upwards & onwards
My last first day of school was last Monday, and as cliche as it sounds, my undergrad career has gone by in a heartbeat. It feels like just yesterday I was moving into my cinder block-walled dorm room in Ithaca, New York and tacking up my Starry Night poster. Yet here I am, three years later - a little older, a little wiser, a little louder, and perhaps a little taller in the city where it all began for me - Cleveland.
The rest of summer went by quickly, as expected. I crammed in as much as I could between work, from drunken karaoke to wine nights on my porch with my friends and solo coffee shop excursions, and volunteering at this year's Inkubator Conference put on by the nonprofit I'm interning for this semester.
Right before school started I went to Florida to visit my dad for four days and I slept in until noon the first two days, and binge-watched the first season of Big Little Lies. I was thankful for the opportunity to leave Ohio and spend time with my dad, even if it was short-lived. I hit the ground running when I got back - I attended a social/networking event with my friend Arbela at Platform Brewing Co. in Ohio City, put on by Cleveland Vibes, a Cleveland lifestyle community. It was such a fun night but having never been to a networking event before, we were like "Okay, we have to talk to at least two people before we leave!" Coincidentally, we ended up talking to local lettering artist Lisa Quine, who I met over the phone last spring when I had to fact-check an article for Cleveland Magazine. Even all these months later, my internship there still creates meaningful (albeit random) experiences for me. Lisa was such a sweetheart and asked us "What projects are you working on?" which left us dumbfounded and we had to scramble to find an answer about our blogs and what we hoped to accomplish in our careers. But still, it was nice to be taken seriously by someone in our community who is so cool and grounded, and to be a part of a gathering of mostly young women and young professionals.
Despite talking to my therapist about my problem with overcommitting, I still ended up having three jobs for the last couple weeks of summer (even though I dropped one before school started). I got a job at the bookstore at my university which isn't that bad, but I've said "collateral damage" so many times regarding rental textbook transactions. Speaking of which, guys need to start putting "swipe right for collateral damage" in their Tinder bios. I decided that attempting dating again right before the semester started would be a great idea, as if I didn't have enough going on, but oh well. But my most recent attempt - a very brief relationship (in which I was treated incredibly well) that ended abruptly in a cruel way, was a breakthrough - it showed me that I'm finally emotionally capable of being in something healthy, and unafraid of being upfront. I've had my fair share of bad dates and awkward flings that is the mess of modern dating, but all there is to do is reflect, laugh about it, rewatch Legally Blonde, and move on. And of course, continue to be unapologetic about my life, my schedule and other commitments, and most importantly, who I am as a woman - that being a passionate, sarcastic, busy, headstrong woman who can't and won't be simplified.
I dove headfirst into my senior year. There's no other kind of adrenaline like the one I get at the start of a new semester. I color-code my classes and corresponding school supplies, pick out a cute outfit for the first day of classes, and show up excited to meet new people and eager to learn. This semester I'm in a seminar that surrounds the field that I hope to go into in post-grad life - literary publishing, which I'm excited about. It's going to be a lot of work, but I think it's going to be worth it. The first Vindicator meeting of the semester went well, too - it was so surreal sitting on the staff side of the table this year considering I started out as a contributing writer the summer before my junior year. I'm going to be doing a lot of writing and editing over the next few months - from essays for classes, articles, and looking over submissions for a literary magazine as part of my internship work. The literary world and its components - reading, writing, editing - are opening up to me in a new way, in which I'm a learner and participant, and I'm looking forward to the realm of possibility with my new responsibilities.
Overall, I'm thankful for the summer I had. Three and a half months was a long time to be away from school, but I believe I made the most of it. There isn't much room to complain. Compared to the summer before my freshman year of college, so much in my life has moved around and changed. And I've adapted to it the best I can, mind, body, and soul. There has been so much chaos that I've gradually bloomed and healed from. My college experience has been out of the ordinary, but I'm not quite done yet, and I'm trying not to think about my senior year as "running out of time" - I forged a path for myself years ago that I've been following steadfastly, which of course included some detours and missteps, but that's how you learn.
Going into this semester, no matter what year of school you're in - keep in mind that the only expectations that you have to live up to are your own, and it's okay if you don't accomplish things the way you originally planned or thought. Find joy where you are, and go from there.
Good luck out there.