Friday, March 30, 2012

You can't always get what you want...

Matching in pink for Vic's birthday.
But if you try sometime, you might find/You get what you need...

Well, it's been another interesting week in my life.  Between spending time with Vic (which, more often than not, is the highlight of my day), helping at a rally, catching up on assignments, work, classes, and more, I'm simply exhausted. Both physically and emotionally.

Recently, I've felt overwhelmed with the amount of things I do as a Community Assistant. Don't get me wrong, I love my job and residents, but being the go-to girl can be difficult at times. I'm glad to be of help to my fellow staff members, my hall director, and all of the residents, but sometimes... It's just too much.

"I feel like the other CAs in my building don't pull their weight with our duties," I admitted.

"And why do you feel that way?" asked my counselor during our Tuesday session.

I pondered the question for a moment. "I guess... I just do so much for the job, my residents - well, all of the residents, and I'm always the person that they all turn to when something needs done."

"So, you're all getting paid basically the same amount, give or take, and have the same responsibilities, but you're always the one doing something beyond that."

"Essentially... yes. And it's draining: I have 71 residents and I'm in charge of 42 work study students. I have a full fifteen credit course load, a work study, and am involved in quite a few groups on campus."

"And last time, you also mentioned that you had a graduate school interview coming up and recently entered into a new relationship."

"Yes," I replied. "Those too."

It was freeing to expel everything that's been weighing down on me lately to my counselor. He gave me some suggestions on how to talk to my hall director about how all of this has been impacting me. I was afraid to talk to my hall director about these issues because I didn't want to sound like the bad guy or tattle-tale, but knowing how I want to phrase something is half the battle. (This is especially true for me, because I often find myself having a difficult time putting things into words, which is why having this blog has helped me in more than one regard.)

Sleep? What's that? I'm an overworked college student!

Apart from that, this week has been an interesting one...
- I somehow got a B on a test that I didn't study for.
- I received an email today that told me that I won an award at school that I was nominated for a few weeks ago (ironically, one of my best friends was also nominated and won!).
- And, last but not least, I also got an email that said I've been placed on the wait list for my top choice graduate school. While it wasn't the answer I wanted, it wasn't a flat-out rejection either. Though it would have been nice to get a straight-forward yes or no, it's also given me time to think about a lot of things, discuss with people (well, mostly Vic... by which I mean, crying on his shoulder) about my options, and consider what else is out there. I'm definitely going to be doing a lot of soul-searching in the coming days and weeks.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Grad school and birthdays and emotions, oh my!

Yet again, I find myself at the end of an emotional roller coaster of a week: excitement, nervousness, happiness, and then, apathy.

Two days ago, I had my grad school interview at my top choice school and program. Even though I was nervous at first (like I am for any and every interview I've ever had in my life), I became more comfortable during the half hour that I was interviewed.

After my interview, there was a tour around the school's student center and the school itself, a chance to interact with current students in the program, information about a study abroad tour in Germany, and a few other things. All in all, it was a really busy day, but it was great to finally see the campus I'd been reading about so much in front of me.  The people are so kind, and the campus is gorgeous.

I also got information about graduate assistantships to help pay for school.  Those of you who've read my blog for a while know that within the field of Student Affairs, I'm really interested in Residence Life, Admissions, and Career Counseling. Unfortunately, I didn't see a Career Counseling "booth" at the mini-job fair of sorts that the school provided to us (those who were interviewing/visiting).

However, I had a great conversation with the people in Residence Life (they even have a live-off position available, which is so awesome) and Admissions.  The stipend amount is phenomenal, so even if I did live off campus, I'd still be able to pay rent, and have money left over for food and other essentials.  In addition, the Res Life GA position grants an out-of-state tuition waiver, which is awesome.

I'll know within two weeks if I got into the school or not.  While I'm nervous about it, I'm also really excited for the potential.

Despite all of the excitement, nervousness, and happiness that came along with this visit - as well as being able to chat with friends online during it (you guys are amazing, by the way) - came some surprising news.

As I'd mentioned in my last entry, I learned that my step-grandma was put into hospice on Wednesday. During our 3 hour wait at the airport yesterday, my mom listened to her voicemail for the first time in a few days (I'm an idiot who forgot to pack her phone charger. Oops.) and we learned that my step-grandma had passed away on Friday afternoon.  At this point, I don't know what I'm feeling... if anything.

Granted, yes, she was my dad's last living parent, but I wasn't *that* close to her, which is weird saying, but I don't know how else to say it. Coupled with the fact I've been to a counseling appointment where I let out a lot of emotion about the two deaths that really did impact me, I don't know what's going on in my brain. It's a weird situation and it confuses me.

However, despite all the crazy that's been going on, there is a lot more good than bad, and for that, I'm thankful. But for now, it's a big day at my house: my dad's 60th birthday is today and I'm glad that I got to be home to celebrate with him.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

When it rains, it pours...

Oh, what a day. As usual, or at least my definition of such, my alarms were set for 7:45 and 8:15 so I could be up by 9 to turn in the on-call phone to the CA office. It had been a long night on-call, as I had four residents get locked out of their rooms, an inebriated resident who also happens to be a friend, and other minor annoyances.  Despite all of that, I still managed to get to the office in time to turn in the phone and then go back to bed for an hour and a half (and then scurry to get ready for my own office hours).

Anyhow, beyond having a day of office hours, one class, seeing a friend, and hanging out with Vic, there really didn't seem to be anything else going on except leaving for home. Or so I thought.

Whenever my mom picked me up, she was talking to an aunt of mine who lives in Florida. I didn't give it much though, as the two of them chat from time to time. However, as they hung up, my mom dropped the metaphorical bomb on me: my step-grandmother is in hospice with kidney failure. Because that was exactly what I wanted to hear.

It still really hasn't sunk in. Maybe because I'm not terribly close to my step-grandmother, I'm not really sure. I mean, she's my dad's only living parent, but I've never felt that grandmother-granddaughter connection to her that I have with my grandmother on my mom's side. I feel awful saying that, but that's the truth of it.

It's also a weird feeling, I suppose, because I was just getting to be comfortable discussing my great-aunt and great-grandmother's deaths with my counselor and finally tearing down some of the resistance I had built up. Death's a weird subject to talk about.

However, morbid as it probably seems, I know I have to put this to the back burner right now because of my grad school interview on Friday. I'll be tweeting about that trip as much as I can, considering I'm supposed to be leaving in 5 hours. (For those who don't follow me, you can find my Twitter here.

I can't promise any blog updates during said trip, but I'll do what I can... And sometimes, it's the only thing I can do.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

This is where it gets real...

About an hour after my English class lets out tomorrow night, I'll be home... again. I just got back to school from spring break, but this time, it's no break: Life is about to get very real, very fast.

This Friday, I have my interview for admission to my top choice graduate program. Even though my thoughts have been going a million miles a minute, I am both terrified and excited.

My mom and I will be flying there, with one layover each way.  I'm so incredibly fortunate to have amazing friends and family, as well as professors and other staff at the university I currently attend, supporting me through this whole process.

As I've mentioned, I never saw myself getting as involved at school as I have.  Apart from being a Community Assistant, I'm involved with quite a few groups. While it seems like sometimes I'm spreading myself thin, I enjoy this so much and wouldn't change any of it for the world. I was also recently nominated by a friend for a service award at school, which is a huge deal.

Although I made the decision to only apply to one graduate school, I've come to terms with it. I could have applied to schools here, there, and everywhere, but the school I'm interviewing with on Friday seemed to be the best fit:  yes, it's thirteen hours from home; but it's a similar size to the school I currently attend, there are incredible opportunities, small class sizes, the potential for graduate assistantships (which is really awesome), etc.  I've lived in the same county for 22 years now, and I want to see what else the world has to offer.

But for now, I'm just trying to take it easy (both in trying not to freak out over this interview and because Vic had to take me to the health center last night. I hit my ankle really hard off of the metal pole that connects my headboard and footboard... swearing like a sailor and wincing in pain soon followed. Oops.)

Here we go, life... Bring it on.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Have You Seen The Stars Tonite

Ah, spring break.  When you work on campus and work anywhere between 15 and 108 hours (okay, maybe a slight exaggeration) a week on campus, it's a nice reprieve to have a break from the insanity.  Last year for spring break, I got to celebrate my 21st birthday in NYC.  This year, I'm home for most of the day, sans parents and younger brother.  These are the (not-so-exciting) adventures I'm having...

On Friday, before I left, I hung out with friends for a while (as one had spent the night before) and then Vic and I hung out and ate dinner before I had to help close the res hall.  Which is always a bundle of fun boredom.  Basically, we just have to make sure that there are no residents still in their room who didn't get permission to stay.

Fast-forward to Saturday...
"I look ridiculous," I complained to my mother.  "You look fine," she retorted.  I sensed a bit of derision in her voice.

"Mother," I scowled, "I look like an addict who just rolled out of bed.  I don't even have my glasses on."  That sent her into a fit of giggles.  I sighed as I put my new driver's license into my wallet and continued to text a friend.

Following that misadventure at the DMV, my mother and I ventured to Walmart.  Going to WM with her is an adventure in and of itself, especially when she decides 1) not to bring her phone with her and 2) to divide and conquer the list with yours truly.  So, in other words, finding her is like looking for Guam without a map.  Or, in this case, the deli.

Anyhow, after we finally got home, my dad and I went to a Jefferson Starship concert.  In a word, it was fantastic. They played songs from Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, Starship, and even Quicksilver Messenger Service.  This concert was definitely different from the first time I saw them. Sure, they played the classics like "White Rabbit," "Volunteers," and "Somebody to Love," but considering the variety of style the group has gone through, they played others that usually aren't played live, like "Hijack," "Have You Seen the Stars Tonite," and a song from the album Baron von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun (like I said, strange titles).

My dad decided to be "that guy" at the concert.  He loves the song "Wooden Ships" and insists on giving it a standing ovation every single time.  (And if none of those names mean anything to you, it doesn't surprise me.  Most 20-somethings just look at me like I'm insane.)

Beyond that, I haven't done much of anything. I've read a lot. Chatted on Facebook with friends until 2 or 4 AM. I've had a few strange dreams, not like that's anything new (one involving me breaking all the toes in my right foot and the other had the president of my university calling me out in front of a group of 500 people to receive an award).

I walked 6 miles last night in a little under 2 hours.  Even though it was mostly dark, the stars were gorgeous (one of the reasons I love living in the country), birds were chirping, and I crossed paths with a few deer.  Needless to say, my hips were not happy with me this morning. Why I decided to do that is still beyond me.

In other news, my not-so-little brother is turning 18 in 2 days. I suspect I'll be acting the same way when he turned 16 and will again when he turns 21: sheer and utter panic and shock. And lots of feeling old. Oh, the fun of being the older sibling...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Learning to Ask for Help

Humble.  That's how my counselor described me at my first session yesterday. We discussed many of the same things that I mentioned in a previous entry.

We talked about the losses of my great-aunt and great-grandma.  How I'm used to being the rock, the stronghold for friends and family.  How there is no one single "right" way of coping.  There are stages of grief and coping, but not everyone follows them.  He also discussed various methods of coping.

Another topic of discussion was how I feel as though I'm often the go-to CA.  If something needs done and it isn't being done, I take responsibility to get whatever that thing may be done.  Even my residence hall director has acknowledged this fact.  I told him how I do these things, more often than not, without being recognized for it.  The thing is, I don't like the attention that comes with things of that nature.  Just a simple 'thanks' is often all.  I don't like being put in the forefront or the spotlight.  It makes me uncomfortable to receive praise and thanks sometimes.  I think that some recognition is important though.  It shows people that you do care what they're doing.

My counselor also asked if I ask for help.  I thought this was an interesting question.  I wasn't quite sure how to answer it at first.  Then I realized something:  I hardly ask for help with anything.  I'm the person who people usually turn to, not the other way around (maybe that's why it took me a while to actually go to the counseling center in the first place).  I told him that if the need arises and I can't handle a situation alone, that's usually when I would ask for help, if at all.  Maybe it's the fear of being mocked, others thinking that I'm incapable of doing something alone, or something else altogether.  I'm not quite sure what it is.  I can be fiercely independent in some situations, and rely on others in various situations (which is often why I despise group work).  It's very situationally dependent.

We also discussed my family and friends.  I'm incredibly lucky to have a supportive family.  My parents have provided so much for me and my younger brother.  I'm very fortunate.  In terms of friends, it often feels like I have 2 different sets of friends:  I have those who I trust completely and am very open with, and those who I am not as close with.  Those closer friends are the ones I tell just about everything and trust them enough to not judge me and give me sound advice if I ask for it.  They're also the same people for whom my phone is always on and will answer any time of the day or night.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the friendship I have with the other people, but I am not as close to them as I am the others.

Although it seemed like the conversation jumped around a lot, I did express some things I hadn't before and it helped to discuss those issues.  Probably since I hadn't done so with another person, or if I had, it wasn't as in depth.  The last thing we discussed also connected to working as a CA and in student affairs.  He asked about my grad school interview in a few weeks and how I was feeling about that:  nervous.  Excited.  Scared.  Amazed.

We set another appointment for a few weeks from now (mostly because spring break is next week and he and I both have busy schedules).  And it'll be a few days after I have my interview.  He doesn't think I'm crazy, just that I'm beginning to realize that asking for help isn't a bad thing.  In fact, it's quite the opposite.  (He also told me that as a counselor, he has to remain partial and impartial.  But apparently that was difficult from the start because he, just like almost everyone else I've written something for, is amazed by my neat handwriting.  I can't tell you how many times I've been told it looks type-written.)

Interestingly enough, we also discovered that one of my dad's best friends from high school is my counselor's brother.  It really is a small world, with connections everywhere... You just have to learn to look for them.

Monday, March 5, 2012

But then... Something changed.

In the nearly 22 years I've been alive, I've taken classes in and out of school, I've tried various sports, and had other experiences that have shaped me into who I am.  However, some of the most important lessons are how important it is to love and be loved.  My parents, of course, have had a big role in this.  They've taught me the importance of being a friend and being the best person I can.

A few weeks ago, if you had told me that in the coming weeks that I'd be happier than I was at the current moment, I probably would have laughed at you.  But then... something changed.  Something clicked.  Even despite that mini-meltdown of sorts... I found happiness in a place I never imagined.

The past week and a half has been a whirlwind of emotion for me.  Fear of the future.  Unease about my upcoming grad school interview.  Annoyance over the work studies I'm in charge of not showing up for their shifts and residents spraying chocolate sauce all over the entryway (which is being cleaned up as I type this).

But mostly... happiness.

To quote a wise friend, "When it comes to relationships, there is one thing I have never been more sure of. Love finds you. Without warning, and without much of a chance to resist. Bar the door, lock the windows, turn out the lights, it doesn't matter. The barriers get torn down."

And right now, I couldn't agree more.