Summer, Sunshine, and Perpetual Self-Discovery

Well, I graduated. What a load off my back (and mind) that is.

My college career came to an end on May 10, 2019, assuming I don’t go for a graduate degree. The very idea turns my stomach, but I did find out that Masters degrees in creative writing are real, so who knows what the future holds.

My degree title is as follows:

Bachelor of Arts, University Without Walls, Journalism and Writing Studies

Yeah- *fist in the air, à la John Bender, minus the long coat because it’s too hot out for that*

Now, if I could just receive that stupid piece of paper in the mail.

My advisor confirmed that I graduated. My grades and degree completion checklist told me that I graduated. But the “3-4 weeks” that it would take to receive my diploma have passed. I can’t help feeling a little afraid, like it was all a joke or a lie.

I want to hang it in a smart, classy frame and stare at it while I pay back the loans I owe so that I can be reminded of why I did this in the first place.

Back when I first contemplated giving college another go, I had a lot of worries to sort through, but where I always ended up was, if I had already started, instead of continued to worry, I could be like a year into it by then.

So, finally, I decided to do it. And three years later, here I am. Done.

It’s pretty surreal.

At first, I was like, I have all my free time back! I can do what I want! I can write! I can read! I can travel!

But you know what? For this last month, I mostly just binged on Netflix. I did a little reading (finished The Great Gatsby; started Lolita) and a little traveling (bookstores; beach) and a little creative thinking (random stuff). But mostly, I was a total bum.

And it was fantastic!

Eventually, instead of being annoyed with myself for not being more creatively productive, I embraced the bumminess and let myself ENJOY it! I realized that I needed time to detach from thinking like a part-time student. I needed to get to know myself again, who I am without “student” as a descriptor.

At this point, the Netflix binge has ended, thankfully. There’s been an uptick in social media activity though. I would like to quash that, but I’m also getting into the mindset of using it for creative purposes, so I’m putting a pin in that one. Happy to report, however, that I’ve been reading more. Still on Lolita, which is an entirely different topic, but I bought a bunch of new books and am very excited to get into them!

Here’s to summer, sunshine, and perpetual self-discovery! 🍹☀️

The “winter blues” got the best of me this year.

More so than ever before.

I’d never felt it this strongly. I spent about a month having ZERO motivation to do anything, and what sucks the most about the timing of it was that it started around the same time as the new semester. So, I did a few initial assignments and then got very behind. I’ve mostly caught up in one class, but the other… I’m still struggling. Luckily, it’s currently spring break, which means no new assignments to add on.

I think it started with the indecision about my financial aid, which I found out about a week before classes were to begin. And it wasn’t fully resolved until after they began. The week before classes, I usually read over the syllabi, get my textbooks, and get myself in the mindset of the assignments and subject matter. I didn’t have that this time.

Also, I was sort of forced into the classes I’m in. It’s my last semester, and I needed two 300- or 400-level courses. All that was offered for Journalism was Opinion Writing, and, out of the English creative writing courses, I chose TV Pilot Script Writing. Well, much to my dismay, that pilot script class was eventually cancelled due to low enrollment. The other options were Creative Writing, Writing the Graphic Novel, and Writing for a Living. I have no interest in graphic novels, but I considered it because it would mean focused creative work. The regular creative writing course wasn’t too appealing because I’d already taken that type of course the previous semester and a couple of times back in high school. I wanted something more specific, hence choosing the pilot script course. And as for Writing for a Living, it seemed more like the utilitarian class of writing curriculums. There would be no creative projects or soul-feeding writing. It would simply be about writing queries to publishers and agents. Ultimately, it’s what I chose because it seemed to be the most useful, and it’s been alright. It’s had interesting assignments that do make you think and figure things out.

As for opinion writing, I am less than excited by it. I think part of it is I don’t think my “voice” jives with the opinion style. Plus, I’ve learned that I’m not as interested in journalism as I once thought I might be. So, that adds to the lack of motivation.

But that’s why I went to school in the first place- to figure out which types of writing I would like most. And that’s what is happening.

I just have to get through this last part, and it will be in my rearview.

I already am considering taking a one-off screenwriting course at some point. NYU’s Tisch School offers one online, so maybe that’s in my future!

Well, I didn’t keep to the writing schedule I had hoped to maintain during school.

At some point, I realized that I couldn’t commit to it, so I let myself let it go. Temporarily, of course.

The good news about school is that I can graduate this spring instead of next spring! A whole year sooner! When I first found out, I was really surprised and only somewhat excited. I hadn’t planned for this news. What about the other courses I wanted to take and would now miss out on? What about the student loans I would now have to pay back a year earlier? Miss Advisor Lady, are you sure that I can graduate this year? Maybe you should check again. I panicked a little. I felt like I would soon be at the edge of a cliff and expected to jump.

I’ve over that now. For the most part. The student loan thing still scares me, but I’m doing what I can to prepare for it. And as far as jumping from the figurative cliff, I have a full-time job that I don’t hate, so staying in that while I figure out my next steps is fine with me. Not ideal, but acceptable for a bit.

The great part is that I will have a degree and be done with formal schooling for, presumably, the rest of my life. I’m truly not a fan of “school,” so it will be a relief to close this chapter up tight and throw away the key. And I’ll my free time back! I have several hobbies and interests that I’ve had to set aside during the last 2 1/2 years. It will be wonderful to connect with them again.

 

Here we are. The last week of summer break before the new semester starts.

At one point, it seemed really far off, and now it’s like oh crap.

I crossed off a pretty good amount of things on my summer bucket list, plus some that weren’t on the list:

I got my nose re-pierced; that was number one. I tried to learn the Time Warp, the main dance from Rocky Horror. I read a lot during the first couple of months, not so much in the second. I watched new TV shows and a handful of good movies, including ones I’ve seen a million times already. But sometimes I just need to witness that story again. I finally went on a research trip for a project I’ve been working on for years. I met Holly Marie Combs (my twin, according to many of my friends) at ComiConn. I joined a writing group, a dream of mine for quite a long time. And I got to watch one of my best friends become a mother for the first time. Well, I didn’t see her give birth, but I saw her throughout her pregnancy, and then I met her precious little baby. Pretty wonderful stuff right there. My goal was to make the absolute most of my time off from school, to make it feel like a true break, and I think I accomplished that.

This week, I hope to wring out those last drops of freedom, which shouldn’t be too hard since I don’t have much going on. I’m thinking I’ll go to the beach if the weather cooperates. And of course, I want to spend some time reading. I feel like choosing a shorter novel and trying to read it by next week. Everything I’ve been reading for the last two months or so has been non-fiction, and honestly, that’s not my favorite genre, which is probably a big part of why I’ve slacked. And now that I’ve said that, I understand more why I hate reading for assignments—it’s all non-fiction.

Currently, all my books are boxed up due to a small renovation project going on at my house, but I’ll have to dig through everything tonight and see what looks good.

I couldn’t decide on what to write next.

I had an idea, but it wasn’t coming out right. It was sounding more like a persuasive piece on why one should do what I was talking about, not just my meandering thoughts on what I was talking about. And then, every idea I had after that was missing something.

My voice wasn’t there.

Everything felt forced, like I was painstakingly tryyyyying to maaaaake a blog post blahblahblah blahblah. And that’s not what this is. I mean, sure, in the most literal sense, this is a blog, and I’m making posts. But the material isn’t supposed to be so planned. It’s supposed to be sincere and raw and straight from my head, hence the subtitle.

I remind myself of that- Forget that there are readers. It’s only you having one of those mental soliloquies that you have so often because your mind never turns off. But still, nothing felt right.

Does this spell trouble for future posts? Will it be a struggle all the time? I grimace at the thought.

I do have a lot on my mind these last few days. Maybe that’s jamming up my creative channels.

  1. School starts up again in exactly 2 weeks. I feel slightly panicked because of how much work it is, but I’m excited because it’s the start of my “senior year.” And that shows me that I’ve made progress. Two years down; two to go!
  2. Work is stressing me out. I work in an industry in which sales is a large part of the job. We’re supposed to try to get people to open accounts and sign up for services. Our performance reviews depend largely on how well we each meet our quarterly goals. And not only that, my manager’s performance depends on how our branch performs as a whole, which also affects how I perform and my subordinate performs. AND my subordinate’s performance affects mine. It’s this huge web. So, while I’m having to sell crap to people, I’m also having to pretend that I care about it when I really, truly don’t. I couldn’t give two shibbity doops. We’re having to make lists of people who we can sell things to when we see them next. And honestly, it’s just not the line of work I belong in. Finishing my degree is supposed to solve all of that, but that’s still two more years of being this underling whose value depends on other people’s choices.
  3. One of my best friends just had a baby.
    • That may not seem like something to be overwhelmed by, and I’m not. It’s so great, and I’m happy for her. And I visited them at the hospital when her baby wasn’t even a whole day old yet, and it was wonderful. I’m planning to be as present as I can be and happily so, but it’s kind of worrying me. Will I be present enough? Will I be a good enough friend during this time? I really freaking hope so.
    • It’s making me feel like I’m severely behind schedule. I’m older than she is by a couple of years, and I don’t have that many good childbearing years left, maybe one or two. They say that, as women age, they have less and less chance of conceiving, and I’m pretty sure there’s something about the older the mother, the more risk of certain health issues for the baby and difficult pregnancy. I’m very concerned about that. It weighs on me a lot, to the point of tears. I think about how I have two years of school left, and then I’d prefer to establish myself in a career that I love before I have kids. But by then I could be 40. So, I don’t know what to do about it. Have kids first? Put a career on hold even longer? That doesn’t seem fair.
    • And then of course, my friend’s experience with giving birth wasn’t the best and makes me even less excited about that part than I already was. And she’s a labor & delivery nurse, so she knew what to do for herself. I, on the other hand, am more than skeeved out by anything medical. But I’m thinking about going to some kind of therapy for that because it’s kind of a problem.

Maybe this is what I needed. To lay it all out there. I would say it’s pretty sincere and raw. And it’s definitely straight from my head. Success.

And now, I can go to sleep.

So, I’m actually not new to the blogging thing.

I’ve had a few over the years, plus online journals. Each served its own purpose, such as chronicling the goings-on of my teenaged and college-aged life, giving me an outlet for creativity, showcasing my work, and simply being a conglomeration of reposts and some original posts to facilitate various obsessions. (Yeah, I’m looking at you, Tumblr.)

This one is much different.

It took a while for me to finally start it. First, I wasn’t sure which platform to use or if I wanted it to be free or to pay for it. I probably read about five different lists of “the best” sites that all said WordPress was the way to go, and, of course, there was the .com versus .org lesson to learn. Then, I wasn’t sure what to call the blog or what it would be about. Blogs are supposed to be focused on a main topic, like crafting, cooking, or traveling. Would my broad personal narrative idea be good enough or interesting enough? And third and possibly most important, I wasn’t sure I could commit to it. I didn’t want to go to all the trouble of setting it up if I made a post or two and then forgot about it for the next year. I already have a very full life with work, school, a relationship, family and friends, and hobbies that I don’t have enough time for. Could I make room for a blog too?

Well, I decided that, if it’s that big of a deal to me, I would make room for it. I would just have to rearrange some things. I also am pre-planning a little. I jotted down ideas for posts and themes to explore. And, as a writer who feels the guilt of not writing more often, now I have an objective, and, therefore, a reason to write. So, really, I can write at any time, like I’m doing right now during a lull at work.

I am a little concerned about how I’ll manage once school starts though. School is a huge part of my life that I am determined to successfully finish, and, while I have lots of free time now, I won’t in about three more weeks. (Ugh, summer vacation is almost over…) Not to mention, most of my assignments involve writing, so I’m worried about burnout and feeling like keeping up with the blog is a chore. But if I can post at least once a week during the semesters, I’ll be happy. Plus, I want to challenge myself to maintain a continuous personal writing project. And it’s not like these posts are particularly arduous to write. They’re fairly off-the-cuff, and they might end up being an escape from my assignments.

We shall see where this takes me.