life

Unfinished: The Tricky Thing About Closure

Lifetime_How-I-Met-Your-Mother_6_Unfinished_79899_LF_2013_HD_768x432-16x9“You need demarcation.”
“Demarcation?” I asked.
“It means a clear separation between two things,” he told me. “A solid end before a clean beginning. No murky borders. Clarity.”
- Sarah Dessen, The Moon and More

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As I was binge-watching old episodes of How I Met Your Mother, I came across an episode in season six that struck a chord with me. In the episode Unfinished, Robin has recently broken up with Don, a boyfriend who had left for a job in Chicago just as things were getting serious. Robin experiences both anger and remorse as she deals with one of the most difficult break-ups of her life, concerned that she will never have closure, and that she and Don “will always be a loose end.”

closurelaw-smIt is a problem that so many of us face in our lives, whether we are going through a break-up or experiencing another monumental change. Within the realm of relationships, it is difficult to find closure if one or both parties aren’t ready to let go, and as much as we hate to admit it, we often aren’t ready. Lines of communication are kept open, words are minced to soften the blow and suddenly we find ourselves wondering where we would be if X, Y and Z had never happened. Things end in a way we don’t expect and don’t like, and the closure we yearn for is suddenly out of reach.

I remember at the end of my junior year of high school, I finished my cheerleading season with injuries and a few sub-par performances that my sophomore-self wouldn’t have been proud of. Because of my senior year schedule and my new position as a yearbook editor, I knew that cheerleading in my senior year was out of the question, but it was hard to wrap my head around the fact that my season hadn’t ended the way I wanted it. I was devastated, and considered forcing practices and games into my schedule so that I could end my cheerleading career on a brighter note, if only to gain the closure I so desperately needed.

delete-buttonOf course, I realized that would have been a mistake, and while I initially mourned the uniform and pom poms (bear with me, I was a teenager!), I eventually moved on. I had a successful year as a yearbook editor, and not re-joining the team gave me more time to write freelance articles locally. As an adult, I have never regretted the decision I was convinced I would regret at age seventeen.

In my college years and early twenties, I have been in situations that initially lacked closure as well – a break-up I wasn’t ready for, a perfect first date that never led to a second, jobs I applied to that never called back. I have craved closure and sometimes I have even gotten that closure thrown back at me in the worst possible way. However, I have also met new people along the way and even ended up at my dream job.

7fd7600e150ac1bce69b852d20676a53Throughout Unfinished, Robin struggles to erase Don’s phone number from her memory (and from her cell phone), but by the end of the episode, she forgets it. And just as Robin forgets Don’s number, you too will forget your ex’s nuances (or the job you didn’t get, or the sport you quit, etc.) in certain ways because your brain will be focused on something else: a hobby, perhaps, or someone new. Breaking up with closure can be a tricky thing, but it passes with time as you change your circumstances and create your own closure.

“And the heart,” says Judith Ortiz Cofer in her poem To a Daughter I Cannot Console, “like a well-constructed little boat, will resume its course toward hope.”

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: Ashton Kutcher and Rejection

ashton kutcherThe past few weeks at work have been completely packed, as we gear up for the fall semester. From a football kickoff luncheon to several all-day tabling events, I’m loving my job but completely ready to unwind with some Link Love. What are some of the fabulous articles and blog posts you’ve been reading lately?

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

summer“I dream, I make up pictures of a summer’s afternoon.” – Virginia Woolf

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Last night, I began reading Silent Dancing, a memoir by Judith Ortiz Cofer (of whom I am a huge fan!). In the preface, she begins by comparing memories of her childhood to “one perfect summer’s afternoon,” in which it is easy to forget about the hurtful parts and simply remember the happier times. She discusses the need that many of us have, as we look back, “to study ourselves and our lives in retrospect; to understand what people and events formed us (and, yes, what and who hurt us too).”

As a writer, I often find myself piecing together memories and romanticizing some of the less glamorous parts of my life, perhaps to my own detriment. I think this is part of the human condition; we create these stories about our lives that become part of our intricate mythology, and the stories become so ingrained in us that we can’t remember which details are historically accurate and which are wishful thinking. A few images from my own mythology are hard to shake — a boy playing Death Cab for Cutie on guitar when I was sixteen; endless afternoons at a retro burger restaurant with four best friends; that summer when my life was a Sarah Dessen book, down to every last trope that makes its way into young adult novels.

Of course, the stories we tell ourselves can make us nostalgic for the past, and we often forget the struggles that we faced in those times. We think back to our former experiences, jobs, friendships and relationships and remember the perfect summer afternoons, not the thunderstorms or the sleepless nights or the doubt or the heartache that came along with them. When we forget these challenges or minimize them, however, we don’t learn from our mistakes or move on properly.

It is important for us not to take too many creative liberties when looking back, and to remember that life changes for a reason. We change. And we will never be able to grow or truly experience life if we are stuck in that one seemingly perfect afternoon forever.

The Freshman 15: What I’ve Learned (Year 4)

blair waldorf graduationIt’s hard to believe that when I first started blogging, I was only halfway through my freshman year of college. At the time, I thought that a blog would be a fun avenue for me to share the thoughts and ideas that I was too shy to say aloud, but in the years that followed, the blog became so much more.

In April 2010, we started with the very first Freshman 15, focusing on 15 of the things I had learned in my first year of college (some serious, some practical and some silly). Throughout the year, I created other Freshman 15 lists as well, focusing on specific topics like overcoming homesickness, making friends and navigating college relationships. Then, every following April, I listed 15 new things I had learned that year (see year 2 and year 3).

A lot has happened in the last four years. I’m shocked every time I receive an email about picking up my cap and gown, or filling out my college exit surveys, because I still feel like the awkward 18-year-old girl who navigated the university by map, the girl who couldn’t boil water to save her life and who hoped to meet her soulmate in the residence halls. Now, with just a few final exams left to go, I’ll share 15 lessons that I’ve learned since I first started college.

The Freshman 15: What I’ve Learned (Year 4)

1. Stick around if you can afford it.
I meet a lot of underclassmen who enter college with junior standing and who hope to finish their four-year degree in two years. While I understand the financial reasons behind this, I would encourage you not to rush through your program if you can help it. So many of these students think that by taking on an overwhelming course load in the hope of graduating early, they will be able to begin graduate programs at a younger age. However, if you stretch your degree out to three and a half or four years, you will have the opportunity to participate in research, internships, extracurriculars and other activities that will make you more well-rounded and boost your chances of admission. It also allows you to pick up an extra major or minor if that interests you.

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2. Use university resources early on.
Know what resources the university offers, and don’t wait until the last minute to use them. Even though I attended a lot of workshops and events as a freshman, there was a lot that I didn’t know about until my senior year. Currently, in my position at the university’s career center, I have encountered so many students who are just weeks away from graduation and having someone on campus look at their resume for the first time. Find out what your school provides for its students, and use it! You are paying for it, after all. :)

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barney3. Know how to dress professionally.
In college, you may be invited to a “business casual” event on a moment’s notice, and you’ll need to know what that entails. Invest in a professional wardrobe so that you’ll always be ready for the next job fair, interview or networking event. Ladies (and gentlemen, too, I suppose), make sure you avoid anything too short or low-cut. If you would wear it downtown to a bar/it has sequins on it, it’s probably not okay to wear.

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4. Always keep your resume updated.
Don’t be the graduating senior who never made a resume before. Start a resume early in your college career, and add in the details over time. I’ve met some people who even kept a secondary list of organizations and jobs they have been a part of, and then they referred to that list every time they crafted a new resume for a different employer.

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5. Some industries are harder to break into than others.
I honestly didn’t know this until last semester. Whichever field you hope to work in, do a little research so you can decide if the job availability after graduation is worth it. (It might be. And your passion for a subject may surpass any worries you have about your future salary, but this is still something to keep in mind.)

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header6. Have some ideas about what you can potentially do with your major.
No, you don’t need to know what you’re going to be when you grow up – at least not right away – but it’s good to at least be aware of what types of career paths are possible with your major. A few months ago, I met a psychology student who was interested in graduate programs but disliked people and animals. As you can imagine, it was difficult to think of a career path he could follow in psychology that wouldn’t focus on either of these areas. Think about why you selected your particular major and research some of the careers that could potentially follow graduation. (Also, find out if they require further education or certification!)

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7. You won’t be loved by everyone at every moment.
Sometimes you have to say or do the unpopular thing, and it may make you feel like a villain. Nevertheless, it’s important to stand up for yourself and what you think is right, and at times, that means saying something that people won’t want to hear.

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8. DS4303evelop new skills whenever possible.
Find new ways to diversify your skill set. Learn a new film editing software, master a programming language, practice ballroom dance or try out a new recipe in the kitchen. Whether your aim is to boost the “skills” section on your resume or to become more well-rounded, learning new skills is an excellent way to exercise your brain. (Nunchuck skills are always a plus.)

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9. Do what makes you happy.
Simple enough, right? Unfortunately, all too often we worry about what others think about our actions, and let it define our happiness. Unless others are warning you against a potentially dangerous situation, you are perfectly entitled to make your own decisions, so long as they don’t negatively impact everyone around you.

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10. Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing.
Just as much as we need to stop worrying about what everyone else thinks of everything we do, we need to stop having such strong opinions about what everybody else is doing. Let others live their lives without so much judgment. Again, unless you are warning someone against a potentially dangerous situation, you should probably stay out of any situation you haven’t been invited into.

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11. Burnout exists. Give yourself a break.
As a complete workaholic, I fall especially victim to this one. Make sure that even when life is at its most hectic, you are taking care of your health and getting some semblance of sleep here and there. Check out this great article by Leonie Dawson for more tips on dealing with burnout.

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HermioneRonHarry12. True friends are hard to come by, but you will find them.
You are bound to meet a lot of people when you start college, but not all of them will become your lifelong friends. Your true friends will be the ones who celebrate your successes and help you through the rough times without expecting anything in return. That’s the key – your friends won’t have to remind you of what they’ve done for you, because they know you do the same for them.

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13. Take advantage of student discounts.
With graduation looming closer and closer, I can practically see all of the wonderful discounts that come with being a student just vanishing before me. Know that local venues, attractions and conferences will give you student discounts, because those can really help you out.

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14. Time management is everything.
Do whatever you need to do to stay ahead of your school work and obligations, because as soon as you fall behind, things will begin to snowball. Managing your time effectively will help you to avoid the burnout that affects so many of us! Here are 15 time management tips, many of which I use to this day!

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15. Learn the balance of yes and no.
This is a lesson that I am learning every day. When you first start college, you will want to join every club and be in 10 places at once. Unfortunately, there is only one of you and only 24 hours in the day. Learn to prioritize and figure out, over time, what you can and can’t commit to. Don’t bite off more than you can chew – trust me, you will regret it!

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What are some of the things you’ve learned during your time in college?

The Weekend Five: Practical Skills Every College Student Should Learn

Young+Adult+posterWith my own graduation just five weeks away, I often look at what I’ve learned outside of the classroom over the course of the past four years (see here, here and here). College is a transitional time when we move out of our parents’ homes for nine months out of the year and try to figure out what will make us happy for the rest of our lives, all while adjusting to new responsibilities and independence. Some of the skills we gain during this time will help us in our future careers; others, however, will help us in our daily “adult” lives.

This week, we’ll discuss just five of those skills that college students should learn before receiving their diplomas.

The Weekend Five: Practical Skills Every College Student Should Learn

1. How to use basic kitchen appliances.
While plenty of college students have been adept in the kitchen since before they began college, others have difficulty boiling water without setting off the smoke detector. Before I started college, I had no need to use anything other than a microwave or a toaster oven, so trying my hand at other appliances was no easy feat. While I still don’t claim to be a Master Chef, I am now able to cook and bake within reason, and have no trouble fulfilling my basic sustenance needs. (Learn to use the stove/oven and follow directions. You will be so much happier.)

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there-i-go-still-writing-b.c.-on-my-checks2. How to write a check.
I was able to get away without learning this one until my junior year, when I moved into an off-campus apartment complex that charged extra for credit card transactions during rent payments. The first time I wrote a check, I had to sneak a peek at a fake drawing of a check that had been correctly filled out (courtesy of my mom). I was so embarrassed about this until one of the community assistants told me that he saw this problem with other students all the time. Learn to write a check while you’re still – sort of – young enough to get away with asking for help!

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3. How to take a flattering picture of other people.
Sounds silly enough, but you would be amazed at how many people will try to take your picture from very obviously unflattering angles. Any party you attend, any study abroad excursion you embark on, your friends will ask you to take their picture – and will not appreciate it when the photo adds 30 pounds because you took it from underneath their chin. Take the picture from higher up and angle the camera down just slightly in order to give your subject a more svelte appearance. (If you are in a sorority, you will find this especially helpful.)

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4. How to use basic word processing and spreadsheet software.d91aaa8475bc
If you are active in the blogosphere, then chances are you have some experience with these types of programs already. However, I’m always shocked to see how much difficulty some students have with programs like Microsoft Word. As a part-time career advisor, I often cringe as I watch students editing their resumes in Microsoft Word, as many are unaware of the “tab” function or how to delete a large block of text at once (instead of just pressing the delete button 89 times). I’m not suggesting you learn complicated financial equations in Excel (unless, of course, you’re a business major) but I do recommend that you gain more familiarity with these programs. Many jobs require proficiency, so now is the time to practice!

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5. How to manage your social media.
Don’t badmouth your boss and coworkers on the Internet. Don’t post sloppy drunk pictures of yourself and your friends on Facebook. If you wouldn’t want it to resurface when you run for public office, don’t post it. Even if you are 21 or older, posting photos of yourself with lots of alcohol isn’t necessarily the smartest choice. (You may want to avoid some of these.) Be careful about what you post on the Internet; employers do search for you and what they find could affect their overall hiring decisions.

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What do you think college students should learn before they graduate?

Is Honesty The Best Policy?

opinions“Everybody is wrong about everything, just about all of the time.” – Chuck Klosterman, Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto

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As a society, we have an overwhelming need to share every thought we have whenever we can. Of course, this doesn’t apply to all of us in every moment, but more often than not, we find ourselves in the midst of heartfelt (if not too detailed) confessions of opinions and feelings that sometimes have no business being expressed out loud.

It sounds silly and completely un-American, but I truly believe that some things are better left unsaid, that some disclosures aren’t worth the risk of hurt feelings or lost friendships. In fact, our world would completely fall apart as we know it if we were to share every negative feeling we experience or every little thing that bothers us.

Perhaps our desire to overshare these feelings stems from pop culture. As products of the romantic comedy genre, we know that our favorite characters are rewarded for their honest, emotional outbursts. We also witness honesty at its worst when watching reality television, as cast members “stop being polite and start getting real.”

I would never encourage people to bury their feelings or keep quiet in every situation, but I would suggest that we learn to choose our battles wisely. Let’s learn to speak up when it really means something, and not when our words are only going to make the situation worse.

It All Makes Sense Now: Living So The Words Have Meaning

Taylor SwiftWhen my best friend and I were in high school and our earlier years of college, we constantly compared the boys in our lives to the boys in Taylor Swift songs. From the guys who were perfect in every way who simply didn’t notice us to the guys from whom we had drifted apart, we loved rocking out to T. Swift’s music in the car because we knew that, at any time, we could relate to at least something on her album.

Music often has the power to bring us back to a single moment in time, reminding us of the emotions — both good and bad — that came along with it. But little do we realize that those pivotal moments in our lives are exactly what give the lyrics their meaning. If we hadn’t met that one person, been in a particular place at a particular time, or experienced heartbreak, we wouldn’t truly comprehend those life events about which the songs were written in the first place.

musicAfter one break-up, I was listening to a few old favorites of mine, and one song – an older song written in some sort of extended metaphor that has been covered by probably a hundred artists since its inception – began to play. It was a song I’d always thought was beautiful, but I was never really sure why. This time, I felt an intense sadness as I meditated on a few key lyrics, as I realized, I finally know what he’s singing about. In a strange way, this simple realization made me feel that much more connected to the artist, the song and even to the world.

It goes like this: you can read The Perks of Being a Wallflower and think that you know what it means to be “infinite,” but eventually you will end up in a situation that actually makes you feel infinite, and suddenly you have a greater appreciation and understanding of the book itself.

I believe it is important to take that leap of faith and live so that the words have meaning. It might not turn out the way you had hoped – it might sting – but you owe it to yourself to enter relationships honestly and to remain open to unfamiliar opportunities.

My Facebook Newsfeed in a Nutshell

As I waste my precious relaxation and study time on social media, I begin to notice patterns among the people with which I am connected. It doesn’t matter that I have 655 friends on Facebook; I can still narrow down their statuses (and often my own included!) into about 10 categories. We are all guilty of at least some of these from time to time. Which types of statuses do you find most often?

The Party Animal Status.
You essentially live-blog your crazy nights out, complete with poorly lit cell phone photos, check-ins at a nightclub or two, and misspelled statuses that prove you have mastered the caps lock button. The Party Animal Status has become rarer with the threat of potential employers using it against you, but you still post them on occasion to let your acquaintances know that you have a pretty exciting social life and that you are, in no way, a borderline alcoholic.

The “I Love My Significant Other” Status.
Whether you’ve been dating for two days or two years, you are clearly madly in love and therefore want to share it with the world! Every day! You want everyone and their mothers to know how happy you are that you found the perfect person (for the time being), which is why you post statuses about the adorable things your significant other says or about why you love him/her. (Bonus points if you do this more than once per week.)

The Obnoxious Political Status.
This type of status exists on both ends of the political spectrum. If you are someone who posts these types of statuses, then you are the type of person who likes to take “freedom of speech” to a whole new level (and not in the hip, investigative journalist kind of way). Instead of, say, writing a letter to the editor or creating your own blog specifically targeted to people interested in reading about your political views, you find it appropriate to post them on your personal Facebook page and argue vehemently with anyone who disagrees. Whether you’re complaining that the country is in shambles or gloating over your candidate’s latest win, you want to make sure everyone is aware of your political views in the most in-your-face way possible. Luckily for me, while you may have your freedom of speech, I have my freedom to block your posts from my news feed! :)

The Passive Aggressive Status.
You’re so vain you probably think this status is about you. Carly Simon aside, your Facebook status is clearly that of a scorned lover/betrayed friend who may not have the guts to speak to the one who wronged you in person, but would still happily share your feelings online in a way that they can’t 100% prove is about them. If I confront you about your status and ask if it was about me, you can simply say, “Why would you think that? Obviously you must think you’ve done something wrong if you think I’m posting statuses about you,” and then you’ve won. If I don’t confront you, then maybe you’ve still won – I’m not really sure. Well played.

The Thinly Veiled Song Lyrics Status.
This status is similar to The Passive Aggressive Status in the sense that it speaks to a particular person without mentioning them specifically — the only difference is that it does so with song lyrics. You don’t always attribute the artist or song title when you post this status; after all, Justin Bieber may have summed up your feelings exactly in his latest song, but letting the world know so openly that you listen to him might ruin your street cred. We all know that this song is about your recent ex/crush/date, but we’ll let you pretend it isn’t completely obvious.

The Misattributed Old Hollywood Quote Status.
Let’s be real – you are either going to select a quote attributed to Marilyn Monroe or Audrey Hepburn, because clearly those were the only two important actresses in Hollywood before you were born. (I say this with the best intentions — I am a huge Audrey fan!) The quote you have posted usually has no source other than the countless Tumblrs and homemade websites that have reposted it. Still, the quote is sassy and it reflects the current state of your life in some way, so who cares if you’ve never actually seen a movie with Marilyn Monroe in it?

The Tough Girl Status.
Unlike The Passive Aggressive Status or The Thinly Veiled Song Lyrics Status, you are not afraid to share your true feelings about someone on the Internet. Instead, you craft grumpy posts about the people who have hurt you or the many things that make you angry. You threaten to delete friends regularly from Facebook if they aren’t living up to your expectations, and at least once, you have deactivated your entire Facebook, created a new one under a slightly new identity (first and middle name instead of first and last) and re-friended virtually all of the same people. And the cycle begins again.

The Status That Should Have Stayed on Twitter/Instagram.
Hashtags (#) have no actual purpose on Facebook, but you’re not afraid to use them liberally on your statuses, even if those hashtags are simply #bored or #picturesofmylunch. Keep these on your other social media sites.

The Cry For Help Status.
You don’t want to bother any of your friends by calling them up and telling them what’s wrong, so your next option is to write about your problems in a strategically-timed Facebook status so that everyone knows how upset you are and will compliment you on a website that lives forever.

The Pretentious Status.
You might use this as an opportunity to humblebrag. You might use it to let your friends know that the upcoming American remake of an acclaimed European film is going to be terrible. You might even use it to tell your friends about your fabulous taste in records, slightly offbeat but still fairly mainstream fashion, or books by Chuck Palahniuk. (These are a few tips for figuring out if you’re pretentious.)

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What are some of the Facebook statuses you’ve been seeing lately? Which of these are you guilty of?

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.