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.

Live in the moment because the present is a present.

Live in the moment because the present is a present.

“You have so much

but are always hungry for more

stop looking up at everything you don’t have

and look at everything you do.

 

where the satisfaction lives — Rupi Kaur

Whether you like poetry or not, this Rupi Kaur poem mainly goes out to undergraduate seniors who don’t really know what to do after college. (I’m assuming most of you are in or out of undergrad!) If you have something planned, I applaud and congratulate you with all the sincerity in my heart (not to sound corny — LOL). If you don’t, don’t stress, and don’t obsess either, you’ll end up driving people nuts. (Yes, that was an apology long overdue for my indecisiveness.) And hey, even that internship you’re most likely doing this semester will turn into a full-time job! Stranger things have happened!

Something that I didn’t feel completely content with until now, was the fact I wasn’t getting a source of income outside my work-study position. But then I realized, “what’s the point in getting a job ON TOP of an internship? PLUS a work-study job!?” Being perfectly content with what you have already is huge. This is a little thing I like to call gratitude. 

The reason why I say “don’t stress,” I know, it’s easier said than done! I say that because if you do, you could be so obsessed with finding a job that it’s easier to miss out on the life that’s happening right in front of you! You’d be amazed at the people who are all about the hustle and the go, go, go, that they don’t take in any views, scenery, sunsets, you name it!

Life is too short to be sitting around preoccupied. I couldn’t be happier with knowing that I have an internship for the semester on top of work-study. I’ll be graduating in May with my fellow classmates, and with people to celebrate with afterward. I wasn’t even remotely disappointed when I applied and interviewed for a job and didn’t get it! For everything and everyone in my life, I am grateful. I am currently sitting in front of my beautiful fireplace and writing this — savoring and living in the moment. I look at that fire, and I smile, despite my loving Chocolate Labrador, Ginger, making harmonious noise. I look into the fire one more time, recognizing the fire within me, that I know that I am not the same person I was three years ago when I would literally lay down on the hard, wooden floor, smoke from the fire filling my lungs, mind filled with so much uncertainty about whether or not to transfer colleges. Well, look where I am now!

Long story short: the past is the past. The future will come — don’t fear it nor think about it [too much.] The present is seriously a present. 🎁 Savor it, love it, live in it. Don’t question it. End of story.

What are you grateful for in the present? Let me know in the comments!

xoxo

April 💕

 

 

 

BLOG-MAS TUESDAY: April’s Guide to Surviving Finals Week

BLOG-MAS TUESDAY: April’s Guide to Surviving Finals Week

Taking a break from writing a paper, and currently wrapped up in the stress of finals week. Finals week can be tough, especially when there’s a lot to do. I only have two written finals, but this paper for African Literature has my eyes red and puffy and my stomach in knots. I feel like that acne commercial with Emma Roberts: “I stress out then I break out… then I stress out even more!” Unintentionally said finals week can make your skin break out like no other. 🎶So, you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout I’m telling you why: FINALS WEEK IS GOING TO BE OKAY!🎶

  1.  Let it all out when you need to do so. By that, I mean cry. Crying is healthy. It doesn’t help when it’s all bottled up.
  2. Don’t leave things to the last minute.
  3. Drink WATER 💦 no one can live on just coffee.
  4. With that being said, eat your nutrients. I’m not talking about fatty foods but get some stirfry, eggs, or sushi. Don’t skip a meal — it’s not good for you!
  5. Book a meeting with your therapist or counselor, if you have one.
  6. If you have a job on campus, I’m sure your supervisor won’t mind if you take an hour off to do final projects.
  7. Take your medications and/or vitamins.
  8. Go to your school’s tutoring center if you have last-minute finals questions.
  9. Take Reading Days to your full advantage and STUDY.
  10. Take care of your skin. I use KORRES Wild Rose Vitamin C Brightening Sleeping Facial.
  11. Clear a little space in your dorm/room/apartment (no matter where you live while going to school). Studies have shown that having a cluttered room increases anxiety.
  12. Reward yourself with a glass of white/red wine after finals, a day with your sweetheart, or a much-needed nap. You deserve it all!

If you’re stressing about grades, just know that they really are just grades, but you WILL pass finals, I garauntee you.

Here’s some inspirational quotes that’ll hopefully lift your spirits:

Good luck!

xoxo

April 💕

 

For the College Student(s) Having Doubts

For the College Student(s) Having Doubts

College really is hard. I remember when I first started college at SAC, I wasn’t sure how to balance school work and more friends than I ever had in my entire life! (Sad, but it’s true).

I’m just going to cut to the chase in this blog post (I get it, it’s my third one in a week, but my Instagram polls do not lie when people want to read more! Thank you to those who said ‘yes!’)

  1. It is indubitable that you will discover the wonders of alcohol in college. But in my senior year, I can tell you that it’s really not worth getting black/browned out drunk, no matter how stressed you are. (Yes, ‘browned out’ is an actual term).
  2. Investing in a planner, especially the right one, is totally worth it. It’s like wearing the right bra!
  3. Transferring is okay, even if that means adding an extra semester (or year) to school.
  4. Seeking counseling in college is also okay. Yes, all schools have counseling centers, depending on which one you go to.
  5. You won’t know what you’re interested in until perhaps your junior year of college. Some people find out in their freshman year, but it’s okay if you haven’t found your passion, just yet.
  6. College is not like high school, I can promise you that. I’m talking socially. There will be people who clearly haven’t matured, yet. But that’s their problem, not yours.
  7. “Rate My Professor.com” will be one of your best buddies. A subject that’s worth pursuing could be a hit or miss depending on the professor. However, I did learn from a peer mentor that some comments written about a professor are primarily students that don’t put in their best effort.
  8. With that being said, build relationships with faculty and staff! You may just get good recommendations!
  9. Go with your gut when it comes to pursuing a major. It may take about 5-6 tries (like me) but the classes you take will actually boost your resume and cover letters!
  10. Going off of that, no matter which major you choose, I promise you can do anything with it. For example, I’m a Creative Writing major who plans on going into law. That wasn’t always the case. But internships you’ve had will also boost your resume!
  11. You don’t have to have a “set” plan after graduation, but you need to at least have a plan B or C. My mom had to go far as to plan K!
  12. No one said you had to go to graduate school right away! I guess it’s time to share a life update: I’m not going to law school right away!
  13. I recommend getting a job or an internship before you graduate undergrad. Those definitely help you figure out what you want to do. Even if you’re not in college, this is the ideal situation.
  14. It’s no big deal if you don’t study abroad. I had plans to but didn’t. Everything happens for a reason.
  15. Like I said in For the Girl About to Turn 22 | Welcome to My Jordan Year (23), you don’t have to have a cool job right after graduation. I know people who didn’t find the right one until 2 years after undergrad!
  16. Life happens and you may have to take time off, it’s no big deal!
  17. In a year from now, whether you graduate summa, magna, or cum laude, that’s going to matter. Not that it even matters if you graduate with honors or not.

 

EMPOWER NOT TOWER: “Go big or go home?” Is it really worth sucking on bone marrow?

EMPOWER NOT TOWER: “Go big or go home?” Is it really worth sucking on bone marrow?

It was a Tuesday morning and I woke up an hour later than intended. I wanted to get up early, put on some makeup, and put on a cute dress to take over the createHER Collective Instagram story for the day. That didn’t happen exactly as planned, but I handled it better than what my expectations were the previous day.

I ended the night signing off to watch “Grey’s Anatomy,” but also signed off with a whole lot of new perspectives on empowerment and the phrase, “go big or go home.”

The first time I ever heard that phrase was on my very first day of high school when one of my teachers talked about the time she broke her vegetarianism to eat a huge burger — bone marrow and all.

But should we really go by this phrase? The answer is no, and I’ll tell you why.

I remember going by this phrase when applying to undergraduate schools — didn’t work out! I followed this phrase when I started submitting my poetry and artwork to the top literary magazines in the country — didn’t work out! That’s when I started looking at smaller publications that I never even heard of until I joined Twitter again. Those definitely worked out (and helped me build a killer CV to use for grad school apps if I do say so myself.)

When looking at graduate schools too, for my MFA, I had that same superficial outlook that I had when I was a junior/senior in high school. I wanted to apply to (and googled) “Best MFA schools in the U.S.” But coming from a “small-but-bigger-than-SAC” school like RWU, who knows if I even stand a chance? What I learned, especially from being in the [insert 2 Ivy League schools here] applicant Facebook groups, just because they are ostensibly the “best,” “top-tier,” and “among the elite,” that doesn’t mean they’re the right fit for you.

My point in bringing up undergraduate and graduate institutions is that it’s not worth gnawing on your thumb right to the bone marrow to prove yourself — to anyone or anything. I was reminded of a poem I wrote:

Perfection is a weakness of mine

To be honest, when I was in high school, I strived for perfection and I’ll be honest it gave me a little OCD!

I’m trying to gnaw on this idea of being perfect;

I chew it down right to that savory bone marrow

until there’s nothing left to even suck on anymore—

at this point all I’m doing is sucking on that

circular piece of bone. The bone is in my right thumb

and I’ve sucked on it so much to feel like I’ve lost

all feeling.

 

Perfection is like sucking on a piece of bone marrow—

you cleanse it of all the meat and the cells that go with it,

until there’s nothing anymore. It becomes addictive,

like a fidget toy. People tell you you’re doing great by

cleaning it and getting all the necessary juice to make you

feel manly, accomplished, whatever. Then you become

addicted to being perfect and receiving that praise.

Even when you feel like you’re unappreciated, just know that you’re doing a great job and people really do appreciate what you do and how hard you work. If they don’t, it’s their loss!

Moral of the story: PERFECTION IS UNATTAINABLE!

 

Unstoppable | How I’ve Been After a Month’s Hiatus

Unstoppable | How I’ve Been After a Month’s Hiatus

Long time no post! Yes, I did take an unintentional hiatus from the blog, but don’t worry, your girl is BACK! 😉 I have spent well over a month working on myself and just being the best version of myself I can be. This includes realizing what I really want to do with my life. But in the past month and a half, I’ve realized there’s only one version of myself (despite being a Gemini.) That version of April is someone who knows her worth and her potential. I remember when I wanted to be a lawyer, thinking I’d fail the LSAT, so I gave up on that dream. Then I remembered the famous line from “A Cinderella Story.”

“Don’t let the fear of striking out stop you from playing the game.”

Hilary Duff’s character, Sam, sees these immortal words after Fiona’s wall rips apart in her (or what was Sam’s dad’s) diner. But what Sam finally made clear to Fiona was that she had way too much respect for herself to be treated like, well, Cinderella! Sam always knew she was smart — smart enough to see past Fiona’s B.S.

Now, I have not taken the LSAT or GRE, yet. But this fear of failure has always been a prevalent demon in my life. Everyone knows my strive for perfection is clear-to-see. More recently, this included writing a whopping eight drafts of my thesis (… that I turned in Monday, May 6 😊 ). No matter how many drafts I’ve written, I know they were all 100% worth the strenuous nights and afternoons, yet it is rewarding to be done with my BFA in Creative Writing in just two years. LET THAT SINK IN. (Although I do have one more year to go.) What is amazing that I did not once shed a tear over my thesis, no matter how much I wanted to.

This quote also strikes a chord of truth in me when it comes down to my newly-minted career in RWU’s Student Senate. There was this almost-fictional character holding me back, but it was actually my “fear of striking out.” This was also true with dance auditions, which was why I’ve been falling in and out of love with dance since I was just a mere three-year-old.

Moral of the story: I know I said in FESTIVE FRIDAY NIGHTS: How To Make Your Dreams Come True | How I Realized Mine how I wanted to go into publishing. But if you know something just doesn’t sit right with you, don’t pursue it. Just like if someone doesn’t hear the value in your words, stop talking to them. My mom quotes my late grandfather all the time: “do the right thing.” And I’m about to do the right thing (for myself) in a matter of months: apply to law school so that I can be a voice for the underrepresented and those who may not be able to defend themselves. Don’t worry, I’m NEVER giving up my writing career for as long as I live. Nothing’s stopping me now.

giphy (4)

 

BLOG-MAS TUESDAY: Kindness and Giving Back

BLOG-MAS TUESDAY: Kindness and Giving Back

With all those memes out there that say, “you know you grew up to be Squidward when…” (or the Grinch, or any other negative character), it’s a shame how many people I see share that.

But before I get into my narrative, I’d like to say HAPPY DECEMBER! A lot of YouTubers do Vlog-Mas and I thought, why not do a little thing called “Blog-Mas?” Since Christmas falls on a Tuesday this year, and I obviously can’t blog every day, I think I should write a simple blog post every Tuesday this month until Christmas comes.

One “theme” that has been constantly brought up, or at least shows up in my life this time of year is kindness. Believe it or not, I remember a time when the universe wasn’t so cruel to me. I know people (now) who manage to stay so positive, even when their world isn’t so kind.

Today, I had to give a social advocacy presentation on sexual assault, harassment, and Title IX on college campuses. One of the things I preached was, “follow up with them and ask how they’re doing; a little kindness can make their day.”

My point?

The holidays are not always a good time for some people. In fact, they can be quite stressful. Any time of the year can be a stressful time. So, a simple “how are you?” can make someone’s day just a little brighter.

Another thing: I chose to give back to my department of English and Creative Writing, and now for my work-study job, I am the Managing Editor for our soon-to-be-revived online magazine and Web Management intern. I am so excited to be doing this, and I love working for the kind and passionate faculty and staff.

Giving back has always been my “thing.” When I was 18-19 years old, I was a volunteer intern for Tufts Medical Center’s Oncology Unit because I wanted to make a difference in these patients’ lives and to give back to the unit for saving my dad’s life. I’m 22 years old now, and I still think about these patients every day, and what more I could have done for them. Except, all I could do was brighten their day and that was more than enough for them.

I mentioned in Toto, We’re Not In Manchester, Anymore | WBA Manchester how I tutored and helped refugee students who were struggling with English or Mathematics. Not only did I love speaking Spanish to those who knew it better than English, but I also remember helping out this one Russian girl with whom I had to communicate through Google Translate. I remember I, a girl who used to struggle with math, couldn’t believe she was tutoring a girl who needed the same help I did when I was younger. She then came up to me, after class, and in perfect English, said: “Thank you for all your help today,” and I nearly cried from happiness. I’m sitting in my favorite building, wanting to tear up as I write this! I had plenty of experience tutoring: in high school, at Saint A’s, at RWU, but nothing compares to the amount of appreciation I have for this one specific trip (even though I realized I could never teach eighth graders, LOL.)

As I think about getting my MFA after I graduate, I look at all these programs I’m interested in and see that they have residency programs to teach. I remember my English professors at SAC, and my English and Creative Writing professors at RWU, and I think to myself, “these are some of the best people I’ve ever met.” With that, I want to share my knowledge with the world and connect with those who love the art of writing as much as I do. I want to promote kindness in the classroom because God and everyone else knows that it does tend to slip through people’s fingers at times.

“In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”

I’m pretty sure I mentioned this in another blog post, but if you “can’t take it anymore,” then give.