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Archive for the month “April, 2014”

Undergraduate life Vs. Grad life

I graduated from undergrad 10 years ago, yes, if you read the blog regularly you know this fact.

However, this is important because 10 years ago, I was 22 years old. I entered college at 18 years old.

I’ve entered my graduate studies at 32.

The differences in my lifestyle and habits as a student often crack me up. I’d been wanting to write a post about it, but, alas. My 32-year-old, full-time working, three class taking arse has been tired and clearly busy.

I wanted to fight a guy who texted me this morning talmbout, “Where have you been, I haven’t heard from you.” After I went on my tirade about doing nothing but work projects and school and trying to eat, sleep and poop in between, his response is “Cool. Are you still single?”

I fought the urge not to take off my shoe and throw it across the room. I digress.

The point is, I’d like to point out some of the differences I’ve observed between my undergrad life and my grad studies life.

In undergrad, you may have taken two or three classes a day for three to five days a week. You may have had a job or an internship.

In grad school if you choose to still work your job/job… you know the one you got your undergrad degree in, the stakes are a tad higher. You likely have your own spot you are paying rent/mortgage on, car payments, credit card bills, food… either way, you have more pressure to produce and stay employed. You still have to have energy and brain power to do what you need to do for your job, and still bring it for your class discussions and assignments.

In undergrad, time management was merely a suggestion. Something responsible classmates and older folks tossed around. In undergrad, procrastination was the way of life. Instant gratification was way more important than proper planning. You’re young and beautiful and you have energy. You can live off of the McDonald’s menu and Mountain Dew Code red and pull a paper or project out of your butt crack only hours before walking into class and handing it in.

Not so in grown up grad world.

You set aside time in your planner to plan planning.

You plan when you pee. You plan when you are going to call someone back, like um your parents who want to make sure you are alive. You plan when to wash and twist your hair (2 hours). You plan the one day out of the week where you refuse to do any work, but if you’ve planned a concert or a dinner out with friends, you amend your planned chill day so you can get ahead on your work so you can enjoy the planned events on a non-planned open day. Whew.

In undergrad, there were days you just weren’t up for going to class. There were quite a few of them. And you didn’t go.

In grad school, you are all about those attendance and participation points just in case they will make the difference in the end. Because when you don’t show up and you realize those points kept you from your desired grade, you bang your head on things.

In undergrad, you don’t believe your professors when they say everyone does poorly on this test or this unit or this project. You think you are better, you think you are different and you think you’ll still ace this thing with the minimal amount of effort. You’ll show them.

In grad school, you not only believe your professors, but you freak out and spend two weeks before said test, project or paper trying to figure out how to at least do better than the worst folks.

In undergrad group projects suck. They just do. There’s usually only one really responsible person and they never stand up for themselves or call folks out on their bs. Folks depend on them, they carry it for the group and the wack people remain wack for another day.

In grad school, you are surrounded by the responsible people from undergrad. How do you think they got this far? Nobody is trying to even hear or entertain excuses. Everyone has a full-time job, are officially grown people with serious responsibilities and have sacrificed their time, energy, and hours of sleep to pursue this degree… throw in some kids into the mix… if you don’t come prepared with your share of the work, not only will you get the side eyes of death, you’ll get cussed out mightily and rightfully so. So yeah, if you in a group assignment for grad, you better represent. The professor is the least of your problem if you are a slacker. You will get jumped by your group for underperformance.

In undergrad, you had to go through the accumulation of friends, fighting with said friends, the loss of friends to only be whittled down to a special few.

In grad school, most folks kind of have the reality game show mentality of “I didn’t come here to make friends.” Since you don’t have a lot of time anyway, and if you are in an online program like me, making genuine connections can kind of be tough. But when people connect, they make their alliances count. They may compliment you in a chat or an email about a point you made in class, or you may thank someone for finding out some additional information. There’s really no need for fakery, because no one has the time. They just won’t mess with you.

In grad school, you’ll find yourself comparing and contrasting your undergrad experience. It’s pointless. It’s a different beast.

In undergrad, your teachers spend a lot of time teaching you concepts, then you read about em and take a test.

In grad school, you read about the concepts, you learn and in class you need to ask your teachers for clarification. They illuminate how to apply this stuff. No vocabulary lessons or definitions in the live class. Nope. You better already know the terms they throw out.

In undergrad, folks can tell when you are bsing and didn’t do the work.

In grad school, folks can tell when you are bsing and didn’t do the work.

In undergrad, you may sleep all day because you partied all night.

In grad school, you sleep all day because it was your assigned day devoted to sleeping. This will be the most consecutive hours of sleep you’ll get all week.

In undergrad staying up till 2 or 3 isn’t a big deal, you’ll be distracted by friends.

In grad school, if you managed to get all of your work done before midnight, the day before your class, during the work week you count that as a win.

Does anyone have anything they’d like to add to the list? I’ve already gone over my allotted time for blogging. LOL

 

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Single Girl Haiku: Disappointment Strikes Again.

I had a great date
Saturday night lovely
He was married, tho.

 

Season of Single

There have been plenty of pastors and older, wise married folks who have said, “Don’t rush into marriage. Learn how to enjoy your season of single.”

Most of the time, women, myself included have plugged our ears and started singing “la, la, la” because we wanted to be in love so badly. And what’s the highest height of romantic love? Getting married or so we think.

At 32, being in school and working and really having to prioritize my time has made me kind of realize that I’m nearing the end of my season of single, so I need to make it count.

All of my resources, my time, my money, my energy, my fun time, vacations they belong to me!

This is going to be the only time in my life where that is the case. We all know that I’m still on the fence about children, but I’m very interested in being married someday. I’m going to be sharing resources with someone. Even if he makes more than me or equal or whatever, I’m going to be sharing my resources, I’m going to be accountable to someone else.

I was just talking to a friend about how hectic my schedule is and about to become. I’m going to the Art of Cool music festival in Durham, NC next weekend; I have my 10 year reunion at my university; I’m going to attend a wedding in a city and state I’ve never been to in June and oh yeah, I’m still doing school. A good friend of mine is itching to go to Greece in the fall, and honestly, I’m ready to pull the trigger and do it.

This stage in my life is for ME. Now all stages in your life should be about you, but no other stage than right now is about me or will ever allow me this much freedom, even though it feels like every moment is accounted for because of my school and work schedule. The strictness of my schedule has actually opened me up to LIVING in my free moments. Even making the decision to take out thousands in student loans to go back to school, that was a conscious decision I made for ME and no one else. There’s something special about saying, I’m worth this. It’s going to work out because this is a part of my purpose. This is necessary. I’m already appreciating the benefits and what being back in school is doing for my mind and my self-esteem. I keep telling people this was the time to do what I’m doing. I wouldn’t have appreciated it the way I do now, I wouldn’t have a razor-sharp focus on why this is so important and so worth it if I did it any sooner.

I’m taking deep breaths and in my spare moments when I’m relaxing, I’m truly doing so. I may actually go off to Spa World in Va. and veg out for a few hours over this weekend to recharge since I’ve given up my Massage Envy membership.

It’s about me now and I get it. I fully get and appreciate it and it doesn’t feel selfish or wrong. I don’t feel guilty about it and while thinking about love and a future with a great person does hang over my head from time to time, I can say I’m happy right now and I’m happy alone. DID YOU HEAR THAT UNIVERSE? IM HAPPY WITH WHERE I AM AND WHO I AM RIGHT NOW!! Everything belongs to me right now. My money, my time. It’s my world. I have full autonomy to do exactly what I please with it. I’m learning to value how liberating and powerful that is, because this too is a season. This won’t always be the case. And when my season does change, I want to know that I took full advantage of every resource and moment and spare time and extra dollar so I won’t walk into my new season with any regrets. I can accept the joys that come with the next.

 

Let It Go, Keep It Gone

When I graduated from college (gasp) 10 years ago, I basically said as a journalist, I wouldn’t need graduate school. It would be a waste of my money and frankly anyone who was doing it who didn’t want to teach journalism was down right crazy.

10 years ago, I thought I’d be a journalist forever, working into old age and migrating to the editorials, sharing my wisdom until I finally died. And the world would mourn the loss of my great voice that led them through their days, that analyzed the issues and the moments we’d hardly forget.

I would be one of the great contemporary American voices.

Eh, that didn’t happen, or it just may happen. But not in the way I thought it would.

I thought that I’d never go to graduate school or even need it. The life I planned for myself seemed to suggest that, and for that life, coming to that conclusion just made a whole lot of sense.

It amazes me how life shifts. If you’re smart, you’ll take a step back, and look at the broader picture and how what you were doing ten years ago, or six years ago was leading you to right now, whether you are in a good place in your life or a bad one.

Three years ago I was miserable. I saw nothing but darkness. I was broken, I was sleep walking through my life and my job, collecting a check and just getting out of the bed each day was a major accomplishment. I was heartbroken and angry. I felt the rug was swept from under me when my relationship ended and my engagement was suddenly over.

Once again, I had made plans for my life. I thought I knew what it was supposed to look like and that’s what I was going for. That’s what I knew to do.

Out of one of the most lengthy painful experiences in my life, I had to be broken all the way down, to be rebuilt. I had to learn about humility, and the amount of control I truly had over MY life. No one else’s. I could only be in control of me. I could only be in charge of my emotions and how I reacted to a situation.

I had to learn that there is no dishonor in failure, but in truth there is strength. In my truth, in my self-discovery and in my self-correction, there was strength.

When you are broken down and in the pit, you have no one but you to look at, because let’s face it, your loved ones love you, but they don’t want to be in the pit with you. They can’t be in the pit with you. You gotta be like Batman and figure out how to fight fear and get out on your own; you have to want freedom beyond your fear of death or injury or discomfort or inconvenience in order to be free.

So I think about where I am now and what it took to get me here.
It took everything I had at each stage. The hope is that my arsenal of everything is continuing to grow, so each time I have more to give. But up until now, I had just enough “everything” to propel me to the next stage. I’ve said this before. “Love the emotion is effortless but the execution of love requires all of the effort you’ve got.” And that same, exhaustive execution of love has to be applied to yourself, first. I had to learn that and I’m still learning that. Love yourself to exhaustion.

There’s a saying that when you know better, you do better. At least you are supposed to do better. You will not grow without pain or discomfort. You have to stretch, you have to fall, you have to take a bump or bruise. If you do not grow, if you don’t produce new cells, you atrophy and die, you are more susceptible to injury and illness. We have to live up to the responsibility that comes with the knowledge our mistakes and bad choices give us. It’s on us to self-correct. It’s an ugly, lonely, exhausting work. No one is patting you on the back or holding your hand because this kind of work is not designed that way. It’s on you. And it’s brutal. It’s God saying, you have to grow up, baby. Live up to who you are supposed to be, I’m not going to magically do it for you. As Iyanla said, “Do the work.” We gotta do it. I’m still doing it and I get grateful for every bit of insight I pick up along the way. When it clicks, even when I realized I handled something the wrong way, I’m grateful I can see it. I’m grateful I’ve tapped into something that opens me up and allows me to see MORE, to see beyond what my little feeble mind couldn’t before. I’m grateful I can acknowledge when it happens.

The other night, I was in prayer and I was crying and thanking God for the people he had to forcefully remove from my life because I wouldn’t let them go otherwise. Then I thanked him for the people who have stayed and who he allowed me to grow with and the people who showed up when they were supposed to and made their exit when the season ended. It was a release. It was a moment. It was like that saying you can’t receive with a balled up fist. You can’t get something greater holding on to something you are so scared to lose. Some stuff, some people, you got to let it go and keep it gone.

You have to keep evolving to survive.
So that brings me back to grad school. Going back to school was something I thought for years I just couldn’t do, and had no desire to do.

But I had to keep living. Then I saw the necessity, then I saw the purpose. Then I saw myself on the other side, being way more than I originally imagined. On the other side, this new vision of myself, I’m really strong. I’m strong enough to be a better friend and mentor and leader, but not the kind of person who isn’t accessible. This better, faster, stronger version of me is frightening because of her transparency, her confidence and her rock solid belief in truth. The new vision of myself is scary, because it requires more from me and it may take more bumps and bruises to prepare me to ultimately be that person and be strong enough to help others. It’s growth, it’s evolution, it’s being proactive in my destiny. It’s listening to the inner voice and trusting it. It’s being shamed out of laziness and into action. It’s being shamed out of future regret. It’s knowing life is precious and we better do something with it. Studying biology and the environment in an odd way is making me even more in awe of God. You’d think it would be the other way around. How complicated the science of life is, but how perfect it is too. The systems put in place to regenerate and repair; the things always set in motion in an attempt to maintain balance– to keep things clean, to fight off negative forces.

I digress.

I’m not who I was 10 years ago. I’m certainly not who I was three years ago. I’m proud of who I was in all stages because I had to be that person to be who I am now. There were lessons those times taught me that inform my choices today, that shape my new voice that can help others to grow.

I had to go through the things I went through, I had to get mature, I had to change. Were some of my experiences drastic? Yes. My situations got more drastic when I wanted to hold on to something bad for me the most. God had to force me to let them go in painful, grueling ways until not only did I realize I had to let them go, I had to keep them gone.

Is Relationship Advice From Single People Valid?

Ha! I’ve just witnessed an argument on this very topic unfolding on social media.

One person said they will never take relationship advice from a single person. Another person said that to say that is ridiculous. And a third person, there’s always this person, recommended to ask the Lord for advice.

I’m not mad at any of these answers, I think to some degree all of these folks are on to something and I appreciate help from “anyone who has a heart.”

As with any topic, any time you get advice from someone you have to a) consider the source b) understand if they have any biases or conflicts of interest c) and take what they say with a grain of salt. What works for one doesn’t work for all, especially in matters of the heart.

There are some folks who swear married people will give the best advice. But who out of married people is qualified to give good advice? Folks who have been married for three months? A year? 20 years? Married folks with kids? Married folks who don’t have kids? Married folks who split up and got back together? Folks who have been divorced multiple times? Normally divorced folks are sent to the back of the line because from the outside, we straight up call them failures. “Failed marriages.”

Well damn. So because they failed they don’t have input?

I have mixed feelings about folks handing out relationship advice and folks either swear Steve Harvey is the oracle or his full of crap, but I agree with what he says when folks call him out for being married like three times. He says he knows what he’s done wrong. He’s well aware of his mistakes.

For me, married, single, divorced, widowed and even couples who are staying together but falling apart, I’ve learned from everything in the things they say, in the things they do, how they present themselves in public and if you get a glimpse of folks at home.

Plenty of single people have been in love, and have participated in relationships and have had their heart broken or broke a heart. So, in some way we are all qualified.

As someone who fell madly in love and almost got married, I have an opinion on things. People can agree or disagree and my experiences don’t make me an expert on everything, but it gives me a certain level of insight. We all have this. So why don’t we trust ourselves?

Folks say all the time single people offering one another is like the blind leading the blind. Sometimes, that is the case, but I don’t necessarily believe my friends who are booed up and or married have ALL the answers either. They are still navigating their own ever-changing and evolving relationships too and it ain’t always pretty. They are in the trenches too. Relationships are hard work. If you are lazy, don’t even bother.

What do you lifers think? Who gives the best relationship advice? Who should be giving out relationship advice and who shouldn’t be?

The Ikea Game I Like to Play: Bae or Brawn?

I was in Ikea today. Yall know how I feel about Ikea. A long time ago I devoted an entire post to the wonder of the cheap chic home furnishing mecca.

Today was one of my comp days after working eight grueling days straight. So after getting a restful sleep, I hightailed it over to Ikea, because among all of the other things I have going on right now like graduate school and a full-time job that seems to want me to do more as of late, I’m redecorating my bedroom.

Looking for the perfect dressers and nightstands to go with my new bed arriving on Friday, I wound up at Ikea on a weekday before lunch.

First of all, my ovaries thanked me for abstaining and safe sexing it about 94 percent of the time over my entire life. Because I’m not about that mom life. During the weekday, it appears stay-at-home moms and even day care providers throw their hands up and say screw it, and take the munchkins to Ikea to burn off energy.

Then when I got in the cafeteria line to cop some Swedish meatballs, that ended up being crab cakes (yes, Ikea has crab cakes now, not bad either) I noticed a woman ahead of me who ordered three kids meals and a little sumthin for herself and her total came to $5. My eyes bugged out of my head.

Then I saw the specials for each day of the week. Those little jokers eat free on Tuesdays! No wonder the moms and the day care folks were literally having a field day.

So while I found the furthest spot away from everyone to eat my lunch, I reflected on how happy I was not to have the responsibility of parenthood in my life right now. I know it’s a beautiful thing. I don’t knock that choice, but it’s not right for me at this stage in my life. Yes, I’m 32. Yes, I’m supposed to have some kind of clock, but I don’t get all excited around other people’s kids. I don’t want to cuddle them, I don’t want to smell them. I’m just not envious of that lifestyle. I’m good. I’m great.

But the one thing that did interest me were the couples or couplings of people.

I’ve decided when it comes to Ikea, the man you bring to Ikea is bae (as the kids call the main man, your steady Freddy) or your brawn.
So, I like to play a game called “Bae or Brawn?” I basically look at how a couple interacts and I decide if guy Ikea escorts are boyfriends/husbands or dudes brought along simply to schlep, haul and assemble.

Let me break it down for you.
Your bae is your man. That fool is contractually obligated to go with you to Ikea, even if you don’t plan on buying a damn thing and you just want to go for “inspiration.” This means you are nesting, and you want him to agree with all of the stuff you like. Women just wandering with dudes, are either boyfriends/husbands/ are dudes who are on that track. Men who simply want to smash, they aren’t going to even go through the charade of walking around Ikea with you because you always have to walk through the entire store. Unless you are a chick with a Brawn YOU WILL WALK THROUGH THE ENTIRE STORE, ALWAYS. EVERY INCH, THE WAREHOUSE AND IT’S JUST BOXES. BUT YOU’LL STARE AT THE BOXES AND SAY YOU’LL COME BACK. You’ll look at the rugs, the lamps, the art. You’ll think of reasons to buy a 40-piece dish set because it’s $29.99. You’ll get hangers for your skirts and hangers for your pants. You’ll lust after the fancy kitchens and paw the granite counter tops, you’ll rest on a bed, you’ll open and close closet doors to see if they squeak.

If you are buying something with bae, he’s going to be the one to schlep it to the car, tie it down securely and help you get it into the house and set it up.

You are contractually obligated to fix him a cool glass of water, lemonade or iced tea whilst he’s building that Swedish instrument of torture (because someone always gets hurt in the process), later fix or order him a good meal and then put it on him something fierce and hope you don’t break the cheap ass furniture he spent all day assembling. You’ll wake up in the morning together admiring his hard work and your great taste. A house is now a home.

Now the other category dudes fall in when going to Ikea with a female is the Brawn. Actually, there’s one more. Your gayfriend. He’s helping you get your decorative life and making sure you don’t make a horrible decision. He’s telling you when to pass on the cheap stuff and invest in a quality piece or fabric from someplace else and cracking jokes about other patrons to your delight. He’ll be down for that 75 cent frozen yogurt on the way out.

But back to the Brawn.
If you are a single gal and you don’t have a bae, but you still need to get some Ikea furniture transported to your place and assembled, you may have to look to Mr. Brawn.

Brawn is a guy you are cool with. You’ve probably let him hit a couple of times, and you put it down good enough but don’t harass him about much else, that you can call in such a favor without him being worried you are trying to be in a serious relationship with him and he won’t actually flake.

When men hear about Ikea, they get nervous. So when it comes to Brawn, you have to be direct, have a plan and a time to use him and his large truck.

With Brawn, you don’t need him to walk around and pick out stuff or get inspiration. That is going to frighten him and annoy him. He’s not your man. You know this, he knows this.

With Brawn, you better had already walked around and figured out which area of the self-service warehouse your stuff is in and what aisle and bin your non-descript large brown box of pieces are located.

With Brawn, you take him directly there, have him load the crap on the cart and go directly to the check out line.

Brawn will load his vehicle and take your stuff to the house.
This might seem messed up, but I suggest you also fix brawn a cold glass of water, and change into some boy shorts and order that man a pizza.

***The alternate plan is to let him bring the stuff in the house and you assemble it yourself, semi-independent woman. You can send him home and not even worry about the rest…

You may also want to get it in on the newly assembled furniture with Brawn as you would with bae. The same risk hazards are involved in the assembly of Ikea furniture, so Brawn needs to get broke off proper too. Face it, you’ve done it with him for much less.

If you are totally single with no bae or brawn, you can always pay extra, have it delivered and assembled, tip the dudes and still order pizza and eat it in your boyshorts on your new furniture and pour yourself a glass of wine because you got the job done!

Either way, get you some new furniture girl!

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