The Most Important Things I Learned In College

I did it! I’m a college graduate! The last few weeks I’ve been exceedingly busy, but I’ve been really wondering what it is that college has taught me. Aside from all the literal bullshit I learned and regrettably retained from Honors Philosophy freshman year, I realized I’ve come out of the past three and a half years with some pretty valuable life lessons. Here they are in a list, in kind of specific order but not totally. (More on how I feel about graduating when it actually starts to sink in…)

  1. “90% of life is just showing up.”

    Woody Allen’s a pretty brilliant guy in the field of filmmaking, but nothing that has ever been said to me resonates more than this quotation by him.  I was something just short of a bonafide truant throughout high school. I rarely went to school due to “legitimate sickness” and I still did remarkably well. My 9th grade teacher used to tease the class that I could be “out on the corner smoking crack” and still come to class and break the curve on the exam. I was just a smart kid. That ended in college. I had to start actually showing up to class. I’ve also learned, both as a student and as a TA, that a professor is exponentially more sympathetic to the plight of a student who gives them three hours a week regularly. I imagine the same is true of the professional world. I’m not positive, though. I’ll let you know when I get there. Honestly, just get out of bed and be there. A lot of time, you won’t have to do much more than that. Looking like you care is a good look.

  2. Missing someone who left voluntarily is a waste of important feelings and energy.

    This year I lost both my grandparents and a boyfriend who I thought was gonna be around for quite a while. I will tell you first hand: missing someone is exhausting. Here’s the difference between those two different levels of loss, though. My grandparents both passed away. They were taken from me. I do, with every fiber of my being, believe it was their time to go. They had both been sick and I was almost relieved to see them no longer suffering. But, months later and I assume it will be this way forever, I think of them at least once a day and I actively miss them. I’m sure it will get less painful in time and I’ll remember them and be happy, but I will always miss them. Sometimes I catch myself planning on going to visit my grandma in the hospital on my way home from afternoon classes and then I have to remind myself she’s not there. It’s heart breaking every single time. Had they had the option, they would’ve never left me and I know that. My ex-boyfriend left by choice. I don’t fault him for his choice because he felt it was what was right for him. I can’t hold a grudge against him for living his life as he saw best. Obviously these two losses are on opposite sides of the tragedy spectrum. But for a while, I was missing him the same way I was missing my grandparents until that idea struck me as absolutely absurd. My grandparents have left this earth forever by necessity and old age. My ex boyfriend is at some bar in queens, lovin’ life, perfectly fine without me because that’s where he wants to be. Why am I mourning our relationship?
    A lot of people came in and out of my life in the last four years. At some point, I had to accept that there wasn’t enough room for everyone and it would be the important people who stuck around. I was impacted by every last one of them in one way or another, but like I said, missing someone is exhausting. It’s an emotion that should be saved for those who are taken from us forever or those who reciprocate it.

  3. Everything is negotiable.

    Starting college, I was very used to my high school life – where my assignments were on time and perfect and so was I. Things change in college, mostly because things are a lot harder and extenuating life circumstances happen. When I was still a senior, my cousin used to tell me magical tales of how he haggled over grades with is professors. Granted, he went to a really crappy two year school, but I was still pretty sure he was bullshitting. Turns out, not only are grades negotiable, so are some deadlines if you handle yourself right. Hard to believe, but a professor can’t grade all 20 papers in one night so if you approach him/her early about your circumstance – whether it’s that you have four papers and a midterm that week, or you’re generally just having a rough time – a decent person will be sympathetic (I can’t speak generally. Some people, specifically academics, are just assholes). DO NOT expect to negotiate a deadline or a grade if 1. you’ve never been to class 2. it’s the day before/that it is due 3. you ask for extensions often. But, if you’ve generally been doing your job and happen to need some help, ask for it. Turns out, as hard as it is for me to accept sometimes, not everything is in black and white. (some deadlines are, though. Keep track of important dates).

  4. Nothing is the end of the world.

    Your dickhead professor might not be sympathetic and you might get a really horrible grade. In the long scheme of things, it’s not terribly important. You will probably recover. I almost failed out of college freshman year. Now I’m graduating with a 3.something GPA. It will all be fine.

  5. Loopholes exist. Use them.

    I’m really hesitant to ask for help so when someone presents an option to me like “You can take any class for Pass/Fail credit, even a class in your major, due to lost time from the horrific hurricane you endured” I’m still like “ehhh..” but then as a senior who’s probably nearly failing a film studies class, I’m like “WHY?”. So I do. And that’s the first time I’ve ever used a loophole and it was the BEST.

  6. Uggs are barely okay to wear in public. They are definitely not acceptable to wear to a bar.

    THEY’RE NOT. STOP DOING THIS. IT’S NOT 2002! BUY A PAIR OF REAL BOOTS. THEY’RE JUST AS EXPENSIVE. You can SOMETIMES wear them if you’re really sick and are walking around not giving a fuck but DON’T wear them regularly (unless you’re a surfer in Australia and Uggs serve a function, then carry on). I live on Long Island, the land of Uggs and Leggings (which are NOT pants) but this is not acceptable, ladies. Just stop.

  7. There are things you can’t fix.

    You might never understand why someone broke up with you and you will definitely never actively be able to change their mind. Short of a making a power point presentation, which is weird and desperate, you will never be able to convince them of all your fantastic qualities and why they’re missing out. So, drown your problems in beer and rum and then go out and be fabulous all over the internet to make him/her jealous just like EVERYONE else. (Side note, facebook is ruining the world.) This applies to everything else as well. Sometimes you have to know when to relinquish control and accept it for whatever it is.

  8. It’s okay to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them.

    Nobody is freaking perfect and sometimes you’ll fuck up. Like you’ll think your first ever film studies paper of college is due on Thursday when it’s really due on Tuesday and as a result you’ll get a C and think you’re a failure at life and your major and consider transferring or dropping out of college all together 3 weeks into your first semester. This, actually, is okay. Just don’t do it again. (I didn’t. That professor was a dick. He got fired. I’m doing just fine)

  9. Nobody cares that your printer is broken. It’s still due today.

    Freshman year, this was my favorite excuse for not having homework or a paper on time. In high school, we rarely used email and this was acceptable. If you couldn’t print out your homework at home, you often had no other option. Apparently no one at my high school even knew what a flash drive was let alone carried one around. (I can’t imagine living withut my flash drive now, by the way. It’s the best.) It was a harsh awakening to have professors tell me “okay, email it to me right after class” when I was expecting to have another night to finish whatever ‘it’ was. This basically translates to “your problems aren’t my concern. I will have as much leniency for your minor crisis as possible, but you had plenty of time to prepare. Get your shit together”. This is the attitude with which I now approach all academic and professional endeavors. I need to remain on top of my own shit because it is no one’s problem but mine. This attitude alone might make me the perfect employee. (Unless you’ve previously negotiated an extension because then they care. You’re okay)

  10. Ignoring your problems won’t make them go away.

    My favorite phenomena of college life has been watching people simply not show up to class the day of an exam or when a big paper is due. This has always, always confused me. Do you think by not showing up, you won’t have to take it? You’ve only exacerbated the problem for yourself. You now have to schedule a makeup exam or take points off on your late paper. Why not just show up and face it head on? This is true of most things.

  11. Money is only money. You will never have enough & you can’t take it with you.

    You should probably not take financial advice from me because I’m up to my eyeballs in student loan debt and am broke biweekly. I took out an individual loan just to go to Ireland for a month. But, I firmly believe that, within reason, you should be enjoying the money you work for. Of course, there should be a degree of savings and responsibility, but if I can’t blow a weeks pay on a weekend bender every once in a while, why am I even alive? (exaggeration. no panic, parents). Ultimately, you’re going to die and your money isn’t coming with you. You work really hard. Do something fun for yourself. (Unless you don’t work really hard and your money is your parents’. Then get a job.)

  12. You are your worst critic, always.

    No one is harder on you than you are. If someone pays you a compliment, accept that you’re doing a good job. Pat yourself on the back. And then do better.

  13. Sleep is not always the solution.

    Sometimes life knocks you down and you just want to stay down there and take a pretty long nap. Sometimes, this is the best thing for you. Sometimes, it gets pretty excessive. Sleeping too much can just make you lethargic and more depressed.  I know sleep is a symptom of depression but I think it’s cyclical. If you sleep too much and don’t give yourself a chance to come out of it, you’ll never feel better. Sometimes you have to get out there and face what’s wrong rather than just let it pass. Sometimes its okay to take a night off and sleep it off, but sometimes its not. Pick yourself up and get out there, bucko.

  14. Twenties, employed and single is an okay place to be in life for a while.

    One of my biggest role models in life (My cousin Scott) told me this once recently. It didn’t truly sink in until I really started to get close to graduation. I have a job, I’m responsible for no one but myself and I can literally do whatever I want with my life. I want to pick up and move to California? I can go. (I can’t. My job and my family, both of which I’m really fond of, are here in NY.) I won’t be here forever. Someday I’ll be almost 30 and I hope by then I have someone to share my life with, but right now I get to enjoy it and my time and be selfish and do what I want. I’m pretty happy here for a while.

  15. Answer only to yourself.

    You will NEVER make everyone happy. Ultimately, make you happy. If your boss makes you miserable, find somewhere else to work. Make the best of a shitty situation only as long as you absolutely have to.

  16. Internet arguments are not worth having.

    There are very few people who I will waste time arguing with, and I don’t mean any kind of heated fighting. I mean I have an idea and you have an idea, we disagree, but let me explain my position logically. These people are some of the smartest I know. You will never win an internet argument and it’s literally unending. Just don’t do it.  No one will ever concede that their opinion is wrong (opinions can’t be wrong). These arguments have the potential to make you look really stupid in the most public of forums.

  17. NO ONE is as together as they say they are on Facebook.

    People LOVE to make their life sound better than yours because it makes them feel good about themselves. It’s probably not. Don’t share everything on Facebook, anyway. It’s lame. (I do this. I’m actively trying to stop. Bare with me.)

Advertisements

I Feel Okay About My Life These Days: My New Job and My Level Head

When I started off this blog a few months ago, I intended to primarily discuss my final few months of school and my anxiety about entering the real grownup world. Obviously, it’s turned into something else entirely. Let’s catch up:

Mid-September, I got a new job editing live sports so I was able to finally quit my crappy customer service job that was, I think, actually rotting my brain. I’d mentioned this, I’m sure, but I never really talked about it beyond the fact that I’d gotten the job. The day I was hired, my grandma passed away and that kind of, obviously, overshadowed my new-job excitement.

Every Friday morning, I wake up at 5AM and drive to work to edit and publish hockey highlights from the previous night’s games before 10AM. If we’ve ever met, you’d assume that this would make me miserable. The world is cold and dark at 5AM. Nothing good can happen that early in the morning. Except I love every second of it. Well, maybe not LOVE every second, I’d certainly prefer that it would happen at a normal hour of the day, but I still have no complaints about doing it. Actually, this isn’t an assigned thing. They asked for people to volunteer. And I did, even knowing what time it was.

I also primarily work nights and weekends, but still, I have nothing bad to say.

This fact alone should tell you enough. I love what I’m doing.

But, wait! There’s more!

Some Backstory: Last December, I turned 21. I don’t really make a big deal out of birthdays but I was pretty excited about this one. That morning, at around 7:30AM, my boss – the manager of the store I worked in – called me and told me an employee had called in sick. Although I had requested off more than 2 weeks in advance, I’d have to come in that afternoon and the following morning because this girl had “the flu”. (She stopped showing up for work entirely 2 weeks later. I suspect she wasn’t actually sick..). I spent my 21st birthday at work, in a tanning salon. I spent the next morning there as well.

This December, I turn 22 (obviously). This birthday is not a big deal at all, except my 22nd birthday also happens to be the very day that I officially finish college. I’m not participating in a graduation ceremony until May because I wanted to graduate with my friends, but my end-of-schooling is December 20. On December 21, I’m going to see Dave Matthews Band for the very first time and I honestly couldn’t be more excited or ask for any more. But, I figured I deserve to celebrate a little and I could use a drink at the end of this semester so I’ve planned a bar outing for whichever friends want to join me the night of the 20th. I realized after making plans that on Friday mornings, I have work at 6AM. I sent out an email to the other editors asking if anyone would mind switching early shifts with me that week because my college graduation and 22nd birthday happened to coincide. Not only were multiple people willing to switch with me, they were all also willing to simply relieve me of the shift and all had well wishes for my birthday and commencement- most of these guys I’ve never even actually met due to the size of the editing staff.

I was so touched by this. I thought “this is the kind of place I want to work”. These people, most of whom don’t even know me, are willing to simply do me a favor. Sure, they’re getting paid. But they’re also waking up super early in the morning. This isn’t an easy shift to give away. Last year, I was in a place where not only would my manager of 2 years not do me a favor, but stuck me to cover for some asshole ,who was hired against my advice and clearly was incapable of effectively doing her job, on my 21st birthday because it was her day off.

I’m so happy here at this new job and so excited to get to know more of the people I work with. I really, really like what I’m doing and hopefully there will be room for me to grow a little at this company. One of my professors suggested I stay there a while and see how it goes because he sees it being a big company in a few years. That’s really exciting and it’s done a lot to ease my tension about my life post-grad, which quickly approaches.

This matters so much more to me than all the other bullshit going on in my life the last 6 months. My grandparents would be so excited to see my career moving in a positive direction so soon. My grandma, specifically, urged me constantly to find a job that I liked that challenged me and I finally have. She’d be so happy and I’m so happy to know I’m where she’d want me to be.

Friends and relatives keep offering to “set me up” with different guys, but I find that I’m not all that interested lately. A change in priorities is exactly what I needed, it seems. I’m so level headed and focused lately and not really in the mood to get back on that roller coaster anytime soon. Things happen when they’re supposed to. I mean, today I paid all my bills on time and still had money in my bank account. I can put gas in my car AND go out for my best friend’s birthday this weekend. Then, I ran my first ever backup of my primary hard drive. I’m going to the gym 3 times a week. I’ve never felt more like an adult. The stars are aligning. I really feel like things are coming together and I’m so excited.

Perfect Romantic Moments of my Otherwise Average Life

First of all, school is slowly killing me. I think Hofstra is using this semester as a final test to see if I’m truly worthy of commencement. I am actually miserable, but I have less than a full month left at this point. So, I’m getting there. Eyes on the prize.

Second of all, I have a lot of things to say about Hurricane Sandy and public response, but I’m not going to because honestly I’m just tired of talking about it and dealing with it and I desperately want everything to be back to normal. Maybe I’ll make my thoughts known at a later time.

So, down to business: I’ve been thinking about writing this for a while because I think it’s going to be fun to write and I have a bizarre fondness for nostalgia. Also, my cousin Scott just got engaged, which is very exciting, but it also makes me the oldest, unmarried person in my immediate family. This fact is very scary at this juncture in my life so I need to actively remind myself that I’m not doomed forever. So, here goes:

I’ve talked a lot about my past boyfriend but there were others before him. All in all, I have a pretty average life but sometimes really great things happen and I like to call those the relationship-highlight package of my life. You can watch the highlights of a game but it barely sheds light on the whole story. That’s an accurate metaphor. Here is a short collection of my brief, most perfect, cinematic moments in my almost-22 years.

1. July 4, 2008

Late on July 3, 2008, my grandpa was admitted to the hospital for one reason or another. I know this because the next day would be the first Fourth of July I didn’t spend with my family. July 5th was my grandmother’s birthday so this was typically a non-negotiable holiday. (I was 17. All holidays were then non-negotiable family time. My relationship wasn’t recognized as real. I was a child.)  At the time, I was dating the rather unremarkable John, but I was forever in love and since I’d found an out on a family holiday, I would spend the day meeting his aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents for the first time. (This was also the time that I learned that when meeting someone’s family, if you’re polite and the kids like you, you’re basically in; A useful tip for anyone half as awkward in these situations as I am…)

We spent the whole day at a BBQ at his grandparent’s house with his whole family. From what I remember, he has a lot of little cousins on top of his three younger sisters so we did a lot of running around and playing with them. Because the kids were so young, it was slated to be an early evening. As it started to get dark, it started to rain – not hard or anything, not enough to stop any fireworks – and John and I walked back to his house ahead of his family who was helping clean up (against my protests. I always offer to help my boyfriend’s mom/aunts clean. It’s the polite things to do as a guest and just makes you look really good as a girlfriend). It was only a few blocks back to his house and fireworks are one of my favorite parts of the summer so I wasn’t about to let a little rain prevent me from seeing them. We got set up on the hammock in his backyard (which I never once sat in gracefully) and watched the fireworks together in the rain.

Honestly the memory of this day has gotten a little hazy over the past four years and I couldn’t accurately recall to you the things we said or how it smelled or anything and I’m not all too willing to give him credit for doing anything too outstandingly wonderful, but I remember desperately trying to commit to memory the moment his kissed me in the rain, under the fireworks because I knew that these things don’t happen to everyone every day. It was a perfect moment in time. I like to think of it as the first great cinematic moment of my life.

He had some other great moments, but a collection of great 30 second clips doesn’t make up for hours and hours of crap. This is true in Film and in life I’ve come to realize.

(Also he broke up with me in Toys R Us on my best friend’s birthday. How’s that for a shitty person?)

2. Coney Island

The end of my freshman year of college, I briefly dated an older guy who, for about two weeks, I was completely taken with. He was charming and was more than willing to go completely out of his way to spend time with me. Smitten is a good word for what I was. He even got to meet my friends (A mistake I will never make so early in a relationship again). We had hung out a few times but on June 5, 2010 we went on our first official date. It was the best first date I’ve ever been on despite me falling way in love long after this guy was gone. He set the bar super high.

He wouldn’t tell me where we were going and I had no idea how to dress. (I can still, however, tell you exactly what I wore). Upon picking me up at my front door (a rule my parents stick to hard and fast) he revealed we were going to Coney Island, as long as that was okay with me, which it was, obviously. He drove us into Brooklyn and we rode the Wonderwheel and walked around a bit. He won me a goldfish, who, despite my best efforts, is still alive more than two years later. Then, we went for pizza at my very favorite pizza place in all of New York.

Again, things get blurry over the course of a couple years but I can remember a few distinct things from this night. First, I remember being kissed on the WonderWheel and thinking “I have now been kissed in the rain and on the WonderWheel. I have a sick list. My friends are secretly so jealous”. That’s not a joke. It actually happened.  I remember him being unimaginably sweet to me the whole night. I remember sitting in his car outside my house afterwards listening to Brand New and holding hands. I remember him telling me he was going to flush the goldfish and then me protesting vehemently. He laughed at me the next day when I went to the pet store and bought the fish a tank and food because it “wouldn’t make it to next weekend”. And then, he stopped calling and answering phone calls for the next 2-3 months. I’ve heard from him since.

The fish, Geoffrey, is stil alive, no thanks to him.

3. The time I liked a Frat guy

First, don’t do this. With very few exceptions, they’re douche bags. Stereotypes exist because they’re true. But anyway, last fall I had a couple classes with this guy who was very much my type and let’s just say he was hard to miss.  I was feeling pretty ambitious, I guess, so I made sure I sat next to him and struck up witty conversation at every chance I got all semester (witty read obvious) (I should also mention that I have a constant worry about how I will meet people after college because literally my only game is “Do we have anything due? I forgot to write it down in class”. I take the best notes ever. I never forget to write dates down. Nonetheless, it works. Boys are dumb). Halfway through the semester, he offered up his number to me one day on facebook and I knew I was in. My hard work was paying off.

The Friday after the last day of classes, right before finals, he texted me to come to a bar near campus, but none of my friends were having it and obviously I wasn’t going alone to hang out with him and his frat bros. I regretfully declined and told him I’d see him at the final. I was devastated I was missing my moment. He texted me back about 20 minutes later telling me he was leaving the bar, would I like to come over?

Yes I would.

I knew what this was. I’m no idiot. But also sometime’s I’m a little stupid in the decisions I make. I had put in too much time and effort to go to Christmas break with nothing. He was graduating in May and we had no classes together in the spring. This was my window. He was obviously a little drunk when I got there but he showed me around the house and then I awkwardly sat on the couch (like I do so well). He offered me a beer and then asked me to dance. I was pretty taken aback but then we were slow dancing (SLOW DANCING) to Christmas music under christmas lights and I was all melty and girl-like. I was won. That was the end. I would marry him if he asked me.

He didn’t though. He told me unprompted that he wanted to see me again and had a great time, never called and was in a Facebook-official relationship with some girl in some sorority less than a month later. I never saw him again and we’d avoid eye contact when we ran into each other for the next 6 months on campus. It’s like that sometimes. It’s a shame. He was kind of funny.

More to come someday. I hope.

All My Friends Are Couples And I’m Not: The Worst Times

They say when you’re single, all you can see in the world are happy people in couples. It’s not actually true, but it’s human nature to pick up on things others have that you don’t. Which is why, conversely, when you’re a part of a couple, it feels like everyone around you is happy and single. The grass is always greener.

I firmly believe that your brain can trick you into perceiving that this is true.

Except in my case this is actually true. And it’s the worst.

Not a secret that I’ve been on my own since early June. Typically, I’m super okay with being single. While admittedly, this past breakup has been very hard on me, I’m doing okay by myself these days. My new job is going really, really well and it looks like there’s room for advancement and I’m just really excited that it seems I’ll be in an okay place when I graduate. Losing my grandparents, as difficult as it has been, has lifted enormous amounts of weight off me and my family and everyone, myself included, is just a lot less stressed and constantly intense. What would make my life almost literally as perfect  as it could realistically be at this time is if my best friends would stop constantly reminding me that I’m alone because, seriously, they’re [accidentally] making it seem like a much bigger deal than it is.

All of my friends are in at least semi-serious relationships. I could not be happier for them. Do not get me wrong. I am not jealous of them by any means. I’m happy they’re happy, regardless of my personal opinion on their choice of partners and I hope they feel similarly excited for the things I’m excited for in my own life. What I need them to stop doing is constantly talking to me about how great their boyfriends are and filling me in on every, single detail of their relationships.

I never, ever want my friends to feel like they can’t talk to me about anything, especially the things that they’re happy about. I truly want to hear about exciting things. I’m interested in their lives. That’s why we’re friends. What I need them to realize is, though, that there are other things going on in the world than their boyfriend thinking they’re the best. By constantly, and I mean constantly, talking about their relationships in vivid and unnecessary detail, it’s like the fact that I’m alone is slapping me in the face multiple times daily.

Logically, in my own head, I understand that I’m only 21 and I have plenty of time in my life to not be alone and to quote my cousin,”early 20s with a job is a great place to be. You have plenty of time ahead of you to get it together”. But, when all of the people in your social circle have nothing to talk about other than the fact that they’re super happy with their boyfriends, it makes it feel like it’s way more important than it actually is. so – STOP IT. This is the reason I’m around less and make less of an effort to keep in touch with you. Because talking to you depresses me. It makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong in my life, when actually, things are going remarkably well for me these days.

And, as guilty as I feel for feeling this way, I’m equally pissed off at all of you with very few exceptions.  We are supposed to be friends. You’re not supposed to never go out anymore and never have time  for us. We all promised a long time ago that would never happen. We obviously have a better grasp now on how difficult that is because life and school intervene, but you’re supposed to make time. That’s what friendship is supposed to be. Our extremely limited time together should not be consumed by your relationship. Additionally, as my best friend(s), you should be aware that the past few months have been indescribably difficult for me and you should have a little more sensitivity. Maybe talk to one of our other friends – one who’s in a relationship, there are a ton of them – about how great your relationship is. Maybe censor that from me for a little while longer. Maybe understand that I’m still a little hurt. I don’t know, just some suggestions.

I don’t know how to say all this without sounding bitter, and maybe I am a little, who knows. I know none of you are intentionally trying to hurt my feelings. I would never think you would do that. I just wish you would open your eyes and not make me write things like this because I’m too chicken to confront you in person. I do wish a little that I could participate in those conversations still, but I can’t anymore. I can, however, describe in detail how excited I am about my senior film shoots and that I’m in line for a really great internship at work that could lead to full time work. You could ask maybe, one time, how things are going for me. I would like to go to a bar with all of you, something I haven’t done in months, and just have a really good time. You can bring your boyfriends. I don’t care. As long as I don’t have to talk to you about them.

Making Inconsequential Small Talk Is Slowly Killing Me

I’ve chosen a life and career firmly based on my ability to network and thus, my bullshitting skills are almost unparalleled. Despite my overwhelming awkwardness, I can chat somebody up as good as anyone. I can talk current events, pop culture, weather, sports, literature, movies, tv and never politics or religion (I know the rules). I’m good at what I do.

In a non-professional setting, I hate small talk. I hate approaching people almost as much as I hate when people feel the need to fill a silence that simply doesn’t need to be filled. This is probably part of why I don’t smoke; bumming a cigarette of a stranger is one less random social encounter I’ll ever have to deal with. I don’t want to talk to cab drivers. I wish the nail salon ladies never spoke to me and especially never asked me what the tattoo on my foot means. Unless you are a very cute dude or my genuine friend or you are paying me a brief compliment, I have no interest in speaking to you in any scenario including but not limited to at the gym, in an elevator, in any line of any sort, at a concert, if you’re my waiter, when I’m eating, when I’m with anyone who I know/like more than you, or on a train. The only exceptions to this rule are at any live sporting event, but only in relation to sports, when asking for directions and/or help, but really, you have google on your phone too, and sometimes at a bar after I’ve had a few drinks and even then, I’d still prefer only my friends and cute dudes spoke to me. But, DO NOT ever come up to me in a loud bar and expect to strike up a conversation.  I will not scream over a DJ for you, random stranger (unless you’re a cute dude). Silence is an ok thing. It’s alright for it to exist in the world. Try not saying anything. I promise. It’s not so bad.

Still, I am a very friendly and polite person. I will never, ever blatantly ignore someone because, despite all of these feelings, I still have the crippling desire to be well liked by strangers. I truly appreciate when people who work in customer service are friendly. I’ve been there. I know you’re only trying to do your job well by talking to me. For this reason, I’m a great tipper. If you speak to me, I will converse with you, but you should be aware that I’m dying on the inside.

My least favorite kind of small talk, though, even more so than talking to strangers, is when I have to talk to people who aren’t strangers but also aren’t friends or co-workers. The acquaintance small talk is the absolute worst.

If we haven’t seen each other in months, there’s probably a reason for it. I do a pretty good job of making time for people I actually want to see with very few exceptions. There are some people who my schedule just doesn’t allow me to make time for. My friend Deb, for example. She is an absolute doll and one of my favorite people at Hofstra but we’re both really busy and it just never seems to come together for us. But she is the exception, not the rule. For this reason, there’s absolutely no need for you to tell me that “we HAVE to get dinner soon!” when I run into you. No, we don’t and you don’t need to say that. A simple “how’s everything? good to see you!” would suffice just fine. You’re just forcing me to make an equally phony reply and then where are we? Awkwardsville, that’s where. Additionally, if you keep pressuring me to come out with you and I keep having a reason not to, I suggest you stop trying. I genuinely do have a lot on my plate these days so there’s the chance that I might have actual reasons not to come, but the chances are, and I’m being honest, I just don’t want to go. I value my free time more than almost anything and I already see a lot less of my actual friends than I would like to, so I don’t want to spend the evening fulfilling friendly obligations when I can instead be asleep or super drunk with the people I love most in the world.

The awkward run-in small talk is something that can’t really be avoided, though. I’ll admit that. The real absolute worst is getting a text from a person who seemingly has no reason to text you, but does anyway. We have not spoken in weeks. I’m pretty sure you have literally hundreds of other people you could bullshit last night’s hockey game with. I either need you to get to the point of why you’re texting me or stop. It’s confusing. We could be actual friends who like, watch hockey games together and then talk about them. That’d be okay. But this weird thing where we’re in some kind of friendship limbo where you just text me sporadically is not going to fly.

A random text, no matter what it says, sends the message of “hey, I was thinking of you and want to talk to you but I don’t have a real reason to cite so I’m inventing one” OR “I want/need something from you but I can’t just cut to the chase”. I KNOW THIS. Wanna know how? I’ve done this. More than once. Everyone has, whether they admit it or not. More often than I care to say, in my younger days, I would text my then ex-boyfriend-away-at-college about some RANDOM ASS THING just to make sure he didn’t forget I was alive. That would lead to a few hours, maybe days, of texting and probably an additional 2 years of us dragging out our bizarro love affair much, much longer than it needed to go on. Also, there is no comfortable way to ask someone for a favor. Easing into it seems like the natural course of action. I know. I have been there.

But ya know what? I don’t do that now! Because it’s awful and I hate when people do it to me. Either 1. Figure out why it is that you actually want to talk to me so badly and say that or 2. Get to the point. If you can do neither of those things, don’t bother. It should be a simple part of texting etiquette, much like how “ok” is very different from “ok.”. (Watch your period use, people!)

My rule of thumb is that if you’re not someone I will wish happy birthday to directly (by text or in person. I never make birthday phone calls except to children. I feel like I have to then sing and no one wants that), you’re not someone who needs to feel obligated to randomly text me and keep alive any form of relationship and the opposite should be true. You can send me a friendly email every few months if you’re simply trying not to burn bridges. The formality of email makes that a lot less awkward for me. Unless you actually have some secret motive for our communications, and then, for the love of all that is holy, figure your shit out and come clean.  We will all live happier lives because of it.

 

(If you felt like this rant had some weird, directed, subtext, you weren’t wrong)

An Open Letter to the Dude Who Broke My Heart

First, my disclaimer is that I wrote this a while ago – not long after I got back from Ireland, so everyone who cares can relax. I was in bad shape three months ago, but I’m doing much better now. I won’t pretend like it’s some secret who this is about. Everyone knows. But, I obviously have no shame. I really liked it originally and was pretty proud of myself for getting my feelings down accurately and just getting them out of my body, where they were certainly doing no good. And mostly I liked that I was able to write him as not an asshole, because he wasn’t when I wrote this. (I don’t know what he is now. We don’t really speak.) But since re-reading and editing, I’ve realized it’s directly parallel to a Taylor Swift song and so, it’s lost some credibility. Seriously. It’s still very scary for me to put this out there for the whole world, even after I’m basically all glued back together, but it’s doing me no good keeping it for myself.

I’ve been doing a lot of writing for school lately and am a little sick of my own voice so I thought I’d post something that required no extra work. If you don’t have the time to read this or don’t want to puke because it’s really just awful, just give this a good listen and you’ll be caught up:

If you’re brave enough to make the jump and read my post-breakup pity party and not just listen to it’s summery by the glorious T.Swiz above, here ya go:

When we first met, you came on too strong. You called too often (actually called, not even texted. Called.) and used scary words like “forever”. Our first date was pleasant and you were a gentleman. I’d find out later that after that date, you went directly back to your friends and bragged and bragged which, at the time, in the haze of your affection, made me grin like a genuine fool. But, while you were bragging, I was unsure if I’d even see you again. I hadn’t been swept off my feet, but I had a good enough time and you didn’t seem to judge me while I ate my fajitas like an animal (there is simply no way to eat fajitas with grace). You talked too much about your tattoos and spent too much time showing me pictures on your phone, but you seemed sweetly nervous. Not to mention, me being swept off my feet had never ended well for me in the past, so why not give you another shot? I wasted hours of my friends’ time begging their opinions. I’d had a wall up for so long, but there was a chance that maybe you were sweet enough and cared enough about me for me to consider taking it down. They agreed that you might be. But still, I was unsure.

The night I decided to kiss you for the first time, you held my hand in the bar the whole night. You didn’t know me very well at that point, but if you did, you would have known that PDA freaks me out more than virtually any other thing that couples do. We sat across from my two friends who, little did you know, were out on a secret mission to determine if you were worth my time. While you were in the bathroom, they told me that you definitely were. You had come to my favorite bar for wing night, alone, rather than go to your regular spot with your friends. You came directly from work, just because I was having a bad day and you wanted to be there for me. I got into that car accident that afternoon, remember? I was okay, but you still offered to come help, even if it made you late for work. We had only been on one date and you were willing to do that for me. That’s the kind of thing my dad does for my mom. I was both impressed and flattered by your compassion while simultaneously being terrified of this man who seemed to care so much about me after so little time. I was unsure if I could return those feelings to you at all, let alone after only a week. But, my friends told me you were worth it so I kissed you goodbye outside the bar and it was nice. It had been so long since I kissed anyone who cared about me back. It was new and sweet and maybe I could do this, after all.

Then, first gradually and then all at once, I convinced myself that I loved you. I suspected you loved me too until the day three weeks later when you told me you did and I said it back (but I knew it was coming because you were bad at keeping secrets). The way you asked me to be your girlfriend and the way you told me you loved me, so thoughtful and perfectly planned – in my favorite places, while I was happiest. I became your girlfriend during a hockey game and I found out you loved me at the beach. I was convinced. You knew me and loved me anyway and so, I relaxed and settled in and trusted that it was safe to take the remainder of my wall down. I got to know your friends and family and for the first time in my life, I did things for another person that I didn’t necessarily want to do just because it was you. Knowing you wanted me to be at that awkward-bbq-party-thing at your best friend’s house made me want to be there, despite how terrible it was for me. I told myself over and over again that this was what couples did for each other and sometimes in life, you have to do things you don’t want to do.

And then, just as quickly as I’d gotten comfortable with the idea of being responsible for another human’s feelings, you were distant, which scared me more than anything. The person who once made every effort to make me happy was effortlessly killing me. I could feel what was coming but I wasn’t sure why so I talked myself out of its inevitability. You were the one who had all these plans for us “forever” whereas I barely knew what I was planning to do next weekend. I never asked for any promises. In fact, of the two of us, I was clearly the one afraid of what was happening. None of this made any logical sense and you, more than anyone, know how fond I am of logic. But, you had convinced me that we were real and you weren’t going anywhere so I thought we’d be okay. I believed you because no one who talked about “our kids” and “our house” would so easily run away. But, you were going somewhere. The sweet things you did ended and you seemed to care less and less. But I told myself that you were just going through something and we’d be fine because you said we would be. But then you were gone and I was bruised. I was black and blue from the inside out and couldn’t sleep, even though it was the only thing in the universe I wanted to do. There was no escape. The two to three hours of rest I got each night were dedicated to your face and your smell and then when I was awake every fucking Foursquare check-in was a painful reminder that you were going about your life while I had been reduced to a pile of sobbing blubber that refused to leave the house. The pain was unfamiliar and fucking awful. You were all I had for the last four months and then you just simply weren’t mine anymore and I couldn’t remember how to live without you.

But, somehow, I did. And then somehow, we were “friends” and I was forgiving you and then I left. I left for my great European adventure that I had been talking about unendingly with you only weeks before. You were supposed to be at home missing me and I was supposed to be reassuring you that I’d be home before you realized it and it would go so fast. It was supposed to be an excruciatingly long month apart ended with an immeasurably sweet reunion at the airport upon my return. But instead, you were no longer mine to miss and it would be my parents waiting at the airport instead of you. I had to believe that you weren’t missing me. But then on Skype one night, you told me you were and I had renewed hope that maybe I was coming home to you after all. I bought you the best gift I had ever bought another person and counted the days until I could give it to you. I rushed away my last two weeks in Europe to come home to you.

And that’s, technically, where it ended. I’ve read and rewritten the end a million times a million different ways, but I can’t get it right. Probably because I still don’t like the way it ended in real life. You were never mine again and I know you told me not to say never, but it feels like you’ll never be again. Never the same way it was. You were just gone without any explanation that I could understand and I convince myself every day that it’s okay and I’m better off; that one day, there will be some other man who I won’t have to talk myself into loving. I won’t have to convince myself it’s right. I won’t be scared of how much I love him, how I think of him all day. How he’s the first person I want in the morning and the last person I think of at night. I won’t hate how lame that sounds or how true it is. I’ll just love him for real when I see him and that will be the end and I’ll laugh at how silly I was for crying over you for so long and for wasting so much of my time. Ha, youth. Hopefully there will be. And hopefully, I can talk myself out of you as easily as I talked myself into you. But, I have my doubts.

The First Thing I’ve Ever Cared About At Hofstra in 3 and A Half Years: We Want Our Graduation

Something indescribable and unexplainable happened to me sometime between leaving high school and arriving in my first college class. I generally just stopped caring about extracurricular things aside from taking naps and going to work. While I was still very concerned about my grades, you couldn’t begin to convince me that a potential employer was going to care if I was mildly involved in every club on campus the way my potential educators once cared about my high school activities. In high school, I had a hand in, literally, almost every academic club and honor society offered. That has not been the case at Hofstra.

While everyone made a real effort freshman year, I mostly watched a lot of TV in my dorm, took naps and attended 4 meetings of the Film Club. After I moved home sophomore year and started working off campus again, there was no hope to be had. Future generations, this was the wrong decision. Do as I say, not as I do. Get involved on campus. You will benefit enormous amounts. I’d love to go back three years, be in a sorority and involved heavily in student media and maybe student government. The most fun I’ve ever had on campus was my brief career as a Rugby player. Those girls are some of my only friends on campus despite the fact that I was only able to play one semester. Clubs are cool. Do them. It will all end too quickly.

ANWAY, my point: Hofstra has taken my lack of participation in student causes and decided to turn it on me at the only time it actually matters.

While I technically receive my degree in December, I made the decision to participate in the spring commencement ceremony.  It poured the day of my high school graduation and we had to rush through the presentation of diplomas, so I’ve never been able to enjoy a big outdoor ceremony with all of my friends. I have one picture of me with my friends in a cap and gown and we’re all trying to keep composure in the threat of the looming downpour. I was very excited to be able to have this experience, on a much grander scale, at college. Not to mention, because Hofstra’s schedule is always bizarre, all of my friends would be able to come and see me and my best friend – Cassie – graduate. Also, while I don’t have a ton of friends at school, I do have some and most of them are graduating in May so to be able to experience commencement with them rather than the assortment of strangers that will graduate in December would be preferable.

So, after making the arrangements to walk at graduation in May, I get the email: The new schedule for spring commencement. To account for weather, Hofstra has made the decision to move gradation from the outdoor [mostly unused,due to the cancellation of our varsity football program] football stadium as an un-ticketed and open event, to indoors in our basketball arena and each student will be provided five tickets. How will they fit everyone if each student has five people coming, you ask? Oh. It’s simple. They’ve broken up the ceremony by school. This means that my two best friends who are receiving degrees from the School of Education and School of Liberal Arts and Sciences will, in fact, not even be graduating with me because my graduation will be at a different time than theirs. This means I could not have only graduated in December with no actual consequence, but I could’ve not participated in graduation at all and saved some money on a cap and gown. I have friends in the school of comm and I love them a lot, but it means much more to me to graduate with Cassie and Jess and Amanda – non of whom are comm students.

So now, because I’ve spent so much time being uninvolved in school things, I have no idea the means by which I can do something about this. Thankfully, a group of kids a lot more involved in things than I am is doing something about it and I’m going to ride their coat tails. But, I dont understand how the powers that be at Hofstra are allowed to just slip an enormous announcement like that by in an email. I’ll be in debt for the rest of my life just to go there. They should probably ask me if it’s cool before they rearrange my plans like that. Don’t get me wrong, I understand their rationale – weather and things – but I’d really rather risk inclement weather than forfeit my graduation ceremony up front. We’re Americans. We don’t live in fear. Especially not fear of rain.

This is my plea, Hofstra. Please listen to us. I want a big, hot, sweaty, outdoor graduation that I can complain about for the rest of time. It’s in writing now so I can never curse you for not moving it indoors to the air conditioned arena. This is what we want!

My best friends and I braving the elements at Central High School’s 2009 graduation ceremony