Now – (Decade/2) = Then

So it is the start of another semester here in Blacksburg.  Today Virginia Tech classes began for Fall of 2016.  A new class of freshmen woke up this morning…and I am sure they were filled with a whole host of emotions as I was five years ago: anxiety, excitement, fear, insecurity, apprehension, happiness, loneliness.

To all you out there in this place called College Freshmen, just know that it keeps getting better.  If it’s hard now, it’ll improve.  And if it’s awesome now, there is still a ton more awesomeness yet to come.  If you’re bored, seek out one of the bazillion clubs and organizations on campus.  If you’re lonely, I promise, you’ll make friends. (Everyone is looking for them.  But trust me on this too: you have to GO OUTSIDE to find them.  As much as you may want to huddle in your dorm room and text high school friends and obsess over instagram… don’t do it!  Also, it’s syllabus week: don’t even pretend you have homework. Even you, engineers. haha)

Andddd if you are required to start a blog, DO IT.  That was part of my requirement freshmen and sophmore years when I lived in the Honors Residential College (HRC).  At the time, I had pretty mixed emotions towards it.  I began with a pretty killer first post:

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Clearly I didn’t have many ideas at the time. But I am so happy that it was a requirement! In a way, it became a record of my first years at Tech.  It became a journal, a place for ideas  and rambling, a place for remembering, a place for processing (as well as a place to get my required honors involvement checked off).  We were told during our visit during the summer that it was going to be a requirement, so as the nervous overachiever that I was, I began before classes started:

 

start of the journey1Bstart of the journey2B

And then I became so immersed in college life – adjusting to a new home, trying to find new friends, discovering all the new food options, grasping at this weird freedom where I could stay up as late as I wanted and do laundry at 2 in the morning and walk barefoot – that I forgot about blogging for at least 11 days….

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(If you want more of an explanation of these days… I wrote more here. And the rest of this blog, in its preserved, original form can be found here. Don’t judge me. haha)

And then the last one I will share today had to do with goals that I set because of an assignment in my Freshmen Honors Seminar class.  It was interesting to read through these five years after the fact, and to evaluate my success in achieving them.

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And I happen to still be in the midst of trying to achieve that final goal.  (Finding something that I love.  Not raising a unicorn on a ranch in Canada.  Duh.)  Therefore, I spent my day with a wonderful little seven month old exploring the ideas of object permanence, working on communication through baby sign language, watching her learn how to balance on her little chubby legs, wiping up mushed bananas and peas…  Honestly I am loving this season of life.  I love being a nanny, getting to meet the needs of little ones, being creative, being goofy.  I love the freedom of knowing this is what I am doing for now, and that is all it has to be.  Day by day, moment by moment, it is teaching me how to find joy in the little successes and beauty all around me.

And speaking of beauty… Tré and I got to watch an amazing sunset tonight.  We had planned on going on a walk anyway, but when I looked out the window and saw the fringes of the sunset, we dashed out, walked to the parking garage, sprinted to the top level, and got (what I believe to be) the best view in Blacksburg. The spontaneity was so fun. :) Then, while we were on this walk we wound through campus and ended up passing by Cowgill and Burchard… the architecture and design buildings.  I didn’t think this would phase me, but I found myself tearing up as we walked home.  So many memories were flashing through my mind.  So many amazing people who I met in those buildings, so many sleepless nights, so much blood, sweat, and tears (quite literally).

And I think in that moment it finally hit me:  I graduated.  College is over for me.  Those people have moved away and those years are just memories now.  There is a whole new class of first years trying to figure out what the heck their professors are talking about.  Those who were first years last year are now feeling like pros…until they realize they have no idea how to design actual buildings.  Third years are b.s.ing their way through new software and fourth years are studying abroad or probably bored as hell. There is a new batch of thesis students, faced with one of the most challenging tasks of their educational career.  And then there’s all of us who remember those days, but no longer belong in those days.  And as much as I am enjoying this season of life, I can’t help but mourn that change. I am missing the creative atmosphere.  I am missing those people who were with me in some of the highest and lowest moments of my college years. People in design, people in my dorm, people from Deet’s, people from Cru…

It’s always the people, isn’t it…?

Thank you to everyone who made my five years all that they were.  I hope I never forget you.

sunset
Now – (Decade/2) = Then

Curation.

Hello, whoever you are who is reading this.  You may be new, you may not have noticed, or perhaps you don’t care, but I just realized that I have been so particular recently in what I have been posting in this blog that I feel I am being exactly what I DON’T want to be: curated, edited.  I want to be honest and real and rambly (that’s not a word, but you understand…one of the awesome things about language  – webster doesn’t dictate what I can or cannot communicate).  I want to be profound and dumb and whiny and inspiring and hopeful and downcast…I want to be REAL.  In everything that I do.  But instead I feel like I am actually being true in nothing.  Instagram gets a different part of me than Facebook does, and I still don’t understand Twitter to be quite honest, and here, on my blog where I feel the most real, I still feel this need to have a certain theme or whatever.   So what if someone scrolls through and moves on because I am too unpredictable in my content to follow.  I shouldn’t care, right?  Except that’s not really how it works.

I can preach all day about facades and honesty and give off the air that I am above caring about it all.

But I’m not.  I care desperately.  And I HATE that.  I HATE that I have been checking my number of followers on IG, that I have been wondering why people have unfollowed me, why I can’t reach 250, when some people hit 1,000 without breaking a sweat.  I am intimidated by the vast number of talented creative people all over the web and IG and etsy.  How will I ever stand out among them?  Why would anyone ever choose to buy a piece of art from me when ten thousand people are doing it better?

Comparison kills.

(speaking of which, so does smoking.  there’s research to back it up.)  It sucks any enjoyment out of the things I am doing because I never measure up.

It’s a constant striving, a constant desire for more and better, but ultimately for most and best.

And so I see that ugliness in me and my reaction is to seclude myself.  To run from other people.  Because then instead of facing that ugly jealousy in myself, that voice saying “you’ll never be as [good, smart, pretty, skinny, successful, creative, kind, artsy, motherly, perfect] as they are. just give up now before you fail.” – instead of confronting those things I go into my metaphorical cabin in the woods.  For a while I am content with the birds and the grass and the sunshine and books and art…but that loneliness always comes creeps back in.  And the part of me that has spent a good deal of time in Christian community says, “well, if you were finding your all in Jesus, you wouldn’t be feeling so lonely. that hole you feel is just that God-sized vacuum” or whatever quote I am misquoting….point being, then I feel ashamed at feeling lonely, guilty for wanting to rejoin society.  And then I step my toe in the water, go on a coffee date or whatever, and find myself tripping down social stairs with my tongue tied around my ankles. “How did I ever interact with humans in the past?  I can’t even tell a story without coming across like a lunatic!” And then I end up online again, where I can filter my thoughts before I send them, photoshop my acne, delete my whining, hide my tear-stained cheeks.  UGH.

My best friend and I have been talking about some of these things recently.  (Even being able to say that I have a  best friend (and an awesome one at that!) is such a blessing.)  And I am doing a lot of reading and thinking related to the digital world for my thesis.  Do we need people?  Are we cheapening our stories and our lives by sharing them in bits and pieces on all of these social media sites?  Is the digital inherently harmful for social interactions?  Can it be done in a way that is life-giving?  That actually allows for understanding and connection and authenticity?  Does that mean narrowing down to just a few places to invest?  (the internet never really ends up working like that though it seems…)  But today I read the blog here  titled “Is Blogging Dying?” by Mayi Carles where she definitely convinced me if there is one online place to invest, particularly if I am going to actually try and start a business, it is on a blog.  Which after thinking about it, makes a lot of sense.  If I don’t like the pressure of chronological posting (the feeling of always needing something fresh and new and better than the last thing) I have some degree of control to alter that here.  Maybe in the end that’s a horrible way to go about having a blog, but at least I get to make that decision for myself, and can choose to change it myself.

Anyway, now I’m really off track… I think being married to a man who rarely (never) tells a story without tangents and mid-thought rambles has rubbed off on me more than I think it has. haha  Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing.  Rambly just may end up being the best description after all.  The opposite of curation. Which is also, incidentally, not a word.

 

Curation.