The Loneliness of Higher Education

Well, I’ve made it. It only took my 10 years, but this fall I finally got to proudly declare that this is in fact my final semester as a college student and that I would be graduating at the end of term.

However, as I posted that jovial post across my social media platforms I had a weird feeling in my stomach. An emptiness of sorts. Not because of my lack of my food that morning, though it probably had something to do with it. It was more the realization that I am going to be graduating once again another year behind my friends. Unfortunately last May a lot of my friends that I loved and had even started out my college career with turned their own tassels and took that step closer to adulthood and real life.

Now that I’m a college graduate the loneliness has really began to set in. Especially because I’m still living on my mom’s couch and because the current state of affairs is, for lack of a better word, insane. It also doesn’t help much that my mom lives 25 minutes away from anything resembling a city, but I don’t mind the drive and I won’t mind it if I get a job in the city in the near future. I just want to get to the point where I have a job and an apartment of my own because on top of it all I don’t have a lot of my own space at my mom’s house, which is fine because I’m just happy to have a roof over my head. But it’s hard to go from four and a half years of having my own space to being downgraded to a couch and a small closet.

At this point I’m just trying to keep my anxiety and depression in check so that I can actually attempt to get stuff done because as it stands right now I’ve been out of school for a little over a month and I haven’t made as much progress as I’d hoped I might. However, I’m trying like hell to pull myself out of my funk no matter how unmotivated my mom and brothers may think I am. To be fair though, it’s hard for me to be motivated there when I have very little to room to think.

I just hope that at some point in the near future I can find a job and get my life together better than it is right now. I hate living like this.

I Want to be Weak

“They comment on how strong you are as if you have the option of being weak.”

I found this quote not so long ago in one of the many corners of the internet that I frequent and it resonated with me on levels that I hadn’t yet come to terms with.

My life has been a serious of literal and figurative fights for my life. Ever since birth I’ve fought harder than any newborn should have to. I mean, as if an actual hole in my heart wasn’t enough to deal with and fight through I suffered a stroke on my fifth and so far final open heart surgery in my fourteenth year of life which left the left side of my body numb and basically inhuman. When I was twenty years old I was diagnosed with Stage 3 or 4 (I’ve kind of blocked that detail out) ovarian cancer and I fought tooth and

nail from the removal of the seven pound tumor that had taken up residency in my ovary and through the ghastly chemotherapy that I received shortly after. Even when I caught pneumonia after my first round of chemo and my mom came home to find me on the couch cold and gray and near death my body still fought.

Now my latest fight has been dealing with depression and extreme anxiety that I believe is stemming from school and my general lack of friends that I’ve pushed away due to my workload from school which has caused me to lock myself away in my room on weekends to do homework and ignore the world because it’s just easier that way for everyone. My replacements for most of my friends have been books, the internet and heavy doses of Netflix because the friends that I used to have at the start of college have began to slide away from me, and could you blame them?

Every time I was sick with anything my family and some friends have been by my side to cheer me on during my fights, but sometimes I just want to be broken and sad and unresponsive to the outside world for a little bit. I don’t want attention for it. I shouldn’t have to fight for the attention of my friends nor they for my attention.

I shouldn’t have to fight for the attention of my friends nor they for my attention.

At the same time I desperately want love and affection because while I get it from friends that I consider family at school it’s just not enough. I wish it were, but in the small doses that it comes in it never seems to be enough and I really hate it. I don’t want to be this person. I want good things in my life. I mean, yes, I do have them. I just want them to come in floods instead of random spurts. At least that seems how they come to me.

I know that in reality I have no “real” problems and that there are people out in the world that are suffering lives worse off than mine but, like love, sadness is a universal emotion.

The Weight of Love

“If you have the ability to love, love yourself first.”

— Charles Bukowski

Over the past year or so I’ve spent a lot of time alone. They say that that’s supposed to help you to “find yourself”. Well, I call bullshit. I’ve known myself for 25 years now. Sure, I learn new things about myself everyday, but that’s a part of the human experience, right? You’re supposed to learn from the trials and tribulations that this wonderful thing called life puts us through. I guess the good news though is that we’re all in this together and no one gets out alive.

But I digress…

I’ve been alone for more than long enough to get to know myself properly. I know what makes me happy, what makes me tick, what can demolish me in a second and what can build me up when I need it the most.

But now, I think I need, or at the very least, want a giant spoon to scoop out all of the heaviness that’s wrapped itself around me, both internally and externally. I don’t want to be sad anymore.

This year marks the five year anniversary of my dad’s death. Two days before the anniversary I’ll be on a plane coming back from a two week trip with my classmates. In almost five years I haven’t been near my dad’s grave or to his house that had to be sold upon his passing.

In the years since his death, especially this one, I’ve contemplated going to his house or to his grave. However, now I’m not so sure about going to his gravesite since it’s just a box under the ground. Whereas at my dad’s house, provided if the new owners will let me on the property, my dad’s spirit is still there and things that he has touched and built with his own two hands are there. My family said our last goodbyes to him there. It only makes sense.

I’m not entirely sure what I’m looking for at these places, but something inside of me is telling me that I should go if I can just to find out what it may be.

I’m not entirely sure what I need to do to get this leaden armor off of me or to stop the gnawing in the pit of my stomach to go away, or even the void in my heart to go away. I just know that I want it gone.

Since I’ve been in college I’ve been trying to find ways to get these feelings to go away. I’ve tried to be as least self-destructive as I could be. So far I’ve seen a counselor, I’ve been told to get medication twice now and I’ve also attempted to get out and be social. However, that’s a bit of a problem  when you’re a person that never stops thinking no matter how much they try to shut off their brain.

If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

Though upon reflection, maybe trying to ease my wounds by throwing myself into one of the most stressful environments that a single person can willingly throw themselves into wasn’t the greatest of ideas; but here I  am. 

With one year left of school and the rest of the world at my feet I want to try to go out into the world and not be weighed down by sadness.

Edit: It’s been four days since I’ve published this post. Today I called one of my dad’s closest friends and who was basically one of his main caretakers when he was sick. He (his friend) is going to get me the number of the guy that currently lives in my dad’s house so that I can go out there this summer on the anniversary of my dad’s death.

Study Abroad: Part 2- London, England

I had a really hard time leaving England for a myriad of reasons. One of those being the love of books that England seems to have as compared to America’s lack thereof. On our adventures we happened to come across Waterstones bookstore when we came off of a bus in Picadilly Circus, and it was the best moment of my life. Well, one of them, since this trip seemed to be chock full of them. So without further ado, here comes the barrage of London adventures. 

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Study Abroad: Part 1 Athens, Greece

I’ve been home from Europe for almost three months now and I have only just now started to find the words to write about it. For those that waited with baited breath to hear about my travels, I’m sorry to have kept you waiting for long. I have my reasons.

First and foremost, I was only in most places for three to four days, which for any normal traveler would be optimum time to be able to go out and explore their foreign city- but my group wasn’t a normal one. To say the least; we ran, a LOT and sometimes we missed trains and once even a flight that only half of our group managed to make.

Now. I could be one of those bloggers that just makes this post one that is saturated with pictures of my adventures, but I won’t do that, yet. I will however put a few of my favorite pictures from each place and if anyone wants me to expand on them I will in a later post.

So, here goes: 

Athens, Greece 

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The view from our Conference hotel.  

Coffee & croissants in a cafe next to the Minoa Hotel

The most delicious gyro I’ve ever had. 

Gelato. 

En route to the Acropolis. That I walked up to in TOMS. My feet hated me for a day and a half afterwards, but it was worth it. 

The view from the top.

 

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Just Passing Time While Trying to be an Adult

As the end of the semester draws near by the day, there are literally five more Mondays left in this semester, I feel like this is appropriate to be writing now.

 

In just a couple of weeks my school is holding it’s annual end of the semester/school year wrap-up festivities and I am not ready for a myriad of reasons. The first of those being that after my trip to Europe for two weeks I have no idea what I’m going to do or where I’m going to live and that’s terrifying. 

I mean, so is the fact that I only have roughly a year and a half left of school since I decided to minor in Sociology, but the passage of time from freshmen year to now has gone uncomfortably fast. As I continue to get older I am one thousand percent sure that things just aren’t going to slow down, or get any easier. 

At the very least I think that one of the best things that I’ve done for myself in between now and then is to set some really great goals for myself. Some of these include but are not limited to; get my GPA up to a 3.0, travel more, start saving for my move to Chicago in three years. Yes, upon graduation I’m giving myself the three years that I have left on my Ventra card that still has some money on it as a promise to myself. Is that weird? If so, well then I’m just a big weirdo. 

 

I don’t want to grow up. 

The Five Things You Learn While Traveling for the First Time, and Alone

1. When you board your first train, plane or automobile that’s going to take you to your destination, no matter what it is, you will probably be full of nerves and excitement. If you’re anything like me the nerves & excitement will have already been simmering for weeks up until your actual trip. This is good. Let the nerves and excitement bubble and simmer under your skin because you can use them later in your trip as stored energy to go explore your new surroundings.

2. Pay attention to your surroundings. There are new people around you everywhere you turn and not all of them will have your best interest in mind. Especially if you look like a tourist. Ya know, a giant camera dangling from your neck and always looking up? Yeah, that’s how you know you’re a tourist. The locals aren’t always so kind once they know this. 

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3. While exploring your new environment whether it’s in the boroughs of NYC, the frozen tundra of Alaska or the deserts of Arizona, find something that is unique to the  area and make yourself familiar with it. For example, while in Chicago this past week I found a really cute cafe called The Growling Rabbit by my friend’s apartment. So, I did the homework and looked it up online to see what I could possibly be getting myself into, food and price wise. The next day I woke up early and started to head to the cafe and it turned out to be really amazing. The atmosphere was cozy and the employees were as amazing as their menu.

4. Keep a journal. They’re much easier to carry with you than your laptop and it’s always a good excuse to write down small observations of the people around you that you’d rather not make public on a social media website. Keeping a journal on hand also helps you to measure how much you’ve grown throughout the passing of time on your trip.

5. Once you’re home take a step back for a minute, after you’ve recovered from whatever adventure you’ve been on of course, and assess yourself. Are you a little braver than you used to be? A little more fearless about approaching people and trying new things? Does your soul feel like it’s been washed anew? How about your mind? Does your body have a few new bumps and scrapes and tone to your muscles? Yeah, mine did too. These are not bad things at all, friend. In fact, they’re to serve as reminders that you went out and made something happen for yourself and that you enjoyed yourself along way in one form or another.

So dear friends, go forth and seek adventure and The Great Unknown, because they’re out there and they’re just begging to be found by you.