Tag Archives: School

Post-college reflections: if you happen to see my friend Creativity wandering about, please send him my way.

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Today at lunch a couple of my co-workers and I discussed the pros and cons of post-undergraduate life. And my initial thought/statement was this: “I don’t really miss school.” Especially since I’m still at school every day (just playing a different role now).

But as I sat there and pondered my own words, I realized that deep down, I’m still quite undecided when it comes to the whole issue of being finished with school. The life of a graduate has a number of significant pros: no homework, more sleep, more time to pursue a social life…hell, I even have more time to, well, waste! Guilt-free procrastination! (Hmm…although, I suppose it isn’t really procrastination, since I’m not exactly putting off any particular tasks or assignments. Whatevs. You get my point.) I love that I can come home from work, eat, relax, watch some TV or a movie, and go to bed without even an inkling of remorse or that nagging question in the back of my mind: “Okay, what did I put off that will come back and bite me in the ass later?”

Blissful sigh. It’s a wonderful life, really.

But, of course, it’s not all pastries and frothy caramel lattes. Being out of school has its cons: my student loans are now in repayment, work (although I still LOVE my job!) can sometimes feel a little too tedious and monotonous – and freakishly busy! Sheesh!, and I sometimes feel lonely and disconnected. Being a student flat out handed me a social network that was always there, even when I didn’t want it. Now I have to work twice as hard to maintain friendships and connections. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining! Honestly, I didn’t expecting anything less. But still, for an introverted, semi-anti-social butterfly like myself, it’s not particularly easy! But you know what? I’m fine with these ‘cons’, because I knew they were coming. You can’t live out your college experience forever and truthfully, were the choice mine, I’m not sure I’d even want to.

There is one ‘con’, however, that has created a significant amount of mental stress for me – stress that I keep trying to ignore. But, as usual, one can only ignore these things for so long. My conversation with my co-workers today brought said factor to the forefront of my mind again, and as I went home and thought about it this evening, I found myself a tad bit depressed.

Here’s what I realized (or perhaps “re-realized”) today:

More than anything, school always fueled my ability to create. I learn and create best when I’m surrounded by other people who love to learn and create, and my network of friends, classmates, and profs at NU (especially in the English and/or Music departments) provided me just that.

I think about my Conducting class with Bill Owen, or my creative writing classes with Lenae Nofziger, or my Romance & Fantasy Literature class with Julia Young…the enriching discussions, creative projects, and countless hands-on opportunities to communally discover and express ourselves…I just don’t have that anymore! And my life – my writing, my lack of interest in other creative pursuits that once greatly interested me – clearly reflects that.

Yes, it might be weak and pathetic of me to say that I can’t create without school, but that’s not what I’m getting at. I fully acknowledge and accept that I, the artist, am responsible for my creative pursuits and results. But I realize now how large a role school played in these pursuits and results, and now that school isn’t in the mix, I feel, like I said, a bit depressed.

At the end of the day, it all comes back to two key concepts:

One, I am a learner — and very much a communal learner. I need a community of thoughtful, think-outside-the-box-type individuals to fuel my own interests and passions. Otherwise, I have an awfully hard time coming up with ideas on my own. Second, I need to find new ways to keep a balanced amount of creativity in my life. As much as I like this new stage of life – having a job, having other responsibilities that allow me to build my independence, it’s undeniable that, in this 9 to 5 world of adult responsibility and professionalism, creativity can slip right through your fingers without giving you even the faintest warning. That is certainly my story. And I am seriously ready for a plot change.

there’s a sweet smell in the air…

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And so it begins: Finals Week 2010 – the absolute last finals week I’ll see for quite a while, possibly even ever! *pumps fist in the air*

I can finally smell the sweet scent of…

FREEDOOOOM!

However, the putrid stench of two undergraduate papers and two final exams stands between me and the former, preferred aroma. But I must press on; must…keep…studying!

(Studying for my Spanish II final)

Saturday, please hurry up and get here!

Confessions of a Facebook-o-holic

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Ah, the Internet! Such a paradox, isn’t it? On one hand, it’s an incredibly useful tool and makes life so easy for people; you have at your fingertips total access to just about anything: email, shopping, social networking, the news, videos and music, numerous encyclopedias, dictionaries, periodicals, research tools, how-to sites, even e-books. However, on the other hand, you have endless amounts of useless information or websites that lend themselves quite well to…procrastination. And lucky for me, I happen to be a hard-core procrastinator (with or without the help of the Internet).

I claim to work best under pressure, but really, working under pressure is pretty much all I’ve ever known. I wish I could break that habit (and I’m sure if I tried hard enough, I could), but for as far back as I can remember I’ve been a “get it done the night before” kind of girl. Despite the length or importance of my to-do list, I always find something to distract myself with, and for the last few years, it’s been the Internet.

Well, about two weeks ago, I promised myself that I’d temporarily give up any and all “time wasting” internet activities—Facebook, YIM, Sweet, online Tetris (yes, I play online Tetris…don’t judge!) and a few others —in order to increase my daily productivity. How long did I last? Umm…about two days.

Now, I could’ve just given up completely and gone back to my old procrastinating ways. And at first I did. But then last Sunday I was sitting in my living room at about 11pm, staring at Facebook and stressing over the seemingly endless list of stuff that I need to get done between now and the end of the semester, and this bitter feeling of disappointment came over me: Am I really this undisciplined? I can’t even stay away from Facebook, etc. for a few weeks? That’s pretty pathetic.

Upon having this revelation, I quickly ‘IMed’ my friend Sarah who happened to be on Yahoo Instant Messenger at the time:

“Can you do me a huge favor?” I asked. “This is going to sound kind of ridiculous and strange, but if I give you all my login information for my Facebook, YIM, etc., will you log in and change my passwords on each one so I no longer have access to them?” I then explained precisely why I was doing this, and Sarah, lovely person that she is, agreed to help me out without even the slightest bit of hesitation.

So, since Sunday, April 18th, I have not logged on to Facebook, nor have I checked any of the other useless, procrastination-inducing websites that I normally visit. (So if you’re wondering why I haven’t been online as much, now you know!)

How does it feel? Pretty strange. I didn’t realize until I gave it up just how severely addicted I am to Facebook. But if I’m serious about finishing this semester on a strong note, then that’s the measure to which I must go. Of course, I still have my blog, YouTube, and several other online procrastination options, but I’m really going to try to avoid them, at least until finals. Err…well…except for my blog. But I don’t use this thing on a daily basis anyway, so I think I’ll be okay.

So, friends (especially those of you who are currently reading this via Facebook Notes), see you in a few weeks. The end of my college career draws nigh! =)

Don’t worry; be ha—OMG, I found a gray hair!!

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It’s that point in the semester again: my motivation has fallen into some unknown black abyss, and all I want to do is sleep my life away. I’m just weeks—that’s right, WEEKS!—away from graduating. Five freakin’ years I’ve dreamed about this moment, so you’d think I’d be more motivated, right? Nope. Like I said, sleep is about the only thing that sounds appealing right now. And for anyone who knows me, when sleep becomes my best friend, you know there’s a serious problem! I have so much to do: papers to write, tests to study for, Spanish grammar and vocab words to learn (ugh…that class kills!), and plenty of reading—my gosh, the reading!! But again, my ability to pay attention is…wait, what ability? My brain puppy [credit to Dr. Diede for that lovely term] has been wandering in every possible direction except for in the direction that he should go! And I, of course, haven’t helped the little guy by tugging on his leash and steering him in the right direction. Woops!

In other news, I’ve been investing most of my energy—what little energy I have—into job hunting. And let me tell you: maaaajor drag! But one must do what one must do. I’ve applied at a handful of places and, so far, received no replies. So we’ll see. I’m especially waiting to hear back from this music store at which I applied (Kennelly Keys). I’ve seriously had a desire to work there since I was 16, but the opportunity just never came up. Until now. I’m trying not to stress too much, but I am naturally a worrier. And, as the Mick Jagger song asserts, old habits die hard. Wholeheartedly trusting the Lord has never been one my strong points. So it’s difficult to pull a 180 and start now.

I don’t think I’ve ever missed my childhood as much as I currently do. Growing up kinda, sorta sucks! I miss those stress free playground days—you know, when your only worries involved getting picked for the “right” Capture the Flag team, or making it home before it got too dark. I’m sure when I’m old(er), I’ll think back to my “carefree” twenties, but I have to be honest, right now they don’t feel so carefree. Get this: I actually found a gray hair today. Yep. I told my brothers, and they laughed at me; they thought I was making it up. Why the heck would I make that up?! Again, I’m sure I’ll one day laugh at my current state, but at the moment, very little amuses me.

Okay, enough with the ranting, haha. I have to be honest, though: ranting always feels great. But, alas, the ranting must come to a halt, because the bottomless pile of homework awaits me. Groan. Better wear a helmet.

An Apology

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Dear Blog,

Let me begin by saying that I am terribly sorry for neglecting you these past few months. As you’ve probably figured out by now, I have been dreadfully busy. School consumes my life and leaves very little time for anything else. My social life is almost—not totally, but almost—nonexistent. But that’s okay, I suppose, because I’ve never been an exceedingly social person, anyway.  However, a number of thoughts, ideas, frustrations, and the like have been on my mind lately, and I think it’s time I tap into them. So here we go:

1. Let’s talk about school. I love most of my classes. Like, really, truly LOVE them. Of course, they are challenging and can be frustratingly difficult at times, and the work is insanely time-consuming, but you know what? I’m actually quite okay with that. Why? Because I’m learning so much right now. Aside from one class (which shall remain unnamed), I’m finding the material to be useful, interesting, and worth my money, my time, and my efforts. That, dear blog, is an incredible feeling! So…yay, school!

2. Church. I moved to a new church. Yup. After wanting to do so for nearly two years, I finally went through with it. This was definitely one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made. At first, I actually felt guilty for going through with it. I had some issues at my last church, but I’m a firm believer in fighting through life’s difficulties…so in some ways, leaving my former church felt like the cowardly thing to do. (I kept thinking of my favorite quote by J.R.R. Tolkien. He once said, “Faithless is he who says farewell when the road darkens.” I did not want to be the person who checked out simply because a bunch of problems were staring me in the face. But then there’s the whole “enough is enough” policy, too. How much was I willing to handle? Hmmm….)

Here’s another thing: I’ve never been very fond of “church hoppers.” You know who I’m talking about—those individuals who bounce around from church to church, never really finding a place to call “home,” because they keep finding something wrong with every church they visit. No place ever seems to meet all of the items on their “checklist” of church requirements; perhaps each church doesn’t have the right style of preaching, the right style of music, the right kind of non-Sunday activities, or the people don’t dress “right,” and whatever else. So they become nomadic church-goers.

I hate to think that I even have a checklist, but at the same time, doesn’t everyone? I mean, ultimately, we’re supposed to be at church to serve: to serve our local community, and to serve God through our worship, through our giving, and through our commitment to the body of the Christ. And how can you really do that if you’re primarily focused on what church can do for you? Regardless, though, I think many of us have a checklist. We walk into church on a weekly basis, expecting to “get something” out of it. And so often, when we stop “getting something” from a particular congregation, we just decide to leave. I guess I initially felt guilty for leaving my previous church, because I felt like I was just running away from something that was less than “perfect.” But let’s face it: NO church is perfect. Because churches are made up of people, and people are flawed.

Anyway…plenty more to say about that, but I’ll keep moving.

The thing is, church (at least to me) is essentially about community; it’s about coming to a certain place on a weekly/multi-weekly basis in order to fellowship with others who share your beliefs, people with whom you can honestly and openly share your faith, your struggles, your dreams, your desires. In other words, it’s a family.

And my last church stopped being a family years ago. It just became a building that I went to on a weekly basis. So, after many arguments with myself (and with my mother for that matter), and after a great deal of prayer, I finally did the one thing I’ve been dying to do for years: I left.

I’m now at the Westside Church in Ballard (www.westsidechurch.com), and I absolutely LOVE it!! It’s exactly the fresh start I needed. It’s small, intimate, the perfect mix between traditional and contemporary in its style, and has great pastors who are committed to preaching the Truth in a new, relevant, challenging, and theologically sound manner (okay, so I guess I DO have a checklist). Overall, Westside is full of vibrant people from all walks of life who love Jesus and are there to serve Him. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. No church is. Is it “better” than my last church? No. I think the people at my previous church love God just as much as the people at Westside. But Westside is significantly different than my previous place of worship—not better, not worse, just different. And “different” is exactly what I need right now.

And, amazingly enough, the doors to get involved with music ministry are already wide open at Westside. All I have to do is walk through them! I didn’t even have to go looking for the opportunity; God just dropped it in my lap!

I have to be honest, I was beginning to think I’d never get involved again. At times, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to (especially after my last couple of “ministry opportunities”). But new doors are opening; a new season has begun, and after basically sitting in the background for so long, I think it’s time to step it up and do what God is asking me to do—to lead worship again. It’ll be scary, no doubt. I have many bad memories attached to music ministry. But you know that old saying, “God is in the restoration business”? I absolutely believe He can restore my heart and motives towards worship leading again. If that’s where He wants to use me, I fully believe He can change my attitude. He’s already started, and something tells me there’s plenty more “change” on the way.

3. Family stuff has been…the usual. It’s rocky, unstable, and flat out infuriating at times. I’m now at the point where I just keep my distance. School, in that regard, is truly a blessing in disguise. Yeah, the long nights of homework, lack of sleep, and commuting to Kirkland every day can be a drag, but school keeps me occupied; I’d much rather be there than at home where I have to deal with the constant chaos. And ironically, despite the hellish summer that I had (which caused me to return to school in an already burnt-out state), I’m doing better in school this semester than I ever have! My grades have improved immensely, because I’m applying myself more this semester than I did in previous semesters. And I think the main reason I’m applying myself to this extent is because I’m trying to keep myself busy. Is that good or bad? Whatever. The point is, I’m doing well in school, haha.

4. On a happier note (as far as family goes), we’ll be spending our Christmas in California this year! YEAH! SO excited…I can’t even begin to express my excitement. Can someone say, “Christmas in Disneyland”?! Disneyland is already the most magical place on earth; add Christmas to the mix and BAM! And I’ve never been there during the holiday season, so I’m pretty thrilled about that. And not only does Christmas in Cali mean Disneyland; it also means…Christmas with Ashley!! The last time I saw her was in March, so I’m very excited about spending the holidays with her this year. I’m sure we’ll have a blast!

So, my dearest blog, that’s basically all that’s been going on in my life since August. It is now November, and the end of the year is upon the horizon. I’m looking forward to it. 2009 was, beyond any doubt, one of the most draining years of my life, and I can only hope and pray that 2010 will be better. I’m sure it will come with its own set of challenges—what year doesn’t?—but there’s just something invigorating about starting a brand new year. It’s fresh, it’s new, and it’s a chance to basically “start over” again. And I’m definitely ready to start over.

Sincerely,

Jessica