Friday, June 4, 2010


After talking to people (and I mean all people who might even broach the subject of school - and they will), college begins to sound a bit like a terminal illness.

"How much time you got left?" they'll ask. And, no matter the answer, whether it be 3.5 years or only a week, they look at me with big eyes and take a sharp breath, as if I wouldn't believe the horror that awaits me on the other side. Like the real world is just waiting patiently for me, ready to crush my soul into oblivion, leaving me wondering what happened to my youthful spirit.

There's just all this pressure to figure "It" out. "It" meaning the future, our adult lives, plans... whatever you want to call it. And what's worse is that it's almost impossible not to buy into it, to become completely consumed by it all and consequently spent your dwindling days in the cushy (albeit hectic and incredibly stressful) college lifestyle panicking about it.

But here's what I learned: You don't have to figure it out. Not all of it. Not your whole life. What does that mean, anyway? Your whole life? I can't even wrap my head around that. And how do I know what I want? How am I the least bit qualified to know that after only 21 years? Heck, sometimes I don't eat dinner because I can't decide what I want. How am I supposed to make huge decisions for 40 years from now?

I don't know, but that's ok. Because I don't have to. Nobody ever figures their whole life out in one sitting. That would be stupid. Life isn't just a solid block of time. It's chunks. It's bits and pieces. And so we take it one chunk at a time. One step at a time. The high school step was four years, the college step was another four. Grad school will be another two... See? Totally manageable.

There's a lot to figure out. I've just started week three of post-graduation life, and already there are things to figure out. But I don't have to do that now. Some things, yes. Everything? No. I have nothing BUT time. Nothing but time.

I have my whole life. Don't you see? My WHOLE life. And I don't even know what that means just yet but now I think it's time for me to start finding out.

So that means, sadly, this is goodbye. It has been an honor and my pleasure to share my Drake years with you all and the, erm, well-rounded emotional experience that went with it. And now I turn toward, not the big, scary, capital-F Future, but the next little slice in the giant cake of life.

Mmm... did somebody say cake?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

On my graduation...

Mood: accomplished
Happy thought: the end

Today I graduated. Today. I. Graduated. The words look weird on the page. They sound weird to say out loud.

It's just not real yet. I mean, I was there and everything. I walked across the stage, shook some hands, got a diploma cover (with a borderline-menacing letter inside telling me that even though I was able to participate in the ceremony, that doesn't necessarily mean I graduated), had my picture taken, hugged people like I'd never see them again...

So it definitely happened. It just doesn't feel like it did. I mean, how does something you've spent 18 years doing just... end? And what do you do with yourself after it does?

I don't know the answer, but I'm looking forward to finding out.

At graduation someone gave a speech full of extended metaphors and encouraging words about having faith and conviction and the other pretty typical graduation stuff. Not that it wasn't a good speech, of course.

Of the ten minutes or so he was speaking, he briefly told us to "stay brave." The phrasing struck me.

STAY brave. Not BE brave.

I admittedly tuned out the rest of his speech and began to ponder the difference and, more importantly, how it applied to the current situation.

It didn't take me long to realize that I much prefer the idea of staying brave, because it means we already have the bravery. I never thought of it before, but we DO already have bravery.

Leaving home was brave, presenting in front of class is brave, standing up for things we believe in is brave, speaking up is brave, stepping back is brave, taking responsibility of our own lives is brave, living independently is brave, being true to ourselves is brave...

The list of things that require bravery goes on and on. And that's really cool. You know why? Because every single one of us has done at least one of those things in our twenty-something years.

Bravery is not a trait we need to worry ourselves about acquiring post-graduation. We've always had it. It is not something we have to GET, rather it is something we have to USE.

Sometimes, I know (believe me) it's hard to remember that it's even there at all. So remind yourself. Remind yourself A LOT if that's what it takes, because I have a feeling it's going to be your most powerful tool.

You don't have to sacrifice fear or doubt for the sake of bravery, because the world is scary and unknown - that's a scientific fact. I think to pretend it isn't would be a lie.

So I think what me must do is stand up proudly (preferably on something tall - perhaps a mountain or picnic table... or a picnic table ON a mountain) and say "World, you're a scary place and I'm terrified of you, but I have some pretty awesome plans and I won't let you interfere with them."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

1 day... and no longer counting

Mood: anxious
Happy thought: Graduation

The last link of my paper chain is up on my wall all by its lonesome. Not too long ago (99 days, in fact) it was part of a massive string that hung like garland over our kitchen.

Now one is all that remains.

In the last 99 days I cried myself to sleep, grew up, went to therapy, convinced myself I had no future, got a job, realized and tested my own independence, played too much tetris, struggled constantly to find motivation, drank entirely too much Coke, let go of some things and clung tightly to others.

I've been busy.

My family arrived tonight and seeing them was all I needed to be pretty much flooded with emotion. Encouraging words like "we're so proud!" and "you made it!" didn't help that situation, but were wonderful to hear regardless.

We went to campus to take pictures and show off home to all the relatives who haven't seen Drake before. It was beautiful weather and there was hardly a soul around and suddenly I felt like I was in one of those super cheesy movies during some sappy flashback montage.

But who doesn't like sappy montages?

We passed by Meredith Hall, home of journalism majors, the reflecting pond, the painted street and Carpenter Hall (home, sweet home). It was a unexpected but glorious trip down memory lane.

And, now, I walk.

Friday, May 14, 2010

2 days and counting

Mood: relieved
Happy thought: done, done, done!!!

This morning was it! I drove to campus, printed my BEAST of a capstone project, then went and slid it under the professor's door (it barely fit - something like 120 pages total).

Then I walked away.

A huge weight was instantly lifted (no, really - that thing was heavy...)

I was SUPER excited at first. I mean, wow. To be totally done? Probably forever? AMAZING!!!!

But then I found myself throughout the day having to remind myself that it's really over now. I would just be talking and realize with a start that, HOLY CRAP, I'm totally done.

It's totally unreal.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

3 days and counting

Mood: anxious
Happy thought: cake!

Today my roommate and I went to the senior wine and cheese reception at President Maxwell's house. Everybody got all fancied up and got to check out his digs and mingle and eat and drink and all that.

Usually I shy away from things like that because the whole atmosphere just seems kind of fake and forced, but my roommate really wanted to go, so I went with her.

I'm really glad I did, too because I really enjoyed myself.

For the record - wine is totally not my thing.

But more to the point I really enjoyed looking around and seeing people I haven't seen since probably freshman year. It was cool to see how we all changed, but didn't change all at the same time. I liked hearing about what everybody has planned next or what they don't have planned next and...

I guess I just enjoyed the experience of connecting with a group of people who know exactly how I"m feeling. Not that I'm never around any seniors, but this was different. It wasn't about classes or homework or anything, it was about excitement and anxiety and exhaustion and it's kind of amazing the kind of camaraderie that can be fostered that way.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

4 days and counting

Mood: anxious :/
Happy thought: GRILLED PB&J!

I'm soooo not ready to leave. SO not ready. I am, but I'm so not. What if I can't do it? What if I can't be a real adult? What if I'm really bad at being a grown up? What if I screw everything up? What if I trip at graduation? What if I throw up? What if I can't handle the real world? What if I get scared?

How do you not be a student anymore? How do you meet new people without school? How do you be a real person?

I need ANSWERS!!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

5 days and counting

Mood: Sluggish...
Happy thoughts: Wedding invitations

I was reminded recently that I promised to post a list of Drake's Finest (based solely on my opinion, of course), so before I forget, I'll do that now. I'll break them down by department and list them alphabetically

Megan Brown: I took three classes with her and they were all fabulous. She's smart, funny, witty, engaging, and fabulous to have in class. She offers helpful criticism, gently, and I always feel like I learned something at the end of the semester. I realize that last part sounds kind of obvious, but, trust me, that's not always the case.

Jeff Karnicky: I took five classes with him (including my very first one and my very last) and they all pretty much hurt my brain. In a good way, of course. He's pretty much brilliant and, honestly, pretty funny (though, sometimes not intentionally). We've dealt with some abstract ideas and oddball writers (Franz Kafka, for instance...) but it's all very enjoyable and if he teaches it, it's a class worth taking. I promise.

Lori Blachford: I didn't have a class with her until junior year, sadly. She has loads of experience in the industry; she's hilarious; she's super helpful. You can always just stop by to chat without any good reason. I got an internship at Meredith thanks to her; she's just a good person to have in your corner.

Jeff Inman: I also didn't have him until I was a junior. He's friendly and funny and wry and geeky and smart and awesome to have in class. Be warned: he's not afraid to spill some ink all over your work. But don't worry, you won't be able to read half of it. But the criticism is more helpful than it is harsh, so there's nothing to be afraid of. Oh, he also brought us bagels. So he's clearly a favorite.

I basically have only one other to add...

Keith Summerville: I took his entomology class on a whim for credits and it turned out to be THE best class I took at Drake. The thing that struck me about Keith is that he cares about all students, not just ones in his field of study. So he was more than happy to guide a lost journalism senior. He's also brilliant and funny and has really cool stuff in his office.

So there you have it... my official list of the best of the best. If these guys teach it, you'd do well to take it.
All bloggers are compensated for their time. All blogs are uncensored and the opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Drake University.