I am So Glad I Don’t Have to Go Back to School

I have always loved school in a nerdy, overachiever, going-to-destroy-you-all-with-my-grade-point-average kind of way. Since I was a child, back-to-school supply shopping has literally been second best to Christmas for me and, I would eagerly wait each August for the Target back-to-school section to pop up like a traveling circus of glue sticks, mechanical pencils, and white boards.

That’s why I am a little disoriented by being so excited NOT to go back to school this semester (or ever again if I choose it).

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When I graduated college in May, I pretty much crawled across the graduation stage. In my usual overachiever way, I had completed my English degree requirements when I finished my junior year so, my last year of college was more of a formality than anything else.

Deciding to use the time to the fullest, I studied abroad in England in the fall of 2013, which turned out to be a tough yet worthwhile, fantastic, and life-changing experience.

However, when I came back to finish my last semester at my home university, I ended up feeling kind of bitter about it.

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It seemed like I was being forced to waste time, energy, and money by fulfilling an arbitrary minimum 120 credit graduation requirement even though I had already fulfilled my general requirements and my degree requirements. At the same time, my university seemed to be trying to make my last semester my worst, with various offices on campus making my life a living hell.

I spent so much time and energy battling with so many different departments on campus during my last semester that by the time that I finally said my goodbyes in May, I was half tempted to flip the bird as I drove down the road.

After such a tumultuous last semester, it’s not such a surprise that I feel sour towards the education system that used to be my bread and butter.

I wrote a few weeks back that post-grad life is better, and I am still standing by that statement. Knowing that I am not returning to college next week is a big sigh of relief for me. I have always thrived on permanency and routine, and college is the exact opposite of that – it is always changing, pushing, and disappearing.

College never felt like a good fit for me, something that didn’t quite click until I realized how much happier I am outside of university system, and that’s not to worry the freshman and upperclassman who will be returning to school come fall but rather to serve as a reminder that whether college is your salvation or your own personal hell, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel waiting for you to find it.

Post-Grad Life is Better

Post-grad life is a bit of a roller coaster. Half of the time, I am thinking, heck yes – no more homework, Netflix marathon! and the other half of the time I am thinking, ughghsugh – what am I doing with my life? And despite the never ending merry-go-round of emotion, post-grad life feels a lot more stable than college ever did.

In college, I always felt like I was building my life out of cards. Between the Russian roulette of roommates and a never ending cycle of classmates, professors, and jobs  – my life felt totally unstable during my four years as a college student.

I actually feel relieved not return to college in the fall and, in light of my post-grad existence, I am starting to feel like I am finding the stability that makes me a very happy old person trapped in a young person body.

For one, I have a six month lease. Do you realize that the last time I lived somewhere for six months in a row was four years ago before I moved out of my parent’s house? It’s been bizarre to settle into a place and realize that I won’t be packing things into boxes ten seconds later. Six months isn’t forever but, half a year seems a little more permanent than a semester. The idea that I will still be in the same apartment when there are Christmas lights up is mind boggling to me.

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Secondly, I am not so afraid that the people in my life are going to disappear at any second. In college, I always felt like people were slipping through my fingers because with 85 percent of the campus leaving on the weekends and, students transferring in and out every week, “friends” came in as quickly as they disappeared. However, in this post-grad world I am finding more and more friends who intend to or already have set roots here, and for the first time in a long time, I am not so afraid that if I blink the people in my life will evaporate.

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Lastly, I finally have time. I loved all the learning in college but, by the end, I was ready to be done with all the filler assignments, quizzes, and readings that sucked up so much of my time. Now, I actually have time and freedom to go places and hang out with people because even though I have work – work ends pretty much when I step out of the door at the end of the day. I remember in the beginning of July, I went climbing with my friends in West Virginia (see above), and there was a moment when I just laid down on a towel, stared up at the trees, and realized how happy I was to be free of the huge weight that was college stress.

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I won’t say that post-grad life doesn’t have any downsides. I can’t take a nap at 1 p.m. on weekdays anymore and, I am still trying to figure out how to turn two part-time jobs into one full-time one. However, every so often in post-grad life, I find myself feeling happier than I ever did in college. Instead of feeling like I am living in a house of cards, finally it feels like I am starting to lay brick, and feeling the stability of a permanent existence is one of the most comforting feelings in the world.

I Got a (Second) Job!

Can we all have a internet high-five? Last week, I reflected on the fact that part-time work wasn’t going to cut it when it came to paying rent and my student loans back, but as of yesterday I have officially been hired at another part-time gig. Now, I can officially pay all of my bills, expenses, and loans, and come out with savings. Progress, my friends, progress.

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I have always been a saver when it comes to money (i.e. a cheap as anything), and it’s a major relief that the dollar amount in my bank account will now be increasing rather than decreasing, no matter how small the amount being added to my savings each month.

Even though I still won’t have benefits, luckily the Affordable Care Act will keep me under my parent’s health insurance for the next five years, so right now, all I have to worry about is making sure that the enough money rolls in to pay for everything else. Time to break out the coupons.

I took a bit of a risk by moving back to Baltimore with only the promise of part-time work. I knew that my internship would continue but, I was unsure if I would be able to find extra work to add up to full-time hours, and I really did not want to be forced back into being a cashier and making minimum wage again.

I really hope to continue in the field that I am in. I love it in that nerdy “you actually like going to work” kind of way, and this second job will give me a whole new perspective and experience to my industry.

Things in the post-grad world are finally looking up!

Finding a Job is Hard Work

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Funny story, I actually have to pay back that dollar amount on my college loan statement. Yeah – apparently that whole interest thing is well…a thing. Who knew? Apparently, adulthood has less to do with being able to set my own curfew and more to do with watching my bank account go as dry as the Sahara.

In other news, job searching actually requires a lot of time and effort. I am not just talking about a few minutes here and there, I am talking about hours of re-entering the same information over and over again on different websites. Whoever is smart enough to figure out a universal job application – sign me up, please.

Lucky for me, I still have my part-time internship to pay for my rent and food but, haul posts anytime in the near future are looking dismal, my friends. It’s all rent checks and grilled cheese on my end.

Finding a job is actually really hard work.

You have to read the position description, fill out the application, write a cover letter, tailor your resume to the description, follow up with contacts, iron your pants, go on interviews, and then follow up with the contact again. It’s like trying to do a waltz with your feet tied together -I am  just trying to do the steps without looking like a total moron.

It’s a lot of decision making, bargaining, and smiling. A lot of smiling.

I am not sure what will come of all this. Right now, I have a six month loan grace period looming over me like the dark gloomy cloud of misery and, I am hoping that I will have done enough smiling by then to ace a position somewhere doing something other than being stuck at home, watching Grey’s reruns on Netflix in my PJs at 2 pm.

High expectations for a new grad.

I Graduated From College!

So…hey there. How’s it going? Did ya miss me?

Curiously enough, I am still alive despite the somewhat erratic two months that have been April and May. As of last Thursday, I crossed the finish line of my college education, putting the nail in the coffin of ever having to learn anything ever again. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating but if I really wanted to, I could now technically spend the rest of my days living in my car and eating spam with a spork. It makes me a little light-headed, all this freedom.

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Six days ago, I donned my overpriced cap and gown, and let my tassel smack me in the face as I walked to join more than a thousand of my university’s graduates. I waited for several hours to walk across the stage, shake the president’s hand, and turn my tassel in order to proclaim to the world, I am officially wearing a really stupid hat.

Now, I’ve been graduated for almost a week and besides sleeping eleven hours a day, I can’t say I feel all that different. When I think about it, I feel like I reached the end of the trail and now,  I am staring out over this really big unmarked field with all this space for me to go wherever I want.

I’ve always lived my life with my education as my obligation but now, it’s like nothing is holding me back anymore. That’s not to say that I am going to pack my bags and move to Canada but, there is something exhilarating about realizing that…I am free. It’s hard to explain. Maybe, my brain was just finished with college long before I turned my tassel because I am not really scared to say goodbye to university life anymore.

Maybe once my vacation ends on Sunday and, I am back to work and my stuff is in my new apartment, the fact that I never have to write another essay in my life will sink in for real.

For now though, welcome to the post-grad void, my friends.

I Almost Died Twice…and Lived

WP_20140502_005On Wednesday, April 30 at 2:50 pm, I was traveling on interstate 695 at 55 mph when I was struck by a pickup truck. I was at a point in the road where interstate 97 merges into 695, and the truck crossed the medium dividing the two roads and made an illegal lane change a few feet in front of me in order to illegally access an exit on 695. It had been raining, so I breaked as much as I could without hydroplaning and swerved to soften the inevitable impact.

We collided, skidded two lanes of traffic, and hit a safety wall.  When we finally stopped, I turned off my car, and stared at the wall we had just hit. I was shaking so hard that my body was visibly twitching. My driver’s side door wouldn’t open the full way but, the other driver got out and asked me if I was okay. I said yes, called my mom, and then a police officer opened my door and asked me if I needed an ambulance.

It was the most surreal moment of my life, sitting in my car, the front end crunched against a safety wall, and a police officer holding my door open asking me if I needed medical attention. I got out of the car and saw the damage, and finally the rain just started pouring down on us, thunder rolling in the distance. I watched the cars pass us, rain soaking my clothes, a police officer asking me what happened, and all I could think was that I was going to be late to class.

Shock – like how could this be me? How am I still standing? How is it raining this damn hard?

My parents took me back to their house, and I was there for the next five days, dealing with insurance, buying a new car, and trying to get past the trauma of being struck on a highway and walking away unhurt.

Then on Sunday, May 4, 2014 at 1:00 pm, I was running in a 25 mph zone in a neighborhood. I heard the sound of an engine revving behind me through my iPod, the sound of tires squealing, and an large crash. I turned around to watch a pickup truck swerve in the spot where I had just been running a few feet behind me. Right next to me, the car that had been hit had turned all the way around and was idling right next to me.

The back passenger door was so heavily impacted that the door couldn’t be opened, and the woman driving got out. I asked her if she was okay, and she told me she had a baby. Then, I heard the crying.

I looked in the backseat where the car had been hit and, a car seat was right next to the impact. The door was crunched in right up to the car seat, and the three month old baby was screaming.

It was at this moment, looking at that baby, passenger door broken, mother desperately trying to get to the car seat, my legs shaking from the realization that if I had been three seconds slower than I would have been roadkill, I wondered what the hell was happening in my life.

I managed to calm the mother and the other driver down, and directed a neighbor to call 911. The baby and mother were fine,  and an ambulance took them away. Then, when all was said and done, I called my parents to come get me. Another round of panic. Another round of shock. Another round of tears.

And today, I have to return to the real world. I have to go back to driving on the interstate. I have to go to class. I have to graduate. I have to keep living my life. I have to act like my life wasn’t changed the minute that pickup made such a massive mistake, the minute I realized I was almost killed while running, the minute I had to comfort a mother as her infant sat in the back seat, unreachable. I have to keep going.

I will be taking a break from this blog. I need time and space, and right now, this blog is the least of my priorities. I don’t know how long I’ll be gone or if I’ll ever come back. Maybe I’ll be back in two weeks or a month, but I can’t say for sure. I just need a break. Time. Space. Safety. I just need to go a few days without my life being endangered, without the smell of burning rubber, and the sound of metal contorting. Just a little bit of time. Just a few seconds. A breath, really. Just a minute to catch my breath – to live with the things that I’ve survived – to move on. To be.

 

 

 

 

I Used to Be Fun…Not Really

Being an adult is tough work. I don’t know when I went from watching my friends make prank calls on their flip phones (just goes to show that I was too much of a rule follower to chance even that) to checking the status of my loans and bringing my green bags to the grocery store. All of a sudden I feel like I should be walking around campus on a walker because as I listen to the younger students in my classes talk about how trashed they are getting this weekend, I am busy hoping to God that I can please be asleep by 11.

I used to be fun, you know. Okay – that’s a lie, I was never fun but, I used to eat pizza at the dining hall and watch Glee with my roommates. I used to be a college student, a very pitiful one, but a college student nonetheless. Now though, I just feel like…a grown up.

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All of a sudden, I call my professors by their first name. Who does that? It just comes out though – I can’t help it. I used to be shy, really, I was all like Dr. Blah, Mrs. Blah, but now I’m just like, yo – I’m a grown woman – you better recognize.

What the heck is happening to me?

You know what I said the other day. “I remember when you were a baby.” I said those words, out loud, to a human being. You know who people used to say that to? To me! It was always, “Oh my gosh – is that Sammi? Look how grown up she is.” And now, all of a sudden I’m saying it to other people. The circle of life, my friends.

Somehow without me noticing, I have become an adult and you know what – It. Sucks. Sure, I can eat Cap’n Crunch for dinner but, guess who has to pay for that sugary goodness? You guessed it, the granny writing this.

Obviously, I am being over dramatic today, I realize that I am still living my prime years but, there is something inherently scary about realizing that so much time has passed me by without even noticing. There is always a lot of reflection around times of big change and since graduation is 24 days away, I guess I can blame that on the fact that all the prospective high school seniors visiting campus look like they’re 12.

I don’t know – it seems like just yesterday I was sitting in my dad’s minivan and unpacking the (way too many) boxes for my first room away from home, and now, I am about to graduate and enter the post-grad void.

Do you realize that I am actually going to have to find an apartment that is not part of a university system? Jeez. Since when is that a thing? Since when am I going to have to pay full price on student discount day at Qdoba? Since when am I not going to have conveniently placed winter and summer breaks in my life?

Since when do I end my posts with so many questions?