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.

 

Final Fall 2016 Goals Update

Since this is the last week of the fall semester, it’s time for a final update on the goals I set.

Goals for Employment

  1. Apply for entry-level jobs in marketing.  So far, I think my total applied-for jobs is at 21 or 22.  Pretty respectable.  I’ve only gotten calls back from the companies I’m not really excited about, but that’s okay.  I’ll keep applying, and I’ve got backup plans and internship applications going as well.  Hopefully winter break will give me time to make good progress on this.
  2. Utilize university resources.  I took personality assessments, went to a few workshops, and am looking into an entrepreneurship competition for the spring.  I definitely could have done more with this one, but I think with this goal in mind I participated in more than I would have otherwise.

Goals for Extracurriculars

  1. Video Production Team: Work at least one game per sport.  So far we’ve only been covering soccer, volleyball, and basketball, and I’ve worked multiple games of each.  I may not be the best at graphics or being a camera man, and my size has definitely held me back some — it’s hard to shoulder a camera for 3 hours when the camera is as big as your torso.  However, this is honestly one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.  I’m excited to work all the basketball games over break.
  2. COB Ambassadors: Work one event a month.  I think I’ve made this goal, but just barely.  Somehow big events always landed on Tuesday or Thursday, when I have classes literally all day.  Next semester should be better, since I’ll only be taking 15 hours of classes.
  3. COB Ambassadors: Project manage one event before graduation.  At this point, I don’t know if there will be time for me to both shadow a project manager and also project manage my own event.  Co-managing may be a better option, but I’ll just have to wait till next semester to see what all will be going on.

Goals for Daily Life

  1. Don’t add unnecessary stress.  Really the only stress I’ve had this semester have been over things that were out of my control.  Apart from a few random incidents, I haven’t worked myself up about much, and I’m trying to let go of the things I can’t change. My focus this week will be on projects anyway, so I won’t be giving attention to much else.
  2. Cut back on buying coffee. So, this hasn’t happened. At all. I have, however, tried to be smart about my spending — I use a punch card at the local coffee shop and use a reloadable card at Starbucks so at least I get a bit of a reward for the money I spend. I’ve also been making coffee at home regularly. If I try to cut back again, I’ll definitely need to set a specific dollar amount per month. I try to stick to a set amount mentally, but having it in writing will help.
  3. Make time for friends. Honestly, this hasn’t gone super well. Five group projects have taken up a lot of my time the past month, and everyone else is busy as well. We have planned a group outing for after finals, though, so hopefully we can make that work.  And I hope to see some of my older friends when I’m home over break!
  4. Make time for myself.  Seeing as how I’ve had the time to begin posting regularly here, this has been a resounding success.  This is more due to my classes being easier (or me slacking on them?) than to any brilliant time management on my part, but I’m definitely thankful nonetheless!  I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have this blog as a creative outlet.

And my overall goal for the semester:

  1. Enjoy senior year.  This is a definite yes.  There have been annoying frustrating things, obviously, because that’s how life is.  But I’m enjoying planning for the next step in life, and I’m really, really looking forward to what’s next.

In about a week, I’ll have only six months between me and graduation.  It’s a little stressful to think that between now and then, I’ll have to find a job (crossed fingers!), and a new living situation, and I’ll truly be out on my own for the first time.  But honestly, I am more than ready.  This semester has definitely been good, and I’m just looking forward to what’s next.  Plus, I already have ideas for goals I want to accomplish in the new year.

Also, I just want to give a shout out to everyone who has been reading my blog.  Even though I’ve been blogging since 2012, I’ve only really completely dived in since June, and I have loved all the feedback I’ve gotten!  I genuinely appreciate everyone who has read, liked, and commented on the thoughts that run through my head.  So thank you all, and have a great weekend!

Why the Marching Band Deserves Some Love, Too

Last Saturday night, I and a couple friends gathered at my apartment to watch the Battle at Bristol (the UT-VA Tech football game that was held at the Bristol Motor Speedway — UT won, by the way).  I was the one who suggested watching, but I’m not sure why I did, because football on its own isn’t terribly interesting to me.  While I have come to appreciate sports much more than I did in high school, I enjoy the cultural and social aspects much more than the actual event.  I do enjoy watching basketball and hockey, especially if I’m actually at the game, but at football games I sometimes forget that we’re there to actually watch football.  I get distracted watching fans, cheerleaders, and my favorite, the band.

I’m partial to the band because I played flute for a long time (and I WILL pick it up again once I graduate, mark my words).  I was homeschooled, so I never had the opportunity to march, but I wish I’d had the chance.  My mom played trombone in her high school marching band and has always said it was the best part of school.  Of the friends I have who have marched, not one of them has ever regretted doing it, and most of them wish they could go back and do it again.

But of the few football games I’ve been to, no one but band members get excited about the band, and that is seriously a tragedy.  Here’s why football fans should tear their eyes away from their beloved players and take a moment to appreciate the marching band.

  1. Band kids work hard.  To even get into a college band, you have to be relatively good at your instrument and must go through an audition process before you can play with the band.  Then, most bands require their players to arrive at school before the fall semester starts so they can go through a week or two of band camp, which are all-day rehearsals (in the summer, so it’s ridiculously hot) where the band learns both their music for the season and their marching show.  Any band kid will tell you it’s intense, and it’s not uncommon for kids to pass out from the heat.  Just try to tell me that’s not as hard or harder than football players running drills and practicing.
  2. Band = great atmosphere.  Marching bands generate so much hype and team spirit it’s ridiculous.  Can you imagine sitting through a college or high school game without the band playing snippets of pop songs as reactions to plays?  How boring would that be?
  3. Band kids are hilarious.  Have you ever sat near the band and just watched them during a game?  If you haven’t, you should.  Band kids are the best at goofing off while getting stuff done at the same time, and it’s super entertaining.  The drum line at my school likes to play by themselves after the marching show is over, and they have so much fun with it that it makes me wish I was down there with them.
  4. Marching shows are super cool.  Firstly, most schools play pop music for games, which is fun for everyone (especially the band kids, because then they have to turn around and play classic composers in concert band).  Secondly, while they’re playing fun music (by memory, I might add), they walk around in fun shapes and have color guard members throwing flags everywhere and they’re usually wearing funny hats and how is that not so fun to watch?
  5. Band kids are passionate.  After college, marching bands disappear.  Maybe they exist, but I have never heard of a professional marching band.  Kids who march don’t do it because they’re trying to further their careers or gain recognition, they do it because they love it.  Why else would anyone subject themselves to hours of practice in the hot sun, late nights at games, and sore mouths/fingers/arms/backs from doing all those things?

Band is awesome, and more people need to appreciate it, so next time you’re at a college game, just take a minute or two to watch the band.  I promise you won’t regret it.

Why It’s Not a Bad Thing if You’ve Never Been Kissed

Last night, I went out for coffee with one of my best friends.  We went intending to sit and read at the coffee shop, but (inevitably) ended up chatting about life.  Somehow, we got to talking about relationships, and my friend told me about a conversation she’d overheard where two girls were talking about how sad it is, at our age, to have never been kissed.

I think a lot of people our age feel that way.  Not having been kissed can make us feel left out and undesirable.  Especially as we get older, it becomes a point of insecurity, and many people hide the fact so they won’t be stereotyped as inexperienced or prudish.  We think potential partners don’t want the “responsibility” of being someone’s first, or that we’ll be bad at it when we finally do kiss someone, or that our friends will secretly judge or pity us (which is exactly what those girls were doing, if obliviously).

There Are Other Things in Life Besides Kissing

I definitely understand all those concerns, because I’ve been there.  But I also don’t think that not having been kissed should be something to be sad or insecure about at all.  Kissing and physical intimacy are great, but there are also a whole lot of other great things in this world that we can get excited about.  Putting a lot of emphasis on a person’s kissed-status implies that their sexuality and sexual experience are more important than their thoughts, opinions, hobbies, skills, talents, interests, and the myriad of other things that make people awesome, and that’s just wrong.

When I meet someone new, I couldn’t care less whether they’ve been kissed or not.  I’d rather learn what they’re interested in, what they’re good at, and what they want to do in the future.  Teachers care about whether you’ll be a good learner.  Employers care about what you can bring to their company.  Even potential partners should care more about whether you two will get along than your sexual experience or lack thereof.  (Obviously, in a serious relationship sexual pasts are something that should be discussed, and sex and kissing are very different.  But I’m talking about kissing, and whether you have or haven’t been kissed shouldn’t be an initial deal breaker (if it is, get away from that shallow human!).)

Not Having Been Kissed Can Be By Choice

Although it may seem a foreign concept to some, sometimes people have had opportunities to have their first kiss and have (gasp!) passed them up.  A lot of times, this is for religious reasons — I know several people who want to save their first kiss for their wedding day.  Some people know that kissing and physical intimacy will distract them from their goals, so they avoid it altogether.  Some people don’t want to date for whatever reason, so they don’t kiss anyone, either.  Some people wait for a partner they know will be lifelong.  Not ever having been kissed isn’t always because you can’t get a date.

Never Having Been Kissed Doesn’t Equal Inexperience

So, we’ve established the fact that kissed-status has nothing to do with a person or how awesome they are.  That said, not having been kissed doesn’t necessarily equal sexual inexperience or naivety.  We live in the age of the Internet, and that means people have access to porn (which, to be clear, I’m neither condoning nor condemning at this moment).  While porn may not be (and probably isn’t) the best teacher for sex stuff, the availability of it means that many people are exposed to sex and physical intimacy long before they ever touch anyone sexually.  (We can discuss the consequences of that later.)  And even if porn isn’t accessible, our media and our culture are so overrun with sex-related topics that it’s really not hard to figure out what’s going on.

Also, people are natural explorers.  Just because someone has never been kissed doesn’t mean that they don’t know what pleases them or turns them on, and it doesn’t mean that they don’t have ideas for what they might like to try with a partner in the future.  And it definitely doesn’t mean that they don’t or can’t have a good sex life all on their own.

Unfortunately, too, some real assholes exist in our world, so not having been kissed romantically doesn’t mean that someone has never been touched sexually.  It may just mean that that person had a terrible experience before they ever got to experience a romantic kiss, and perhaps now they just want to be not be touched like that ever again.  You just don’t ever know someone’s background or what they may have gone through.

Not Having Been Kissed is Not Sad

Kissing is an important and awesome part of life.  Physical intimacy is one of the things that makes us human, and we know that humans need love and physical contact in order to develop properly and feel connected and happy.  But people can live and thrive without kisses.  What we can’t live without is love from friends and family.  It’s sad that there are babies who grow up in overcrowded orphanages and never get held, ever.  That is a tragedy.  What’s not a tragedy is someone who hasn’t been kissed.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

TL;DR:

  1. Just because someone hasn’t been kissed doesn’t mean it’s because they’re undesirable.
  2. Why are we still putting so much importance on what a person has or hasn’t done sexually?  There are so many more things that make people people, and that’s what we should focus on.

What I’m Reading September 2016

I randomly started receiving Fortune at the beginning of the summer, and I’m not really sure why, because I didn’t subscribe.  I think it may be a perk of the business honor society I was invited to join last spring.  Regardless of how it began, I’ve found I enjoy reading about the featured businesses, and it’s definitely good for getting my head in the game as I’m about to graduate.

 

The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing, & Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly

This is the textbook for the Marketing and PR class I’m taking, and I can already tell it’s something I would’ve picked up on my own.  First off, it’s written like a blog, so it’s easy and interesting to read.  Second, the ideas can be applied to all areas of life, not just to business websites.  The main point is that content rich websites invite the most customers to a business because that proves the company to be a reliable resource, and that makes so much sense to me.  This can be applied to personal blogs, small business plans, and even stuff like making friends.  If you can relate to whoever it is you want to interact with and be valuable to them, all sorts of natural partnerships follow.

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This is the second book I’ve downloaded from NetGalley for review.  I’m slowly making my way through it — so slowly, in fact, that I think I put it in my “what I’m reading” post for summer.  Once I get into it, it’s actually very interesting, but I’ll save my final verdict for the review, which I hope to post before the end of September!

 

 

81779I don’t know if I can actually count this since I haven’t started it yet.  But I have to read it for Euro Civ, so it’s here on the list.  I am not excited about this book.  I took a philosophy class for humanities credit sophomore year and hated it.  I understand the importance of philosophers, and I know that we owe a lot of how we view the world today to Greek philosophers like Plato.  But honestly, it’s horrible to study.  I think philosophy is better learned on one’s own; it’s something you can glean from life and develop even if you don’t realize it’s happening.  However, professors still think it’s relevant, apparently, so here I am.

I’m also reading blogs, of course — sometimes it’s the only pleasure reading I get to do during school, which is one of the reasons I love them so much.  Here are a few of my current favorites:

Cover photos from Goodreads, Fortune photo from Fortune.com

 

Senior Year + Fall 2016 Goals

I really enjoyed having a goal list this summer, so I’ve decided to do the same for this fall, when it will matter even more.  I’ve got a lot going on this semester, but I am confident that I can handle it with a positive spirit.

Goals for Employment

  1. Apply for entry-level jobs in marketing.  From the research I’ve already done, I know that at first I will probably have to settle for a job I know I won’t have a career at.  My goal here is to find a job that will give me enough experience to be able to either advance internally or externally in 3-5 years.
  2. Utilize university resources.  This means going to career fairs and using the career readiness offices here.  I have even thought about seeing if there are any kind of aptitude tests that I can take to help me narrow down and/or discover job ideas I may not have thought of.

Goals for Extracurriculars

  1. Video Production Team: work at least one game per sport.  Both my boyfriend and I were hired to work on our university’s athletics video production team.  I don’t know if this goal will be possible given my schedule, but I would like to be an asset to the team and work at least one game of every sport we cover.
  2. COB Ambassadors: work one event a month.  The COB Ambassadors help out with and organize College of Business events.  Since I will only be on the team for a year, I want to give and get as much out of this program as possible.
  3. COB Ambassadors: project manage one project before graduation.  Managing a COB project would be great for my experience and my resume.

Goals for Daily Life

  1. Don’t add unnecessary stress.  I sometimes tend to worry about things that don’t really matter.  Just as one example, I get road rage when walking to class.  I’m a fast walker, and getting stuck behind someone who isn’t makes me really mad.  But I am reminding myself that I have enough important things to worry about.  The goal here is not to stress over things that don’t matter — if it’s not my responsibility and/or I can’t do anything about it, I shouldn’t be thinking about it.  Little things should not be bringing down my mood.
  2. Cut back on buying coffee.  I have a (roughly) $200ish budget per month for personal expenses, but I need to be more intentional about the way I spend my money.  I know how to make my own cold brew and iced coffee, and going out for coffee once a month is more than enough of a treat.
  3. Make time for friends.  This is my senior year, and I need to make sure I spend time with people I may not be seeing as often soon.
  4. Make time for myself.  I’m a happier person when I can spend a few hours reading or blogging on my own terms, so this needs to be something of a priority.

Most of these goals are loose.  Especially for the extracurricular goals, I know my classes may get so crazy that I may not be able to do all that I want to do.  (After all, I have group projects in 5/6 of my classes.)  However, the main takeaway/overall goal here is to get the most out of my last year here at school.  The end is in sight, and I want to end on a high note.  It feels easier for me to be busy this year because I know it will all end in the spring, and then there will be no going back.  Instead, there will be a whole other set of challenges and worries and problems, but I don’t have to worry about them yet.  So here’s my final goal:

  1. Enjoy senior year.

I refuse to spend my last year at college stressing out about everything.  I will take my life as it comes and solve problems as they arise and really try not to worry about any of them, because in the end all I can do is all I can do.

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.

Summer Goals Update

So, how am I doing on my summer goals?

1.  Be positive!!  Honestly, not too bad, but not great.  My job really tends to bring me down.  I try to go in with an okay attitude and then I get there and end up in a horrible mood.  Which is not good for my customer service skills or my well-being.  However, I’ve had some interesting opportunities for the fall (which I’ll talk about below!) and I got to see the boyfriend for the Fourth, so those are all happy things.  Plus, I may get to go home for the rest of the summer.

2.  Plan meals for the week and cook at least four times a week.  Planning I’m doing great on!  Every time I go buy groceries I make a point to have a list of possible dinners and make sure to get the things to make those.  Cooking those I’m not doing great on, but it’s a start at least.  It helps to make a physical list of dinner options so I can look at it during the week and try to plan time to prepare food.  My main thing is actually remembering that I have options.

3.  Research job options.

Last week I stumbled upon a local realty website whose contact form specifically requested info from people who are interested in real estate, so of course I emailed them!  I got to go to the office and talk to the broker, who told me a bit about the licensing process, the regulations for real estate agents, and a bit about the daily process real estate agents go through.  Then I got a tour of the office and got to meet some of the agents and realtors, and met one woman, Brandi, who needs help with data entry.  She showed me an example of a listing and told me the basics of what you would input into the system.  There’s the possibility that they may call me to help with that, which would be awesome.  But if not, I still learned a lot more about realty than I knew before, and it was super helpful to be able to see an actual office.  I learned that it’s higher stress than I imagined, but the flexibility and work still sounds appealing to me.  Just from those few minutes, I think realty is still something I should look into.

Also, for the fall semester, I am officially a part of my university’s sports video production team (got the official email a few days ago).  I know almost nothing about sports or video production, so it will definitely be a learning experience!  Besides the fact that the work should be really fun and interesting, I’m excited for several other reasons: 1) my boyfriend also applied and will more than likely get hired, so I should get to work with him; 2) I will get to choose my own hours for this job every month, because they know students have weird schedules; and 3) I’ll get paid more than minimum wage.  Yay!

4.  Do sewing projects.  I have time, but not the supplies.  I should probably take this off the list.

5.  Read Spanish.  Honestly, I kind of forgot about this one.  However, one of my classes is about to end, which will free up a bit of time.  I should make it a point to get one Spanish book next time I am at the library.

6.  Go hiking.  Too hot.

7.  Go home.  I’ve gotten to go home so much in the past few weeks, which has been wonderful.  And like I mentioned before, I may get to go home for the rest of the summer.  I’m hoping that will work out, partly because my sister gets back from Mongolia in July, and I’d actually get to see her before the fall semester begins.  She’ll be starting her freshman year at my same university, but this next semester is gonna be so crazy we’ll have to actually work to see each other.

8.  Look into selling erasable calendars.  Maybe I’ll actually price stuff if I get to go home.  Must remember that pricing stuff is an option when I get bored at my apartment.

9.  Make a savings plan and budget.  Hahahahahahahahahaha.

10.  Blog a little.  Ta-da!  I’m about to finish another review book, so a new review will be going up soon in addition to this.

11.  Exercise at least 4 times a week/every other day.  Not great, but not awful.  I ran/walked about 2 miles with my dad last time I went home, and did the modified Pinterest routine at home again the other day.  I also seem to remember using my Sworkit app for a small 10-minute yoga routine last time I went home too.  But I think I forgot to put that in my workout log.

Overall, I’m doing pretty good on 6/11 of my goals, which is a little over half.  Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

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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.

Books and Boys

I have plans.  I’m 19 years old, and my life is panning out exactly the way I’ve thought it would since I was a child.  I’m in college.  I’m earning a degree.  I’m headed toward some kind of career, something to do with books, I hope.  I’m in a stable, almost year-and-a-half relationship, heading toward marriage down the road, with a guy that I really love a lot.

But sometimes I wonder if I’m tying myself down too early.

He and I are virtually the same person.  We are each others’ first relationship, and it’s a seeming dream.  We have the same type personality, ultimately the same goals, and basically the same philosophy on life, which is to roll with the punches and be happy.  We even look alike.

But sometimes I wonder.

There are differences between us.  Huge ones.  Two of the things I’m most passionate about, books and travel, he could easily take or leave.  If I had to survive without books or without him, I know I’d survive easier without him.  At least, sometimes I think I would.

It makes me wonder.

Sometimes I ask myself if I can actually live my entire life with someone that doesn’t love the thing I love most other than family.  Can I do that?  Is it possible to be happy with someone who will support me but will never fully engage in my passion?  Or even try to engage, at least a little bit?

And then I have to ask myself, am I doing the same thing for him?  Are there passions of his that maybe I don’t realize are so strong, that I could make an effort to be excited about?  And is it really worth making myself choose between two things that I love, when I have more than enough friends and family that also love books to sustain my book-loving soul?

And the answer is no.  I love what I have.  I’m excited about our future.  But as one who does, deeply and entirely, love books, I can’t deny that every time his disinterest shows it stirs up emotions that I despise when they’re directed at him. Every time his disinterest shows it feels as if it physically wounds me.  But however much pain those wounds might inflict, it’s nothing that the same person who caused them can’t heal.