What I wish I knew before starting college

What I wish I knew before starting college

As some of you may know, I am officially a college grad. It feels so surreal because I’ve been in school since I was 5! As I write this I remember going into my prospective preschool with my Molly doll from “The Big Comfy Couch.” I also remember going to preschool and kindergarten every day with painted nails and perfume on. Funny how things come full circle, eh? I’m no pretentious ditz, like people made me out to be in middle school. More importantly, how marketed myself. If you haven’t read Getting Real About Fitting In. SPOILER: Standing Out Is So Much Better I highly suggest you do, because it’s more or less of a “Wish I’d known then what I know now.” In fact, my post grad life has been a “wish I knew then what I know now.” This notion also pertains to college. Don’t get me wrong, my college experience was overall a fantastic experience, filled with growth, friends, memories, with a side of heartbreak(s), the inevitable college weight gain (which made me love my body more), and the big entree: transferring. The dessert? Self-love. Yet again, it is 100% natural to reflect.

What I wish I knew before I started college, and maybe some of you can relate, or at least learn from it include….

  1. Indulge in your creative side more, especially freshman year.
  2. If you can, go in undecided.
  3. Science and math in college are both hard.
  4. If you decide to tell people you’re switching your major, only tell your best friend and your parents.
  5. For Pete’s sake, don’t declare a major because you saw it in a dream.
  6. Taking a gap year is 100% okay. Again, wish I knew that!
  7. With that being said, if anyone has anything snarky to say about that, there’s that phrase, “those who mind don’t matter, those who matter don’t mind.”
  8. Even if you’re in college and you have to take a semester, or even a year off, that’s okay too!
  9. It’s okay to not have a boyfriend in your freshman year of college.
  10. Avoiding your ex isn’t worth starving yourself.
  11. Stick with learning a language, even if you’re totally FOREIGN to it. See what I did there? 😜 Learn Spanish AND French, if you want!
  12. Have someone who will tell you that you’re overdoing it with the drinks. It doesn’t matter if you’re a fun/funny drunk, someone still has to tell you.
  13. Put that elementary school health class knowledge to good use and keep it in the back of your mind that it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
  14. That means not getting in the car with someone who’s been drinking, letting someone walk you home, and not getting in the car with someone you met online for the first date.
  15. On that note, staying sober in college would be worth it. Easier said than done (thanks, peer pressure) but it’s totally fine.
  16. On another related note, if you’re dating someone and they’re “too tired” to walk you home, make them walk you home anyway and tell them to stop being a wuss.
  17. Don’t spend all your money on coffee, especially if you don’t have a meal plan.
  18. Again, on that note, there’s more to cafeteria food than pizza and salad.
  19. Don’t stay up late studying for an exam. That may have worked in high school, but in college? You’ll cherish sleep like no other, so that’s a NO.
  20. Practice your writing, it’ll help especially when you declare your major in an English-related field.
  21. Adverbs don’t belong at the beginning of a sentence.
  22. M.L.A and Chicago have a not-so estranged cousin: A.P.A. Don’t worry, it’s totally harmless.
  23. Yes, there are more than two pronouns. Get over it, bigots.
  24. Go to the gym outside of your gym. In fact, go to the gym period.
  25. You will learn what it’s like to be a “broke college student,” and yes you will have to explain yourself to people.
  26. There are some aspects of life you needn’t to explain. You know what those are.
  27. Don’t expect everyone to understand your circumstances.
  28. There WILL be people who misunderstand you and why you try to do. Prove them wrong and be ready to argue.
  29. Find a cause and be an advocate.
  30. Donating blood is fun and fulfilling!
  31. There will be a pandemic in your senior year of college that will cut your year short. Don’t worry, since I commute, I didn’t really miss much.
  32. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to people. It’s not abnormal.
  33. You CAN do anything you set your mind to, even if it does take trial and error.

Coming to Peace With Your Past|A Decade in Review

Coming to Peace With Your Past|A Decade in Review

In Beyonce’s 2013 Pepsi commercial, she says at the end, “embrace your past.” This phrase didn’t ring 100% true to me until this year — the end of the decade. I’m not going to do a year in review simply because it’s the end of the 2010s and into the 2020s. Everything I’ve learned, everything I’ve become, everything I could be, happened all in this decade.

2010: My dad was fighting cancer, and I’ve learned how to live with his illness, resultantly. This meant learning how to sacrifice. This was also the year I was introduced to social media.

2011: This is the year I broke. Not only was I dealing with a four-month diagnosis of mono, but also with depression and being bullied severely.

2012: I was accepted to my top-choice private school at the beginning of January and at the end of the year, I had my first boyfriend and heartbreak within exactly two weeks!

2013: A whirlwind of things happened this year. I got my license, and I became cold-blooded — something I am not proud of. But I did discover Vine and Instagram!

2014: Began looking at colleges, did [insert an Ivy League school’s pre-college summer program] and hated it. I then started working at the hospital where my dad was treated. I also had appendicitis… who knew I would ever need surgery?

2015: Left high school behind (meaning I graduated… 8th in my class🤓). I also started college.

2016: I moved to Rhode Island two days before my twentieth birthday, and I started writing and editing for The Odyssey. In October, I went through a bad breakup. I also started writing for Her Culture. Did I mention I also started this blog!?

2017: Okay, just read ‘Cause I Still Got A Lotta Fight Left In Me | My Hospital Stay | My Mental Illness(es) where I made two bold decisions: 1) to get a diagnosis and 2) to transfer and start over at RWU.

2018: I interned at Rhode Island Monthly, and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had. For more, read Here’s To The Best Summer Of My Life: A Reflection.

2019: Easy. I wrote a thesis on Docupoetics, got into Title IX advocacy, and met my love (hi, Steve! And THANK YOU, Bumble!).

I’m just going to talk about the year 2019 a little bit more in-depth. 2019 was more about learning my worth as a human being, so much more than I thought I ever would learn. Learning about who you are is one thing, but your worth is another. You can say who you are in a thirty-second elevator pitch, but you shouldn’t even have to explain your worth. I learned not to take any sh*t from sheep from different farms. I found that I am not only creative, but I am seriously courageous and surely resilient. That’s not something you can put in an Instagram bio. Speaking of bios, I went from writing “I run what you run in 10 years in 2 days” meaning I went from an immature, sub-tweeting high school track star to saying “#supportsurvivors” [of sexual assault]. With that being said, I found a career.

Coming to peace with your past is like Beyonce looking at all her past music video outfits in the dancing mirrors. I don’t know what it’s like to be in a music video, but I sure know what it’s like to see yourself in the mirror and look at how much you’ve changed in ten years’ time. Coming to peace with your past is all about moving on, learning from your mistakes and ultimately accepting them. That’s not to say there won’t be regrets. But whoever said, “will it matter in 5-10 years?” was so right.

So I say this: here’s to a new decade of life and blessings. Here’s to a decade of keeping your worth at the forefront of your wind. Here’s to a decade of more blog posts, and who knows? Maybe I’ll have a novel published at this time and I’ll be a leader of social justice. No more settling for less than you deserve, being treated as less than you are and keeping journal pages clean and full of words left unsaid.

Happy New Year! 🥂

 

 

 

 

A Reflection: The Girl Who Has Always Wanted To Write, Even If It Kills Her

A Reflection: The Girl Who Has Always Wanted To Write, Even If It Kills Her

Can you believe the year is more than half-over? It’s officially August 1, and I still can’t believe it. There are twenty-seven more days until I start my ~official~ senior year, and it hardly feels real! As I’m getting ready to apply to… get ready for it… GRAD SCHOOLS, I’m starting to realize what I really want to do — what makes my heart sing. I said in It’s Time To Speak Up About Creativity, that I’ve been diving into my creative side a lot more this year (and for the past two years of college, for that matter.) #CreativeWritingMajor

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. It was my second-grade teacher who first recognized that I loved to write. In fact, it was one of our spelling words and she said as an example, “April loves to WRITE.” I remember getting those Scholastic book order forms and my mom wanted to rip me apart for just wanting journals. Don’t get me wrong, I like to read, too, as it helps me with my writing. In fourth grade, I might’ve been the only one in my class to write six-to-ten pages of a story because I had so much to say, and so much detail to convey. However, I kept saying my favorite subject was math.

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I kept denying my teachers’ comments that math wasn’t my favorite. But they could see right through me. More importantly, they could see my proficiency in writing.

Looking back on that past self, why would I lie to myself like that? If I could just shake that fourth grade April and just tell her to admit that she’s not great at something, I honestly would. But even fourth grade April knew she liked to write, but just wouldn’t admit it for some weird-ass reason. One of my poems was used as an example for future classes! I remember that poem; it was called, “What is a Wish?” To this day, it was one of the best poems I’ve ever written.

Even when I wrote my first short story in first grade, I dreamt about college. In fact, the story took place after I had just finished college. Well, I have a year to go and I know this: I want to write. Always have, always will. I read this great article in Cosmopolitan about a woman who was determined to make a living out of writing. Never have I ever read a story and said, “this is me. I want to do this.”

I randomly look back at old Theology assignments, particularly from junior year, and I came across this excerpt:

As Jesus once said, “make use of the talents God gives you.” Now, I look back on my past and laugh about what character I tried to portray because that was not my God-given role.

I have had various hopes and dreams about what to become, as an adult. I am always curious about what college or university I will attend. And, I always thought that I would have to face the future alone. But I do not. God will be with me, guiding me every step of the way. God will plan my future with me. God will not let me throw away any of the work I have done, the talents I have obtained throughout the course of my life, or the grace I have received because He already has a plan for me: to study medicine. God knows where I am going, but He wants to surprise me. If I do not get into the college of my dreams, God will be crying with me. No matter where I go to college, or in life, God will always be by my side. God will help me make good decisions throughout the rest of my life. God will feed me the education that I not only received in school but the education I received from my past experiences in order to make those good decisions. I am, and will continue to be, a child of God.

I don’t mean to bring religion into this, and yes I did just cross out “to study medicine.” But let’s just say I was indeed surprised at myself throughout my college career and what I could do.

I am that girl who made books with computer paper and staples.

I am that girl who ever so badly wanted a laptop so she could write whenever she wanted.

I am that girl who sat at that old (now broken) desktop computer that I shared with my family members to write stories, only to be unfinished for years on end.

I am that girl who wrote essays so long they might as well be published.

I am April Frances Federico — the girl who has always wanted to write, even if it kills me.

Empower Not Tower: It’s Okay To Fall Sometimes, As Long As You Can Pick Yourself Back Up Again

Empower Not Tower: It’s Okay To Fall Sometimes, As Long As You Can Pick Yourself Back Up Again

Remember when we were little kids and we fell down and had to endure the searing pain of scraping knees? When we were kids, we thought that we were invincible and indestructible, no matter what. So, we got up, shed a tear or two (especially if we were bleeding after falling on gravel — the worst!)

I was contemplating what to write for the past six hours since I haven’t written a blog post in well over three weeks. I saw this post on Instagram which prompted an idea:

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Do you think, when we were kiddos, that we would let a scrape define us? We may have scars that exist to this day, but hey, my appendectomy scars have faded at this point in time. But that’s just my own personal example. The fact of the matter is, we don’t know how resilient we are. The idea that originally sparked for a possible blog post today were examples of how far I’ve come despite what has hurt me, physically or emotionally. Being bullied for six years attempted to hold me down on the ground so many times that I need at least ten more sets of hands to count. Being shy and ostensibly different made me an easy target, for sure. The number of times I jokingly wrote “April Federico rocks!” on whiteboards only to have people tell me that I “don’t” was not only annoying but a tad hurtful. This is what I like to call Exhibit A. 1) I did what everyone else was doing, only to be ridiculed (that’s peer pressure, for ya) 2) I actually cared about what people thought of me. I did not have any self-confidence or self-esteem. I’ve had people try to knock me down while walking in hallways, locker doors closed on my nose without an apology, and people pointing and laughing at me when I was eating a pizza at Rock ‘N’ Bowl. At that point, I thought “seriously? They’re trying to ruin this for me too?” In fact, I thought some idiot would pull down my shorts that day so I wore a belt… on shorts that didn’t even have the loops for one. It seemed as though everything I did was subject to ridicule and mockery. Yup, that was middle school and the first half of high school.

The only person I really want to bitch-slap at this point is my middle school self for thinking she had to change because she was hurt by so many people. But at some point, I do want to sit in the parking lots of that middle school like YouTuber Katy Bellotte did in her video. For me, it would’ve been a whopping eight years later. Funny thing is, this is something I just thought of. I WILL do it someday and say, “I’ve fallen, been pushed, all these things, but I really didn’t need to change to give anyone the satisfaction.” Need a reminder of what mutilation I morphed into? Read Personas.

I also saw this one post by Katy Bellotte on her Instagram and she so eloquently said:

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Just some more food for thought. We are the heroes and heroines of our own story that pick themselves up again after we have fallen. Even if we feel defeated, we’re the ones who decide what to do with ourselves after the fact.