO’s.  But I do know what I’m gaining.  

Most millennials aren’t dating.  But some are, and for those, life is all about balance.  Dreams don’t disappear just because you’ve found your life partner.  Now it’s a matter of figuring out which ones work together.  That’ll be an adventure in itself.

How to Survive Group Projects

I’m about a year away from being done with school, hopefully for a long time.  That means I’ve done my fair share of group projects, and with the professors I have, I know there are more in my future.  No one likes group projects, myself included, but it’s just one of things that must be done.  And it can be good practice, since many jobs require teams to work together on projects anyway.  In my experience, these are the best ways to make it through a group project without wanting to pull everyone’s hair out.

  1. Don’t be afraid to take the lead.  Especially when I was younger, no one in a group wanted to be responsible for making decisions, but someone inevitably has to be able to keep everyone on track.
  2. Start having group meetings before you think you need to.  Group projects are usually big ones, and projects that include a lot of people are always going to take longer.  That’s just human.  Get projects rolling well in advance of the due date.
  3. Delegate.  If you need to split up the work, make sure everyone has an equal and specific part to do.  Let me repeat that: always make sure everyone in the group knows exactly what they are responsible for.  This will hopefully eliminate day-of-presentation comments like, “I thought Sheila was going to do that!”
  4. Set deadlines for yourselves.  Many times parts of a project need to be sent to one group member to finalize.  Make sure everyone knows they must get their parts done a few days ahead of the final deadline so the finalizer doesn’t have to pull an all-nighter to finish the project.
  5. Be respectful of your group members.  This doesn’t mean you always have to agree, but it means you should always listen to everyone’s ideas.  Take your group members seriously.
  6. Finally, don’t be afraid to call someone out.  If someone isn’t pulling their weight, even after you’ve made sure they know their assignments and deadlines, talk to them.  Maybe there is something else going on in their life, and maybe not, but it’s always better to try to resolve problems within the group before going to the professor.

Group projects can be grueling, but they’ve gotta be done.  And thank the dear Lord — no matter how bad your group members are, group projects always end.

Senior Year Starts to Get Real

It’s time to talk about the future.

This fall, I will be a senior in college.  These past three years have absolutely flown by, and every year has gotten increasingly more wonderful and more stressful.  Right now, the thought of all I have to do in the next year looms over me.  I just know this next year will be the most stressful yet.

Here’s why:

  • I’ll be taking 18 hours of classes both semesters.  Because I added my Spanish major in sophomore year, about half of my fall classes will be gen eds I did not take freshman year, so the load shouldn’t be awful.  But the upper division classes I’ll have will be brutal, and then in the spring I’ll have all upper division and two theses to complete for graduation.
  • I may or may not be working, because I may or may not have enough money to cover the whole year.  I honestly don’t know yet, and so I can’t make a plan.
  • I’m going to have to start applying for big girl jobs in the fall, which means I’m trying to figure out for sure this summer what it is I really want to do.
  • The boyfriend and I need to decide where we are going to move, because we’ll need to search for jobs in that area.  That’s a big decision.
  • Speaking of the boyfriend, our plan as of now is to get engaged in the spring, which will add wedding planning stress onto regular life stress.  Plus, we’ve decided it would be more economical to go ahead and move in together after graduation, which goes against both of out parents’ beliefs.

On top of all this, I’ll have to try to keep up my social life, which for an introvert like me can be difficult even when things aren’t crazy.  It’s an exciting time in life right now, but it’s also very scary.

This summer is a bit of a break, sort of.  I didn’t go home this summer, because I am taking 4 summer classes that I need in order to graduate on time.  These classes come with their own type of stress, because one is a whole semester’s worth of material condensed into a month, and the other 3 are online classes whose professors for some reason decided that group homework and projects were a good idea.  However, very few of my friends are here this summer, so on one hand I have plenty of time for my classes and my part-time job.  On the other hand it gets lonely.

Honestly though, while all this is incredibly stressful, it’s not what is really bothering me.  I know all this won’t be fun, but I know I can handle it.  I can take it for one more year.  What’s really bothering me is that sometimes I feel that I will never get a job I can be proud of.

These feelings started this summer when I decided to stay at school.  I had a great job in my hometown working as a floating bank teller.  It wasn’t the most exciting job, but the pay was good and it was great experience.  However, the bank was local and so I couldn’t just transfer to a branch here for the summer.  I had to quit.

I found a new summer job here in town, in a department store as an apparel associate.  To be completely honest, it’s not my favorite.  The people I work with are okay as people, but as employees no one seems to really care about the business.  On top of this, the pay is not great, I barely get enough hours to pay my bills, and I have a bit of an ethical issue with offering credit, which means I don’t get credit card applications, which means I don’t get as many hours.  I’ve been looking casually at other jobs, but most of the options available won’t be much better than the job I have.  It’s a frustrating situation.

I also research possible big girl jobs for next year, just to get an idea of what’s out there and what qualifications I might need.  I’m certain I’m not the only student that experiences this, but every job I am interested in requires experience that I don’t have and don’t know if I can get in the next few years.  I’ve really been looking into real estate certification, but I know that market is competitive and will challenge me and to be honest, it’s very intimidating.

So, the future of my career is uncertain.  My boyfriend’s, on the other hand, is bright.  As a computer science major, he’s always been confident that he’ll find a job with relative ease, and as we’ve gotten older this seems like it will be the case.  He found a great job this summer where he’ll make more than I’ve ever had at one time.  It’s not a computer science job, but he’s a really likable guy, and already one of the best people on his team, and he is already making connections and seeing potential opportunities only a few weeks into the summer.  I, on the other hand, with my crappy summer job and vague ideas about the future, feel a little bit (okay, a lot bit) inadequate next to him.

With my degrees and interests, I know it might take me longer than it does him to find a stable, enjoyable career.  And I know that whatever job I find probably won’t ever be as well-paying as his.  And we’ve already talked about the fact that he, as my life partner, should be able to and is willing to support me if I don’t find a good job soon after graduation (or ever).  But I’m an independent person.  I want a good job.  I want to contribute a good percentage to our well-being, even if I never make as much as he does.  I want to feel ownership for our success.  I want to be able to, in the future, look at our little house and our life and know that it couldn’t have been possible without me.

Writing all this down, I know that a lot of these worries and insecurities are only worries and insecurities.  I know rationally that somehow, my life will work out and I’ll get through all the stress and I’ll eventually find a fulfilling job.  I also know that the only way to achieve this is to work hard, and keep researching, and put myself out there even when I’d rather hide in my room and binge watch Parks and Recreation.  I just need to keep doing what I’m doing, and mostly, just take it one day at a time.

Here’s to senior year.

Don’t Pine for My Wall Art — You Can Make It, Too

I am so not sorry for that pun.

For those who may not know, Mission:Incomplete began as a sewing blog when it was in its baby stages.  Though it’s grown into something completely different now, I still love to sew and craft, and occasionally I do actually deign to buy craft supplies and make the time to do something.  Hence, this pineapple wall art collage.

I planned it out on Pinterest first, and you can check out my epic collection of pineapple pins below.  Once I had amassed enough, my sister helped me put them all into a Word document.  Then I had to print them all and cut them out.  At this stage of the process, I regretted choosing a design with so many leaves.

For some reason, embedding Pinterest boards never worked for me, so you can find my wall art inspiration board and my pineapple collection here!

From there it was easy peasy — mod podge, scrapbook paper, a piece of cardboard for a backing, and a frame were all I needed to finish it up.

 

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Supplies!
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Planning!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I finally ended up with this!

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“Sport your weirdness proudly” is a quote we should all take to heart.  I try to sport mine while I look at all the fruit hanging on my wall and pine for summer.

I’m not sorry for that pun either.

Letter to the Author

Dear nerdywordybirdy,

Why did it happen that as you’ve gotten older, you’ve lost your motivation to write?  You have folders and notebooks both real and virtual that are completely full of stories.  They’re mostly terrible, and mostly unfinished, but they represent an imagination that never lacked for an idea.  Back then, you wrote because you enjoyed the story.  You liked seeing how many pages you could fill with action and you liked being completely in control of what would happen to your characters.  Their lives could go in any direction, and you were the one who decided which.

Now, you still really want to write.  It’s the perfect way to say things without actually speaking.  You even have a few ideas that flit around your brain, mostly for blog posts since you haven’t done fiction in ages.  Maybe I could create a list of my favorite music, you think.  Maybe I’ll write about makeup and my own personal journey with self-love.  Maybe I’ll write about my actual life and describe my dreams and plans.

But then you second-guess yourself.  You overthink things.  My readers probably won’t like my music taste; it’s probably too bland for them, you say to yourself.  You think there would be too much pop music on it, when bloggers are supposed to be hipsters who write in coffee shops and listen to funky bands, and you’re just sitting in a library and everyone already knows about the bands you like.  You know this is not a valid excuse, because humans are diverse and wonderful and tend to appreciate things, but these thoughts still keep you from writing the post even though you’ve had the idea for forever.

Okay, what about the makeup idea?  People love a feminist self-love issue.  But maybe yours isn’t so much a journey as it is you not caring anymore.  Do you really love yourself more now?  Are you really more confident, or do you just not give a crap?  You wonder if anyone really wants to read your internal monologue about whether or not you love yourself, and so you avoid writing the post altogether.

A lot of the time you don’t write because you have other things to do, like homework or hang out with your friends.  So you think, why don’t you write about your life and what you’re doing with it?  You could write one of those “a day in the life” posts.  Like today, you woke up at 10, stayed in bed reading until 12, and now you’re not doing homework and kind of feeling like a failure because of that.  The other bloggers my age that I know have really cool lives; they’re all super involved in their schools and hobbies.  No one wants to read about what I’m doing on a Sunday.

So, instead of writing any of those posts, you end up talking to yourself on virtual paper, where your current internal monologue is preserved for everyone to potentially see.  And actually, when you read back through it, you can see how silly it is that you don’t just write what you want to write, because the only thing holding you back is fear.  You’re afraid of other people and you’re afraid of not being good enough, so sometimes you decide not to try.  And that’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard.

Girl, you love writing.  Most times you’re even good at it.  Writing makes you feel accomplished and heard, even right now when you’re literally the only person listening to yourself speak.  So next time you get the urge to write, just do it.  It really is that simple.

Love and awesomeness,

nerdywordybirdy