Monday, May 23, 2016

Getting the bill...

I graduated!  **Cue Pomp and Circumstance**

I passed all of my classes, did the whole cap and gown thing, and... oh yea, spent 30 minutes learning all about how far in debt I'll be in a few weeks.

Yea, I'm getting straight to the point with this one: kind of like how my exit counseling session got straight to the point in giving me the bottom number.  In bold characters, no less.

Over the course of 30 minutes, I was bombarded with words that made absolutely no sense to me.  For something that was supposed to clear everything up, I excited the counseling session with more questions than answers.

How am I that far in debt?

Wait... Who's my loan provider?

How am I going to pay for this?

10 YEARS to pay it off? And that's AFTER I finish graduate school?

Why would anyone do something that'd put them so far into debt?!

Oh! I know!

How about this 'American Dream' we're all told is so amazing?  Well this dream is pushing me into a pretty heavy debt, and I'm not the only one.  According to The Institute for College Access and Success, 69% of seniors who graduated from public/nonprofit colleges in 2014 had an average of $28,950 in student loan debt per borrower.

You know what's even more devastating?  Going to a private university and being over that average.

I get it: "Nothing good comes free" or "If it was free, everyone would do it".  First and foremost, I think everyone should have the right to higher education {end of story}.  Second, I'm really not against paying for my schooling.  But seriously?  There has to be some kind of breaking point.

I can't believe this 'American Dream' we're all told about is turning into the 'American Nightmare' for myself and so many other students.  I've panicked.  I've cried.  I've even laughed.  I've felt sadness, anger, denial, and hopelessness.

If you're here to get advice on how to pay for your student loans; I'm definitely not the person you want to talk to.  I've taken the cowardly way by prolonging those first payments for another year and a half by getting my master's.  I can, however, give you a little advice on how to deal with the stress and anxiety student loans can cause.  As I said previously, I have experienced a lot of emotions due to the bill I was handed.  Fortunately, none of them included regret.

You hear that America?! With your ridiculous interest rates and higher education costs?  YOU CAN'T MAKE ME REGRET THESE CHOICES!

Because even though I'm going to be paying loans back for the next ten to fifteen years; I invested in four years that have changed my life and created opportunities for me that I would have never had doing something else.  I met some really amazing and inspiring people, I left the country, I found my passion in communication studies, and I got the opportunity to continue to graduate school.  If I'm going to drop 5-figures on anything; it's going to be on education.

While growing up my dad would always say, "No one can take away your education."  The reason I take school so seriously is because I know that it's 100% mine.  My paper degree could get stolen ripped, or burnt; but those four years of education impacted me far outside the value of a meager piece of paper.

And I'm positive it impacted you the same way.  Whether it took you three years, four years, or six years to graduate: you did not make a mistake by investing in your education.  Paying-off students loans isn't going to be easy, and I'm positive it's going to be put me in some horrible moods; but I refuse to let that number turn a dream into a nightmare.

Monday, February 15, 2016

An Open Letter to My Long Distance Friends...

How long has it been since we last talked? A day? A week? A year?

No matter the length of time, it's been way too long.

How far is the distance between us? One town over? A four hour drive? A plane ride?

No matter the distance, it's definitely too far.
Thank you...
Thank you for always being the person I can call when I need an outside perspective to a life crisis.  Thank you for ignoring the days, weeks, or years between conversations and jumping in as if we never stopped talking.  Thank you for letting me call just to hear your voice.  Thank you for the infinite number of snapchats.  Thank you for sending me snail mail; the letters and the drawings (of donkeys) help make the distance just a bit more bearable.  Thank you for the #ThrowbackThursday photos to the last time we were together.  Thank you for showing me what true friends are like.  It really does take a special kind of friendship to survive differing timezones.

I'm sorry...
I'm sorry that we don't talk everyday or even every week.  I'm sorry that I leave text messages unanswered for days.  I'm sorry that liking your recent photos on Facebook has become my only way of communicating with you on a daily basis.  I'm sorry that visiting you sometimes means saving money for over a year or clearing an entire weekend of responsibilities for driving.  I'm sorry that I couldn't be there to give you a hug when that boy/girl made you cry or when the pressures of school and life were just too much.  I'm sorry I can't be there to laugh at you when you fall up the stairs.  And I'm sorry I wasn't there when you graduated college or got engaged.

Distance might be the ultimate 'test' of a friendship, but we make it work in our own little way.  Even though I can't physically be there for you;

I promise...
I promise to always answer your call, text, Skype, FaceTime, or email.  I promise to be that person you call when you just want to cry, laugh, or talk until you turn blue.  I promise to never find your daily stories boring or cut you off.  I promise to tell everyone about your most recent achievement, even when they have no idea who you are.  I promise to have virtual dance parties when our favorite artist releases a new song.  I promise to always text you book and TV show recommendations, and I promise to read every web article you send me through Facebook.  I promise to never judge you for the amount of time it takes you to respond to a text or phone call, and I promise to be your #1 fan to your life dreams.

I promise to always be just a phone call away, and when you really need me, I promise to do everything I can to be there for you physically.  You're extremely important to me and it's going to take a lot more than miles to keep us apart.

And finally, when we're finally reunited, I promise to make up for all of those 'virtual' hugs.

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Truth about Senioritis...

Senioritis is when you wake up at 3 a.m. in a cold sweat because of a nightmare about adult life.

Senioritis is the feeling where you have mountains of responsibilities but only the energy to lay and wallow while binging on Netflix.

Senioritis is the exhaustion you feel after waking up at 6 a.m. for work and staying up until midnight for homework.

Senioritis is the excitement you have about growing up and working towards your dream career and life.

As I hope you already know, Senioritis isn’t an actual disease (I even looked it up on WebMD), but it’s definitely a legitimate feeling students experience when they’re approaching graduation.  When I was an undergraduate student watching seniors try to live with this overwhelming disease, I always thought, “Geez, people, calm down.  You’re getting out of here!  Quit being lazy.”

If you’re thinking that right now… Stop!  Because when senioritis gets passed on to you, you’ll be eating your words.

When the semester started in August, I started experiencing phases of laziness, increased emotions (lots of crying), and multiple mental breakdowns.  I kept thinking, “Get your shit together, Elizabeth!  You’ve got graduate schools to apply for, jobs to be considering, and coursework to be finishing.  You don’t have time for this.”

I couldn’t understand how after three years of college, I seemed to have completely forgotten how to do college.  How can I be expected to do adulting if I can’t even get through ‘studenting’?!  When it looks like I’ll have two hours of free time, I’ll lay in my bed for fifteen minutes until the stress of homework finally gets me on my feet.  I’m even getting stressed about my ‘to read’ book list!  Who gets stressed about reading?!

I know I’m not the only one, because I’ve had friends reach out to me when they’re stressing out… which then causes me to stress out more.  My roommate and I seem to be on some kind of rotation.  A few weeks ago she was feeling the pressure of graduation and then this week was my turn. 

Where is this disease stemming from?  How is it capable of turning calm and collected students into emotionally unstable seniors?

Have you ever heard of the phrase: “The only thing standing in your way is yourself”?

We’re doing it unintentionally, but we're doing it to ourselves nonetheless.  Some of us are in denial over the entire process.  Nothing sounds better than turning back the clock and going back to freshman year where we thought the cafeteria food sucked and summer vacation was actually a vacation.

We’re scared to fail.  What if we get to that once-in-a-lifetime job and end up hating it?  What if we never get into our dream graduate school and have to live with our parents while we try to figure out what to do next?  We create these scenarios in our head where when a door closes on us, we immediately picture everyone we love turning their backs on us in shame.  It’s simply unrealistic.

Senioritis can actually come from a positive emotion too: excitement.  Whether it has taken us three, four, five, or ten years to finish our degree; we’ve accomplished something truly amazing.  Whether you know what you’re doing after graduation or not; there’s an underlying excitement over completing something we spent so long working for. 

I have no idea what I’ll be doing after graduation.  If graduate school doesn’t come through, I’m back to square one in job searching.  But guess what? I’m still extremely excited to see where my journey will take me.

And that’s the overwhelming thing: we have unlimited paths to choose from.

So yea, I have senioritis.

I’m not lazy, overemotional, and dramatic.

I’m excited for the journey, sad for the end of my undergraduate career, and scared to fail the people who have put so much time into me.

Seniors; be there for each other. Validate the emotions you're feeling while respecting that a lot of the people around you are experiencing the same thing.

Love one another. Respect one another.

We'll get there.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

15 things to do while waiting for something REALLY important...

If you're following me on Twitter (which you should be) you could probably tell I'm waiting on something really important.  Let's just say the anxiety is a bit high. I apologize to the people in my life who have had to live with me over the last week; my mind doesn't stray far from those two very important emails.

It's not like I don't have a lot of other things to worry about but I'm not a fan of 'unknowns', as my mom calls them.  Instead of sitting on my email 24/7, however, I've compiled a list of things I can do (and you can do) while waiting for something really, really important.

1) Stress about something else
I'm the type of person who seems to seek out stress, so I might as well point that motivation to something else.  It's not like I don't have anything else to do with my time.  For example: homework, internship, two jobs, blog, research project, financial aid, my resilience to not working out, my non-resilience in eating fast food, job search, my coffee problem, etc. etc.

2) Try Something New
Accordion Lessons?  I've kind of always wanted to 

3) Knit
I really only know how to make scarves and hats, but I'd rather look at quality rather than quantity. How many friends do you have who can knit hats? (realistically you probably know five) Nonetheless, I'll be knitting a lot of hats... So many hats.

4) Write a Novel
This is actually kind of serious.  I'm in a Nick Miller slump...

5) Or you could just binge-watch 'New Girl'... or some other show
'Parks and Recreation' is also on my list to get through this year.

6) Become Pinterest-savvy 
I'm what I like to a call an 'Effort Crafter': It may not turn out perfect (or even look appealing), but the journey is hilarious and memorable.

7) Find out how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop
Has anyone ever actually figured this out?!

8) Improve GIF game
This is the expression I make every time I send a gif that's #OnPoint.

9) Exercise.
Ha... That's a funny joke, Elizabeth.

10) Learn how to cook
I'm 21 freaking years old and I get nervous whenever I make anything more intense than a bowl of noodles and ice.  The goal is to make something new once a week.  I'll be ready for Master Chef in no time.

11) Or just get really good at cooking one thing
You really don't need to master a full menu; I'm going to focus my efforts on perfecting the grilled cheese.

12) Clean out your closet, music library, and clutter boxes
I somehow managed to fit a lot of things into my tiny little room and most of it is just junk I 'think' I'll use someday.  It's time to declutter my life; starting with my white sweater with the French word on the front.  Have I even worn it before?

13) Sleep.
No description necessary.

14) Spend time with friends...
Get out there, shortstop!  It's your last semester with these people; how bad could a social life really be?

15) Or you could just stay inside and spend quality time with your guinea pig...
He'll never pressure you to stay out an extra hour.

In all seriousness; waiting really sucks, especially when it's something you're really passionate about.  Do you have any other recommendations for what I should do while waiting for important emails?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

I'm Basically Not Basic...

Alright, world.

I jumped on the YOLO bandwagon with enthusiasm.  

I still sarcastically say 'LOL' on a semi-regular basis.

And even though I never say 'on fleek' or JK; I subdue the grimace when people around me use it.

However... It is seriously time for us to get rid of our new twisted definition of 'basic'.  No, I'm not referring to the Basic Principles of Physics. I'm talking about the demeaning adjective we're using to describe people's interests, likes, dreams, and lifestyle.

I know exactly what you're thinking... "She's really not writing about this is she?"

You better believe it, dude.

Because I'm not a full-time student working two jobs and an internship to be called 'basic' when I want to go to Starbucks every other day to get my caffeine fix.

Because wearing flannel and boots to a Shania Twain concert doesn't make me 'just another basic girl', it makes me freaking adorable.

Because my blog posts and rants don't just make me another 'basic whiney feminist', they also make me a woman standing up for my basic human rights.

Let me explain to you what I hear when someone says "You're so basic." (or something along those lines.)

"You're exactly like every other woman (man, person, dog) out there."

"It doesn't matter that you have feelings too, someone else feels the same way 
and they've already complained enough as it is."

"You're dream is irrelevant because everyone else in this world wants to do that too."

I get it.  You don't mean 'basic' in a bad way; but at its core, 'basic' puts that person in a generalized population of people where, to you, everyone is the same and ordinary. We might not want to be the center of attention, but no one wants to feel like they're not special or unique. Defining someone's behavior or interests as 'basic' is, in simple terms, objectifying them and putting them into a tiny box.

Would you call people 'simple', 'unimportant', or 'nonessential'? Because that's basically what you're doing.

Women, Men, Children, Dogs:
We need to stop tearing each other down because we are our own worst enemies.  I'm ashamed to say I've called other women 'basic' (as well as other men), and I've heard my own friends use the same phrase when referring to other people.

We all need to start treating each other as actual human beings.  It's as basic as that. 

In the words of Tina Fey in Mean Girls (slightly changed for the post): We need to stop treating each other like shit because it just makes it okay for everyone else to treat us like shit.