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Lessons College Never Taught Me…

It’s hard for me to believe that college is starting soon again.  It seemed like just yesterday that my friends were done with the semester and coming home for the summer.  Now people are going back to college or even starting their freshman year!  I remember each trip my parents took with me to college.  Each 700 mile drive was unique in some sort of weird and awkward way.

I learned a lot about myself during college (both mentally and physically).  The most important lesson I learned however,had nothing to do with courses.  I learned about myself as a person.

I’ve written about my definition of success and happiness several times.  I’ve also written about struggling post college several times.  When I was in college, I thought one I graduated, I would easily get a job in my field, work and then I would be successful.  I did my college time and now the reward (a job) would flock to me.  It’s partially true that I interned then worked in my field at SUNY Oswego.  I loved it and truly enjoyed my time there in the public health field. I learned even more about myself, my field (public health) as well as my personal relationship with Tim.

In the late spring of 2013, I had an important decision to make.  A decision college doesn’t really prepare you for.

Do I move and get out of Upstate NY? 

I was dating at the time, and a long distance relationship won’t work forever.  He was finishing his training so it made sense for me to move down there.  Being in the military, Tim will never have flexibility to move where he wants.  It was either I move or we continue having a long distance relationship.

I chose to move.  In the fall of 2013 I moved and found myself unemployed with no job leads.  People asked me all summer my job plans and I said I have no idea, live off savings and find one.

Being unemployed came just one year after spending four years trudging through gail force -30 degree winds to class.  It came six months after digging my car out of snow banks for work.

I stayed unemployed from September until around March.  During that time we found out we were moving to New Jersey.  We had one of the roughest winters on the east coast and southern states weren’t prepared to plow (I felt like I never left upstate!)  I hit the job market at the worst time since businesses weren’t hiring.  The last thing they wanted (or needed) to do was hire for their closed business.  I ate away at about 75% of my savings that I saved the previous year working.   College never taught me about budgeting or savings…but I thank my parents often that they did.

I applied for jobs everywhere and in every field.  Quite frankly living in Del Rio Texas, a job was not going to happen.  I lived there six weeks but almost a year later (read: last Tuesday) I finally found a job in my field that I remotely qualified for.  (After getting dozens of emails to be road kill collector…I don’t know why I’m still on public health job list…or why collecting road kill requires a public health degree…).  I would have most definitely had to do something outside my college degree if I had lived there…which is fine but not anything college prepared me for.

So when we moved to NJ, I was more than happy..  So many opportunities that aren’t road kill collectors!  I probably applied to close to 30 jobs.  (I filled out about 100 job applications).  I applied for multiple public health jobs, running store jobs, even a substitute teacher (as I spent 3 years with a double math/education major).  I was bored being at home and financially it wasn’t going to work out well if I was going to stay unemployed for another year.

As good as my first year out of college was (job wise), my second year was as bad. That was something I was not prepared for.  The only thing that would have really prepared me would be living through this situation.

So when I got a call that they would have room for me at a local running store, I jumped on it.  After 8 months of doing nothing, it was a nice change.  Now working there about 6 months, I can say I fully enjoy it.  While college taught me how to solve derivatives at the drop of a pin, it didn’t teach me that I was also growing as a human.  I was learning how to educate people in health awareness but I was also growing and needed to experience these lessons for myself.  I wish college taught me that it’s okay not to do anything in your major as long as you are successful financially, mentally and physically.  If you can say all of those things as well as you are happy with your life, then college has taught you well. 

I regret nothing about my education, my post college life and where I’m at right now.  I’m enjoying my life, financially stable and successful both mentally and physically.  None of those things are anything I took a college course for but at the same time needed college for.

Questions for you:

What is one thing you wish college had taught you?

What has been your favorite job? 

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Distance Stinks

The previous month presented me with a lot of challenges.  As I said earlier, Tim was gone so I found myself trying to make plans and stay relatively busy.  I did just that.  While I can’t say it was easy, I can’t say that I allowed myself to be miserable either.

What I didn’t mention in my first post was it was very difficult for us to talk as well.  So not only was he away but he couldn’t chat either.

One thing people have said to me several times is “you chose this life”.  Not only do I find that a little bit rude but it also doesn’t make it any easier.  Distance relationships for anyone are not fun.  I don’t think anyone ever says “a perfect relationship for me is someone who lives far away or is gone frequently”.  I also tried my best not to whine on the internet but honestly I didn’t find myself completely miserable that I felt the need to do that.  Yes some days were extremely hard, but some days I was so busy or gone all day with work by the time I got home I fell asleep.

Something both Tim and I have strived on is having a life outside of each other.  We love each other but we both strongly believe it’s important to have other hobbies that aren’t the same.  Tim fixes cars, I like to hang out with my friends…etc.   Honestly I think everyone needs their own hobbies too.

While he was away, I…

I’ve made plans that have kept me busy.

Some of my coworkers and I at Broad Street

Some of my coworkers and I at Broad Street

I’ve seen friends I haven’t gotten to see in a while.

I am awkward.

I am awkward.

I took time for me.

The important thing for me personally was to stay busy.  Whether staying busy meant going out to eat with friends, talking with relatives, or just hanging out…I needed to stay busy.  If I allowed myself to be bored, then I began to be miserable.

I can’t say that I wasn’t overzealous and excited to finally go pick him up though.  It was a long month.   

Since this is somewhat relevant, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how wedding planning is going.  Neither of us don’t have any ties to NJ, so we aren’t planning a wedding here.  This week when we go down to VA Beach, we have a couple of wedding venue appointments.  I am hoping to find the “perfect” venue and have that set in stone.  Then I can begin to start wedding talk and go look for a dress…and all the other things you do.

Past that, I haven’t done a lot.  We aren’t getting married anytime soon (sometime in the late Spring 2015) and are taking time to relax and enjoy the moment.  I ordered a wedding planner notebook that I’ll be sharing in a couple of days.  I’ve enjoyed their normal planners for college so I thought I would probably enjoy their wedding planners too.  Plus they offered to do a giveaway.  It’s a product I used throughout college and loved so hopefully you will too. 

I read a lot of wedding blogs and hear from friends that planned their wedding in a month.  I had respect for you before but I now have a new found respect.  I cannot even imagine planning a wedding in 4 months.

Questions for you:

What is one of your hobbies?

If you are married, how long were engaged for?

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