Autostraddle! Remember when I used to write a blog about college? You probably don’t because it was a long time ago and you’ve grown so much in the past two years…
But to refresh your memory, this was the blog I wrote. And then stopped writing. Because life happens and being 20 was weird and school was hard. And also, I was probably a little lazy. And definitely super procrastinate-y. A trait, might I add, that does not go away after graduating college (who knew?). Because despite my excitement for writing this article and despite the numerous article idea bullet points I have scattered across different notebooks and electronic devices, I still waited until the last minute to start writing this. Why did I think that painting my nails while watching Extreme Couponing (and then cutting coupons out of the newspaper because my new goal is to be on Extreme Couponing) every night of this week was a good idea??
But I am not here to make excuses. I’m here because I miss you all and now that my college experience is over, it might be a good time to fill you in on my last two years of school.
The Past Two Years: Highlights/Lowlights/Lights in General
I’m pretty sure that my junior year of college threw me off the Internet. I hardly checked my social media outlets, I never sent “happy birthday” Facebook comments, I stopped contributing to any website/blog/publication that I had ever written for before, I forgot to watch season three of Sister Wives, and I disregarded dozens of emails from my school about the overdue copy of Gargantua and Pantagruel that I owed a forever growing amount of money for.
My reasons for falling off the Internet during junior year were not exactly rare for a twenty year old college student—I had strep throat like every single day. But actually, it was out of control! I also started taking medication for anxiety, which totally helped my anxiety buuuut also made me fall asleep in Spanish class. Like a lot. It also didn’t help that I turned 21 and started going out a lot (a lot for me means I would sometimes go out twice in a weekend, maybe even once during the week, and I would have alcohol more than once a week, so basically I was out of control). But above all else, I met an amazing lady who I wanted to spend all of my time with. It was wonderful! We dressed up as Santana and Brittany from Glee for Halloween! It was so gay!
Towards the end of junior year I slowly began to get back to the swing of the internet world: I swapped Sister Wives for Mob Wives (JK I totally watched them both, I mean can you imagine?), I used my school email and job-finding website to apply to summer internships, and ended up landing one at the digital department of the Dr. Oz Show.
That summer, I stopped taking the above mentioned anxiety medication because it started turning me into a zombie and I’d kind of rather be anxious than one of the bad guys on The Walking Dead (I’m assuming the zombies are the bad guys? I don’t know, I’ve seen one episode). I spent my internship researching diseases that I thought I had and buying supplements that I was convinced I needed. I still take a super overpriced fish oil supplement every day! I’m fairly certain it makes me immune to all diseases and also turns me into a superhero.
With my newfound superhero powers of not being sick every day, I managed to start my senior year in a very positive light. My last year of college was a mixed bag of everything. So many emotions! So many wonderful things! So many not so wonderful things! It started off on the wonderful side when I found out that I was hired to be a production intern at The Colbert Report. Everything about that internship was spectacular and I still feel like it was one of the coolest things I have ever done ever. The internship was quite time consuming and because I still had to take a full course load at Barnard and work my campus job, my GPA ended up dropping to an all-time low that semester.
But a lowered GPA was a small price to pay for everything I learned and everyone I met—I mean I got to watch Mavis Staples, Jeff Tweedy, and Sean Lennon sing “Happy Christmas” live, at least 10 times. Like it was my actual job to watch the spawn of John Lennon and Yoko Ono sing their Christmas song. And because I was on greenroom duty that day, I got to hang out with all of them! I mean in my head I was hanging out with them, in reality I was bringing them room-temperature water and trying not to blurt out “Do you know who your parents are?” to Sean Lennon. Obviously he knows who his parents are but I really just wanted to keep reminding him.
But as my internship ended and the realities of the last semester of college began to hit, things started to fall into the “not so wonderful” category. I had no idea just how absolutely terrified of graduating I would be. I was as prepared as any college student could be. I worked as a student career counselor throughout college, made good grades, and landed great internships. I knew how to get a job. I showed people how to do it every single day. But I was too scared to even apply.
I saw two different types of senior students emerge as graduation approached. One type could not wait to graduate; they were completely over college and ready to start their “real” lives. The other type was like me: scared shitless. There was so much about college that I wanted to do over, so many things I should have actually learned instead of cramming into my head for an hour, and so much free toilet paper that I needed to steal before moving onto a life where I would have to go to the store to buy toilet paper. There were student events I should have gone to, groups I should have joined, and untapped skills that should have been tapped. I never took African dance. Maybe African dance was my calling but like a dummy I decided to take yoga instead (bad choice, I am NOT flexible), and because of that decision I never had the chance to see my talent blossom. These were the thoughts keeping me up at night.
As my fear of graduation and entering the “real world” grew larger, I did what any sensible human would do and panicked, quickly running away from many of the things that had made me happy. The first thing I ran away from was my girlfriend. And by ran away, I mean turned into a complete asshole and broke up with her. Why is this the reaction that humans have? Obviously running away will make things worse but for some reason our brains suspend reality and think ,”Yes, run from what makes you happy—that is the key to happiness”. It’s as if the message of every Nicholas Sparks-type movie becomes completely irrelevant. I saw The Notebook, I should have known better.
Instead of feeling better after the break up, like my dumb brain told me I would, I was still terrified of The Future. All of the sudden any drive I had ever had to be a successful career woman went out the window. Probably because I never wanted to be a “successful career woman” in the first place. I wanted to be a “successful empress of everything I find enjoyable in life including but not limited to making people laugh, television, and watching professional figure skating”. Oh and I also wanted to be known for creating “fantasy figure skating” which is like fantasy football but better. Also I don’t truly know what fantasy football is but I am pretty sure it is not what I picture in my head every time I hear the term Fantasy Football (in my head it is a bunch of miniature football players wearing their outfits/uniforms flying around in the air with little wings because they are fairies, which is how the whole fantasy thing fits in).
My campus job was to help my fellow students find jobs and internships but by the second semester of my senior year, counseling other students became torture. Every person I counseled became another conversation about what I planned to do after graduation. And every conversation ended with the other person telling me “aww don’t worry, you’ll find something”. I always nodded and smiled and thanked them for their encouragement but all I wanted to do was scream “IT’S NOT ABOUT THAT! I DON’T WANT TO FIND SOMETHING!”. It wasn’t about finding a job. I wasn’t even applying to jobs. It was about wanting more time. Just a little more time before I had to start figuring out my life. Unfortunately all of that stress started eating away at the one thing that had kept me going since I decided I would become a Spice Girl in the first grade: my drive to become empress of everything.
How I Graduated College and Became A Thirty Five Year Old Upper East Side Mom
I knew that I needed to stay in New York City after I graduated because as much as I missed my family and year round warm weather, the idea of moving back to Florida was slightly more terrifying than graduating. So while my empire-building goal was put on hold/perhaps stalled forever, I refocused on finding a way to graduate college without moving all my stuff back home. Luckily I found a nannying job through a good friend that allowed me to stay in the city without doing sketchy things for money and would give me time to figure out my life.
I was under the impression that I could have everything figured out by the end of the summer. Three months was all I needed to get back on track. Three months seems like such a long time! But oh my god three months is no time at all! Remember when five minutes used to feel like an eternity? What happened to that? I want that back.
During the summer, my nannying job went from 25 hours a week job to 50+ hours, 5 days a week. I love kids, I really do, but after 10-12 hours a day with a super smart six-year-old girl who never naps, I really started rethinking my desire to have kids in the future. You can only play “airport” with three American Girl dolls for so long before you begin to question every decision you’ve ever made. But being a nanny really is not the worst job in the world, it pays very well and I really do love the little girl I look after, even when she tells me that I’m only kind of funny and that my British accent “isn’t exactly the best”. Little girls can be so mean!
Plus nannying allows me to maintain the best living situation I could have ever asked for. My roommate Sam is a good friend from high school who I hadn’t really spoken to since her wedding a few years ago (yes, wedding!). She reached out to me one day towards the end of college to tell me that she was planning on moving to New York after graduation. Sam was actually the first person I sat down to tell I was dating a girl. We were sixteen and eating lunch at a Macaroni Grill in Boynton Beach, Florida, because the best conversations happen at chain restaurants. She was awesome about it and like most of my friends at the time, told me that she already knew.
One of the things that Sam asked me during that lunch that I will never forget, and that we both laugh about now was “But what other girls could you date? Because most lesbians don’t look like you. Where are you going to find pretty feminine girls to date?” We laugh about this now because she ended up majoring in Women Studies with a concentration in LGBTQ issues, left her husband, and started dating women, all while staying just as “pretty and feminine” as she was in high school. She told me all of this when she visited New York to look for apartments with me in April. Just as she hadn’t been shocked by my high school revelation, I wasn’t exactly shocked by hers. I mean she was the only one of my friends who got super into The L Word after I made them all watch an episode during a sleepover in 11th grade.
Sam and I somehow lucked into an amazing deal for an apartment in the Financial District with an elevator, doormen, and air conditioning. Like what? The only qualification I had when looking for an apartment was making sure that my bedroom had a window where I could put an air conditioner unit. That was my main concern. During the summer Sam and I, both working as full time nannies, would get into the elevator at 7:30 in the morning and be surrounded by Wall Street people wearing suits and talking about money stuff that I’m sure I could understand but that I really don’t feel like understanding. It is much more fun for me to think of Dow Jones as a 65-year-old man who looks and sounds like a cross between Morgan Freeman and the head of the Piano Department at my high school, Dr. Lawton.
Sam and I went out a lot over the summer so naturally I pretended that we were filming our own Bravo reality show. Honestly it would have been an amazing show. We live in an apartment that we could have never afforded full price, we’re both 22, under, under 5’3″ (we’re so small! We can’t reach most of our cabinets! It’s a thrilling storyline!), often aged by strangers as “way too young to be here”, not great at hitting on girls, terrible dancers, and varying shades of blonde. Oh and we went spray tanning once! And I totally did it wrong! That could have been an entire episode!
But alas as the weather turned cold and I got back together with my ex while Sam started dating her girlfriend, the thrilling drama of the Bravo series began to dwindle. Nowadays our reality show would now just be shots of us binge watching Scandal on our separate computers in our separate beds, cut with scenes of us discussing Scandal when we run into each other in the kitchen to grab our mid-Scandal snacks. I mean I would probably watch that show, and maybe some people with Kerry Washington/professional babysitter related fetishes would too, but we’d probably be the only viewers.
Luckily this “boring” post graduate limbo that I’m living has turned out to be exactly where I want to be. It is an extreme privilege, if nothing else. And just like the movies, the girl I ran away from came back into my life and I couldn’t feel any luckier. So lucky that the only words I can think of writing are way too cliché to write. We even got to do Halloween again! This time going as “celebrity trying to be anonymous while grocery shopping” and a 1970s zombie.
It is still quite strange to not be in school anymore and I do have to keep reminding myself that it is OK to take some time off. That I do not have to start my “career” right this second. That as long as I am lucky enough to provide food, water, and shelter for myself, I will be ok. I spent the last 17 years of my life in school and took at least 12 of those years extremely seriously. I’m burnt out! I’m sure I will start building my empire soon but for now it is nice to let each day happen without a heavy bubble of expectations hanging over my head.
It is crazy for me to think that it has been over four years since I wrote my first lesbianage post. At the time, I had no idea that I would enjoy college as much as I did and that I would miss it as much as I often do. I have Autostraddle to thank for that.
During my freshman orientation week, Riese and Alex saved me from my dorm after I had convinced myself that I was the only person at Barnard who was having a terrible time. They took me to Subway (the food place, not the train), then to Riese’s apartment, and then told me to write down my feelings. I am pretty sure I also did some coloring in one of Riese’s coloring books. I could write a million long and most likely clichéd love letters to Autostraddle, and I’m sure that one day I will compile such letters into a self-published book that I will send to everyone involved in this website, but for now I will spare you from my sappy feelings.
Just know that if you are just starting college and feel as if you are the only person having a less than amazing time (or if you feel this way in general, no matter what your age), you can always go to Subway, write down your feelings, do some coloring in a cat-coloring book, and of course, read Autostraddle.
Seriously, it works.