By the time this post is published, it will be September. For the last 17 years, September has meant going back to school. But not this year.
I thought it would feel weirder than it feels right now. I thought that in August, when my younger social media friends are posting about school life, that I would feel like I should be in school, not working still. But it doesn’t. It’s September, I’m still working, and it feels normal.
Maybe it’s because I’m used to being busy during the day. Maybe it’s because the weather hasn’t turned cooler yet. Maybe it’s simply because I’m distracted by all the other things I’m doing right now. Whatever the reason, I haven’t felt sentimental yet.
Okay, that’s not completely true. I do miss being on campus surrounded by beautiful buildings and other people my age. I miss all the free time I had, even if a lot of it was spent doing homework. I miss having most of my close friends close by.
But there are a lot of things I don’t miss. For one, I don’t miss actually being in class. By the time May came around, I was more than ready to say goodbye to that. I like learning, but when you’ve been sitting in classes for 17 years, it gets old.
I also don’t miss living off one lump sum. I was lucky enough not to have to get loans, so when I worked during breaks, it was pretty much solely for my living expenses, and I always made just enough for exactly that. But I really had to watch my spending. While I haven’t quit doing that now, of course (budgeting is a good idea for every stage of life), it’s been nice to have a regular paycheck that doesn’t look to be ending anytime soon.
And perhaps most importantly, I do not miss living with roommates. I had good roommates, as they go, but I am so, so not a people person. I hated living with the possibility of anyone coming in at any hour. Now, aside from living with my fiance (which is wonderful, by the way), I’m in complete control of my household. No one comes to our house unless we are expecting and inviting them, and that’s exactly the way I like it.
I know a few people who get really sentimental and nostalgic about anything once it ends, even if it was awful while it was happening. In a way, I guess that’s good. It makes you happy with your life. If you look back and see only the good stuff, how can you not be satisfied with the way your life is going? But I don’t remember stuff like that. In fact, I probably lean more the opposite way.
Even with my mostly-pessimistic views, however, it seems to me that the older I get, the more my life improves. High school was pretty good. College was even better. And now, during my first September ever not being in school, I’m getting married and trying to start a career. Apparently, September will always hold some kind of significance for me, and if things go the way they’ve been going, the future looks pretty darn great.
News first: the boyfriend is not the boyfriend anymore; he’s the fiance, because we are engaged.
We’ve been together almost 3.5 years, and have been talking about this for a good bit of that time. It’s so surreal that it’s finally happened, but I’m so ready. We’re both ready.
His proposal, though, came in the middle of a roller coaster of a week. For one, last week was the second-to-last week of class before finals, so all our projects are culminating. Then, on Monday, his dad had a heart attack (he is fine and back home now, thank goodness). Wednesday morning I butted heads with my parents about my plans for after graduation. Wednesday afternoon he proposed, because it was the first sunny day after he had picked up the ring, and he didn’t want to wait any longer. Thursday evening I went home to see my parents, to show them the ring and talk about plans. Because of all of that, I changed my mind about 5 times in 2 days about what I’m going to do in May, and reached a compromise only after a lot of vacillating.
My original plan had been to not move back home at all. He got an internship in a city to the southeast of us, and I was looking for jobs there as well. But first, my parents began asking me whether I would come home for a month or two after graduation. Then, my job prospects dimmed, as I kept applying and applying but got very few calls back. When my plans didn’t change, my parents got restless, since to them, the lack of a ring signaled a lack of commitment on his end. I knew that wasn’t the case, and while that was frustrating to deal with, I can understand that view. After a couple emotional discussions with my mom, I changed my mind completely and decided to move home until whatever date the fiance and I get married.
But I couldn’t feel good about that either, since he and I planned to move together and I would be leaving him in the lurch for those few months. So I had the idea to move back home right after graduation. But in June, I’ll join my fiance. It is a compromise, and by definition those don’t really make anyone completely happy. But I will get to spend some time with my family, and an added perk will be that I will have more time to job hunt. Neither of my parents are completely happy about this decision, but they’ve both accepted that it’s the one I’m making.
The real struggle for me is that when it comes to my family, I am a pleaser. I want to make my own decisions, but it is hard to be the first one really leaving the nest and thus the cause of some grief on my parents’ end. It has to happen, and I’m excited to have my own space and my own life, but it is not without its downsides. There comes a moment in time where the paths of the parents and the child separate, and my time is now, and it’s weird and hard.
Of course, it’s not like I’m going to drop off the face of the earth. When I move to join my fiance, I’ll only be moving two hours away from my hometown. It’s about the same distance from there as my school, and the drive is a lot easier (according to my dad). Even though I’m notoriously bad at keeping up with people, I’m not just going to let my family float away. They’re too important for that.
I know they know this, and I know they’re going to be able to accept whatever decision I make, even if it takes awhile. What’s made this more difficult than it had to be is my job situation — I have tons of applications out, and on the off-chance I finally get a job, there’s the possibility I’ll move earlier than expected. I have a plan, but it’s a little bit contingent upon various prospective employers.
So what I’m trying to say, I guess, is that my life is messy right now. Up till now, I’ve always had a clear plan. I still have long-term goals I want to achieve. But the immediate future is unclear. When will I get a job? When will I move out? I don’t know. It’s a little stressful. But it’s life, and it’s gotta happen sometime.
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.
I’m two months away from graduating from college. (With two degrees. I’m proud of myself, but also kind of wondering why the crap I did that to myself. But it’s too late now, so.) If you’ve been reading this blog recently, you know I’ve been looking for jobs and trying to plan for the real world, for my next steps. And y’all — it’s kind of hard.
I know I am not the first person to grow up and leave home. And honestly, I do feel very well-prepared (as prepared as I can be at this point, anyway). I know I don’t know everything there is to being an adult, but I feel like I can handle what will come my way next.
The thing is, I don’t know what that is.
My degrees will be in Marketing and Spanish, so (obviously) I’d like to find a job where I can use one or both of those. I’ve been applying to jobs and internships since last summer, and still have gotten nowhere. I have a Plan A, and a Plan B, and a half-baked Plan C. I have long-term goals I know I can achieve, and I know it’ll take some doing to get there. I’d just really like to know which one I will be starting on in two months, you know?
I’m at the point in life where I’m starting to have to make big decisions. I’ve made biggish decision before, like deciding where to go to college, what to major in, and whether or not to move off campus. I’ve decided not to go grad school, even though I considered it. I’ve decided what I want to pursue long-term. Those are all big decisions.
But now, I’m starting to make decisions I can’t turn back from. The boyfriend and I are starting to plan for engagement and marriage. We’re planning which city to move to, and how much we want to save up for a down payment on a house, and which big expenses we’ll need to make in the next three to five years. I’m making decisions that will completely rule out other options, which I’ve never really done before.
I’m not really nervous, per se. I know a lot of people my age who are terrified of graduating, because they have no idea about the future. But I do have an idea, and I am not afraid I won’t be able to make a living or anything like that. I know I’ll be able to move out of my parents’ house, and I know I’ll be able to find some kind of employment, even if it’s not necessarily my first choice. The thing with me is I know I’m about to be independent, and I’m really making my own decisions. And I know that some of the decisions I make may not be what others want for me.
That shouldn’t be a big deal. After all, it’s my life, right? But like any child, I do want to please my parents, and I want them to be on board with all my decisions. I know they are with my job plans. But the boyfriend and I are planning on moving in together after graduation, mostly to save money. And neither of our parents are thrilled with that idea.
I’m the oldest kid in my family. It’s up to me to kind of draw lines. The thing is, I’m not sure where to draw this one, and I don’t know if my parents are, either. On one hand, we both know that it is my life, and I am going to make the decisions that I feel are best. But on the other, I do want them on board. Even if it’s reluctantly. But the decision is pretty much already made — the boyfriend turned down the housing he was offered through his internship so that we could move in together, and neither of us can really afford our own apartment by ourselves. So now we just have to hope our parents will go along with it.
It’s been weird this semester to see our lives start to fall into place. We both knew that this would be happening, but it’s an odd feeling to actually be searching for apartments and making real plans. It’s nice and exciting, as I knew it would be. I wasn’t counting on feeling a little nervous, too. But I’d be a robot if I wasn’t. As nerve-wracking as it is, I can’t wait for these 1.75 months to fly by so I can dive into whatever happens next.
I’ve always loved writing. At my parents’ house, there are still boxes under my bed, full of notebooks I filled with half-written stories and ideas. I have tons of files on my old computers and on my flash drive with more stories and essays. I’ve changed my mind several times on what I like to write most, but I’ve never fallen out of love with writing. I’ve done it my whole life, and I’m not planning on stopping anytime soon.
Since I’ve had so much practice with writing, especially for school, I like to think I’m fairly good at it. Since I learned to write a five-paragraph essay, structured, written thought has come fairly easily for me. When I first began writing serious papers, it took me awhile to get to the point I wanted to make. I would have to go through several rounds of edits to shorten and clarify my thoughts. But as I did it more and more often, it got easier. Now, if an assignment requires an essay, I can crank out a pretty good paper within a few hours to a day. While I might make a few changes afterward, I typically say all I need to say with relative ease. (Of course, every piece of writing could use some editing. But when I also have to block out time for other things, a few hours to a day for a fairly high-quality essay is pretty good.)
But that’s all for essays I write in English. With Spanish, I’m finding it’s a different story. Throughout my Spanish classes, I’ve had to write a ton of papers. They started out short and simple, as ways to practice vocabulary, sentence structure, and specific grammar rules. As I got farther along, they began to get more complex. They became less about practicing the language and more about engaging with the culture. I learned more vocabulary, and essays in Spanish started to get almost as easy as essays in English.
Almost is the key word here, though. I got fooled into thinking I knew Spanish well enough to use the same one-day process I use for English papers. So last weekend, that’s how I wrote two papers for my capstone — one Saturday, one Sunday, and done. Then a few days later, I got them back from my faculty adviser, and while overall the papers were okay, my grammar was all over the place. I figured out very quickly that I need to take a few steps back in my writing process for Spanish papers. Ideally, here’s how it should go:
I need to make a list of grammar mistakes I make often, using already-graded papers as a reference.
Start the paper at least a week before the due date. (This means I need to be diligent about finishing the books I’m supposed to be writing about on time, too.)
Take one or two days to write it, and then let it sit for a day or two.
Read back through the paper, fixing any glaring mistakes, and polishing it if need be. Make sure I’ve put everything in the paper that is required.
Go over it again, this time with my list of common mistakes, and fix those.
Finally, either run through a grammar checker or have someone else look over it. Or maybe even both.
It’s a much longer process than my one-and-done style. But it will help me write better quality papers. And I think that the more Spanish I read, the better my writing skills will get. That’s a big part of how I learned to write well in English, after all. It makes sense that it would work that way in Spanish.
It’s the beginning of March, so it’s time for a goals update!
Be intentional about communicating with others, especially roommates. As far as roommates go, this is going fine. We don’t talk much, but we get the important things done. Family and boyfriends are a different matter — my boyfriend and I are quickly realizing that life happens all at once. He got an internship, so we are planning to move cities and get an apartment together. Neither of our parents like that very much, especially my mom. It’s been difficult to figure out how to maintain respect while still defending my own decisions. I’m guessing there will be some conversations this week, since it’s spring break and I’m home. As for the boyfriend, I’m usually okay at telling him how I feel, except when I start to get overwhelmed and have to deal with PMS hormones at the same time and end up getting really mad over little things that others do and it’s all because I do feel ready to be an adult, but at the same time I don’t…this is all hypothetically speaking, of course. I haven’t yelled at anyone, at least, and when I get upset he knows exactly what to do. I don’t know how he stays so calm when I am so not, but he does. And he even makes me dinner. I’m really glad I am writing this update now, though, because it’s reminding me to take a deep breath and communicate rather than holding stuff in.
Get physically stronger. With all the studying I’m having to do this semester, it’s a struggle just to get enough body movement in so that I don’t feel like a blob. I think this goal is going to have to be scrapped in favor of just move your body sometimes!
Find ways to support causes I believe in. This has also fallen by the wayside in favor of reading for my capstone and studying for exams. I will keep it on here, however, because I know that this can be done anytime, and it’s good to be reminded so that I can be on the lookout for opportunities. I suppose working as a COB Ambassador could be considered a way to do this somewhat, since I believe the COB here does an incredible job of supporting its students.
Read more non-white authors. Capstone project — check. Once I graduate, I’ve got a lot of books on TBR that I put on there especially for this, so I’ll be trying to find them then.
Food: continue cooking at least once a week; stick to ~$15 a month on coffee. Cooking has slacked off a bit lately, but that’s also because spring break is about to be here and I’m trying to avoid buying groceries until I get back. As for coffee, I’ve still stuck to my goal! Go me!
COB Ambassadors: Try to help project manage an event. I keep having opportunities to project manage, and I keep not speaking up to claim them. We only have four meetings left, and I’m afraid I may have missed all my chances. So here’s my goal for the next two months: if another opportunity comes up, I WILL SPEAK UP. I don’t care what, where, or when the event is, I will put my name in to project manage an event. I will not keep quiet for fear of people thinking, her? She can’t project manage an event. And if I don’t get another chance to, I will learn from these horrible missed opportunities and say yes to the next one that comes my way, even if it scares me.
Apply to ~5 jobs a month. I have completely redone my resume, and have been applying to internships and jobs like crazy. I’m guessing if I hear back about any of them, it won’t be until the end of March or beginning of April. It’s a little frustrating, because my boyfriend and I can’t really plan very well until I know how much I’m going to be making. But I know this is how job searches go, and I’m trying to be patient.
So, I’m doing okay on some, and not so great on others. I wish I could be doing a bit better, but no one can be perfect all the time. I’m hoping I’ll have more positive things to say in April.
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:
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.
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?
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.
As a freshman, I received a university scholarship that requires me to volunteer 75 hours each semester to the university. A lot of students get similar scholarships, and thus it seems like half the university is staffed by students. At the beginning of every year, we all have to go pick up our volunteer assignments and report for duty. Most of us monitor computer labs or do basic clerical work. Many “jobs” involve sitting at a desk and doing homework. But not mine. I got stuck in an IT office.
When I started working for Bill (name changed), I was declared as a basic business student. To this day, I have no idea how they decided to put me in Bill’s office. Bill is the head of all technology in his building, which happens to house one entire college of our university. This means he buys, installs, maintains, and tracks every single piece of hardware and software for every single teacher and classroom in the entire college. He’s the one teachers call when they can’t get their email to work, and he’s the one who implements new systems with heads of technology for other colleges. He does a ton, and when I started, all of it was over my head.
When I started as a brand-new freshman, I was the first girl and the first business major that had been assigned to his office in years. All his other student workers were guys majoring in computer science, computer engineering, business information technology, or mechanical or electrical engineering. They all had an interest in how things work and a propensity for fixing. And then there was me.
I had no idea what I was doing. As student workers, we were responsible for documenting complaints and problems and then going out to fix them. We also had to update and deliver “mobile labs” — huge carts full of 40 laptops each that professors could request for classes. They weigh more than I do, I’m pretty sure. I managed to push them around when I needed to, though, and I was good at documenting. Often I would document calls that other students went out on — they could do the work, but didn’t want to document it, so I made myself useful that way. But I spent the majority of freshman year following Bill around as he went to fix stuff that we students couldn’t handle. I met a lot of professors that way, which was really helpful when I started having them for classes.
Gradually, I learned. I kind of figured out how networks function. I learned several ways to wipe a hard drive. I figured out how to explain things I didn’t fully grasp to professors (who often didn’t fully grasp them, either). I learned to be polite and sympathize when I couldn’t fix something, because I knew how frustrating it was when technology didn’t work. I learned to work with people I didn’t particularly like. Mostly, I learned to listen, because I learned that people don’t always communicate the way I want them to.
Disagreeing respectfully with a superior was a big thing to learn. Bill is very conservative, and though he says he dislikes discussing politics, what he really dislikes is when people disagree. He has a habit of taking a break and coming into the student side of the office to discuss current events or politics. Usually, I just nod my head and listen, because (as I discussed some in my last post) I don’t like discussing controversial issues, especially with someone whose views are so different from mine. But occasionally I do speak up. Take this morning, for instance. Bill was reading something about a Title VI document, and got hung up on the words “English is not the official or native language” (or something along those lines). He started making comments about how English is the official language here in the U.S., and it irks him when concessions have to be made for non-English speakers. He said he doesn’t think it’s fair for taxpayers to have to pay for everything to be written in more than one language.
Being a Spanish major, I couldn’t let that one go by. I mentioned that we have a lot of taxpayers in this country whose first language isn’t English. This was one of those times I wish I knew exact stats, but I don’t. I tried to talk about how many Spanish-speaking citizens we have here (stressing the legal part, because I know how Bill feels about undocumented immigrants). Bill did listen to me. I didn’t expect him to agree or change his mind. But by speaking up I at least attempted to stand up for my beliefs and worldview. And though I know Bill doesn’t agree, I think demonstrating a different viewpoint does gain me some respect in his eyes. He likes people who can think for themselves. (And it reminds him not to put his foot in his mouth.)
Now, in my last semester here, Bill has gotten a lot more student workers and had to expand his office. Having more of us means that there are fewer calls to go out on. Not to mention the fact that the university really amped up its overall help desk, which reduced our workload a ton. This was nice, because now professors and students can call the help desk for mundane tasks like resetting email passwords, and we can focus on bigger issues like smart boards that don’t work. The problem for me, though, is that I was good at the mundane tasks. I have enough computer knowledge that I can figure out which settings to change and which problems I can rule out. But while I can fix relatively simple problems (and gain good rapport with professors in the process), I can’t fix the big ones. When a projector malfunctions in the middle of a class and I’m the only one in the office, I leave professors feeling frustrated rather than thankful. It doesn’t reflect well on me or the university.
But I’m going to leave this job on my resume, because it shows a lot of things. For one, this job has taught me to work effectively with a team. It’s heightened my communication skills. And it’s allowed me to better understand what the crap people are talking about when they tell me to map to a certain drive or boot a machine to the BIOS menu. It shows that while I may not have a natural affinity for technology, I can learn. I’ve been very frustrated these past four years, because it takes up a lot of time and is difficult. But ultimately, I’m thankful I got stuck here, because it has helped shaped me into who I am today. It’ll be a sweet goodbye when I leave. But there will be a tiny bit of bitter in there, too.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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:
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!
Inquilina peregrina con una maleta de paso, cargada de añejas querencias, una hoja en blanco y lápiz. Una bicicleta con la que recorro galaxias, un morral donde atesoro quimeras, concierto de grillos y fulgor de luciérnagas. Soy Ilka, dividida entre las fronteras de reminiscencias e imaginación, nadando en el mar bravío de la migración. Entre otras faenas, indocumentada con maestría en discriminación y racismo.