To be an alumni.

“Today will be different. It has to be. I will smile and it will be believable. My smile will say ‘I’m fine. Thank you. Yes. Much better.’ I will no longer be the [undergrad who has lost her way]. I will start fresh. Be someone new. It’s the only way I’ll make it through.” -Elena Gilbert, The Vampire Diaries, S1E1.

“I have faults enough,but they are not, I hope, of understanding. My temper I dare not vouch for.” -Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice

“I was just thinking-today is the first and last day of forever. It’s kind of hard to wrap my brain around it.” -Bella Swan, Breaking Dawn

“So here’s the speech. This [college} thing is a bitch. Your world shrivels down to a dot. You know this. And all you can think about is how to get your next meal, and keeping your secret[s]. And then suddenly there’s hope again.” -Lowell Tracy, iZombie S1E5

“Sometimes the best book has the dustless jacket. And sometimes the best teacup is chipped.”-Belle, Once Upon A Time, S3E22

It has been 19 years, 8 months and 6 days since I started school. I’ve started things, ended things, lost track of things. There’ve been times when I’ve ruled the world and there’ve been times when I rued the world. I’ve been scared, alone, hurt. I’ve been elated, loved, healed. And although there will never be enough words to write about how these past two decades have molded me, I have some perspective that I want to give.

-First-it doesn’t matter what other people think. If you are unhappy-change it.
-If the thing you want more than anything makes no sense-then stop trying to logic your way to it.
-If what you’re doing does not fulfill you, and isn’t a step in the way to making you content-move on.
-At least five minutes a day should be spent telling yourself how much you mean to yourself.
-Change your mind. And change it again.
-Eat that cake. And don’t you ever feel ashamed that you like it.
-Never apologize for being yourself. Unless you’re an ass-and then start with an apology to yourself.
-Drink water-even if it tastes like rocks.
-You only get this one body. And you’ve spent your whole life growing it. Don’t you know what kind of magic that takes?
-Be polite. But don’t be a pushover.
-If you don’t want to drink or smoke or have sex-that is your right. No one who matters will force you.
-And if they do-that’s illegal.
-Learn your rights.
-Make a list. Check things off. Especially with colorful ink.
-Invest in yourself. Even when it makes no sense. Especially when it makes no sense.
-Date yourself. Treat yourself to those relaxing things that you see on Pinterest.
-Never be afraid of a bad picture. Because they’re candid memories of things you can’t get back.
-You look great. No seriously. You look exactly like you. And that’s great.
-Never be afraid to speak up. You may be the first voice, but undoubtedly you will not be the only one.
-Kindness is not a suggestion-it’s a lifestyle.
-Learn to cook foods you actually like to eat.
-Learn some hobbies. You’ll need to know how to relieve stress.

I know that this sounds like an inspirational board that lists the ways you can get through a bad day or something, but I think it’s important. We’re not told that being completely ourselves is okay, not given permission to live freely. And the world is missing out on some really great people because of it. Plus, treating yourself right is the first step in treating others right.

As I said. It’s been almost 20 years since I started formal education. And I’ve still more to go. This is the biggest life change I’ve had to date, and to say I’m not scared would be a lie. I’m spooked. But you know what? I know that I’ll manage to be okay. Courage is taking one step more than you thought you could. “Only a fool is not afraid.” -Mrs. Whatsit, A Wrinkle in Time.

I’m not sure I have any grand parting words. I’ve been the best version of me I can be-and I’m making changes as I see fit. I’ve had so many great times, so many growth times and it’s all been etched on my heart forever. I feel like I’ve spent so many years hating who I was and I’ve spent these last few years trying to apologize and make amends with myself. I’m not the person I will be-but I’m so much closer than before. I’ve learned how to be Michelle, a feat that I never even knew I would accomplish.

I chose to use quotes for today, not because I couldn’t think of things to say, but because they help you understand what today means to me. I have one final on Sunday (ew) and then I have officially finished my time here. It’s been a long journey, at times tiresome, but always an adventure.

“So. Here it is. Live boldly. Push yourself. Don’t settle. Don’t think of [this] too often. I don’t want [to be] sad. Just live well. Just live.” -Will Traynor, Me Before You.

 

Single Digits

So if you follow me on instagram, I’ve been doing a daily photo with #HowIMetMyGraduation. I try to take pictures of things that sum up my day, mean something to me, or otherwise spark my interest. And Because I’m now officially just 9 days away from finishing my degree, I wanted to do something (probably hard) fun. I’m going to describe my undergrad degree using all 26 letters of the English alphabet. So uhm, here goes nothing.

A. Anthropology-my major. I focus on Cultural Anthropology, because I like to people watch.

B. Biology-This is what I spent two years of my degree majoring in. Because I was afraid of change.

C. Clergy-I am not only a wedding planner, I can officiate marriages too.

D. Diversity-I became Minister of Justice, Human Rights and Diversity for the micronation of Flandrensis

E. Education-which included the Calculus sequence, Chemistry, Psychology, Social Work and Political Science.

F. Fat-I gained some, but learned that my worth wasn’t a number.

G. GISHWHES-I learned how to cross the line between comfort and adventure.

H. Highway driving and conquering the fear.

I. Impair-we went through 4 (5?) cars in undergrad.

J. Journal-I started bullet journalling as a way to manage my symptoms.

K. Knick Knacks-I had to downsize 5 times since starting undergrad-for moving purposes.

L. Liberal-as in, I got liberally involved in politics.

M. Marriage-I got married in a classroom on campus just about 3 years ago.

N. Novels-I’ve started MANY, finished few.

O. Ohio State-this is where I’ve gotten my degree from.

P. Phlebotomy-I got my national certification by going to 2 colleges at once for a while.

Q. Queer-because I learned that it’s okay not to fit a gender binary-or even a standard array of sexuality.

R. Religion-I changed religions in college: from southern baptist/nondenominational Christian to earth worshipping pagan/hoodoo.

S. Subway-my first job. Followed by Rural King, Giant Eagle, and OSU.

T. Tattoo-I knew I wanted one, and for graduation, I finally got it.

U. Unhappy-I spent a long time being unhappy, because I lived in the shadow of the expectations of others before finding myself.

V. Victim-or rather, how to become a survivor of sexual assault.

W. Washburn-this is where I’ll be going to get my JDMSW (Law Degree and Masters in Social Work) in a little over 100 days.

X. Xenial-by definition, accepting-especially of strangers and foreigners.

Y. Youth-I’ve been in college the entirety of my early-mid twenties, and will be there until I’m nearly 30.

Z. Zombies? Zodiac? Zenith-meaning the most important moment, which for me is coming quickly.

 

Well, that wasn’t so bad:)

We’ll speak soon.

M.

Symmetry

In life, there are ups and downs. People with illnesses (mental and physical) are probably more aware of that, as are the people who care for those with illnesses. But it’s learning how to live (and thrive) with the waves that makes all the difference. Marriage is really no different. I know I haven’t been married all that long (approaching 2 years!) but some things have transpired over the past semester that bring me really to the title of today.

For many years, human beings have been subjected to the beauties of symmetry. It is believed (and has been tested) that we are more likely to subconsciously choose someone with a symmetrical face as our life partners or potential ones. And it is something a little more abstract that I found intriguing.

Bean
Source: Google

 

When I first started college, I thought that my life path was to become a doctor. I wanted to work in pediatric oncology-the children with cancer. I wanted to give futures to people who otherwise had little hope of one. My husband? He wanted to become a doctor, who specialized in stem cells and stem cell therapies. He wanted to extend the human life, so that we could heal more diseases and change life for the better. We were both biology majors.

anth.jpg (Source: Google)

I started to have doubts about what I wanted in life, and how I could not fulfill my wishes with the path that I was on. I changed majors (in my head) a few times) and then finally settled on Anthropology (which I love!). Ben (my husband) remained a biology major, sure of his life ambitions. We began to look into grad/ med schools. We realized that we’d probably have to live in separate places, and go to different schools. Maybe even different states. We began to stress.

mol.jpg (Source: Google)

My husband decides that biology is not his calling, and that perhaps he will find happiness in Molecular Genetics instead. We rapidly approach our senior year of undergrad, and the thoughts of continuing education continue to cause a large amount of concern and distress in our daily lives. We frequently struggle to talk about it without using the phrase: “I’ll figure it out later.”

vot (Source: Google)

We find ourselves in the early stages of this election season, and suddenly all we talk about is politics. Although we are both active in our citizen duties, I have no interest in politics-as far as running for office. I do, however, begin to look at court cases and realize that maybe being a diplomat isn’t the “best fit” for my desires. I begin to look into law schools focusing on criminal law and domestic law.

But it is my husband who ended up in the turn around spot this time. Each report, each debate would find him a little more involved and a little less in love with the idea of medicine. Sure enough, this past week, he decided he would definitely pursue a degree in what? Law. And so, we are both looking into colleges now with law programs, in the same states, and even the same schools. In five year’s time, we managed to come full circle. Although some new information has come into play, we’ve finally hit our stride and figured out what makes the pair of us tick. And I deeply love that we are now strong members of our fields, with a purpose, a drive and hope for our future.

law

The Signs Life Gives You

I had the absolute delight of speaking with a most beloved professor this week, and she helped (as always) put me back on track. I walked into her office, knowing full well that I really had no idea what I needed to talk about, but that I needed someone to hear me. I knew she was a source of great insight in the past, and that I hoped she would bring me the clarity that I so desperately needed. I feel like I need to get her something really nice when I graduate. Seriously. I literally walked into her office, cried for half our meeting and then ranted the other half. Anyway, she and I were discussing how the world I live in seems so different than the one I exist in everyday. I told her about the way in which my assignment turned into a fervent search for the truth, and my life’s destiny. She listened without hesitation, even when I had no words to use. She spoke to me with kindness about self-care and burning out of a career because you aren’t emotionally prepared for the repercussions, as well as dealing with the weight of other people’s stories. I came out of her office not only knowing myself a little better, but being thankful I didn’t decide to cancel on her today because I felt anxious that I didn’t know what to say.

I’d asked her about coming in to see her last week, when I was convinced that I knew what I needed to talk about. I told her that I needed some “life advice” and she told me she was free on Tuesday. I made an appointment, figured it was great and then the closer we got to Tuesday, the mroe I thought that perhaps I was making a mistake. I knew the week I’d been having, I knew that I was far too charged for my own good, and that perhaps I needed to just find a way to sort it out myself. That’s what being an adult is, right? Figuring out your answers by yourself? Turns out, that ideology is really stupid. Yes, you should try to make your own way in life. And yes, you should want to try to find the answers. But sometimes you are just too close to the problem. Sometimes you need to take a step back and ask someone who’s been there, and done that if you’re on the right track. The “Double Check” method. 

I find so often that I am surrounded by professors who have grown embittered by their jobs, their lack thereof or just the length of time that they have been doing the same thing day in and day out. And I understand. Anyone who has ever experienced “senioritis” understands. But she’s different. This professor isn’t bitter, isn’t malicious, and above all, she treats me as a real person with real problems and concerns. And I value that. I picked her, because well, to be honest, I didn’t. Life did. Do you ever feel that at some points in your life, you just stumble across a person who changes your outlook, like a gift from the universe as if to say:

I know you’re struggling, but if you let them, they will light your way.

And I love it when that happens. I don’t want to take advantage of her or anything, that is so not my intention. But I want to glean all I can from her, to make myself the best I can be. And the message was loud and clear.

Michelle, you need to focus on some self-care. You spend so much of your time worrying about the things in the world you want to change that you’ve saved so little love for yourself. It’s not good for you, or the people you want to help.

This year, the universe keeps reminding me of that. Over and over, subtly or straightforward. “Self-care”. I’ve discussed it with friends, I’ve seen it in passing on my Facebook feed, and now I’m hearing it more directly. So what am I not doing?

Well, more than just words, the universe has a way of getting my attention. This entire week I’ve had stomach problems. I feel so tired, so out of it and not myself. Okay, body, I’m listening. And I think maybe I’ve neglected myself a lot lately.

I met with my oldest, most wonderful friend yesterday and realized that the words which were ever so prevalent before could not be ignored any longer. And as I sat there, listening to her tell the story of her nursing program, her troubles during the semester and having her in turn listen to mine, I realized something further. Self-care doesn’t have to be alone-care. Human beings are social creatures and that means taking the time to gather those who mean the most to you and helping them to help you.

My point today isn’t to list all the ways I have let myself down. My point today is to tell others, through my struggle that they too need to look into their own lives and make sure the universe isn’t trying to tell you that you’re missing out on the best you that you can be. 

Is your health poor? Maybe you need to see a doctor.

Are your eating habits not good? Maybe you need to reexamine them. 

Need to take that mental health day? Do it.

Need to forgive yourself for a mistake? Do that ASAP.

Have you needed life advice? Spiritual guidance? Now’s the time.

Need to let someone in? That’s a great idea.

You are beautiful, you are worth it. And so am I.

‘Twas The Week of the LSAT

Ever since I decided I wanted to be a diplomat, I have been researching the job, deciding how best to fulfill my dreams and really just trying to find out if that really was the best decision for me. Ultimately I decided it was, that I needed to go to law school..

Stop.

Law. School. Admission. Test.

 
 Four of the scariest words in my life. And you all think I’m joking. But on the review websites for the GRE and the MCAT (Grad School and Med School respectively) there are the people who say things like “Honestly, it’s hard, but f you just take some practice tests, you’ll be fine.” The LSAT reviews? They ALL say things like “If you don’t study every day for 7 hours, at least 9 months in advance, you’re doomed.”

Okay, so maybe I’m getting a little carried away. Or maybe not. But here’s my thoughts on the subject.

I’m not a simpleton. I know I can and will succeed. I know that there are people who took the test before me, and will take it after me and life will go on. The only difference is, I will be going to law school. (I know that for sure, I just need the scores to tell me which one haha).And I’m going to make something of myself. In 4 years from now, I will be a lawyer! But not just that, I will have taken the FSOT (Foreign Service Operative Test) and be *hopefully* on my way to being a diplomat. In this I am very confident. But I just feel like this entire week has been a mental game that has gone on for far too long.

  
It all started Saturday, one week from test day. I knew I had 7 days to prepare myself, to give myself the best chance I could. I became nervous. Like, pit of the stomach cranky nervous.

Sunday, the panic set in. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep and I began grinding my teeth at night. This is something I haven’t done since my senior year in high school when I had to decide where I would go for college. See the connection?

Monday, my jaw hurt from the grinding, but I felt like I was starving. I couldn’t find it in me to get enough caffeine. This was my first tip off that I was more stressed than I let on. Me and not wanting caffeine is NOT normal behavior. Clearly.

Tuesday, I drank more caffeine than the last three days combined. (Back to normal?) My jaw quit hurting and I scurried to do all my homework for the week. I rarely do homework marathons, but I needed to get everything done. ASAP.

Today, I woke up late, got to work late and grabbed a tumbler of cold, left-over-from-yesterday coffee before starting my day. I think I’m just about crazy. In the first hour of my day, I had more accidents, more uh-ohs and more “oh crap”s than I have probably all week semester. I will get home and inevitably either not be able to sleep, of fall asleep for 500000000 hours. (I know, that’s the one I’m assuming too.)

Tomorrow: I begin practice scenario day 1. I have taken practice tests before, but this day will be timed and punctual, as if I were actually taking the test. It’s going to be me against the exam, and I really have to try hard.

Friday: Simulation day 2. I cleared it with my boss, I won’t be coming in and I will instead be doing more practice tests, same as Thursday. But I assume there will be more panic for this one. And just like a child on Christmas Eve, I won’t be able to sleep, I’ll be up all night and then when I do fall asleep, I will wake up with a terrible stomach ache and find out I only slept for two hours before needing to leave. Which brings us to:

Saturday: Game day. Let the all out screaming, panic induced brain games begin! I will inevitably grab a large coffee, need to pee before my test, get anxious, start pacing, get the notice to take my seat and then I will be in total concentration mode. I love that part of me. I can stress out about a situation for weeks and then get to that moment and everything will just go away and I will be able to complete my task with the utmost efficiency and calm. Works like a charm every time.

Sunday: As a reward, I will be going on a friend date to see Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Because Jane Austen is the best, and I’m just a big sucker for the undead. I literally cannot wait for this. It is my secondary source of hope. 
Now that you all have my week’s planner, let me tell you about this big scary monster test.

First, I had to go get a passport photo. And if you’ve ever taken one yourself, it is the most stressful thing on the planet. The lighting has to be just perfect, no glare, perfect exposure. So I did that, ordered it online and then my order was delayed. I went to the store and found out their printer was making excess lines in the photos so I was going to have to wait. I did and got the photos about an hour later, but I had nothing short of a breakdown first. While I was at the store, I had to pick up wooden pencils, because mechanical ones aren’t allowed. I also picked up some really nice erasers, because reasons. And I can have a water bottle and some snacks, but everything I own has to be in a gallon ziplock. I can’t have anything electronic on my person, so I can only carry my keys, wallet, pencils, erasers, pencil sharpener, my admission ticket and my water and snack. That list makes me feel naked as a person. I rarely go anywhere without my phone, even if it’s just in my pocket and I don’t use it. Also, I’ve used mechanical pencils or years. Wooden ones are not my specialty. But I guess it’s alright, because I will be going to law school where I’m pretty sure they’re okay with me carrying mechanical pencils, pens and my phone.

Anyway, I guess I’m going to be away from social media for the next couple days and that’s my story. I’ll see you all on the other side of the weekend!

  

Retrograde is NOT my friend.

So this Mercury retrograde is about the end of me. As the tally stands:

Missing packages, fried computer, the flu.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I would much rather get this all done before finals, but I can’t accurately describe how frustrated I am. If my luck were this bad all the time, I’m not sure I’d make it through without snapping. So I’m playing catchup and hoping I can get some extensions on my homework so that I can be sick in peace.

But on the plus side, at least there is a MUCH less depressed me writing to you today. And soon enough, I will write about a big item. Or maybe big. I’m going to release a chapter from my first novel (revamped, since it was lost). So stay tuned and be excited! 

Oh and if I don’t get a chance to say, blessed Mabon!