Closing Time

Well, guys…I DID IT. I graduated.

IMG_4893.JPG

I’ve been AWOL from the blog the last couple of weeks partly due to working my butt off to finish my projects and papers and partly because I was trying to process the loss of a few famous names to suicide.

I have a lot to say about the latter, but I’ll leave it at this for now: depression sucks. Sometimes it’s too powerful for us to take, so we let it take us. You can be angry and hurt and scared, but it doesn’t change that mental illness can be stronger than us and we can’t fight it anymore, regardless of how much money and fame and “happiness” we have. So be there for every single person you know. Be kind. Don’t force phone numbers down their throats–chances are high that they have it saved already. And know that when someone is open with you, it means they trust you enough to share this darkness–and you might not be their best friend. In fact, you might just be an acquaintance, someone they’ve had a class or two with. And when that person is lively and energetic, remember that the darkness isn’t gone. Because I’m so very open with my depression, but only two or three people check in on me ever. Don’t just say you’ll be there. Actually be there. But know that we don’t always want help. It’s a tricky situation, I know, but be patient. Be patient, be there, be kind.

ANYWAY.

I graduated yesterday!! After slipping back into my depression this year in such a major way, I cannot believe I did it! College was a rough ride, to say the least, but I made it through, thanks to my parents, my friends, (a few of) my professors, coffee, snacks, Netflix, and Ally Carter.

IMG_4880

My apartment is a mess and I very badly need to pack, but I also feel like I deserve to just sit back for a bit and watch The West Wing and read for fun. Oh my, am I going to be doing a lot of that now!

But I really couldn’t have done it alone, as much as I would like to say otherwise. There were a lot of times when I thought–and was stubbornly adamant about it–that I could do everything on my own. It took a long time for me to accept that I needed help, this year especially.

I did it though!

I’ve loved my four years at Cal Poly. I’ve really grown up and become a whole new person. I was naive and inexperienced when I came to this school at nineteen. And while I’m not totally mature and experienced now, I can say that I have blossomed and learned more than I ever expected. I still have flaws and there is still so much more I need to learn, but I’m not so afraid of that anymore.

Even though I’m moving back home, I am trying to accept that and to make the best of it. I have a couple of job opportunities there, and I hope that those will give me some kind of motivation and determination. Still looking for jobs, internships, and so on elsewhere, but I have to work with what I’ve got for now. I won’t have to pay rent when I go home and I can mooch a bit off the groceries my mom stocks up with. I’m incredibly grateful to be able to do such a thing, and I definitely won’t miss stretching meals because I don’t have the time or money to go grocery shopping every week. I’m happy I don’t have to completely adult yet.

Like I said, I still have a lot of growing up to do, and part of that is getting back the confidence I had when I went off to college in the first place. I didn’t expect to every move back home, and I am a bit disappointed that I am. I got discouraged when all the jobs I applied for didn’t work out. That happens, I know, but it didn’t make me feel any better to know that I wasn’t as grown up and ready for the real world as I thought. I thought it would be easier, and I certainly didn’t expect my anxiety to get so in the way of that. I just need to regroup and get back in the game–not that I’ve gone out yet, just took a breather on the bench for a bit.

IMG_4887

As I pack my life up into boxes again, I’m excited for the future–for my future. I have a Bachelor’s degree from a great university, and I have a great support system. I also have at least twenty textbooks I don’t know what to do with yet, but that’s a problem for another hour.

Thank you, Cal Poly, for giving me wonderful friends, fantastic weather (mostly), and a great education. I’ve met some of the most amazing people in the world and had the most incredible adventures.

IMG_4866

Onto the next thing…

Ash

Advertisements

Downside of Growing Up

So I wrote down all the assignments I have left to turn in this quarter, and the list is so short I CANNOT HANDLE IT. Graduation is so close, and I can’t believe it.

Not having a job lined up post-grad is probably one of the worst feelings for me. I know, I know, I shouldn’t be freaking out because not everyone finds a job. I still have so much time. Yeah, people who keep telling me that: you’re not helping!! Partly because most of the people that say that have a job lined up, so they don’t really know the feeling.

I’m afraid of moving home and getting comfortable and then being afraid to leave, to put myself out there again. As someone with incredibly low self-esteem (and as someone who is terrible at interviews because of anxiety), every job or internship I look at, I decide I’m unqualified for because I have no real experience in the field I would like to be in. Because helping non-writer engineers look like they know how to write a simple essay isn’t actually worth anything. But even when I convince myself that wait, I can do the things this job requires of me, I apply. Great! Progress! And it leads to nothing, which happens but it’s disheartening.

The problem with the job market today is that next to nobody is willing to give you a chance to prove yourself. So that, plus there being a relatively small pool of jobs and internships that I am sort of qualified for, means that my odds are terrible. So I’m still jobless. And my morale is low–only getting lower.

I know that’s a terrible way to look at it. I should keep trying! I will find a good fit for me! There are so many options! …Uh, yeah, there’s only so much pep in my step right now.

Writing this post really upset me. I hate to admit my failure defeat. Tears welled up in my eyes, and I couldn’t stop them. I’ve been having a really hard time with that this year, holding back my tears. I don’t know how I can feel better about this right now.

In my head, everything has always been figured out. Tied up neatly in a perfect little bow. That’s where being a storyteller and needing to escape into my head has gotten me into trouble. Because things never happen like how I make them up in my mind. I thought I would have published a book by now and been able to support myself. I thought I would have a cool internship that would teach me all about the industry. I thought I’d be happier.

But I’m…moving home. That is the last thing I ever wanted to do. And everything feels kind of hopeless.

Stop being so negative, Ashley.

Okay, yeah, I know, but for once I feel like I can’t just look on the bright side. I feel like I need to just wallow in defeat for a bit to win back some motivation. Because I really feel like I have none at this point. I will have it back eventually, and fairly soon, but right now? Right now I’ve lost. I’ve disappointed Younger Me on so many levels.

Like everything, I’ll bounce back. And thanks to my wild mood swings, right now I can see that happening–whereas I didn’t yesterday when I started this post. Maybe because now I’m hanging out with Tori, trying cold brew red wine, working on my senior project, and watching the glorious Hannah Montana: the Movie.

It’s the little things, ya know?

So before I get all negative again, I’m going to end it there and get back to senior project things. Still stressed, very worried, not okay with entering the real world.

Ash

What Do I Know? – A short reflection on impending adulthood

I’m back! Sort of…

It’s taken me a while to come up with something that isn’t “Things are terrible, my mental health is in the drain, and I’m refraining from all social activity until I graduate.” Because that certainly wouldn’t be a pleasant update. But that is kind of how my life is going.

I mean, I can’t say that it’s the schoolwork that has me this way because I purposely gave myself an easy quarter. I dropped my minor and put myself through hell the last two quarters so that I could take it easy this Spring. So school is fine for me.

But people? People are not fine for me. A particular few are certainly fine, but as a whole? Well, let’s just say I’d rather stay at home with a good book. I just don’t have the patience anymore to fake wanting to go downtown and be in large social settings. Sometimes, yes, those things can be fun for me, like last weekend, but it’s so hard to be excited about them anymore. I want to be involved, since we’re leaving so soon, it’s just difficult to talk to people when I’d rather be alone in my head.

That’s an unhealthy thing to say, isn’t it?

In one month, I will be a Cal Poly graduate. That’s what is scary to me. I thought I would have so much more figured out by now. Nothing in my life has turned out how little, ten year-old me expected it to. I’m still trying to be okay with that.

I guess this isn’t much of an update…since I’m saying all of the same things I have been.

I’m just trying to make sense of the way things are turning out to be. I wish I had all the answers because the pressure to have them is far too high. I feel like I’m floundering around. A fish out of water. And I’m afraid.

It doesn’t help that my anxiety is through the roof lately. The only reason I can give for that is graduation. It kind of feels like life is going to stop after the ceremony is over.

The bright side is that I do get to get away this weekend. I get to escape the college bubble I’ve been sucked into (albeit voluntarily). And I’ll be happy to be with real world people doing some real world things–not surrounded by so-to-be college grads stressing about midterms, jobs, or moving out. Those things will be waiting for me when I get back, obviously, but some time away from it all will do me good.

Plus, my grad photos turned out FLAWLESS, and sometimes that’s enough to ease my anxiety. I don’t even have body image anxiety about them! Well…much. Not enough to really bother me.

seniorphotos_35

So that’s my little check-in for you. That’s really all I have right now. Things are not great but they’re also not terrible? I started writing this post when I was in a bad mental place, but now I’m remembering that I can be optimistic. Guess I need to get my mind in order…

Til next time.

Ash

So It Goes…

The weather is off. My allergies are here. School is terrible. I am never going to do anything with my life. This is it, everyone. This is…

The Winter Quarter-Quarter Life Crisis.

Winter Quarter is honestly the worst quarter of all the quarters. I’ve always like the quarter system and being able to jump from class to class a lot quicker than my Semester Friends. But there is something about this Ten-Week-Plus-Finals stint of the year that really makes me question my entire existence. Is that dramatic? Probably. But that is a major side effect of the Winter Quarter-Quarter Life Crisis.

Image result for gif of sadness

I’ve been second-guessing my passions and my skills. Sometimes I am totally confident in my writing, but it is times like these when I feel like I have zero talent. Like I have no place running a blog or writing stories or even journaling! I’ve been working on my senior project, a super cool spy story I’ve been dying to write, and for a while I felt like I was doing well. I thought I was really getting somewhere.

But here I am, wanting to give up on it. Getting criticism is always difficult, but after this particular chapter beginning that I had put so much faith in got so many negative comments, I felt like a failure. I’d failed myself as a writer and myself as a competent student. And then I wondered if I was ever good at this at all. Like I said, it was pretty dramatic, but that’s what being defeated feels like.

It just makes me feel like my entire school career has been a waste. I could have done something like math or business, but I loved writing. I’m only good at writing. Or so I thought. Now I can’t even say that. I still love it so much. Reading and writing have had such a huge impact on my life, and all I’ve ever wanted to make the same impact on someone else. It’s just hard to see that when I’m struggling so hard with a story I care so much about.

On top of that, one of my classes is completely participation based, and we all know how my anxiety doesn’t like when I try to participate in class. Even when I want to say something, it never comes out sounding coherent or intelligent–I can’t even say that it makes sense at all. So it is hard to come into a class where 95% of the students easily say profound things about the books we’re reading, while I can’t even articulate my annotations. My whole grade depends on a skill I have continually been unable to acquire.

In short, I’m just having a hard time.

It is common for us Quarter System Students to feel the Winter Quarter Blues. Every year I find myself in such a slump. So many of my friends and classmates are in the same boat. It is completely normal to hit such a terrible and draining low. I knew this was going to happen! But alas, it still hit me like a big red bus.

It’s awful to feel like this when I’ve spent so much of my life fighting darkness. This is when it so easily sneaks up on me–even though I am expecting it. Somehow it still surprises me. I can fight this Bad Feeling, but it still hurts. It still drains.

I won’t go into a long and boring tangent comparing this slump to my depression–because depression totally makes it worse–but that’s not the point. The point is that this hard. School is hard. Life is hard. Figuring out the future is hard.

And I have to be honest when it’s hard. It’s not going to be sunshine and rainbows all the time, even though I am so comfortable in my recovery. I am still going to have these terrible times, and I have to be open about that. I have to hold myself accountable for the ups and the downs of this rollercoaster of a life.

So I’m going through a Winter Quarter-Quarter Life Crisis and it is absolutely terrible and I’ve cried a lot. But I will get through it, as I do.

The Last Time

Senior year of college…it’s a pretty scary place to be. Exciting, sure. But still scary. Four years ago when I started my senior year of high school, I was beyond anxious to get through it and get out of there. I couldn’t wait to start life over in college. Now, I’m dreading June. I’ve had the time of my life in college, and moving on from this place and really putting myself out in the world is frightening.

I’m trying to think of a movie or TV show that prepared me for this moment and I’m coming up short. They all skip this part!

Maybe that’s a good thing. That way I can figure this out without any unrealistic expectations sprung on my by Zac Efron or Jennifer Lawrence, ya know?

So far, I’ve unsuccessfully crashed a class, successfully crashed two (one of which was bowling–I know, I know, but it’s fun and I need that), went through the grueling process of recruitment for the last time, and felt more like an old person because of my hips and back than ever before. But it’s been an experience.

My recruitment experiences have gone: freshman rushee, sophomore recruiter, junior traveler, and senior RC. I’m glad I got to experience it in so many different ways.

IMG_6508

Going through recruitment as a freshman was exhausting and exciting and a bit stressful. But I had a completely open mind, having known absolutely nothing about Greek life other than what I’d seen in film and TV, and ended up in an organization that I love with incredible people. Sophomore year was even more exhausting because I had to do the whole process again while walking up hills in sky-high heels. Okay, okay, they were wedges, but it was still tough! Long days with little sleep and minimal food. And girl-flirting. SO. MUCH. GIRL-FLIRTING. But it was still a fun experience and I got to bond a lot with my pledge class. I’m so much closer to them than I thought possible. My third year, I escaped the heat and sore feet by jet-setting to London. You all know how I don’t regret that one bit. It’s been a whole year since I first stepped in that wonderful city!! And since I’ve met four people that completely changed my life. Did I miss recruitment? Not a bit. Did I miss the bonding time? Definitely. Was it worth it? You know the answer to that.

This year I decided to be a recruitment counselor, which meant I got a group of rushees and coached them through this experience. It was cool to see the other houses recruitments, since it’d been so long since I’d last seen any of them, and to get to talk to my girls about their own thoughts. I didn’t get to see them too much throughout the day, since I was stationed at a specific house, but I loved getting to chat with them at the end of the night. To check in with them and see how they were feeling about everything. So many of them had such different views about it than I did, but I so much enjoyed getting to chat with them about that. They’re all such wonderful young women and I can’t wait to see how they grow in their new homes (and out of them, for the ones who withdrew from the process).

I also got to be a part of a group of RCs–blue is our color! At first, there was awkwardness, as there typically is in a new group, but after seeing each other every day during meetings, we started to grow closer. The second day of recruitment, when we were all stationed at a certain house for almost the whole day, we really sealed the bond as friends: we made a snapchat group! They are honestly such amazing and strong women and I love them all, as well. I was so stressed out and emotional all weekend (I cried quite a bit) and they were right there to comfort me and make sure I was okay. Spending so much time together gave them a special place in my heart. It’s been two days, but I miss them so much already!

fullsizeoutput_420e

I wouldn’t take back anything that I’ve done over the last four years, recruitment or otherwise. So many people say that Greek life isn’t for them, or that they aren’t “sorority girls.” It’s completely understandable, but also, have you met me??? I’m definitely not a typical sorority girl. But I love my house.

I joined Greek life because I thought it would give me that bond of friendship, a purpose I cared about, and opportunities to make great memories. It’s given me all of those things and more. I’ve met my best friends and bridesmaids! (Okay now, I’m sounding like a srat star…)

IMG_3206

It’s so much more than people give it credit for. After my God-awful high school experience–my life experience with depression and an eating disorder and anxiety…It’s given me such a loving and accepting environment to live my life in. I’m a stronger and more empowered person because of these people. They make me less afraid of post-college life. Ya know, when I won’t be watching The Office and eating truffle-salted popcorn with people I refer to as my Frat Rats. Or my Spookies.

Oh, who am I kidding? I’ll be doing that with them for the rest of my life. (Just less often…)

It might be too early to tell at this point, but senior year isn’t going so badly. Yes, I’m already a bit behind on my readings, I’m stressing out about sharing my writing with other people who want to be writers, and worrying about how my skills in poetry are still terrible. But like I said, I have bowling to diffuse that! And regular calls to Matthew to calm me down, of course. He’s so wonderful!!

This is my last hurrah at Cal Poly, a school that has changed my life forever, and I’m determined to make the absolute best of it. I just still can’t believe the person I’ve grown up into over the last few years. This ride has been insane.

-Ash