Does anybody like you when you’re 23? You have to love yourself, first

Does anybody like you when you’re 23? You have to love yourself, first

I guess this is a “for the girl about to turn 23” post. If you’re turning 22, click here. If you’re turning 21, click here. There’s that classic Blink 182 phrase, “nobody likes you when you’re 23.” However, it may seem like that, but I promise you it’s not true.

At 23 it’s as though people expect that you know what you want to do. I promise you it just seems that way, but it’s all about figuring out who you are! If you’re like me, you WILL go back and forth between law and publishing, only to decide that it’s been publishing even before you even transferred colleges.

I binge-watched the entire “Sex and the City” series, and I watched the final episode tonight, and I found myself reciting Carrie Bradshaw’s most famous line: “there are relationships that will take you unexpected places, there are relationships that will get you far from where you were, there are relationships that will take you home, but the most important relationship, is the one you have with yourself.” I think that’s the only quote that I memorized throughout that entire series besides “hello my name is fabulous.” These are both true for when you turn 23. It’s all about how you see yourself — not through other people’s eyes.

In just eight days, I turn 24, not to mention it’s officially GEMINI SEASON! So without further ado, here are 23 tips when you turn 23:

  1. You will want to/or explore going to graduate school. But if you don’t, that’s still okay.
  2. Watch “Wonder,” even if you read the book. It will change you, and you will relate to it in some way or another. Also, watch “Joker,” because it’ll give you another aspect of psychology, for all of you psych majors out there!
  3. Binge watch “Sex and the City,” no, I am not biased. It has hidden life lessons that will help you later on.
  4. Treat yourself to a shopping spree! This could be the last time unless you make bank and you have a steady job. Maybe after you’ve watched “Sex and the City” you’ll want a pair of her blue Manolo Blahniks.
  5. Go back to your roots. It could be bible-study, it could be going back to the country you were born in, or it could simply be the hobby you were born to make a career out of.
  6. Thank your fifth-grade teacher, even if they don’t reply to your email. They knew you better than any other teacher. If you’re graduating from college, thank your professors.
  7. If you’re in a non-related teaching field, you probably don’t want to go into teaching. I’m just telling you from someone who tried to explore that route.
  8. You will make friends on the internet, if you haven’t done so, already. Just be smart about it.
  9. You will be so thankful you didn’t end up with what you thought you wanted.
  10. Ambition is key to no matter what you do.
  11. Rachel from “Friends” will be the most relatable character from “Friends.” Yes, you will be watching that show a lot because adulting is hard.
  12. If you do choose to go to graduate school, pick whatever field you choose with no one’s influence — including your mom’s.
  13. Cry — it doesn’t matter how many times you cry this year, or how many people notice, just cry.
  14. This year is about staying true to YOU — no matter if you’re post-grad or just getting out of undergrad.
  15. If you are a newly-minted college grad, conGRADulations!
  16. Don’t listen to your brain after you’ve had an entire bottle of wine. Your wine-induced brain doesn’t know what the hell she/he is thinking. Besides, you’ll realize that drinking isn’t ostensibly so cool like you thought when you were 21.
  17. Again, it’s okay if you don’t have a “cool job” or internship, yet. You’ll get there with time, patience, and perseverance.
  18. Please let your loved ones know if you got home safely.
  19. Tell your loved ones “I love you,” and mean it.
  20. Especially in these times, go for a job on the front-lines, like working at a Veterans’ or Nursing Home.
  21. Your opinion on love will change, and it will be YOURS. In fact, all opinions will be yours, don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. You’ve learned, you’re educated, and you should make a cohesive argument by now.
  22. If you haven’t learned how to say “no” by now, it’s time.
  23. With that being said, speak up!

Well, nonetheless, welcome to your own Jordan Year, as I transition to my Kobe year. 🥂 Bottoms up. (BTW is a “Kobe year” even a thing?) Well, I’m making it a thing.

xoxo,

April 💕

Stop “should-ing” yourself because everything happens for a reason

Stop “should-ing” yourself because everything happens for a reason

This is my last hoorah for classes in my senior year as I officially end classes tomorrow (Tuesday — Wednesday for some.) It’s so bittersweet to end classes, nonetheless my undergraduate career this way, especially during a pandemic when you can’t see everybody in person. As you look at the title of this post, it’s true: things do happen for a reason. And in COVID’s case, it started out with a bat. I spent many hours, many days, crying for a reason, and it was simply because I felt trapped in this situation. But we all do in some way or another. This isn’t me being selfish. However, this doesn’t compare to three years ago, when I made the right move for myself: to transfer colleges.

When I found myself transferring to RWU, I found myself “should-ing.” What I mean by that, is that I found myself saying to my mom on accepted students day, “I should’ve applied here for undergraduate in the first place.” I also found myself saying, “I should’ve taken a gap year between high school and college.” Neither of those is true, so I needed to stop saying “I should’ve done this, this, and that.” But who knew that two years in a row, I’d be nominated to speak at Accepted Students Day? I sure didn’t, at the time because I was so miserable. However, that was just the universe preparing me for the best that was yet to come.

The day before an [virtual] awards ceremony, my mom told me that despite my trials and errors throughout my college career and the things I’ve been through, the good and the bad, I wouldn’t be where I am today without all these things. None of these things would have led me to RWU, my best friend, my boyfriend, and my overall happiness. Something can feel like a bad situation to a full 100%, but there many different percentages of how you can handle a situation. In the end, things don’t seem to be too terrible! You will feel a lot of feelings — anger and resentment with a mix of ecstasy, and your “messenger nerves” will have you twirling like a circus girl around your living room. These ostensibly “terrible moments” are actually the universe’s way of saying, “I’m preparing you; the best is yet to come.” Who knows? The “best” can completely blindside you. But a common phrase other than “everything happens for a reason,” that I use is “there’s always sunshine beyond the rain.” Seeds have been planted before the [month of] April rain and look! May flowers!

In short, you’re not stuck nor trapped. You’re just in the groove of blossoming. 🌱

xoxo,

April 💕

 

 

Take an apple and put it in your own words

Take an apple and put it in your own words

Today’s the two-year-anniversary in which my poetry professor told me I have an “authentic and strong voice” in my poems, which led me to write my 60+ page thesis on docupoetics in 2019. Doing a thesis was difficult but after a heartfelt conversation via Instagram Live with my rock star fashion designing friend, Maria del Carmen Mercado, I came to a realization about writing, in general.

She said to me, take an apple and observe it. If you have to write about it, do it. However, don’t write about what society thinks about an apple. Don’t write about what your family thinks about an apple. What you think of an apple, is on YOU. It’s the same thing with fashion designing, for all my fellow fashionistas out there. You can research and get inspiration from any fashion designer, but what they did has already been done. With writers, it’s the same deal; you can research all you want for your book. But what other authors have already written about is already out there, no matter how much you try to put it into your own words. How do you feel about something like, love? Friendship? Marriage? Genocide? Every president of the United States that’s ever lived and served in Office?

It’s hard to tell what we’re feeling about a certain topic when we’re so influenced by other people. We can have our own opinions. We’re not stupid. And we’re certainly allowed to disagree with other people. Social media definitely plays a factor in how we are influenced. Oddly enough, I had a dream about dresses. Perhaps it’s because I’m not trying to spend my money on clothing, though I did “splurge” on an Emerson sweatshirt that I’ve always wanted when I was applying to graduate school (it was only $42.) Nonetheless in my dream, dresses were being judged. But again, who cares what other people think? Dress up for YOU, girl!

I said this in my very first blog post, The Art of Communication, but not communicating how you, yourself, feel about a topic means losing a part of yourself. Your argument gets lost in a sea full of other people’s second-hand research and opinions. This is especially what you need to avoid when writing a paper. Needless to say, this applies to my English Literature majors who are reading this, as well.

I Am April Federico. Part One.

I Am April Federico. Part One.

I returned home in my khaki Bermuda shorts and my Cat in the Hat T-shirt, and I sat down to read a Cheetah Girls book — one that I’ve been meaning to read since 2nd grade. I vaguely recall a group of four of the ostensible “popular” boys and girls walking behind my mom’s black Jeep, that she still owns to this day. She’s had that car since I was in first grade. Keep in mind, that I am a fifth year in college. She got that car when I was 7.5, and I am on the verge of turning 24.

I remember because English, Science, and Geography were my favorite subjects. I hated math with all my being. I feel half my heart burning, at this moment in writing this, the Screwdriver I had, makes me stop and think, “you are not that girl, anymore.” I am not that girl anymore because I’ve grown to have respect for myself when I felt like no one liked me. That’s the most powerful form of love — self-love.

Though my hair may not be washed at this present moment, and I am settling for movies that don’t even satisfy me, like “Jumanji,” I’m sorry but that movie doesn’t inspire me. I turn to a movie on E! called “She’s All That,” where Laney tells the pathetic class president that their little moment on the corner of two streets is “surreal,” meaning their meeting could never happen in real life. It makes me angry, times like these movies were made. Even when “Hairspray,” the 2008 version was made, I hated that time. It was more or less ahead of that time because John Travolta played a woman — fat suit and all. Laney, on the other hand, is a beautiful young woman who is forced to become the most popular girl in school. The fact of the matter is, she’s already beautiful. The only thing that “doesn’t,” is that she “runs like a girl,” she wears glasses, and she is smart. What’s wrong with those? By the way, she is a girl. 

Even when my 32-year-old brother was a high schooler, it made me angry, the dynamic that he grew up with. I didn’t know what that pinging was in my chest at the time, but I know now, that was anger. I was dumbfounded when I found out that his best friend was killed by a drunk driver in 2004. My hairdresser by the time I turned 15, was his classmate, prior to her moving to another school. I found out that my hairdresser was bullied because “she didn’t dress ‘rich.'” But my brother liked her because she was funny. To me, he was the coolest guy in Medfield, Massachusetts. Yes, that’s where I grew up and moved out of, thankfully. I even remember when his friend said, “she’s so shy, she can’t even say hi,” at their “prom party.”

I remember, in 2009, when I went to my first two middle school dances, I wore a red dress. Those two dresses were different, of course. I remember a lot of guys staring at me, the night of December 2nd, 2009. That was when, as Carrie Bradshaw would say, “I got the knack for labels early,” as that dress was from Arden B. Even though I had developed a “passion for fashion,” I felt like I had been gifted the “Ghosts of April’s past.” I don’t know who would have visited/haunted me, but they surely came at later dates.

I found that one scene in “She’s All That” when the supposed popular girl said, “you’re a waste of yearbook space. You’re not gonna cry are you?” And I recall in just 3rd grade when a girl said, “your pilgrim’s house is weird. And you’re weird too. April, are you sad?” all in consecutive order, no pause in-between. To which I say, now, even though that person just may have changed:

Princess Diaries 3 In The Making...Looking Back At Parts 1 & 2 ...

Read Mia (Anne Hathaway’s) quote real carefully, “someday I just might grow out of that, but you, you will never stop being a jerk.” 

What I could say to middle-schoolers, in this moment in time, it does get better. Some people move on to other schools, some people are luckier than that. I have people tell me, “you’re lucky you were strong enough to get out.” They’re right, I was. But that has NOT diminished my self-worth.

And don’t worry about my mom’s car. Its longevity does not make me ostensibly “rude” just for sticking up for myself.

Thoughts on the Coronavirus: is 2020 the new 2012? No, we are afraid of fear, itself

Thoughts on the Coronavirus: is 2020 the new 2012? No, we are afraid of fear, itself

So, I know most of you are tired of hearing about the Coronavirus. I, personally, do not have Coronavirus, but I think it will be like the H1N1 Virus (which I did have, and no, that was not the bubonic plague of 2009.)

But why do I bring up 2012? Simply because, that, my friends, was the year people thought the world was going to end according to the Mayan Calendar. I mean people thought the world was going to end in 2000 — didn’t happen! It was just simply the turn of a century, which people were afraid of. And it’s no doubt that people were afraid of 2020 — the turn of a decade that we’ve known all too well and have gotten used to. I’ve never taken a look back on the societal norms of that decade, except for my own personal events which you can read about in Coming to Peace With Your Past|A Decade in Review . I think we are all afraid of change. We expect so much to happen, yet we are brought with bad news all over the place. Kobe Bryant passed away with his daughter, Gianna, along with a few others in a helicopter crash. Tom Brady became a free agent and we don’t know (for those of you who live in New England) if he’s going to officially come back to the Patriots. Schools around the area in which I live have closed and will resort to classes taught online until further notice. The world is scary!

No, change is scary. Let’s put it bluntly, simply, and to the point. Everything is online, including some classes that we’ll need to pursue in order to finish our degrees (for those of us graduating in 2020.) Some people may think I am biased when I say that domestic violence and abusive relationships might be considered normalized — no. This is just simply an analogy I’m using. But the overuse of social media? Very much so. I wrote in a paper for a theology class in senior year of high school, that people act out of fear. Is fear what makes us post on social media? To make out China or Mexico (where the Swine Flu originated) to be such bad places? Is fear what makes us turn away from that one scene in The Blind Side? Is fear what makes us not watch Freedom Writers? Is fear the one thing that stops us from doing what we’re meant to do? Think about it.

“They encourage students to find their own and present it to the world. In the process, Freedom Writers acquire general academic and life skills while becoming responsible for their own lives and happiness, overcoming social disadvantage.” 

Plain and simple: we avoid fear to just stay in the comfort zone. The comfort zone is fine, but is that what makes history? Is that what made every woman they are today? Every man, likewise? For all of you, sports fans out there: did Kobe Bryant have this fear of entering the NBA draft? Did Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. ever have this fear of being 199th in the draft for the New England Patriots? Let me know. The point is, we don’t know in hell what the future will bring. There’s that.

xoxoxo,

April 💕

Also, title credentials go to the boyfriend, Steve! Check him out at https://www.believeinbostonsports.com/author/stevea1127/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8cfbBgXIow

Stop Looking For Validation From Others | Evil is in the Ego

Stop Looking For Validation From Others | Evil is in the Ego

For the past week, I’ve found myself saying out loud, “can’t anyone give me enough credit for ______?” Whether that be job hunting, seeking help, and showing up even when others expect you to quit.

My therapist gave me a handout. And that handout was a story called “The Awakening,” author unknown. I’ve read a lot of stories about ostensible “awakenings.” But this one made me want to watch “A Cinderella Story” for about the hundredth time because it reminded me so much of it. Moments prior to this, I was crying because someone told me “can’t you do something that will make people happy?” And this person tried to trick me into saying they didn’t say this. This had me screaming into my pillows on my couch, and you people would have thought I was nuts. That’s the one “question” I knew I was going to get one day, even though I always do my best, despite my anxiety, depression, and PTSD. THOSE AREN’T LIMITATIONS, EITHER. 

What I am learning right at this very moment is that there are people who want you to fail. There are people who want the worst for you. There are people who are going to be jealous of you. There will be people who disapprove of what you do. There will be people who have opinions based on their own insecurities. It’s a rude awakening, indeed. But the fact of the matter is that it shouldn’t matter to you, even the better of us who know better. As the internet philosopher Katy Bellotte says, “Nothing hurts unless you let it–” that was one of the first things I heard her say when I first started watching her videos.

Oddly enough, what I said after said person said that unbelievable comment was, “I knew I would never get your approval.” As if I ever really needed it. That goes to show, careful what you say, or it will end up in a blog post, or worse, my memoir. C’mon, there’s even a sticker on my laptop that says that, so you should know by now. I’m not being vindictive, it’s called having self-respect — enough to stand up for yourself and do things for yourself. I once apologized to someone after saying, “I have way too much respect for myself as a woman and a human being to be led on…” Why did I do that? Was it human nature in me to be empathetic? Maybe it was the need for approval after hurting someone? What the hell am I even saying right now? I didn’t validation from someone who led me on! However, and this the human nature part, evil really is in the ego and could make you think you did something wrong when you did, in fact, do something right.

What I’m essentially trying to say is that you can have a support group, but know your boundaries. There are some people who will cross some of those very fine lines. You may or may not have to let people in more. You may or may not have to say “f*** it.” As I said in my very first post, The Art of Communication, self-awareness is key. I learned all this by researching social media posts for RISC. Even social media wants you to be healthy! Who would’ve to think that? Speaking of social media, stop comparing yourself to other people.

source

 

 

 

Self-Doubt, Influencing, Overthinking, and Jobs

Self-Doubt, Influencing, Overthinking, and Jobs

Do you ever feel like you doubt your career path? No, I’m not doubting mine (again, thank God), I KNOW I’m going to be a lawyer, just not right away. And by right away I mean I’m going to LAW SCHOOL in Fall 2021.

As I am listening to a Katy Bellotte podcast, I’m remembering that I randomly brought up my blog to a friend of mine in my art history class (hi, Amanda!) That’s something I normally never do, unless I feel 100% comfortable with you. (I showed Steve my blog when we first started talking, so that alone says a lot about us!) One thing she asked me is if I ever get “Imposter Syndrome,” to which I said, “yes and no,” and went on to say that I wanted to be an influencer and promote all of these brands that would never give me the time of day. But really, I want to influence people to be the best version of themselves. Improving yourself does not come from an article of clothing, though it is nice to build those sorts of connections with people who own clothing and jewelry lines.

This was me about two years ago. I wanted to be an influencer. But the only way to make an impact was to influence people to make a difference; this is especially true if you’re a college student like myself. I worked a “Table Time” the other day, and it dawned on me there are the people who are willing to be, as one person said, “a part of the community,” other people are just there for the mass amounts of chocolate spread out on the table. As some of you know, I do a lot of sexual violence prevention work. It’s more than a hobby for me; it’s a need to make a wave.

I talked about this a little bit in Unstoppable | How I’ve Been After a Month’s Hiatus, but I am SO afraid of tests that I actually have test anxietyyes, that’s an actual thing which is why I have extra time on tests assignments — something that people are so ignorant to, it drives me nuts! Thus, I was afraid of taking the LSAT, and trust me that no book could tell me to “calm down” and “it was going to be okay.” Being on the Student Senate, however, being my mother’s daughter, and knowing my own potential taught me that I got this. But being “high functioning” and needing extra time on things is another story that I don’t have time for.

It’s the unfortunate art of overthinking that tells us, “no you don’t” or “you don’t have this, this, and that to succeed.” Yes, you do. There’s no such thing as “oh, this is an [insert major here] job” or “this job is only for those who have worked in a law office.” Then why would these jobs be posted on Handshake? Or whatever your school uses for job-hunting? Who cares if your major is Creative Writing and you apply for a Legal Assistant job? (Yes, I did that via LinkedIn.) We, “creative writers,” can do anything we set our minds to, such as thinking creatively and independently. Don’t doubt us for even a minute.

In fact, overthinking got me thinking about my own job history. I used to think I was “too good” for a job like working at Dunkin Donuts, Sip ‘n’ Dip, etc. (I spent my teenage years in Massachusetts so I didn’t even know what Sip ‘n’ Dip was — LOL.) But it wasn’t even that I thought I was “too good,” it was more so that I had so much, even infinite potential. In fact, in my sophomore year of high school, I was applying to be an intern for Boston-based fashion designers. All the letters I got back said that they moved. Really? Even Giselle Bundchen started out scooping ice cream and became a (now retired) Victoria’s Secret model! She didn’t even need to be Tom Brady’s wife in order to be a household name OR make money. She makes more money than her husband!

Just know that you aren’t “stuck” in your dreary job forever. And don’t let self-doubt be your reason for why you didn’t do something to benefit your life.

And that’s the tea. 🍵

xoxoxo,

April 💕

 

 

Not Such A Bad Thing To Fall In Love

Not Such A Bad Thing To Fall In Love

Contrary to what I said two years ago about ostensibly “hating” Valentine’s Day, I actually have always loved this holiday. Even when some kid in fifth grade said “a lot of people throw Valentine’s cards away,” I said, “I save them,” which prompted another kid to say, “seriously?” Why not? People paid money for them, and even if they were “obligatory,” they still had some thought behind them.

I even remember being in elementary school and hating the idea of love, even though I secretly had a crush on Cole Sprouse during his “Suite Life of Zack and Cody” days with his brother, Dylan, Brenda Song, and Ashley Tisdale.

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Hey, um, elementary school April? Did you even have experience with love? No. You won’t even have your first love until you’re 19.

I love this holiday because it’s the one day, if not every day, that you can express your gratitude for someone you know. (I’m not saying I particularly “liked” anyone in elementary school.) The thing is, when you show gratitude for someone, they’re willing to do more and vice-versa. It’s more or less of a give-and-take game.

Maybe I was just a closeted hopeless romantic. I remember one of the only things I wanted after the eighth grade was to have a boyfriend, not that I was desperate. I was yearning for the real, romantic-with-a-mix-of-friendly love that I didn’t quite get till now (i.e. my current boyfriend — hi Steve!) On that note, I am grateful to the love I share with him. Despite the last two “chapters” of my life, nothing was quite so meaningful until him.

I feel like I’m fulfilling my Carrie Bradshaw “status” in writing about love. But the truth is, love has no set definition. It’s all that you make of it. It’s not always what you see on television and in the movies. It’s challenging, but it’s a good challenge. It’s funny because it actually is give and take. It’s not really about sex, either, which is not in accordance with popular belief. Some choose to wait, and some choose to do it. But either way, communication is also key to conveying what you want. In fact, I felt as though it were just tonight that my boyfriend and I were getting to know each other all over again. Whatever it was, it felt right.

My point in all this is not to conform to popular culture, or what seems “cool.” In the end, it’s all about what’s right for you.

 

2020: the year people will (hopefully) understand mental health

2020: the year people will (hopefully) understand mental health

I’ve been dealing with anxiety and other illnesses my whole life, and it sucks. It sucks because you feel like a burden in addition to feeling judged 24/7. Don’t forget about overthinking, it’s terrible. I’ll admit I’m not as uptight as I used to be about mental health 6 or some years ago, and I wasn’t always a bubbly, confident force to be reckoned with. Mental health is something I learn to navigate, figure out, and educate myself about each and every day. But after 5 years of college, I’ve grown to be fed up about people not understanding mental illness and how much of an impact it can have on someone’s daily life.

After asking the following questions on Instagram, using anxiety as an example. Anxiety, in my opinion, is by far the hardest for other people to understand unless they have it. I posed the question on Instagram: “If you have anxiety, what do you do about it?” Responses varied:

  1. “Journal, listen to music, get outside & talk about it!” — B.C.
  2. “Deep breaths, then unplug from technology for at least an hour, and then exercise!” — Anonymous.

I then asked, “What would you say to people who clearly don’t ‘get it’?” And one person said:

“They don’t have to ‘get it’ but just be respectful of those with anxiety.”

That alone is a perfect response. Is anyone really going to understand anxiety? Or mental illness at large? The answer is “hopefully.” It’s amazing and astonishing how many people can be so ignorant of mental illness. For some people, it’s a hard pill to swallow, and even when they slug it down, it still wouldn’t process. For example, when I have bad days, they’re awful. It’s not like I choose to dive off the deep end. I’ve had people tell me I’m “wasting time” when I’m dealing with something internal when I could be doing something else. That’s unfortunately not how it works. For some, if not a lot of people, mental health can be crippling. It matters just as much as physical health.

What I didn’t realize was that today is Bell Let’s Talk Day. The title of this day alone made me think of the aspect of talking to others. No one should be forced to talk about their mental health. In fact, that violates medical laws. There are some people who don’t even believe in therapy, and that’s okay, too. Everyone has different ways of dealing with mental health. There is no “one way.” Think of the roots of a tree. They sprout in all different directions. Then there are the branches, which do the same. There’s a root cause for why someone may be upset, anxious, depressed — anything! Then you have your whole body which can react in several different ways. Some people can’t get out of bed. Some people choose to isolate themselves. Some people choose to go for a run. Some people immediately get on the phone to book an appointment with a therapist. In the end, it’s up to you what you decide to do.

January was a rough month for everybody, so let us hope that for the rest of 2020, people will learn to understand mental health.

 

Burn and Over-Salt Your Peanut Butter Cookies and Eat Them, Too! | Accept Failure

Burn and Over-Salt Your Peanut Butter Cookies and Eat Them, Too! | Accept Failure

You’re probably looking at the title like, “umm, what? Has April lost her mind already? Three days into the semester?” HAHAHA no. 1) headlines are supposed to capture people in and 2) this actually happened to me on Christmas Eve.

Learning to accept failure is growth. With that being said, I’m going to start off with a different story.

It was my senior year of high school and people were just starting to get college acceptances. The night of the National Honor Society Induction, however, was when the tidal wave of emails from [insert school here] was being sent out while we were sitting and eating our chicken and broccoli ziti. By the end of the ceremony, I had opened up my email in sheer curiosity if I got any emails. I did — from one of my top choices. I couldn’t wait to get home to open the email, but my stubborn butt didn’t want to wait. So, I opened it on my phone, and although there was a slight glitch in the email, I could still make out the words, “We regret to inform you…” There were nine of those in total throughout the next few weeks.

If I had chosen to do anything differently, I would have taken a gap year. In fear of being looked down upon and judged, I didn’t. Another factor that went into my decision is that I would have thought I failed. The fact of the matter is I failed more biology tests and chemistry tests in my first semester of college. But life is not about the “what ifs.” It’s about “what could you do to benefit from your current situation?” In other words, what can be better? For some, it means drastic changes, like myself; I transferred, we all know that (and I got into my top choice transfer). I not only edit documents but I also edit life. When you edit a paper, for instance, you make it better. You may have failed at completing a successful rough draft, but it doesn’t matter because it’s a rough draft. It’s just like how any day is another day. Will that rough draft matter by the time you graduate? No. In fact, in college, rough drafts aren’t even graded. Critiqued? Yes. Edited? For sure. I’m not saying transferring is failing because it’s not. It’s an opportunity to be more content in life. Just like how having your paper edited is an opportunity for a good grade when you hand in your final draft!

I remember when I was applying to colleges, and the prompt I answered was, “what’s one failure you experienced and how did you overcome it?” So I answered with this:

What a great weekend. We’d explored galleries, toured vineyards, and at 8:15 a.m. Mom and I laughed and joked as we strolled to our car with coffees in hand, ready for the long ride home from the Cape.

Fifteen minutes earlier we’d said good-bye and thanks to friends for their hospitality, packed the car and driven straight to Starbucks in a nearby Stop&Shop; fifteen minutes later we’d be marooned with no idea when we’d finally see home.

At the car, Mom slid her key into the ignition and turned it. Instead of hearing the engine turn over, we heard five cheery “dings” … and silence. Ten tries later, Mom began banging her head on the steering wheel, and I realized that we were stranded. Modern day Robinson Crusoes, shipwrecked at Stop&Shop. Not a sand dune or ocean wave in sight. At least we wouldn’t starve.

But, with a dead battery, we might roast. We couldn’t open the power windows and the temperature in the car was climbing fast. After what seemed like an hour — but was only about two minutes — of silence, Mom finally said, “Please open your door and get some air in here.”

“Maybe we should call a cab,” I suggested.

“No.”

“Should we start walking?”

Silence.

“What if we open the hood and take a look?”

“You’re kidding, right?”

My mind raced for solutions, but each idea was rejected. We finally called my dad to come get us. He was eighty miles away, recuperating from knee surgery, and is terrible with directions. Help would take some time to arrive.

I love a good adventure, but it was getting hard to see our situation as exhilarating. As we waited for Dad to arrive I could either listen to Mom come up with new swear words to growl at the car, join in, or find a way to turn things around.

I rummaged through the backseat and pulled out Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories. Not the best choice in reading material, under the circumstances. Sitting back against the cushioned upholstery of my seat, I swung my feet up on the sun-warmed dashboard, and was soon engrossed in the book. As I continued to read, my contentment soured. This was life imitating art. In the next seat, Mom had given up creative cursing for a magazine, oblivious to how much we resembled characters in O’Connor’s story about serial murder.

Our weekend getaway ended with the two of us marooned and defenseless in a faraway outpost, awaiting a dubious cavalry to ride to the rescue. I had stayed alert for passing psychopaths. Not the most upbeat scenario, but “upbeat” is in the eye of the beholder.  This was an adventure.

Growing up in a small town, I occasionally crave adventure. But I’ve learned that adventure is where you find it. Going to college will be an adventure – without the serial killer, of course. I’ll face challenges – big and small – that I’ll need to meet on my own. I may even find myself stranded somewhere again. There’ll be new members of the cavalry: professors at the top of their fields, friends from many places, RAs, and others. But staying alert, being resourceful, knowing when to ask for help, and maintaining a positive attitude will be just as important as it was back in that parking lot.

When Dad finally arrived, he found us both safe, sound and a little sweaty. “Sorry it took so long,” he said as we unloaded our things. “You must be really bored.”

“Bored? Are you kidding?” I was incredulous. “There was no time to be bored!”

From the corner of my eye I could see his puzzled expression and almost began to explain, then thought better of it. Not everyone is the adventurous type.

So, if you think you’re “washed up” or “not growing,” just imagine where you were 1-5 years ago. And if you feel lost, just remember J.K. Rowling, Tina Fey, or Oprah Winfrey at 23-years-old.

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