Tag Archives: college

These Last Few Weeks

I write this because writing heals my heart and because I hope that through being honest, I can reach out to other recent college graduates that might connect with what I have to say.

Looking back, I’m not sure what I expected in the weeks following my college graduation, but whatever I might have anticipated, it sure wasn’t this.

Life after college was supposed to be different. It was supposed to be enlightening and thrilling and exciting and only a little bit scary. I guess somewhere in the back of my head I thought the weeks following my college graduation would be a calm, peaceful transition into the real world. Just like all my other summers were a chance for me to get a feel for adulthood, the weeks that followed my anticipated walk across the stage to get my diploma were supposed to ease me into reality.

Oh, how the universe must have laughed its fool head off at this grand idea of mine, because these last few weeks have been unbearable.

I wasn’t expecting such acute depression and unbearable anxiety to follow receiving my degree at last. I knew I would have to apply for jobs, but no one ever told me how applying for jobs for which you qualify fresh out of college absolutely crushes your soul. No one ever told me how tweaking resumes to fit companies’ requirements or typing up the perfect combination of words to express interest would make you feel so empty and impassive. And soul-crushing job hunting may be, but what hurts even more is to pour your blood, sweat, and tears into applications and interviews only to get a cold email response stating someone else had been selected for the position, or, even worse, no response at all.

True story. Mere days after my graduation I had a phone interview (two phone interviews, actually) with my dream company, and I do mean my dream company. It was in Washington D.C. and I feel that both interviews went so, so well. I was told to expect a response within one to two weeks.

Nothing ever came.

I finally called after three weeks to inquire about the position and my results and got a voicemail. I left a message, asking the interviewers to please return my call at their earliest convenience.

I left them that voicemail nearly two weeks ago. And still I got nothing.

And after spending the better part of a year learning as much as I could about the company and inquiring about positions and asking for advice from personnel there about applying for jobs and studying for an exam for four months that would give me a better shot of working for them some day… that hurt. Oh, how I wasn’t expecting that kind of pain.

Another thing I wasn’t expecting? I wasn’t expecting to suddenly hate, no, loathe living at home. I wasn’t expecting to want to be an adult but get so frustrated when financially, I just can’t yet.

Maybe soon, but not yet. More on that in later blogposts.

And I wasn’t expecting to suddenly have no income to pay for the most basic of expenses. If there’s anything more painful in the post-grad world than applying for jobs and getting denied said jobs, it is not having enough funds to buy things that you need, let alone want.

Needless to say, these past few weeks I’ve felt weighed down by my own fears and nerves and sadness and doubts – doubts in the world I’m living in where it is close to impossible to get a decent job upon graduation and doubts in myself and my skills and my qualifications. I have quite honestly felt heavy. Like someone dropped weights into my chest.

I’ve wanted to talk to no one. I’ve wanted nothing more than to just get in my car with my kitty and just drive away into the sunset and never look back.

In college we are always told to follow our dreams and to do whatever makes us happy and that we were free to do what we wanted and that the world is our oyster.

No one ever told me how that is a bunch of crap.

I can’t follow my dreams. I have student loan debt to face.

I can’t do what makes me happy. Right now what makes me happy doesn’t make me any money.

I am not free to do whatever I want. I have bills to pay.

The world is not my oyster. The world is an unforgiving place where those without a paycheck can do nothing and have nothing and are nothing.

So here I am now, fighting steadily out of this trench into which I have fallen, trying to see the light in my situation and hope for the best. I’m not out of it yet. I don’t know if I’ll climb out of it tomorrow or when I get a job or move out into my own apartment at long last or am finally financially independent or get my dream job.

I don’t know.

But to try to end this on a decently positive note, I have spent the past few weeks working on a few projects that are making me happy, if only for a few hours an afternoon when I work on them. I’d rather not announce them now. But you, dear anonymous reader of mine, will hear about them soon if you choose to stick around.

Regardless, these past few weeks have been an awful, rude awakening. And I hope know I can’t be the only one going through this.

Reality sucks. These weights aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Life as a College Graduate…

…sucks.

No, really.

From the time I was five years old, my internal calendar has always revolved around the school year. Normal people consider January the start of the new year and December its end. For me, that beginning started in August, when school started, and ended in May to the tune of this awesome song:

The summer was always a time of celebration of the fact that I didn’t have to face the real world yet. It was a time to relax (when I wasn’t working) and rejoice in all the little things that kept me connected to my childhood.

And now? My internal calendar by which I’ve lived my entire life is thrown off, my leisurely summers are history, and I am expected to be a grown up.

Ever since my graduation day, I’ve gone through too many emotions to be considered a rational human being.

I’ve been a combination of this:

and this:

and I especially feel like this:

because let’s not forget this:

And for those who ask if I have a job yet?

I remind them that nowadays, the battle to get into the workforce is something close to this:

Needless to say, it hasn’t been two weeks since graduation and I’m already doing a whole lot of this:

Now, granted, I know I have it better than others. The day after graduation, I got a call from my dream company asking to set up a phone interview for that Friday for a temporary position. Whether or not I actually get the job (and it’s a long shot that I do), some people aren’t so lucky. I know people who have applied for fifty, sixty jobs and haven’t heard back from any of them. So far, I’ve only applied to four.

But this anxiety I’ve been feeling since the 13th has struck me with full force. The depression of being done with school for the foreseeable future has deepened significantly. And finally having to admit that I’m adult now sucks – no matter how many rude, chipper people there are who find it their duty to tell me (and other college grads) how we’re all still babies and are so lucky to have our whole lives ahead of us.

They conveniently forget that college grads these days have five figures of student debt, next to no chance of gaining jobs in their fields right away due to the recession, and that the cost of living is waaaaay higher than it was 30 years ago. And the minimum wage? Laughable.

Jenna speaks my language.

This post got bitter really quickly.

I guess all I’m trying to say is that if there are any other recent college grads out there who are going through any of the above, you’re not alone. Heck, you could have graduated ten years ago and still be going through this. It sucks. And I feel your pain on so many levels.

But as I wrote in my last blogpost, I learned in college that only the strong survive this world and that the ones who succeed are the ones that never give up.

We can’t give up.

As down and out as I feel right now, I certainly don’t plan to.

Life as a college graduate sucks, but I keep telling myself it won’t always be that way.

Because after all, as much as I don’t believe it right now,

Dear Diploma

Dear Diploma,

My mom says that on my very first day of school, I cheerfully told her goodbye and walked into the building, eager to learn and happy to be there. She says that while a few kids were crying and most were unwilling to go in, I didn’t look back.

Now, on my very last day of school, I am ready to walk into another building and across a stage to receive you after seventeen years’ worth of hard work.

All my life I have been anticipating this day. As a little girl, I was told every day in school to go to college and learn new things and get a formal education and create memories and make mistakes and learn from them and ultimately discover where my passion lies. This is what we are all told as we stumble through elementary, middle, and eventually high school.

We are not told two things about college:

First, we aren’t told how hard the journey is. We aren’t told how insanely difficult it is to get through college and emerge as intact human beings. When I look back at what I went through to earn you, diploma, I am amazed at my ability – and the ability of students everywhere – to make sacrifices.

Diploma, I worked for you while volunteering and holding down full time and part time jobs. I worked for you while going through some serious physiological and emotional trauma. I worked for you while battling an illness that lasted the better part of a year. I worked for you while studying for the LEED Green Associate exam – which, diploma, I took last Saturday and failed by one question. I needed 85 out of 100 questions to pass. After at least 40 hours of studying that I took on on top of going through my very last semester of college, I got 84.

Needless to say, sometimes I worked for you while feeling like an enormous failure.

I dragged myself to classes for you through sickness, emotional distress, and physical pain. I forced myself out of bed in the dead of winter and drove 45 minutes to class in the early mornings before the sun was even up for you. I walked miles around campus in 30-degree weather for you and I did the same when it was 115. I was back in class five days after getting my wisdom teeth taken out. I couldn’t take painkillers to go to class, but I went to class anyway.

I endured semesters of light-rail travel to save on parking fees, which is to say I endured some of the creepiest and horniest people I have ever had to deal with. And when that got to be too much, I grit my teeth only slightly as I handed over my credit card to the parking services people on campus as I paid something close to a million dollars for my daily parking fee. Only slightly.

I lived on a shoestring budget for you. There were times when my life consisted of peanut butter crackers and frozen meals in order to pay for textbooks for you. Once I paid for gas in quarters.

I know what going to bed hungry feels like. I know what not having enough money to survive feels like.

Diploma, throughout these four years, I think it’s safe to say that approximately 30,000 gallons of coffee have been drunk in your honor. Throughout these four years, I ran to QT for more soda and energy drinks than I care to think about. On the days when I had too much to do, I sacrificed exercise for you and drank wine at night to make myself fall asleep. I’m convinced my blood is now composed entirely of a combination of caffeine and alcohol, and speaking of health, I’m pretty sure I did permanent damage to my back from shouldering a backpack with the weight of an average child every day.

I cried over you.

I stayed on campus all day for years. I spent hours in the library to study for classes I hated but had to take. I wrote discussion board posts, essays, and homework assignments. I took quizzes, studied for exams, and did group projects. I read. The amount of textbooks I’ve had to read is unreal. (The amount of textbooks I actually did read is slightly less unreal.)

I had breakdown after breakdown over you from having to sacrifice so much. My social life, my health, my sanity…. And speaking of sanity, let me tell you a little bit about sleep. Oh, how I scarified sleep. I scarified sleep like it was a hobby, like it was going out of style. I sacrificed sleep for my degree like the men and women in the Old Testament scarified rams and goats for the Lord. The sad thing is, I do not feel like that is an overstatement. They say the average person sleeps about a third of their life away. Thanks to you, diploma, I think I have successfully cut that proportion to about an eighth.

There were times, diploma, when I forgot how to be someone other than a stressed-out college student. Honestly, I’m having a hard time thinking of myself as anything but just that.

But now that it’s all over and I am about to walk across a stage and get you at last, I realize how valuable those years as a stressed-out college student were. Because the second thing that we aren’t told about college as kids is that during the four years we spend earning our diplomas, the lessons we learn outside the classroom are more numerous in number and much, much richer in quality.

Through earning you, diploma, I have learned the importance of differentiating between wants and needs. New clothes? New shoes? Getting my hair done? Those all came second to tuition, gas, textbooks, food, and my other bills. Through earning you, I have learned how to balance work and school so I could pay for those things. I have learned how to budget, how to save, and how important it is to pay credit card payments on time.

I have learned how to conquer anxiety.

I have learned that some things are out of my control but that I can do anything that is within my own capabilities. And after these four years, the things that are within my own capabilities are incredible.

I have learned that life cannot be lived when I’m too busy looking back over my shoulder at what I’m leaving behind. Opportunity comes when I look for it, for a new chapter can’t be read when I am too busy re-reading the last one.

Through working for you, diploma, I have learned that only the strong survive this world and the ones that never give up are the ones that succeed. I have learned that I am, in fact, one ordinary person living on a planet filled with billions of other ordinary people, but that what will set me apart from everyone else is how hard I am willing to work for what I want. I have learned that armed with my resolve and with the knowledge I have gained, I cannot fix everything, but I do have the power to change one little corner of the world.

Maybe the biggest thing I did while in college was both a sacrifice and a pretty awesome accomplishment. Through earning you, diploma, I learned how to grow up.

Diploma, I value you not because you automatically secure me a job (you don’t) or because you will be able to convey exactly what I have learned in college to employers (you won’t), but because you are the sum of my hopes and my triumphs over some of life’s battles. You represent the challenges I have faced and the determination I had to see me through them. You represent the barriers I have overcome and the lessons I have learned both inside the classroom and out. You represent the things I’ve learned about the rest of the world and the things I have learned about myself.

Through earning you I have discovered the limits of my inner strength, and through earning you I have defied them.

For all the blood, sweat, and tears I have surrendered, for all the breakdowns I’ve had and the sanity I’ve lost, the triumph of earning you at last surpasses absolutely everything.

And the lessons I have learned are forever.

Diploma, seventeen years ago I walked into kindergarten ready to take on whatever was thrown my way. Now, I’m ready to walk into the rest of my life, and thanks to you, I’m still ready to take on whatever the world decides to give to me.

And just like that first day of school, I don’t plan on looking back.

~ Alexis

May 13, 2014

One More Month

I graduate college a month from today.

I guess I should be both terrified and excited about this. After all, it’s what I’ve been working towards for the past four years. But at this point, I’m not either of those things. Right now, all I feel is stressed.

The amount of stress that I’m under is like nothing I’ve ever had to go through before. Huge group projects, incredibly complex papers, and finals are to be expected at the end of a semester, but add that to the fact that I also have an internship, a capstone portfolio, poster, interview, and presentation to complete, and my LEED Green Associate exam to study for which I stupidly scheduled for three days before graduation? It’s no wonder I’ve started having nightmares.

I haven’t seen my friends in months. Some days I avoid looking in the mirror for fear of not recognizing the face staring back at me. I have no time to do anything but write, study, read, teach, sleep, and repeat. Whenever I do take an hour to watch South Park or Slumdog Millionaire (my newest obsession) and eat something, I get anxiety about not working.

I graduate college a month from today, and right now I’m not excited about it. I feel like I’m running a race and while everyone is telling me to be excited about almost crossing the finish line, I’m stuck to the asphalt and have to focus on getting myself free so I can continue running.

Why am I wasting valuable time writing this? Other than to vent to someone other than my amazing boyfriend, who hears me cry and bitch and moan every single day, I write it to explain why I am going to leave social media for a while and focus on these last four weeks. Anyone who wants to stay in touch, please call or text.

A few songs that are in my head right now:

“There’s only us. There’s only this. Forget regrets or life is yours to miss. No other road. No other way. No day but today. There’s only now. There’s only here. Give in to love or live in fear. No other path. No other way. No day but today.”

No day but today. I’ll get through this by taking it one day at a time.

Also,

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a diploma to receive and an accreditation to earn.

I’ll join the real world again soon.

Last Night, My Boyfriend Told Me a Story

I don’t talk about my boyfriend a lot on social media, purely because nobody wants to be friends with someone in That Couple – you know that one. The one that does stuff like this.

But what he did last night bears repeating.

And this is my damn blog. 

It goes without saying that at this point in the semester, 37 days out from graduation, I am pretty much gone. Done. Completely and thoroughly worn out and used up. Between full time school, my internship and capstone project I need to complete in order to graduate, new nonprofit work, and studying for my LEED Green Associate exam, I am starting to question my sanity. I have had absolutely no time to myself, except for the few minutes a day I go out to water my garden.

After three and a half years, my poor boyfriend has seen every breakdown, meltdown, throw-down I’ve had due to stress. He’s helped me through them all. And somehow he still likes me.

Last night when I was in yet another one of my holy-shit-I-have-too-much-to-do-how-am-I-going-to-survive-until-May-13th moods, he told me this story.

~

Once upon a time, he started, there was a princess who lived in a beautiful castle. She spent all her time taking care of it so that it was the best castle in all the land. People from all over came to see it. 

One day, a prince came along and approached the princess. “Hello,” he said. “I came to see – ”

“Oh yes, you came to see the castle,” the princess said. “Lots of people come to see it.”

“No,” the prince said. “I came to see you. I heard of your beauty and of your dedication. I came to help you with your castle. Just let me in, and we can work together. 

“But you see,” continued the Prince. “You can’t spend all your time cleaning your castle and making it perfect. You have to make time to take care of yourself.”

At this point, I burst into tears. My boyfriend hugged me close to him as I cried, saying nothing until I had calmed down a bit.

“You didn’t let me finish the story,” he said. “Do you want to hear the rest of it?”

He waited until I was done crying and until I had nodded before he continued.

And so, he said, the princess let the prince into the castle, and together they continued to fix it up and clean it out. And the princess made sure she didn’t spend all her time stressing over the castle. And together they lived happily ever after. 

“Oh, and their castle was still so good that it went to regionals, then nationals, then internationals,” my boyfriend added. “And they won, and it was the best in the whole world. But she didn’t spend as much time on it.”

~

Somewhere out there, there is a princess taking a break from perfecting her castle.

The Last Six Weeks of College: The Survival Instinct and The College Student’s Hierarchy of Needs

Long before our ancestors transitioned to being farmers, they were hunters and gatherers who moved throughout the land as they followed their migrating food. The wild was a dangerous place, and living to see the following day was considered an accomplishment. Typically, surviving the elements, disease, and predators was a feat only achieved by relying on a powerful instinct that has lived within all living things since the dawn of time: the instinct of survival.

Today this primitive instinct still rests within the core of our beings. It still emerges even though today we are surrounded by the comforts of walls, roofs, and easy access to food and medicine. The fight or flight reaction emerges when we are in a life or death situation. The instinct for survival emerges when women give birth. It emerges when we are stranded in the desert, or on an island, or with a group of people that have voted us to be the first to be eaten if all else fails. And it emerges for exhausted, worn out, used up, nearly defeated, nearly hopeless college students who are six weeks shy of getting their degrees.

The survival instinct. At this point, it is my only explanation for how in the hell I managed to get to this point in my college career.

For those of you who are new here, let me prelude this by saying I am currently finishing up my degree in sustainability (one of the most complicated degrees in the history of man) at Arizona State University. That’s not all I’ve gotten myself into, but I’ll get to that later. Like all worthy causes, obtaining this degree has required a great deal of sacrifice and a great deal of sanity. Because the end of the semester is near, all of the homework and the projects and the papers are starting to pile up. But because I also graduate in just 47 days, the portfolios and mock interview and the capstone presentation and the job searching and the involvement in many cool opportunities are starting to pile up, too.

Enter the survival instinct.

To give you some perspective of how much sanity I’ve lost by now, the other night I was standing in my kitchen staring into space, trying to remember what I had eaten earlier in the afternoon. My mom came in, took one long look at me, and asked me if I was okay. Forming coherent sentences is not my strong point these days, so I babbled something about having no idea how I was going to make it through the next six weeks of school.

My mom, as all mommies do, knew what to say.

“If you could survive a disease at birth that killed 99% of all other babies,” she told me firmly, “you can survive this. Fight on.”

Background: I did almost die at birth (and in fact only had a 1% chance of survival), but most of the time I think that it was merely a lucky coincidence that Phoenix Children’s Hospital was able to save my life. The other times, when I’m in one of my philosophical moods, I wonder if that primal survival instinct kicked in for my newborn self and forced me to keep fighting.

For all I know, it could have happened way back then. If it did, it is very well happening for me again.

My course load is pretty standard for a college senior: right now I am balancing 17 credit hours and an internship that includes lesson planning and teaching. I’ve also gotten involved in quite a few projects that are saving my sanity yet undeniably eating into my time: the Total Transformation Sustainable Showcase in New River and growing my own little garden. The other project is something I’m really excited about: SmartRoots Global – a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating children in international communities about sustainability. It’s still in the development stages, and I have been asked by its founder to help plan sustainability curriculum.

The biggest, most important thing that I’ve undertaken is studying for the LEED Green Associate exam – an enormously complicated, comprehensive test facilitated through the U.S. Green Building Council about the LEED certification process. Because I want to work for the USGBC’s Center for Green Schools one day, passing this exam is my first step into securing a job there in the future. The problem? It requires between 40 – 60 hours of study, and I’m taking it on May 10th.

Have you heard about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? Basically, it’s a theory that categorizes human wants and needs into a pyramid, with things like the ability to be creative on the very top and basic human necessities like food and water on the bottom.

Now, translate that into the wants and needs of the average college student, and you’d get something like new clothes and healthy but expensive food on top and coffee and the occasional full night of sleep at the bottom. Human interaction falls somewhere in the middle, and alcohol can be cast aside or the number one priority based on your preference.

I feel like throughout my time in college, the typical wants and needs within all those top layers are melting away. I mentioned before how obtaining this degree required sacrifices. I think I speak for all college students when I say those sacrifices are making my instinct to survive come through to save me.

My social life was the first thing to go. This last semester of college has absolutely killed – destroyed – whatever social life I managed to carry on with me from freshman year. The last time I saw any of my friends in person was some time in January. I talk to one or two of my closest circle on Facebook every now and then. But for the most part? The two living beings I talk to the most in person outside of anyone in my classes or my internship are my cat and my boyfriend. And even then they hear mostly of my stress or my insane dreams to move to Washington, D.C. Although sometimes – if I didn’t sleep well the night before – I narrate my day to my cat. And she judges me.

Next went my organization. I look around my room now and see piled clothes everywhere, dust collecting on my bookshelves and piano, textbooks, papers, documents, notebooks, and pens strewn absolutely everywhere, kitty litter tracked in all over the carpet, and the occasional cup or plate on any flat surface that will support its weight. My car looks like I live out of it (which is half-true). My bathroom could probably win an award at a science fair if I ripped it out of my house and plopped it onto some elementary school’s stage.

Then went my job. I lasted my second to last semester and two months into this final semester before I heard about the LEED Green Associate exam and knew in order to study for it I would have to quit. Quitting was devastating. Hallmark was the first retail job I had worked that I actually liked.

Then – and yes, I fully admit this – went myself. Exercise? Eating full meals and healthy food? Doing anything more than washing my face and throwing my hair up in a ponytail every morning? Ain’t nobody got time for that! The only thing I give myself credit for is that most days I make myself put on makeup for the sole intent of hiding the dark circles under my eyes and convincing people I am not a zombie. It’s also a good thing I am hypoglycemic, otherwise I would probably never eat, though I’m pretty sure I don’t have any blood left and that there is just coffee running through my veins instead.

But dammit, I’m surviving. I’m doing this somehow. I may not be battling saber-tooth tigers or trying to find food in the dead of winter to feed my family, but I’m keeping up with all the work that needs to be done in order for me to walk across that stage. Yes, those layers in the hierarchy have been stripped away. But I do have one thing left, and that is the instinct to keep going. The crazy voice in my head that tells me to keep pushing myself, to study for just another ten minutes, to organize another group meeting, to modify another lesson, to try and get up a little earlier to work on another paper.

I know this won’t last. I know I could have it much worse. I know graduating from college is a privilege I should be thankful for. And most importantly, I know that every part of me is going to want to give everything to be back in school the moment I’m done. But this balancing act is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.

Like a starving man clutching scraps of food, I am clinging to anything and everything that reminds me of my upcoming graduation. A few days ago my graduation announcements came in, and I nearly cried upon seeing them. They were a shining light at the end of this huge, difficult tunnel for me. A glimpse at what is yet to come.

I have no conclusion to this, because this is far from over. 47 more days before I can be a normal human being again. 47 more days of relying on this instinct to keep me from saying to hell with it and jumping on a plane to Paris so I can live a Bohemian lifestyle for the rest of my life.

That actually doesn’t sound like a bad idea.

But anyway.

I survived as an infant when there was no logical reason for me to make it past my first 12 hours.

And I will survive now.

[She sums it up nicely, don’t you think? I’m thinking I need a pair of those red pants. And roller-skates.]

Rising Before the Sun and Acting Like A Grown Up

I have lots of memories of the days I used to wake up before the sun had risen. Lately I have been so spoiled I’ve been able to sleep in until at least the sun was somewhat out and about, but I haven’t always been that lucky.

Today I had to wake up at 6 in order to leave my house by 7 so I could be on campus at 8 in time to get a parking spot. It was far from the first time I had to drag myself out of bed in what felt like the middle of the night. In high school, even middle school, I typically woke up before the sun in order to make it to school on time. Whenever we went on trips when I was little, we were usually on the road while it was still dark. During the awful moves from Arizona to California and from California to Florida, we left our home early enough to watch the sun rise from the highway.

All of these memories came to me this morning as I was driving along my merry way to class. I left early enough to miss most of the traffic, but whenever I did have to hit the brakes and cruise along at a snail’s pace on the road, I looked around at the beautiful Arizona landscape – the mountains, the dawn’s fog clinging to the horizon, the way the saguaros stood against the lightening sky. Increasingly, though, I found myself fascinated by my fellow drivers. As I looked around at the people driving beside me, you know what I saw all throughout my drive?

Men in collared shirts and ties talking on their cell phones.

Women in nice blouses and pearls sipping their coffee.

Some of these people drove nice cars, some didn’t. Some seemed ready to take on the day, some were putting on lipstick or straightening shirt collars as they drove. They all had one thing in common: they were all staring blankly ahead in exhaustion.

Maybe I’m over-analyzing the way those drivers sat and tapped their fingers on their steering wheels. They were all probably just tired and unaware that a 21-year-old college student was creepily curiously watching them from her Corolla.

But something about being stuck in traffic with a bunch of full-time participants of society struck me. It reminded me of my worst memory of waking up early: the previous winter when I got roped into running one of the faraway offices for the medical clinic I worked at while their usual secretary was on vacation. For two weeks I was leaving my house by 6:55 in the morning and arriving at work at 7:30. I would walk into work just as the sun was peeking out above the horizon. I did not see it again until my lunch break at 12:30 and would sadly watch it set as I began my trek home at 4:30.

Those days sucked. They sucked big time.

Looking around at the tired, impatient people hurrying to get to their 8 to 5 jobs reminded me that I was one of them today on this cold January morning. If I hadn’t quit that medical clinic job, I’d still be one of them. And if I don’t follow the path I so desperately want to go down when I graduate, I will end up like them.

And then with this resolution come lots of other thoughts such as the fact that I’m in my early twenties and going to graduate soon and I’m already paying bills and drinking coffee too much. And one of these days I might just have to accept the fact that I’m turning into the boring grown up I swore I’d never be when I was little. But for now, I have a defiant little voice in my head that sees me through these episodes, the same little part of me that glanced at her fellow drivers in sympathy this morning:

You’re not a grown up yet! that defiant part of my mind always chimes in whenever I think these thoughts, You’re still in school! You still love chocolate milk! You don’t have kids! How on earth can you be a big scary grown up?

Why, the other part of me thinks reasonably, there’s no way, little voice. Not yet. Not me.

There’s a Faith Hill song called “American Heart” that I haven’t stopped humming all day, and the first line goes: “She’s up before the sun, on the run… another dollar, ‘nother day, another cup of coffee…”

That’s how I felt today. And while I sure the hell don’t feel like an official grown up just yet, for now, as I drive to class while the sun rises, I can totally act the part.