adulthood

The Weekend Five: Things I Miss Most About College

nostalgiaAs you may have guessed from the subject matter of this blog, I loved almost every minute of my college experience. Even during the times when I was drowning in assignments, battling the flu and waiting for that one completely-wrong-for-me guy to text me back (sometimes simultaneously), I was madly in love with my university and ready to share that love with the world. In the six months since graduation, I have begun to hit my stride through a full-time job and beautiful new apartment, but I’d be lying if I said there aren’t times I long to be back on campus, signing up for next semester’s classes and toying with the idea of a Master’s program.

I’m fortunate to have a great job that allows me to work closely with my alma mater, but there are definitely things I miss about campus life. Here’s a list of the things you miss out on (or the things that students shouldn’t take for granted!) once you graduate.

The Weekend Five: Things I Miss About College

1.    The countless opportunities to meet new people.
In college – especially if you attend a large university – it can be incredibly easy to make friends. No matter what your interests are or how much of a social outcast you considered yourself in high school, there’s a huge chance that you will meet a few kindred spirits in school. When you want to meet new people, you can join a club, attend a social in your dorm or even turn to the person next to you in class. As a “grown-up,” I find it a lot harder to meet new people in the Real World, because those social opportunities (minus the bar scene) are fewer and farther between. Take advantage of it while it’s abundant!

images2.    Taking classes.
Yes, I know, nerd alert. When you’re in school, you are primarily there to take classes and earn your degree (although campus activities and internships are important, too). However, unlike in high school, your classes focus on the subjects that interest you and that will benefit you in your career, so once you get into your major’s curriculum, the classes often become more enjoyable. And when there is room for electives outside of your major, you have the chance to study a subject that interests you just because. I now work in marketing for a financial institution, but in my final semester of college, I took an anthropology class and wrote a paper on the gender roles in a fairy tale versus its modern-day Disney counterpart. College classes allow you to think about things in a new way and step out of your element to learn something completely different.

3.    Ability to make appointments during the week without taking time off from work.
I dread scheduling doctor’s appointments, because most of my doctors work during the same time that I do! When I was moving into my apartment over the summer, some of the deliveries I needed were limited to weekdays, and I had a difficult time scheduling those deliveries because of events at work. In the end, I asked a friend (a student with more flexible hours) to sit in the apartment for me. I love my full-time job and wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I miss scheduling my classes so I was done by 2 p.m. or so that I had Wednesdays or Fridays completely open for any errands I had to do. This is much harder to arrange once you start working.

ongoing-list-freebies4.    Access to free stuff.
Because I do a lot of marketing and events on a college campus, I say this a lot – students love free food and T-shirts. In fact, they will flock to any vendor who supplies those things! Because of this, they are constantly inundated with pizza, promo items and great discounts. This probably says a lot about the importance we place on the millennial generation as consumers and our expectations of them as the lowest common denominator in our society (or something thoughtful like that), but the point I’m trying to make is much simpler: As a student, you have unlimited access to free stuff.

5.    Being “in the know” about campus events.
My school began implementing new marketing strategies for the athletic teams, including a slogan that has caught on this semester. Although I was aware of this new campus tradition, it was weird not being a part of it as a student. I love attending events as an alumna, but a part of me feels like Blanche DuBois from A Streetcar Named Desire or Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite, reliving my glory days in a place where I don’t quite belong in the way I did six months ago. (Yes, I actually feel this way, even at 23.) As a college graduate, you can always remain connected with the campus, but things do change when you are no longer enrolled.

Graduates, what do you miss about your college experience? For those in school, what perks of college do you love the most?

The Weekend Five: Things I Learned in the Six Months Since Graduation

Me as a college graduate!

Me as a college graduate!

It’s crazy to believe that it has been a little more than half a year since I graduated from college! It feels like just yesterday I was ordering a cap and gown and finishing up my last few senior projects for the year. About a week before walking across the stage, I accepted a position in my dream job, and looked forward to beginning anew.

Six months later, I am finally adjusting to working full-time and living on a different end of town. As I settle into “adulthood,” I am still in love with my work and apartment, but I have also learned a lot since the day I turned my tassel and accepted my diploma.

This week, I will reflect on some of the lessons I have learned in the past six months. Feel free to add your own post-grad lessons in the comments section below!

The Weekend Five: Things I Learned in the Six Months Since Graduation

1. Not everyone will like you.
It’s harsh, but it’s true. No matter how sparkling your personality is, how hardworking you are or how well you match your accessories to your outfits, you won’t win the heart of every single person you encounter. As someone who cares admittedly too much about what others think, this was an especially difficult truth for me to accept. Sometimes this has to do with the other person — maybe he or she is jealous of you, or just bitter about something you can’t control. And sometimes this has to do with you — maybe you’re an acquired taste. Instead of trying to change those people, focus your energy on the things you can control.

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ElleWoods2. Take advantage of everything you can get your hands on.
“That’s not in my job description” isn’t necessarily a good reason to turn something down. Whether you have the opportunity to learn a new software program or head up a project in a different area than you’re used to, you can make yourself a much more valuable asset by saying “yes” and trying something new.

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3. Tragedy doesn’t care about timing.
In other words, life isn’t always fair. I learned this lesson the hard way when I experienced two great losses in my life within four days of one another. Although I knew that both were coming, they still hurt, and it was difficult to cope with one while coping with the other. Sometimes, you’ll experience several hardships in a short time, but you still have to pick up the pieces, show up at work the next day and function as a normal human being. Remind yourself that things will eventually turn up, and find healthy ways to cope with your feelings.

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graduation4. Timing is, however, important.
Never underestimate the significance of being in the right place at the right time with the right people. I would have begun networking earlier in college if I had known how helpful it would be in the time that followed. From job prospects to relationships, timing can make all the difference in how successful you are. Work hard, but be patient.

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5. Learn to laugh about the bad experiences and mistakes you have made. After all, you can write about them in your memoir someday!
Remind yourself that this too shall pass. Whether you just endured a difficult breakup or struggled through an important interview, the way you handle your hardships will define you. You won’t be able to find humor in everything, but try to learn from your mistakes and not dwell on them forever. When I look back on some of the things I worried about in college, I can’t help but laugh and ask myself, “What was I thinking?” Nowadays, I think a little reflection and a few laughs are just signs that you’re growing up.

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What are some of the things you learned when you first graduated?

Link Love Wednesday: 20 Before August Edition

Millennial_mainHappy Wednesday! Can you believe it is almost August?

This feature, Link Love Wednesday, was postponed after a series of difficult Wednesdays throughout June and July. However, this week, I wanted to share a few interesting articles I found – especially pertaining to our age group of twenty-somethings!

  • This list of 21 Secrets for Your 20s is fun, practical and easy to relate to your own life. The blog post even inspired a book!
  • Thought Catalog posted a list of superpowers that 20-somethings don’t actually have. If you’re part of this age group, you will probably laugh your way through it, as many of these will apply to you or your friends.
  • Where would we be without one more article about millennials? This article talks about the things that millennials just don’t get. What are your thoughts? (Personally, I can’t stand all the negative commentary that people have about our generation – I think some of it is blown way out of proportion or incredibly misguided! I also think that a lot of this article would pertain more to someone starting out in a new job, rather than specifically to all young people.)
  • Take this quiz to find out if you can tell the difference between quotes from The Bachelorette and Taylor Swift lyrics! (I am proud to say that I earned 100 percent on this one!)
  • Check out the cast of Edward Scissorhands, then and now. The movie (one of my favorites) came out the same year I was born, so it is interesting to see how much has changed since then for many of these actors and actresses!
  • Flavorwire recounts several children’s book film series that failed to become the next Harry Potter franchise. (I was a huge fan of A Series of Unfortunate Events, by the way!)
  • There is a Twitter-themed hotel in Spain, where you can flirt and interact with other guests by tweet and hashtag. Personally, I would prefer if a guy actually walked up to me instead of just mentioning me through social media, but to each their own!

What are some of the interesting articles you came across this week?

What Senior Year of College Really Feels Like

I’m reaching the end of my second-to-last semester as an undergrad, and it seems that almost everyone I know (myself included) is going through a major quarter-life crisis. This year has brought with it a mix of emotions for many of us that are unlike anything we’ve experienced before, as we urgently question what we want to do when we graduate and struggle with the idea of what it means to grow up.

Often in high school, senior year ultimately boils down to a prom dress, a few questionable hairstyles, a last-minute SAT exam, the wait to hear back from college admissions, and the hope that your one guy “friend” will decide he’s crazy about you and, in a gesture as grand as any high schooler can imagine, send you carnations on Valentine’s Day. (Later on, of course, you forget the exact breakdown of your SAT scores, discover that your high school crush was interested in men the entire time, and recognize that prom was never a defining moment in your life as pop culture would claim it to be.) Although it feels incredibly important and all-consuming at the time, senior year of high school eventually fades into a distant memory that you’ll later claim to have hated all along.

College, meanwhile, becomes an exciting time of self-discovery and opportunity. You meet the friends who make you feel infinite, join organizations, and attempt to figure out what you’re good at and how to develop yourself professionally. You still fall for the types of guys your parents warned you about when you were in high school, only now they own suits and are a little harder to identify at first glance.

Senior year is a new ballpark, because while college itself is a glamorous night downtown with your best friends, senior year is a mess of emotions and scribbled-out schedules and lunch plans canceled in favor of finishing that last paper. Senior year is that moment when you realize that you might be too old to wear heart-shaped sunglasses or your Holly Golightly tiara in public, but you still store them in your closet with the quiet hope that maybe you can put them on one day when no one is looking. It’s the time when you stop accepting the advances of guys who only text you after 10 p.m. because – dammit – you’re an intelligent, complex individual who deserves to be taken to a nice restaurant or museum once in a while. Your most used topics of conversation with friends, family, acquaintances and the guy in the checkout counter at Publix? 1. Post-graduate plans (or lack thereof); 2. Where to buy business casual clothing; 3. “I AM SO STRESSED OUT RIGHT NOW.” In fact, your stress is both a source of pride and a source of grief for you.

I firmly believe that senior year of college comes with all of this craziness because it is a time of transition in our lives. We are uncertain of what the future holds, so we start to look backward with a mix of nostalgia and regret as we attempt to decipher the past four years of our lives. Perhaps four years from now we will look back at college in the same superficial snapshots with which we look back at our high school years today. Perhaps we’ll wake up one day and things will suddenly make sense, or maybe we’ll simply need to do a little more self discovery to figure out what it is we were meant to do.

From one college student to the next: I hope you are surviving your senior year and cherishing every memorable moment it has to offer.

wishing1

Following Your Heart And Finding Your Backbone

“See, now that’s your problem. You’re wishin’ too much, baby. You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughtta be.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love

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As children, we were always taught that we had the power to make our dreams come true. The possibilities were limitless — as long as we wanted something badly enough, put in some effort and had a little faith, we would undoubtedly be able to obtain it. Our desires were merely a four -leaf clover, a penny in a fountain,  a wish upon a star away.

Innocent young creatures as we were, we felt entitled to our dreams. And why shouldn’t we? After all, we were nice enough to the other kids, did our best to behave and sometimes even ate our vegetables. Sprinkle on a little fairy dust and we were well on our way to accomplishing our goals.

Of course, as silly as this sounds, some of us have carried this philosophy into our adolescence and adult lives. Logically we know that no fairy godmother is about to wave her magic wand over us and make all of our hopes and dreams become a reality, and yet we still wind up waiting around for our lives to happen to us. We let our emotions get the best of us and meanwhile hope that the answers and solutions to our problems will find their way into our lives and work themselves out.

Sometimes, when we want something badly, we don’t think about it in the most rational way. Although I consider myself extremely goal-oriented and I have worked hard to achieve what I have, I will admit that I also have my struggles in certain areas, and that I have goals that I’ve been working on for years with no luck. This can get even a fairly optimistic person like me down. Such failed attempts at any task might make me and anyone else think, Oh, how unfair life is. Then, we blame our circumstances and wonder if our dreams will ever become our realities.

As I was reading Eat Pray Love this week (just finished today!), the above quote really struck a chord with me. Too many of us simply wish for things as if wishing is all we need to do, but then we forget to wish with our backbones, or really stand up for ourselves and do what needs to be done, as hard as that might be. Sometimes, we need to look within ourselves and find a strength we were lacking before, one that will guide us toward achieving our toughest goals and improving upon our weaknesses.

At the end of the memoir, author Elizabeth Gilbert wraps up her year of travels by discussing how she ended up with such a peaceful and happy new life. Now involved with a Brazilian ex-patriate who pledges his love to her, Gilbert writes, “I am happy and balanced. And yes, I cannot help but notice that I am sailing to this pretty little tropical island with my Brazilian lover. Which is — I admit it! — an almost ludicrous fairy-tale ending to this story, like the page out of some housewife’s dream… Yet what keeps me from dissolving right now into a complete fairy-tale shimmer is this solid truth, a truth which has veritably built my bones over the last few years — I was not rescued by a prince; I was the administrator of my own rescue.”

Too often we expect others to come to our rescue, or for timing to work itself out, or for all of our annoying little setbacks to disappear, but the truth remains that in order for us to see any real improvement in our lives, we have to slay our own dragons. A little help every so often is certainly appreciated from the ones we love and admire, but we have to rely fully on ourselves if we want to experience positive change. We can only live out our fairy tale endings if we muster the courage (find our backbone) to do something about them.

A Decade So Bright

“I guess when it comes down to it, being grown up isn’t half as fun as growing up. These are the best days of our lives. The only thing that matters is just following your heart and eventually you’ll finally get it right.” – The Ataris, In This Diary

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When I turned 20 years old, roughly three weeks ago, I couldn’t help but remember a conversation I’d had with a friend in the wee hours of the morning on New Year’s Day 2010. As we discussed the beginning of a brand new decade, it had only just begun to hit me that this decade would be different from any other that I had experienced — it would present with it new opportunities and challenges that I had never before encountered, and probably require more self-growth than I’d ever undergone in my life. I then began to evaluate every decade I’d lived through thus far.

Born in September of 1990, I was alive for most of the 90s (if only as an embryo for the remaining nine months), but my memories from then are somewhat blurred. My life consisted mostly of Disney princesses, Barbie dolls, Spice Girls music and boys with cooties. Even back then, I knew I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, but my dreams were fuzzier than my curly brown hair; in other words, I would have just as easily settled for becoming Belle or Posh Spice. I associate the 90s with my childhood – a more innocent and carefree time.

In fact, it wasn’t until the new millennium that I was exposed to some of the world’s harsh realities. For me and many of my peers, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 made us question everything we ever thought we knew about human nature, and opened our eyes to the fact that life wasn’t the fairy tale we’d always been told it was. The economy took a nosedive soon after, and in turn we witnessed various other forms of human greed and suffering throughout the world. This wasn’t to say that these things hadn’t happened long before, but we were finally old enough to comprehend what was going on around us.

The decade also brought with it the preteen and teenage years. It was a time of mean middle school girls and the mean middle school boys who broke our hearts before we ever really knew what that meant. It was also a time of insecurities and awkward encounters and frustrations. I moved on to high school in 2005, where dances and parties and football games made you cool, and hearts were broken on Spirit Week. As I floated around between cliques and juggled cheerleading and yearbook, I struggled to find a sense of identity, and never entirely embraced those four years.

In May 2009, I graduated high school and hurried off to college, which was a nice little beginning and ending all at once. Flash forward 17 months, and here we are. It’s October 2010, I’m a sophomore in college and I have my whole life ahead of me. So, what’s next?

I’d like to think that, as I spend the remainder of the 2010s in my twenties, I will be focused on finishing my education, obtaining a career I really enjoy, eventually finding the love of my life and maybe even starting a family. Of course, life doesn’t always pan out the way you expect it to, and so who’s to say that any of this would become a reality?

In fact, ABC has a new show called My Generation, which is a mockumentary zeroing in on nine people from the graduating class of 2000 and revisiting them in 2010. Obviously, this is just a show, but it’s interesting to see how current events and life experiences changed each of the characters over the course of 10 years. It’s important to be flexible in your expectations for the future, but shows like this make me wonder just how much my environment will shape my goals and decisions in the years to come.

Although I don’t know exactly what I want to do with the rest of my life, I do have a basic mental outline, and can’t help but ask myself how I will adjust if things don’t go accordingly. What if laws change, or people change, or some completely unforeseen incident changes everything I have ever known? Do we try to hold onto what’s left, or do we pick up the pieces and move on? Will those events change us?

I hope to look to this new decade as a bright new beginning – a future that offers several different roads to happiness and success, regardless of what those words mean to me in ten years – and I wish the same for you.