Since I apparently am the only one who does not have Saturday evening plans (I have been sitting in my room for the past 3 hours watching various tv shows and trying to find someone to be my friend), I decided this could probably be a good time to do my processing-of-summer post. This is probably going to be very long and consist of a lot of word vomit, but here goes.
End of Junior Year/Beginning of Summer
I was completely blindsided by the end of the year; it literally just popped out of nowhere. This could have probably been due to the fact that I was in a sort of daze for the last 2.5ish weeks of the semester and then next thing I knew, finals were coming up and I had to pack and leave Vandy. The end of the academic year was really rough for me for various reasons.
First, as with every spring semester, I somehow find myself with borderline grades. The difference between an A- and a B+ in various classes was riding on one major assignment. I finished with grades that were not as high as I would have liked, yet I was not that upset about it because I knew exactly why I received them.
Second, I had a lot of personal monsters that needed to be slayed before I could truly be happy again. The end of my junior year was filled with a lot of rejection (ASBoard, ZTA, Big Brothers/Big Sisters Board, internships, jobs, boys, etc.) and a continual frustration with a few aspects of my life (band, VMI, boys, my physical appearance, friends, grades, etc.), I was very quickly plummeting down the dark tunnel of self-loathing that I had tried so hard to climb out of thus far in my college career. I continually had a feeling of inadequacy in numerous aspects of my life and I felt angry, sad, jealous, and spiteful towards many people and organizations. This was something that I knew I would have to once again work on.
I’m going to be honest and say that I was not as excited for Italy as I should have been. I was so incredibly fortunate to have been able to go on this Maymester especially in light of my family’s financial status. Prior to leaving, my mom kept emphasizing that my family did not have as much money and that they could not afford to pay even the remainder of the cost for my trip. While I appreciate my mother’s honesty in the matter, it made me feel like I was being selfish by going on this trip. Why do I get to go to Italy when my brother and sister can’t afford to get the sports equipment they need to play basketball and soccer? Leading up to my trip, and during, I continually felt greedy and selfish. Let me just say that it’s rather to thoroughly take advantage of being abroad when you’re limited financially.
Another reason why I was probably not as excited as I should have been for this trip was because I wasn’t that close with anyone on the trip. I knew a lot of of people and were either acquaintances or friends, but there was no one who really knew me outside of a class or two. Now, normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but in light of my rejection and frustration, my self-esteem was low and as a result, the belief in my ability to make new friends was also low. I had previously reached a point where I could just be myself, but for this trip, I was very nervous that I would not have anyone to hang out with.
Despite my friend-making-fears, I did end up making friends and having people to hang out with. I did get closer to a few people, which probably would not have happend had we not been on the same Maymester. However, towards the end of the trip, I ended up doing that stupid thing that I do where I think that people are annoyed or angry with me and then I in turn, leave them alone and then they actually get frustrated with me. For the most part, I did enjoy the adventures I had with the people I hung out with, but a part of me also wishes they were a little more daring and spontaneous. I did not have the grandiose European adventure that I had envisioned. Instead, I had a few small adventures. My trip was still good; it just was not as epic as I had hoped it would be.
One major positive that did come out of my Maymester was the realization that I truly have a passion and love for art. Being able to really see a painting, sculpture, carving, up close was so overwhelming and unlike anything else. There is absolutely no way to describe the feeling that flowed throughout my body when I saw the works of art that I had studied in class. Furthermore, simply walking around old hill towns or major cities left me in awe at the detail, brilliance, and beauty of the buildings around me. Studying art alongside the historical context and physicality of being in Italy is something that I will never forget.
Up until literally my last full day in Italy, I did not have a substantial job lined up for me back in the United States. Thankfully, on the last day, I got an email asking if I could come in for an interview for a position at the Center for Talent Development at Northwestern University. The opening was for an Residential Teaching Assistant (RTA) for 2 economics classes. While I had absolutely no background in economics, I took the position anyway with the hopes that I would be able to manage and the students I was to care for would not outsmart me.
This was a 6 week job (3 weeks per class) and I was to manage my students outside of the classroom and be able to help them academically in the classroom. I had absolutely no idea what to expect with this job; I did not know what the format would be like, how my co-workers would be, how my students would be, what my responsibilities would be, or how my living situation would work. This was a huge dive into the unknown and it was exactly what I needed.
Being an RTA for CTD could not have turned out any better. Despite the job being absolutely insane (living in a dorm with high schoolers, having your 17+ hour workday sectioned off to the hour, with “time away” and not “time off”), my coworkers are what made it so enjoyable. The staff was absolutely incredible. Our coordinators were so caring, responsible, and relaxed. Similarly, my fellow RTAs were friendly, silly, brilliant, and just as crazy as I was. Equinox provided me with the environment to reinvent myself and build my confidence back up once again. It gave me the outlet to revert back to my true identity. The environment that my coordinators had created, both in setting (for lack of a better word) ground rules, as well as choosing staff members who would be outgoing, caring, and wonderful, was perfect. This job really helped me reestablish myself with myself.
On a more professional aspect, CTD provided me with an absolutely wonderful opportunity to teach and actually be with high schoolers. Being able to teach lessons was really great and getting critiqued by a very respected high school teacher immediately was very beneficial. However, I think I learned the most from my kids. Living with them and having two sets of classes taught me a lot. I was able to interact with them both inside and outside of the classroom. I got to see how they formed friendships, what made them happy and sad every day, and how they interacted with students of different ages. I got to watch how they built up their confidence and how it would get shot down within a second. I also got to see how they view older people that aren’t real adults yet (i.e. myself and the other RTAs). I really came to care for a good majority of my kids and I was genuinely sad to see them leave.
Home had it’s ups and downs as always. Being at NU was really good for me because I’m realizing more so that I do not want to live in Mundelein. There is just nothing to do there; my only reason to go back is to see people and my house. But being at home sucks my motivation to do anything productive. It also causes me so much stress because I’m so used to having the freedom to do what I want while I’m on my own and being at home places so many constraints on basic life choices (when/what to eat, where I can go and how long I can go for). I love my parents dearly, but I still have these high school-esque fights with them and I wish we could just move past these petty little arguments.
And, as always, CBP continues to be a rock in my life. While I’m a little apprehensive about how we’ll fare in the future, at least personally, I’m very happy with my relationship with each person. It’s those one-on-one conversations I have that reassure me of our friendship.
Band camp. Oh, what can I say? It was my last band camp ever so that’s significant. Grasping with the idea that I am a senior is somewhat freaky. Obviously, I have my frustrations with band, but there’s no denying the fact that it has played a significant role in my life. I teared up during Torch Walk with the realization that band has provided me with a family at Vandy. As with every family, we have our fights, but at the end, they’re some of the people that I love the most.
End of Summer/Beginning of Senior Year
This year is going to be great. I am determined that it will happen. I have to continue to fight those monsters that live in my head and prevent them from hindering me in any way. I have to remember that I have so much going for me this year and all I have do is let life do it’s thing. I intend on pushing myself even more in every aspect of my life and ending this year with a bang.