Duke TIP 2015

Lido Beach

Lido Beach

After the horror of last summer working with Duke Summer Session, (Duke Sucky Session more like), I was more than a little apprehensive about my position as Program Assistant for Duke TIP Field Studies in Florida. After a few flights, and having to navigate through the Atlanta International Airport, I finally landed in Sarasota. I tried not to have high expectations in terms of how enjoyable this experience would be. I told myself I could have an overbearing supervisor, gossiping coworkers, and terribly behaved students. “You’re here to work, not make friends. Do your job.” I told myself for the first few days. Fortunately, I didn’t have anything to worry about. My supervisor and coworkers turned out to be genuinely nice people, each with their own strengths and interests that served the program well. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to be a part of a functioning, albeit sometimes chaotically functioning, team who didn’t place blame on others, but worked together to solve problems. After the first week, I stopped bracing myself against the potential negative job politics and really started to make friends and figure out what on earth my position was.

Our dance theme was something about sand and beaches obviously.

My position was new and very flexible; we were basically making it up as we went along. I was used to being an administrator, making decisions, and doing everything myself. It was difficult at first to transition to being an assistant. A lot of what I did as the assistant assigned to residence life was programming and supplies runs. Even though I didn’t have a set list of tasks every day, there was always something I could do or help with. I got to go on a few really great field trips to aquariums and museums. We spotted wild dolphins and manatees and counted turtle nests. We even went for a boat ride on the Sarastota Bay and caught (then released) some puffer fish. It was amazing and I actually learned a lot. Also, DISNEY WORLD EPCOT!

I had fun captioning Renaissance art at the Ringling Museum.

at EPCOT with some staff! Man, that was a long day; my feet are still aching.

I really enjoyed attending and running programs as well. We had field day complete with an epic water balloon fight, a dance, and a kickball tournament. One of the first programs I helped with was painting, which was really fun because so many of our students are very talented artists. One student painted the Waffle House sign because “it inspired him”. I called him “waffle house” for the duration of the program. I still don’t know what his real name was. I also did some henna tattoos for students and staff, which was really fun and a great opportunity to get some practice.

Button flair is a must on your blue Duke TIP lanyard. These are painted by our very own "TIPsters"

Button flair is a must on your blue Duke TIP lanyard. These are painted by our very own “TIPsters”

fun henna tattoos!

fun henna tattoos!

I had a couple days off and had the chance to go to Siesta Key beach, which is the number one beach in the USA. It was super crowded, but the water was perfect and we had frozen daiquiris! #treatyoself2015 Such a great day.

at Siesta Key!

at Siesta Key!

On the last night after the students left, most of the staff went down to Lido Beach and had a few beers. It was so much fun hanging out and talking without any program responsibilities left. Well, I think I had one too many beers because I had the brilliant idea of skinny dipping in the ocean after it got dark. I didn’t think to bring my swimsuit, so I ran into the waves with my shorts and bra on. It was so ridiculously fun and I would do it again in a heartbeat. When I got back on shore, and finally found my shirt, I reached into the back pocket of my soaked denim jeans and found my brand new iPhone 6 chillin’ in its “life proof” case. Yeah, it has never recovered, even after two days in rice. So now I’m using my four year old iPhone 4 that has a stylish cracked screen and a whopping 8GB of zero space until I get paid later this month. #mylifeisbeck Did I mention my debt card AND my license was also lost at sea? I was seriously off the grid for a few days. I didn’t know how I was going to get on my flights back home the next day without my ID. It felt like the start of a really good urban adventure novel. If it wasn’t for my new friends asking questions and letting me borrow their phones, I probably wouldn’t have been able to get home safely.

Duke TIP family!

Duke TIP family!

I’m still waiting for my duplicate license, so I’ve been stuck at home all week and just returned to my day job at Starbucks today. Lucky for me, I have this handsome feline to keep me company all day.

Seriously, how can you not fall in love with Gigi?

How can you not fall in love with Gigi?

I’m definitely applying for Duke TIP next year.

Beck

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Happy New Year!

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It’s 2015! It’s been one year since I’ve started this blog! Although I haven’t posted every week, I think it’s been a good record of 2014. I’m excited to see what 2015 brings me and my family. I’m looking forward to seeing my sister Rachel again and Sarah and Andrew’s wedding in June! In the spirit of new beginnings, I, like most people, have some resolutions goals that I want to accomplish this year:

  1. Get a better job.

I may have just gotten a raise (a whole 50 cents), but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m working at a job that doesn’t pertain to my future career. The transferable skills I’m learning are minimal at best. I need a job that will help me develop my administrative and training skills. I’m hoping to find something in Raleigh, but the FSU interview is still to come.

  1. Be smarter with my money.

I’m terrible with what little income I have. I saved close to zero dollars last year and spend WAY too much eating out, which isn’t healthy either. I need to save for graduate school and for Sarah’s wedding, not to mention my car needs some work done. I think a mechanic said something about my breaks two years ago…oops. Not only will being wiser with my money help me in the future, when I have actual bills, but help me learn self-discipline, which is arguably my greatest life struggle.

  1. Work towards a healthier lifestyle.

This goal includes me getting health insurance, losing weight and eating healthier. I’ve been without health coverage for about four years. The Affordable Care Act didn’t really make health care affordable for me either. But, it would be really nice if I could develop a relationship with a doctor that can help me take preventative measures so I don’t get diabetes or hypothyroidism (which runs in my family). Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is part of this, which is why I didn’t wait until January to join a gym.

  1. Continue my education.

You all know that I’ve applied to graduate school. Things are looking good in that direction and I hope to enter a program in the fall. What you probably don’t know is that I hardly ever read anything other than novels, unless I’m doing research. Many of my friends read literature that is more informative or analytic and written for the masses. “The World is Flat” and “Freakonomics” are two popular examples of this genre. I want to read more of this kind of literature because it will help me continue my informal education and allow me to explore some of my interests separate from novels. I won’t say it won’t be difficult, but I am excited to check off some of these books I’ve wanted to read for years.

Those are my big four and I’ve already started working towards all of them, except maybe the money thing. #retailtherapy. I do have some other smaller goals like joining a church, writing more fiction and taking violin lessons but that’s mostly creative.

Want to see my book list for this year? :)

JAN        How to Read a Book by Mortimer J Adler

FEB        Meet the Real Jesus by John Blanchard

The Reason for God by Timothy Keller

MAR       Mere Christianity by CS Lewis

APR       Radical Womanhood by Carolyn McCulley

When Bad Christians Happen to Good People by Dave Burchett

MAY      Toxic Charity by Robert D Lupton

That the World May Know by James Dawes

JUNE     35 Dumb Things Well-Intentioned People Say by Maura Cullen

Whistling Vivaldi by Claude M Steele

JULY     Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Tatum

AUG      Lean In for Graduates by Sheryl Sandberg

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

SEP      The Medici Effect by Frans Johansson

OCT      The Book Nobody Read by Owen Gingerich

NOV      How to Read Lit by Thomas Foster

DEC      Catch up month! You know I’m going to need one.

What are your goals for 2015? Whatever they are, good luck! :)

Cheers,
Beck

Themes That Have Been Running Through My Mind

Don’t praise me.

I know it’s because of my insecurities with my body, but I hate it when people praise my efforts to lose weight. When I come home from the gym and my mom says, “I’m so proud of you for going to the gym!” I cringe and don’t respond. I don’t tell people when I’ve lost weight because I don’t want to hear them say, “Wow! Good for you! I’m so proud of you.” I know it’s strange, but I hate it because it brings attention to my large body and the fact that I need to lose weight. I’ve spent a lot of energy trying to ignore this fact, and a person bringing it up, even in a positive way, bothers me a lot. People generally wouldn’t tell a thin person they were proud of them for going to the gym, so why tell me? Because I really need to go to the gym, right? But everyone needs to be active to be healthy, not just people who are overweight. When people praise me for working out, they think they are encouraging me to continue a healthy lifestyle by recognizing my efforts, but I’m not doing this for them or for their recognition. I’m doing this for me and my future. I don’t need or want their praise, especially if they are treating me differently than others (i.e. thinner people) who are behaving the same way. It’s not that I’m ungrateful for their concern or affection; I just don’t enjoy receiving that kind of attention.

How you spend your day is how you spend your life.

This theme was inspired by me watching the last Hobbit film this week, which wasn’t completely disappointing. After watching the movie, I remembered how obsessed I was with Lord of the Rings when I was in middle and high school. I devoted so much of my time and energy reading and learning about everything that had to do with LOTR and Tolkien’s universe. For what reason? Having an encyclopedic knowledge of LOTR made me happy. It was all I talked about and all I watched; it brought me into a community, it entertained, inspired, and motivated me. But in the end, this obsession didn’t really do me any good besides encourage a love of reading. Now I can’t help but think, what if I devoted the same amount of time and energy to something more worthwhile? Not my career or education, but Jesus Christ? What if I had an encyclopedic knowledge of Him? what He said and did? What if I made Him my inspiration and motivation? joined a community just as obsessed with Him as I was? How would my life be different? It wouldn’t just make me happy, it would give me real joy. It’s not quite as easy as all that. I need to work through my misgivings concerning the church and my own stubborn resistance to Him that we all share. But, reading and learning are things that I enjoy doing, and it’s not so much that I don’t find Jesus interesting as I’ve been desensitized by a lifetime of hearing the same standardized sermons over and over. So that’s where I’ll start, reading.

I need a new job.

On a much more practical level, I’ve been thinking and rethinking my situation and decided to seriously look for a better job. Earning minimum wage is terrible; earning minimum wage in a retail position is not worth it. I had a bad experience last week when I was sick and needed to call out. But even before last week, I applied to a handful of temp agencies in Raleigh. So far, I have not heard anything from them. I’ve also applied and have an interview for an AmeriCorps VISTA position at Fayetteville State University. To be honest, it’s not paying much more than what I’m making now, but it is in my career field and would help me develop my professional skills. There are two things that prevent me from being super excited about this job. 1) It’s an hour away from Raleigh so a lot of time and money would be spent commuting. 2) It requires a one year commitment that I may or may not be able to complete. The job runs from Feb 2015 to Feb 2016, but I’m planning to start grad school in the fall of 2015. I would be willing to defer enrollment for a semester (which would take me to Jan 2016), but an entire year? That’s a long time. Since nothing is set in stone for grad school, I’m going to the interview next week, but I don’t know what to do! My gut feeling, and my Mom, tells me to let this job go and attend grad school this fall, but what if I give it up and don’t get in? At the same time, I can’t stand the thought of working at Starbucks for another eight months before grad school.

I know things will work themselves out. In the meantime, I’ll just bake some cookies.

Merry Christmas!

Beck

November in 800 Words or Less

Where have I been all November?

Happy Halloween! Happy Birthday to me! Happy Thanksgiving! :)

I’ve thought about writing many times this month, but haven’t made the time to do it, partially because I’ve been busy and partially because I’ve been lazy. Getting used to a new work routine that changes every week has not been fun. I do enjoy some things about my job, but I don’t get to do those things very often. I really want to find a better job that will pay me more than minimum wage.

To celebrate my birthday, my sister and best friend went out to dinner and drank wine. I got Caged, which was hilarious. This was followed later that week with a family dinner that was surprisingly pleasant. No one was fighting or drunk, there was an ice cream cake. Success.

Capture

On the 19th, I spoke at a Faces of Homelessness panel at Elon, my alma mater. I met with the other speakers and some current students for dinner before the panel. One formerly homeless man asked me how many times I had spoken and he looked shocked when I said this was my first time. Then I learned the event was being filmed. I suddenly grew really nervous. I didn’t really know what I was going to say. I had printed out the Pendulum article I wrote in the spring and the blog entries I wrote as well, which I thought would help. The truth is I have often doubted whether what I went through was actually homelessness or something else. One of my former professors blatantly told me I had no right to use that term, so speaking about my experience on a panel about homelessness made me feel a bit like a fake. Hearing the stories of the other speakers made me think what I had gone through was not really that intense or tragic, even if it felt that way to me at the time.

When it was my turn, I started with something about invisible homeless and then spoke about what and how it happened last year. I honestly don’t remember what I said afterwards. It was so difficult to say those things in front of my peers, some of which I had classes with last fall. Did I mention the room was packed? People were sitting all around on the floor and near the door. I didn’t know where to look. I finished by saying that what I went through was only a fraction of what the other speakers had been through and could only imagine how much more difficult it would have been had it not been for my friends and church.

There was a short question and answer session after we shared. I was asked what the school said when I told them. I answered by telling her that there wasn’t anything they really could have done but that was an area of improvement for the school.  Another person asked me what kept me going through the experience. I told her that I was plain stubborn and knew that if I didn’t push through, I wouldn’t have graduated. I also mentioned that my faith in Christ was a huge source of hope and comfort as well as solution for my situation.

After the event was over, people came up to me and shook my hand thanking me for sharing. One guy kept saying how “gusty” it was for me to talk about that in front of my classmates “especially at Elon”. The wife of Elon’s president also spoke to me and said she remembered reading my article in the spring and wished me luck in the future. One student gave me a hug and said that my story moved his friends deeply, even though he had dragged them to the event and they had previously made fun of homeless people. It was so reassuring hearing things like that from the audience. I could tell a lot of them were close to tears, although I can’t claim credit for that. This has given me the courage to claim my experience and speak at further events about homelessness.

I haven’t had the courage to watch the video yet, but I believe there is a video in this Pendulum article.

There are two more things I want to mention in this post. (1) Starting a diet and workout regime during Thanksgiving week is probably the worst week of the year to start anything requiring physical activity and calorie counting. #getswole (2) I APPLIED TO GRAD SCHOOL!!! I should begin to hear back from schools mid-December. Let us pray.

Beck

PS: My friend and future brother-in-law, Andrew, started a blog this month. Check it out y’all. He’s super well-read…like, better than me. #jealous

Job Searching Like It’s My Job

After a fairly uneventful month, I’ve had a jam-packed week of job searching and future planning full of successes and…well, total failure.

On Monday, I had an interview with a local Starbucks. I think I did well, but I may have done too well. Sarah said that I answered questions about my experiences too intelligently. I didn’t understand why that was a bad thing until she told me that if you sound too smart they won’t hire you because you’re less likely to stick around. Oops. Yeah, I didn’t get a call back, but that’s okay. I didn’t really want to work there anyway.

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On Tuesday, I drove to my alma mater for a much needed job search session at the Student Professional Development Center aka Career Services. I got some good advice about how to get an entry level job in the education field without a license or a master degree. I’m looking forward to using some of these tips and utilizing my LinkedIn profile more.

That night I attended a graduate school information session at UNCG and visited my best friend who is a student there. It was really informative and I got to meet some faculty members. When I told her my GPA, she cringed and said, “You’re almost there.” Then told me to study hard for the GRE and get good recommendations. I didn’t realize how much competition there is for grad school before. My program is cohort based so they only accept 20 applicants every two years. Pressure!!! But, I’m going to remain optimistic and open to the possibilities. The first step is writing the personal statement. I feel this is going to be difficult because, as you all know; I am not a woman of few words.

Keyboard_Kitty

I’ll post my statement on the blog once it’s completed for your comments!

After driving back to Elon and hanging out with my good friend, Tori, who by the way has an awesome blog as well, I was exhausted! The next day, I attended the job fair on campus. I have to say I was a little disappointed. Most companies were looking for sales reps or for students majoring in business and accounting, etc. I did meet a few teacher recruiters, but I’m not really passionate about teaching in a secondary setting anymore…I guess you know why. After leaving with a shockingly small number of cards and only giving out two resumes, I met a few friends at a local restaurant for dinner. That dinner made my trip worth my time. I don’t have any friends in Raleigh, so being able to socialize with friends after weeks of basically being a housewife for my family was awesome. We just talked and ate good food, that’s my idea of a great time. I miss them so much!


Well, Reader, I’m almost finished with my week; where is the promised failure? you ask. To be honest, this failure truly wasn’t my fault. I couldn’t have studied more or prepared more, I did everything I could. It was an act of God, that’s the only way I can explain it.

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I applied to an indie (read: pretentious) coffee shop in downtown Raleigh and had an interview on Saturday at 2:15pm. At 2:05pm, I drove into a parking garage behind the coffee shop looking fabulous and feeling confident. I was stopped by a woman wearing a blue collar who explained that all parking downtown was $7 due to a festival happening all weekend. I didn’t have any cash and my interview was in ten minutes, so I begged her to let me pay on the way out. When she refused to let me in, I asked her where an ATM was and turned around. I knew I would be late at this point, so I fought back tears…okay I opened the flood gates! and called the coffee shop to let them know. I frantically searched for an ATM and found one close by that was accessible by car (most ATMs downtown were on streets blocked off for the festival). When I got there, I saw lovely trees and a scenic meadow…and no ATM. Repeat this series of events six times, SIX TIMES. It wasn’t always a meadow, sometimes Google Maps led me to a bank nestled in an antiquated brick building blocked off by construction, sometimes an empty parking lot, sometimes to a building that was locked or closed. The minutes were ticking by and as I grew more and more desperate, I searched for an ATM farther and farther away from the coffee shop.

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ATM #7, a SunTrust. FINALLY, I got the cash I needed and called the coffee shop to let them know I was on my way. At 3:20pm, I drove into the parking garage behind the coffee shop with tear-stained cheeks and absolutely no confidence. I had cried off all my make-up and was trembling from frustration, but I put on what I hope was a smile of confidence and walked up to a flannel-wearing barista with thick-rimmed glasses to ask for the manager. After a few moments waiting at the bar, another flannel-wearing barista came up to me and told me that the manager couldn’t wait for me and left for the day. I asked her if I could reschedule, she said that they “weren’t interested” in me because it had taken me so long to get there. I stumbled out an apology and explained the situation. What I got in reply was, “It sounds like you’ve had a rough day. I hope your day gets better.” Luckily, I made it out of the door before I burst into tears. I cursed myself for not having $7 in my pocket. If I did, I would have been on time and probably gotten the job. Maybe not, I don’t own any flannel plaid, which is apparently the uniform since every time I’ve gone there that’s all I see them wearing.

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I don’t expect them to give me second chance; I wouldn’t take it even if they did. I was mostly using this interview as an opportunity for more practice, but it was humiliating all the same. After wasting so much of my time and gas, and trying so hard to just get there at all, I was turned away. I paid $7 to cry in a parking garage for ten minutes before I was capable of driving my car home.

Tomorrow, I start afresh searching for and applying to jobs again like it’s my job. Wish me luck!

Beck

The Final Report

I’ve kept strangely quiet about my summer job in a college after my first optimistic post. Every time I try to think over what happened, to make sense of the chaos and horror that was this summer, I come up empty. It’s almost as if I’ve repressed the memories to keep myself from going insane, but I need to write about it if I’m ever going to get over it. I’m still hurt and angry, and I’m afraid this post has an awful lot of complaining in it, but writing it all down has helped. As my sister says, writing is healing.

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Lessons Learned

The first thing I learned as Dean of Residence Life was that I was not ready for this job. I had just graduated, had no real job before, and was coming into an important administrative role with no prior experience to pull from. I did not know what it took to house and run a residence life program. I thought of myself as a lead RA because that’s what I understood. I did not have the skills, the attention to detail or the ability to keep up with the work load required for this job. A few days into the program, I found myself at my wits end and with nowhere to go but down. A week into the program, I made a mistake and was led to believe that all my coworkers resented me, and that I was a “whisper away from being fired”. I was quickly labeled as incompetent (even called selfish) and the majority of my responsibilities were given to other administrators for the rest of the program. They even promoted two RAs to administrators in order to “delegate more effectively”. It’s important to me that my boss and coworkers believe in me, that I can do my job and improve. Maybe this isn’t a good thing, because it makes me reliant on others for my self-assurance, but so it is. I did not feel that they had faith in me after that first week and my self-esteem suffered as a result.

The second thing I learned was that this program was poorly designed and managed. The students doubled in number this year; the admin team did not double in number this year. That is not a recipe for success. This program was extremely ill-designed and set up all its workers for failure. Is it reasonable to expect every administrator to be efficient while working 19 hour days for three or more days? This is not an exaggeration. Throughout the duration of the program, I got five hours of sleep on a good day. We had multiple administrators and RAs up until 2am or 3am dealing with residents going to the ER, getting locked in trash rooms, getting calls from peeping toms; the list goes on. Expectations from the main office were not communicated clearly or in a timely manner, so deadlines were missed, mistakes were made, and miscommunication multiplied. The most frustrating thing about this job was that no matter how many times we as an admin team tried to tell the director that things needed to change, she was unwilling to listen and make changes. If a worker is not performing well, you can respond in one of two ways. You can (1) threaten and criticize that worker in the hopes of scaring them straight, or (2) work with them to discover the root of the problem and implement strategies to improve. As a boss you also play the role of the teacher. If a teacher does not succeed in teaching her students with one method, it is expected that they try other methods in order to help that student reach his or her goal. These were not theories the director attempted to put into practice, despite having a doctorate in higher education.

The third thing I learned was that if you cannot communicate and work with your coworkers, you cannot be successful. I thought in the beginning that we were communicating well, but that quickly failed after the first weekend. We were not communicating well at all. Misinformation was abundant and when mistakes were made we blamed each other instead of changing the process. It got so bad that we had an intervention where we all sat in a meeting for three hours alternatively blaming each other and then being vulnerable and apologizing. I was the only one who cried; it was mortifying. After this, things got a bit better, but we never fully recovered. Again, our boss didn’t seem to care that we had problems responding to her communication and management style. This experience has made me realize the importance of acting quickly in the future when I have conflicts with coworkers and my boss, and to apologize early when you make mistakes.

Breaking Point

I had many breakdowns during the program, but the incident that made me go absolutely crazy happened on my last night on campus. We had two students left in the dorms and most of the RAs and admins had already left. I wanted to celebrate the end of the program with a few RAs who were also my friends. We weren’t going to do much, just go have a drink or two at a local bar. When my boss found out that this was happening, she freaked out and called me 11 times in 20 minutes, left two voice messages, and many texts asking me the same questions over and over about who was going to be in charge while I was out “partying”. I was not planning to be off campus for more than three hours and felt that she was overreacting. She gave me instructions to put two RAs on duty while I was gone and make sure the residents knew who to contact if anything happened. My RAs were not on contract, so I thought it unfair to ask them to be on duty. After I told my boss I was following directions, which I did reluctantly, I got a call from one of my RAs saying they were scared because my boss called her. My boss said she couldn’t get ahold of me and was threatening to come to campus “if things weren’t going her way”.

This is when I hit my limit.

After I unnecessarily woke up students to give them the RA on duty’s number and doing exactly as I was told, even though it was completely unnecessary, my boss called my RA and freaked her out about the whole thing. I was outraged and only saw red. I called my boss and yelled at her saying she had no right to call my RAs and scare them and make them do anything when their contract had ended. She was the one who did not think through the closing procedures and put safety measures in place. I was there voluntarily. What would she have done if I had left earlier that day and not decided to stay the night? It was fine to bother me about this stuff, but to call and freak out my RAs? They did not deserve that. I hung up after I told her never to call me again, and she didn’t. I know it was unprofessional, but my contract was over; she couldn’t touch me. I knew even before my outburst that I would not get a good reference from her anyway. It felt so good to tell her off like that, especially since it was not the first time I or the other admins had been harassed past 10pm by my boss who was most likely not sober.

I was never so happy to leave a job in my life. There were so many times that I wanted to quit this summer, because I was stretched far past my limit mentally, emotionally, and physically. But I’m glad I didn’t because I was able to finish what I started, even if I went a little crazy in the end.

Beck

Postgraduate Depression

You know the classic story of the hero? He, or in this case she, accepts a challenge, goes through obstacles, faces a crises and recovers to reach her goal. Well, readers, my crisis is over. How do I know that my crisis is over? I woke up this morning and felt like I had something to say. For the first time since I returned from my summer job a month ago, I wanted to write.

Postgraduate depression is a real thing. It’s akin to First-year Loneliness Syndrome most college students go through. It’s probably the same kind of “freaking out” that all people go through anytime there’s a major change in his or her life. Postgraduate depression can be described as a prolonged feeling of “What am I doing with my life?” with the resulting echo being a hollow “nothing, nothing” that fades into the nights of Netflix binge watching and an old friend you graduated with from college, procrastination.

I got so discouraged that I deactivated my Facebook and started calling/emailing my friends that I wanted to keep in touch with (crazy concept, I know). I didn’t want to see day after day that “everybody” was getting great jobs or going to great schools. And I was just sitting here, with an empty bank account and empty days ahead. I know that social media is a farce, that people create ideal versions of their perfectly pictured lives to display for the public; but even so, I couldn’t help but think that I wasn’t making progress.

I spoke with a friend recently who is moving back in with her parents soon in order to save more money. She also felt depressed, like she was moving backwards. But we decided that just because we feel social pressure to get perfect jobs, move out of our parent’s homes, and start our “adult lives”, doesn’t mean that we’re failing at life if we’re not doing those things immediately. Everybody has their own path. Whether it takes you four or six years to get an undergraduate degree, you’re still working toward your goals. Don’t let people make you feel bad for taking time to figure out exactly what you want to do, or for working through obstacles like a lack of resources. The important thing is that you do have goals and that you persevere.

I use my sister as an example all the time. She graduated from college two years ago. During the past two years, she has continued taking courses to fulfill prerequisites for graduate school and made progress into her intended career by becoming a nurse assistant. Now she works at Duke University Hospital and is most likely entering PA school next fall. That’s progress. Who cares if it took two or more years? She has gone through countless setbacks, but has steadily worked toward her goal; no one can say that she has been sitting around doing nothing.

Some people would still judge her for moving back in with her parents this summer, but like I said, everybody has their own path. Until you know everything about what a person has or is going through, you can’t judge whether they are “failing” at life. People forget that college students are graduating into a different economy nowadays. It used to be that people could move out and start a career right after college, but I’ll be lucky to get any job that allows me to start paying back my student loans this year. So I say, screw those people; you do you. I may not have any immediate plans, but I do have goals for graduate school, working abroad and more; and I don’t have plans to give up, no matter how long it takes.

Beck