Tuesday, April 28, 2015

On Senioritis.

Friends, funny story for you! I just found a post that I wrote waaaaay back over winter break, before this semester even began. Interesting...must've been my senioritis kicking in which caused me not to post right away and then forget about it! It's a bit of a long one, but if you enjoy my rants as much as my roommates (I bet on Merrill being the first to read this) then you'll want to make a cup of tea and put your feet up. You're welcome.

Winter break is almost up, and I'm (almost) ready to head into another semester. It also happens to be my last.

It's a bit surreal to be a second-semester senior. Nothing feels quite right at the moment. Part of this could be that I'm typing to you on a laptop borrowed from my sister, as mine kicked the bucket. Too bad, I had gotten used to moving my mouse to the on-screen keyboard that was perpetually open for whenever I needed an L. And this laptop certainly isn't as pretty, without the "I Like Saint Mike's" and "FRIEND" bumper stickers decorating it.

But no worries. I still "Like Saint Mike's" and I am still a FRIEND to whoever wants or needs one (read: everyone). Even though, these days, I may not always show it.

My closest friends this past semester served as witnesses to a rather strange transformation. The kind, moderately extroverted and actively involved campus citizen they once knew turned dangerously self-centered, dropped more than a few former responsibilities, and refused to leave the house if it wasn't necessary. Though always a homebody, I withdrew into my own little world much more than I had in the past, and my presence almost entirely disappeared from campus. People that I used to see frequently, I'd end up only running into once in a blue moon, like if I decided to leave the comforts of my couch to, say, check my mailbox. "Where have you BEEN this semester?!" they'd say, equally genuine about their happiness to see me as well as concerned for my well-being. I repeatedly told them that if they wanted to see me, they could come visit TH 214. Though I tried to be friendly, the message was clear: I'm not going out of my way for you.

I know. Harsh. At first I quite honestly thought there was something wrong with me. I had become completely disinterested, and disengaged, in my immediate surroundings. I woke up in the mornings and groggily dragged myself to class, then went directly back home. On days that I had my internship, I took the bus downtown immediately after class and at the end of the day would once again recede back into my house, walking quickly in a straight line from the stop to my front door, looking at the ground so I didn't have to engage in unwanted pleasantries with passersby--even familiar faces. I was certainly glad to see acquaintances, but only if they made the effort to walk over to the remote 200s townhouses to pay a visit. Otherwise, I wanted nothing to do with, well...anything.

Then I took a look around at my housemates, neighbors, and other senior class friends. And I realized--it wasn't just me. It was just about all of us. I may be a more extreme case of it, but it seems that all at once, in our final fall semester, the class of 2015 went as off-the-grid as humanly possible. What happened to our community?

That, my friends, is a product of Senioritis.

"The monkey on your back is the latest trend." 

We've all heard of it. And believe it or not, Senioritis exists in a much more intense way in college than the high school version. Think you're really done with your high school homework assignments? Just wait until the late night you're sitting in Bergeron your senior year, working furiously to hand your project in on time, on your fifth cup of coffee, and you have this realization: In about six months, I could be getting paid to do this.

Over. It.

At first, my housemates and I all thought it was an "abroad" thing: come back from seeing the world for a semester and it puts a lot into perspective. Suddenly, the whole "world" that was Saint Mike's seems so insignificant it's almost laughable. This could certainly be a piece of the puzzle. But as the months passed and all four of us still remained generally cranky five days a week, we knew we couldn't only blame it on the experiences we had last spring.

To all college seniors, present and future: you will experience this at some point. You will at least once dread sitting in a classroom, no matter the subject and who's teaching it. You will get extremely tired of making yet ANOTHER resume or portfolio. You will begin feeling like you've spent 21 years trying to prove yourself, and for what? Because people still don't seem to believe you. You will get really annoyed at underclassmen for no reason other than their existence, and then you will judge yourself for being "that senior" who ruins everything for everyone. You will sit in your required 100-level LSC class thinking, "why do I have to be here and why do all of these people seem so young?" You will procrastinate on everything, even the things you really enjoy doing (hence why I'm spending the last few days of winter break stockpiling blog drafts and why you'll be reading this weeks after it's written--so that this semester the blog doesn't go unattended for months on end). You will respond to most questions with "so what?" and become totally disengaged in your community, at some point--even if just for a few days. You will get sick of parties, loud music, and the grill. You will go to bed very early and wake up very late. You will lose touch with people on campus, sometimes even ones that live very close to you.

And I want to tell you something. It's okay.

Sure, it's not ideal to spend a whole semester in this state. But if you're like me, you'll know that you haven't wasted your time. Your circle may have grown a bit smaller--okay, maybe substantially smaller--but there's nothing wrong with being introspective. If you've used this time to do some serious self-evaluation, then you're still on the right track. Especially as seniors, it's important now more than ever to really consider the person you are versus the person you want to be and what's missing to get there.

Am I suggesting becoming a social outcast? Well, no. And you can bet that I'm going to make sure I spend some time this semester reaching out to people I've lost touch with. Despite a lot of couch potato tendencies that I'll have to work hard to break, I've done major work this semester focusing on myself and my priorities. It turns out I knew a lot of those already--family and friends will always be at the top of my list--but I've also embraced an attitude of self-acceptance. And at a time when the future is so unclear, I've relied on a very simple mantra that I know to be true: I'll be okay.

It's strange to at once feel a hefty dose of cynicism for everything around you and to also feel this sense of world wonder at the same time. But think about it: for the first time in our lives, nothing is certain. At the end of this semester, we are not going on summer vacation. We are not going back to school (unless you already have grad school plans, which if you do, kudos and good luck). We will probably try to "find a job," but where will that lead us? The possibilities are endless.

Then the cynicism kicks in: but there are "no jobs," all these applications say I need 5+ years experience, I have to move back in with my parents?, I'll probably be a waitress forever, and OMG STUDENT LOAN REPAYMENT. So you can see that on any given day, you may be experiencing either end of the spectrum or even both simultaneously. And your head will want to explode. And that is why you can't be bothered with the local happenings of your small college.

Not possible.

But here's a way to twist that. Friends, consider yourselves liberated. Hooray, you've stopped caring! As it turns out, your indifference to absolutely everything can indeed help you. Because for the first time, you can totally and completely speak your mind. I don't mean in a way that offends or hurts other people (I may be honest, but not to a fault...), I mean in a way that makes your voice heard on things you're passionate about. For me that's social issues. It turns out that while sitting in that 100-level LSC, while contemplating the youth of those around me, I couldn't be passive anymore. We were discussing the matter of institutionalized racism in America, and I very suddenly one day exploded in a full-on rant about the problem with media coverage related to Ferguson. My classmates stared, as I had been mute for most of the course.

I took creative liberties with assignments that I would have never taken had I cared more about hitting all the points to get the best grade possible. While filming for my documentary class, I went where the story took me rather than taking an easy way out. I got the story first and fit it into the criteria later. While creating my advertisements, I bent the rules of selling something "used" to fabricate my own makeup-recycling company, activating an imagination that had eluded me for most of the past four years. In my creative writing assignments, I held nothing back. I stopped caring about what my classmates or professors would think of me if I wrote what I honestly felt, and just wrote it. It felt good to unleash thoughts without self-censorship, something that has haunted me despite my desire to write my best work, simply out of shyness.

Once I motivated myself to stop procrastinating and get ish done, I ended up taking more risks. Most of them (MOST) worked out for the better. Some of them didn't. But hey, guess what? I learned a lot from those! And I'm alive, and my GPA is intact, and I think maybe I have a little more self-esteem. Gaining confidence from your mistakes, folks. A lovely byproduct of not caring so much. An unexpected gain from Senioritis.

Just don't let it eat you alive. If you use Senioritis as an excuse to repeatedly not study or not hand in assignments, you get what you get (more on this one another time). And, quite frankly, what you deserve. But if you use it as a catalyst to explore, whether it's inner, outward, academic, whatever, then you can come up with some real good stuff.

Just think of it this way: no matter what, you'll be okay.


A looking-back, end-of-the-year update on my thoughts here:

Well, I think I was pretty angry/confused when I wrote this, and tried to seem like I wasn't...? But at the same time, I was kind of right. I remember being more of a shut-in last semester and repeatedly thinking that I was "doing senior year wrong," but also being too comfortable to have the motivation to do anything about it. And this semester? Well, I did spend more time than I would've liked in front of a computer, but that's pretty expected when you're making a documentary. I was also very over winter, and pretty much spent the entire month of February indoors.

But I do think I made a lot of progress in several ways. First of all, the whole self-assessment thing is basically a daily activity, but I don't think I mind. Hopefully it helps me be a better person, and I think I've learned to present myself in the best way possible for certain situations while still being genuine (great skill for job interviews). As long as I don't become too self-absorbed and lose sight of the needs of others around me, it's a good thing.

And, with the increase in warm weather and sunlight and a decrease in workload (my documentary was well-received by a small audience this weekend and I'm tying things up there; I really only have a paper and one small assignment left for my other classes) I've been able to get myself outside more, spend more time with friends again, and simply enjoy the moment. Our last class day is tomorrow and I hand in my final assignments on Friday. After that, I can let the freedom of being a college senior with literally nothing to do take over for ten blissful days.

Then I graduate, and, you know. Maybe that should be another post topic.

For now, I'm going to try to get to that paper--despite the senioritis--so that I can enjoy the sunshine for the rest of this beautiful week.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Wow, April 21st. Time is flying, swimming, dancing, and doing a lot of other funky things.

Here's what you need to know:

1.) I made it through senior sem with my sanity intact. Woohoo!

2.) Sheila and I presented our project to the students and professors in our department, who received it well with laughter, tears, and plenty of mind-stimulating questions. Our peers presented their projects, too, with much of the same.

3.) Coming up is the PREMIERE of our film, and YOU are invited! If you're interested in seeing the thing I've been pulling my hair out over all year, then join me at Saint Mike's in Cheray 101 on Sunday, April 26th at 3 p.m. for the first-ever screening of "I'm Still Here: Growing old in ageist America."

4.) While I'm shamelessly promoting myself, you might want to check out the product of something cool I did while studying abroad in Morocco. That's all I'll say here. Don't want to ruin the the surprise. :) Click here.

5.) I've been thinking a lot about different things that I want to say before I graduate. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to continue blogging after I move on from Saint Mike's, but regardless, it wouldn't be the same. I have several post ideas, so hopefully you'll be reading more from me in the next couple of weeks. 

But first things first, I want to make sure that I make my in-person thank yous and last remarks while I'm still on campus. This is terrifying for me, as I don't love getting overly sentimental in person (it creeps me out). But I think it's an important thing to do here. 

In both of these cases, it seems like it's the most crucial time for me to have the right words. So of course, it's one of the few times where I can't quite think of any (some of you may remember this same speech from my last days in Morocco). But that's life, I suppose. Chock full of wisdom (or so you think) until it's put to the test.

Anyway--hopefully I'll work on that and get back to you. Until then, check out our film's website (if you want).