Wednesday, October 25, 2017

it's so weird how you can like understand that something is true but not really believe it. Like the whole "just apply, you have nothing to lose" mantra that everyone from my mom to my friends to literally my own self has been telling me while I'm stuck in this gap. "Just apply!" they say. "They put up those requirements expecting perfection, but nobody meets those requirements. Just do it! You never know!"

Part of the problem is references. I have four, but I only really ever use three, one of whom is notoriously busy and takes a long ass time to get back to people, but is easily my best and most supportive reference. Can I really ask them to write letters of recommendation for multiple different programs? Not even the same program at different schools, mind you- different programs at different schools. There's a rotation program here I'm interested in, that I've been told to apply to even though I just BARELY don't meet the GPA requirements (I have a 3.4, they require a 3.5 or higher). There's a grad school which accepts ALL applicants into a rotation program halfway across the country I'm interested in. I've considered a couple of postgraduate certification programs. I've been trying to pursue the traditional grad school route with very little luck. There's a lab tech kind of program here that I just found out today has a master's program, which you can technically apply to without an approved supervisor (the deadline is November 15 for the winter term I think, so a little late to try and find a supervisor).

So yes in theory I could just... apply to things. I could just throw my hat in the ring. I am fortunate enough to have enough to cover the application fees. Except... I have asked these references to help me about 50 times each, and I am so worried I am becoming a burden to them because none of those 50 things have worked out. Not a single job as a cashier, a waitress, a salesperson, nor a job that actually uses my B.Sc. Half the time those opportunities simply just don't work out for me and I never have to give them my references.

I don't know what next step to take.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

I don't really have a title for this it was just a realization that didn't really fit anywhere except for here.

I keep feeling like shit because I don't have a job yet, I haven't gotten into grad school yet. I can break down for myself how this is disqualifying the positive because I have had grad school interviews that went in a promising direction and how I've barely scratched the surface of where I could pursue grad school, not to mention it could still be a possibility in the future if not now so I'm magnifying the problem to unreasonable proportions. I've had job interviews that didn't work out but had employers say they would keep me on file- whether or not that's true will be told by time I guess. The support I'm getting from my parents is being offered without guilt, and I know they would have told me to come home and work for my dad if they really didn't approve of what I'm doing.

The thing is... I keep telling myself once I get a job or a grad student position, I'll feel better. The other day, I remembered: I was depressed when I was in school this year, even though some days now it feels like I'll feel better if I'm in school having something to do. I also remembered: I had a job last summer and was depressed then too, constantly convinced I wasn't doing enough and nobody there really liked me and that the few really tasteless comments I had made at the beginning of the summer were well remembered by all and used against me. So no, getting into school or work isn't going to solve this depression for me.

I honestly still can't believe this is my life right now, I'm volunteering and living off of savings and my parents. It sounds pathetic. I keep thinking it is. But I think this is just an overcompensation. I mean, I have friends who still live at home. They are, technically, living off their parents in that way. Do I think less of them? No, they are doing what they need to do. Am I better than them? No. Am I worse than them because my parents are able to offer more/different help? That doesn't even make any sense- of course not. My situation is what it is, discussion of privilege aside (that is to say, I am enormously privileged to be living as I am right now, and I recognize that I have not earned this, and that others do not enjoy this standard of living and they have not earned that treatment either; I receive this life unearned, and that is a value judgement on societal structures and not on me as a person). My situation just is. It doesn't make me good or bad, lazy or productive. It also doesn't make me depressed.

Sure, it's disheartening to be out of work, but I was disheartened in work too. My depression will always find a way to tell me I am worthless, and it will not be logical. If I have a job, then I'm not working hard enough. If I don't have a job, then I'm worthless and lazy and a loser. This doesn't make any sense.

Honestly, I have my friends to thank for this more than myself. My friends have pointed out to me: this won't last forever. You're allowed to enjoy this period of your life even as you look for work. Maybe instead of rushing back to school to take open studies because it's all you know how to do, you should just figure things out instead.

Even as I feel like life is passing me by, it's happening. I don't like to believe this is my life because to face a reality where I graduated and have done nothing but volunteer since is too painful for me because of the distorted thoughts I have about it.

This problem is far from over; even after writing this post and trying to remember to go through the motion of deconstructing these thoughts on paper as they happen, I still feel like I am worthless, that I am a hopeless loser, etc. I know these thoughts are illogical and false and entirely created and yet I still feel on some level that they are deep and unalterable truths about my life.

I don't really know what else there is to say except that I'm still here and struggling, but at least that's better than doing nothing.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

I keep thinking about summer

It mystifies me how I spent 4 months doing almost nothing. I finished my finals, moved into the crapshack, and... was. I applied for a couple of jobs, I know, I got a volunteer position at the science centre, and I did that faithfully. I visited home, I went to a shakespeare in the park thing. I went to a food festival and a carnival. I went to the woods, a couple of times. I went to the gym, a couple of times. I wrote an essay applying for status as a special student and was declined. I was declined from a graduate position. I was delayed for another. I was rejected from a waitressing job. I was rejected from a lab position.

I remember bits and pieces from the summer in horrifying chunks. Buying my own dresser from IKEA and taking three days to assemble it, getting stumped at the step where you had to join two halves together and get about 8 pieces to line up at once- after trying to do it myself and hearing a crunch from one piece, I gave up. It got together eventually and then I unpacked my clothes. I also unpacked the supplies on my desk... but never my jewellery, and only a couple of pots and pans (which were mishandled by my roommates). I remember having to clean everything though, before I could move in- vacuuming as best I could with the shitty vacuum supplied, cleaning literal piles of fine silt off of furniture. On my third day there I was eating fried rice in bed when a bug larger than my pinky nail crawled out from underneath me somehow. I trapped it under a glass jar on my desk and didn't deal with it until I moved out.

At some point I reasoned that working at the desk and keeping my computer there might make me more productive. I'm not sure why I thought that would work, since it didn't. It was probably good for me to be sitting with better posture, I guess, and good for me to get out of bed. Lord knows there were days when the only reason I got out of bed was for food, and even then it was begrudingly since the kitchen was upstairs- an apartment with three floors is never a good idea. I remember a lot of lying in bed, scrolling through my phone until I ran out of content, adjusting and readjusting when my neck was uncomfortable. I remember getting irritated by my greasy hair, starting at the edges on the first day and gradually having that itch move closer and closer to my core until I finally gave in and used the shower that didn't quite drain properly to have a shower, four days later.

I remember my graduation. Sitting in the auditorium, listening to speeches I don't remember, watching name after name get called and listening for friends I knew so I could cheer a little louder. I remember that I didn't take my family up on the offer to stay with them and wishing I had. I got ready alone in my room, in the full length mirror, makeup next to me on a makeshift stand consisting of three empty shoeboxes that once held the desk supplies. I covered a painful, deep zit and hoped it wouldn't show on the photos. I tried my best to contour my chin, doubled by months of eating white cheese popcorn and doritos for dinner, and make my face, grown rounder for the same reasons, appear more like it used to look. I remember going out for dinner and enjoying it but wishing that my graduation had been a bigger deal. It was just sort of something that... happened.

The bigger deal was when I was driving my boyfriend home to get his things so he could stay the night and we pulled over to watch the sunset. While we were sitting there, snuggling as best you can in a car with a centre console, I admitted that once I had very different plans for that evening. Once upon a time I had told myself that if I made it to my grad, that was the last big event I really needed to see, and if I hadn't gotten into grad school by that time, I'd kill myself. June 13 was my Death Date. I wasn't supposed to live beyond it.

It's been 106 days. Maybe 107 by the time I publish this.

I didn't kill myself. My boyfriend came over and spent the night, and during the summer we also went camping again, I saw my dogs again, and I had a friend recommend a book to me that helped me get out of the worst of it. On our two year anniversary, my boyfriend and I celebrated together by spending the day together and spending the night together in my new apartment. The one I now share with my little sister, who got into school here. I'm responsible for picking her up after her night class and her choir practice. Who would be doing that if I wasn't here?

So maybe I spent a summer in a crappy little room with crappy blinds on big windows that faced a busy street and were always so noisy. Maybe I spent hours sitting on the floor at the foot of the bed wearing as little as possible eating frozen fruit and orange juice blended together because it was the only way I knew how to stay cool. Maybe I joined a gym and for the first month went only three times. So maybe my landlord was a crazy psychotic bitch intent on threatening me for money and not paying her rent to her landlord, who was incompetent and lazy. So maybe the place was dirty- in desperate need of TLC beyond what I have the professional know-how to provide or the responsibility to fix. Maybe I spent four months cooking without a microwave. Maybe I spent four months avoiding my roommates if at all possible- staying in my room when I heard their footsteps in the kitchen.

I got out of there. But I still think about it.

I was already depressed when I moved into a depressing situation. That's what I get for leaving the apartment search to the very last minute I suppose. But the memory is such a stain now- I don't remember a lot of good about this summer. Mostly a lot of bad, a lot of being hot and sweaty, the night I stayed up all night and then couldn't sleep because the blinds didn't block the sun at 5 AM and the traffic started at 6. A lot of feeling miserable and worthless. A lot of paranoia- does my landlord have a key? Will she come back? Where's this missing item- did I misplace it or did someone take it? Am I ever going to see my damage deposit again? How am I going to explain this gap to employers, or potential graduate supervisors? A lot of feeling like I was just burning money, pissing it away by lying around doing nothing in the city instead of just sucking it up and moving back home.

For all the terrible that was my final year at school, this summer was a thousand times worse.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Guess who hasn't written a word of any book since that post lol

You know what I have done? Absolutely nothing! Somehow! Two job interviews, neither of which worked out (but one of which I know for sure was not my fault... the other people just never got back to me ever and sometimes no answer is an answer ya feel)... two prof emails, one of which actually DID work out recently after I thought the prof had left me in the lurch. I finally got the insurance issues with my car sorted out. I ordered winter tires. I refilled my prescriptions. I found out I no longer have health insurance. I now have to pay full price for all my prescriptions. Did you know the birth control patch is $11/patch?

I've read a bunch of books. I mean, not compared to some people I know who read religiously, but compared to what I have managed to read over the past four years it's a lot.

I feel so stagnant. Almost everyone around me is in school or is at least...really, actively trying for something, with a job in the meantime. The other day I considered doing a degree in medical lab science and my parents' response was "I thought you wanted to do medical genetics" and "We just don't want to see you throw away your potential because you think you can't do it" like ok lol preeeeeetty sure a 3.4 won't get me into med and you guys just don't understand the system AT ALL but nope this is just me not thinking I'm good enough, sure.

I mean like. I do still want medical genetics. But like. I do want other things to. I still want to write a book, in theory. I'd still like to work. MLS is appealing as something I could feasibly get into that is y'know like ACTUAL JOB TRAINING for a job that is NECESSARY IN THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM and is something we have ESTABLISHED I AM GOOD AT but

I know. I know someday I will look back and I will think wow! Why did I think that was hard? Everything turned out all right! But, future me, you arrogant asshole, I can't see what's going to happen here. I don't see how I work my way out of this. I can't see the path to Something while I'm wandering in the midst of Nothing. If time travel IS possible I'd really appreciate a sign for what it is I need to do to get out of this mess. Or just some borrowed motivation would be great.

I mean everyone has to learn what rejection after rejection after rejection feels like right? Well, if you haven't gotten there yet, let me tell you firsthand that after being the sort of kid who never ever failed at anything ever, it fucking sucks. I wish my first exposure to failure had been at the age of 10 or something so that I could have dealt with it in my developmental years but instead here I am, a week short of 22, 12 years later and STILL failing for the first time! Astonishing.

It's been a bad week. It's so hard to keep myself afloat, it's so hard to keep trying to keep my brain in check and my thoughts where I want them. I just had control of them and now everything's changed and shifted around me into a new situation I don't have a pattern of control to deal with. I went to the gym three times this week and have started actually monitoring what I eat in an effort to lose weight because being depressed let my weight get out of control and in this wack ass situation I'm in where I feel entitled to complain still somehow, this is one thing I have power over.

I really just want something to work out or for some epiphany or motivation to hit me. I really, really need a win and it's only been a month. How long is this going to last?


Thursday, August 10, 2017

But like what would you do if money were no object

First of all, buy a new computer, since I wrecked this one by accident. Sure, it still WORKS, but the screen resolution is shot, it probably can't be fixed without taking the whole thing apart and costing a fuckton of money, and I have to use it on a perfectly flat surface or the screen can't really... adjust. The second thing I'd do is write a book.

Oh, wow, that's it, that's your life's purpose? No, probably not. Just that, if I wasn't worried about money for living- rent and other bills, and light expenses for fun- as well as all the money I just spent getting my B.Sc, I'd write a book. I mean, even with that as an object- the book can be about genetics. I don't really care what it's about. But if I could spend my days neck deep in a manuscript- up to my ears in either research or character and plot design- I think I'd enjoy that. It would fulfill my creative outlet. It would technically be following the advice of "think about what you enjoyed doing as a child, and do that now."

To be more specific, I'd go back to school first. I'd get my B.Fa or something, or at least take some fucking classes. Let's be real, I'm not a bad writer, but I did just spend the last four years being trained in a very particular type of writing that's not very fun to read. To be fair though... the best way I found to write it, and my presentations, was by thinking of them as a story. They need to flow. The thing you say next needs to build on the things you just said, needs to make them intertwine together. Those things you just said need to add up and you need to explain the math. That's all a presentation is, that's all a fucking scientific article is. We know x fact from these studies and Y fact from those studies so we decided to look at Z. We tested it this way, this is why. This is what we would have done if money/time/physical possibility weren't in the way. This is what we found. Here are the numbers. We quantified it. The end. Of course in order to get there you need an awful lot of background knowledge and even more patience, but it's really pretty simple.

When I was little I said I wanted to be an artist. Then I wanted to be a writer. Then I didn't know. I thought for the past few years that I wanted to be a scientist and I still think that would be nice. The thing is now I've given five or so different people a different answer about what it is I am doing because people don't really like you very much if you tell them you're just figuring things out. I know it's a luxury to be able to do that, but god, does it really make me that horrible of a person? I just got an undergraduate degree, can I chill for a second?

The problem with me is that when people ask what I want to do I don't have an answer. I don't have a dream. I don't even have a goal, which is I think what most people pursue because we don't all have a dream that has concrete steps. I mean, when I think of my friends in nursing- is that really their dream? Or is it just a goal? I feel like it's the latter- but at least there are concrete steps they can take to get there. If you don't have a goal you just sort of... drift.

And of course there are people who are invested in my decision. I wish I was completely independent. I wish I had that freedom. But as it is I feel there are people who deserve a little input if I'm going to keep asking for their help like this. People who will not pay to send me back for another undergrad because... god, what a waste of money if that doesn't work out. I'm an investment and I want to be a good one.

I know, I know... it's possible to write a book while doing other things with your life. I could get a job- any job, really- or even go to graduate school like I've been telling everyone I want to, and write a book in my downtime. I'm not in any rush, I don't even know what I'd like to write about, so I'd obviously have to start with just learning to write again. The club I made at school would probably still let me come to meetings, and they're going to have a much easier time arranging those with fewer politics and general starting-out struggles in the way. I could benefit from my own legacy. I could take other classes not from that school, classes that might be a hell of a lot cheaper; I could read books about writing and publishing, I could just read books in general to figure out what kind of one I might like to write.

What my parents always told me-- their poor silly daughter who thought that writing books could earn a living!-- was that I could do something else (something that makes some money so she can live, oh please) and write in the meantime. As awful and practical as that advice was, I think they were probably onto something.

So like-- there. A project for this year, whatever the fuck I choose to do with it. Write again. Learn to write again. Write about whatever the fuck you want, wherever you want, however you want. Find a community in it. And hopefully figure out something I could write a book about.

Putting it out there would be scary, but I think I kind of have to do it. Maybe I won't be done until I'm like, 35, but I guess there's no point in rushing it. Being published would taste just as good at 23 as at 35 as at 68.

Some part of me thinks I'll feel differently in the morning. We'll see. I feel, though, that this doesn't have to be the right answer- or the only answer. There's a lot of room in my life for things to want to do.


Monday, July 3, 2017


Look, to start off, I really do like the mindset of "don't let yourself get mad about things you can't control." That's a pretty general summary, but it is a good philosophy. There isn't much point in getting steamed up about the fact that, I don't know, your favourite chips aren't in stock, you dropped a nice mug full of hot tea, that someone stole one of your shoes from a gym locker (I really suck at examples here). Being mad in these situations isn't going to fix anything. It's not going to get you those chips. It's not going to fix your mug or clean up your floor. It's not going to get your stolen shoe back. It's exhausting and unpleasant and worthwhile to avoid getting mad when it has no legitimate purpose... just that I think people take this too far.

I'm not trying to call anyone out here, either, but I'm so tired of being told, when I am angry and upset about something stupid, that "it's not worth it to be mad." I know that. But guess what? I'm mad. I'm already there, I need to deal with it, and you are not helping by saying this. In the future, could I proactively try to prevent myself from getting worked up? Sure. Is it realistic to expect that I'll be perfect at that? No. Furthermore... it's not always bad to be mad.

I saw a critique of this once somewhere. Someone pointed out how ridiculous it was to focus on trying to cultivate happiness and only happiness. It's a good goal to try and be grateful and see the positive in things, but it's unrealistic to expect that your only emotion is happiness. Newsflash: humans have emotions and we literally can't change that. I agree with the viewpoint expressed in the critique: it is far more useful and worthwhile to deal with your emotions and manage them so that they don't get in the way of your life than it is to try and change them or force them to be something they're not.

The OTHER facet of this is that sometimes emotions like anger are useful, and complacency/ "not letting it get to you" are not. We all know I'm deeply interested in feminism and the feminist movement. That's only become MORE obvious now that I'm out of school and able to do whatever I want. I spend a lot of my day engrossed in feminist analysis, trying to make myself think. I haven't figured out how to make it useful yet, but it's fun and I really enjoy it, and I feel lucky to get to spend so much time engaging with it. One thing I heard recently on this front was someone expressing frustration that women are not mad. "I want women mad, I want us furious." (I'll try to find the credit again; I really liked the post). The post was in response to "choice feminism"- the idea that anything a woman does is OK if she "chooses" to do it. This approach acts like all women make choices in a political and social vacuum, and that apparently they were raised in this vacuum too. Obviously there's nothing inherently wrong about liking to put on a faceful of makeup, but I'm deeply suspicious of the idea that only women like to do that just for themselves. (And that's not me saying women can't think for themselves... but we're all products of our environment, myself included, and it's useless to pretend otherwise). Their argument was that because of this kind of analysis replacing earlier feminist analysis which was extremely critical of femininity and the female gender role, women are now complacent in their own oppression. And they didn't want women to be that way- to think "oh, well, if she chooses to wear makeup it's her own choice." They wanted women to think "why the fuck should I have to wear makeup to look professional, but a man doesn't? Why is that standard in place? It means countless more hours of time and money put into getting ready over my lifetime. That's unfair!" and people tend to be mad when things are unfair (even in cases where things aren't unfair for them in particular). AND THAT IS FINE AND GOOD AND USEFUL. Anger can be a good motivator. Anger causes rebellion. Anger can cause revolution when used correctly.

Which is why I don't feel so apologetic for caring about this shit so much. So many people tell me they don't get involved because it makes them too upset to think about. To which my response is... yes. And it's fine to know where your limits are, take breaks, remember that not everything is bad and that progress has been made. But that progress wasn't made by people who were happy with the way things were. Yeah, this shit makes me angry. But I'm angry because it's unfair. That seems, to me, like a good reason to be steamed about shit.

Of course, women's anger (or really any emotion beyond happiness) is written off as hysteria and we all know that people who are angry about things are always too clouded by their emotions to be clear, rational, or correct about what they're talking about... which further complicates the matter (and also makes no sense. I'm mad about GMOs being labelled as Bad And Evil to the point that companies produce "guaranteed GMO free" products to make money because it makes them Look Good.. but that doesn't mean I don't have a point).

I'm just really done with complacent feminism that insists that everything is fine and women are Free Agents Making Choices With Complete Freedom now and it's all good, you guys. Fuck That. I'm mad, I'm going to always be mad, and I want people to know that it's okay to be mad, I'm mad with you. Your anger can be powerful and a force for positive change, if you figure out how to use it.

Friday, June 2, 2017

This is failure

I did it. I've failed. I slipped up. I fell.  There is a path laid out for people like me that I wanted to follow and I fucked it up.

What I'm referring to here is the whole research path. I was doing really, really well: back to back summers of research experience, undergraduate research courses, all that. I've graduated with an excellent GPA, I have great references.

Yet here I am

The fact that I spent this past year wanting to kill myself on an almost daily basis from November onwards if I did do this is really something, because I'm very clearly still here. Like... this is what I was so afraid of. And yeah, it sucks. No one wants to hire me. I'm paralyze with fear about what happens if I procrastinate, which makes me procrastinate. All I want is more time- more classes to take. I pushed myself to just GRADUATE, GOD DAMMIT. In a little over a week, that's gonna happen.

I've applied for a lot of jobs, but I haven't been doing it daily. I've made lots of cover letters, and spent so long sitting on them convinced they had to be perfect that I've lost out on opportunities I maybe could have gotten. The longer I wait, the more creative I will have to be with my explanations. And when they say there's a stigma against mental health, what that means is that if a potential grad supervisor asks "why didn't you talk to me in January?" I could say "I was dealing with a chronic medical condition that required a change in treatment" if that were the case, but I can't say "I was too busy trying not to kill myself out of an intense fear of the unknown that has manifest itself into a depression in me" because that makes me a bad candidate. I can't tell people I didn't talk to them because depression made me numb and useless. That's the stigma.

I thought finishing school would make things better, and it has in some ways. I'm not stressed anymore. But in other ways, it's worse. I have no routine now, and I thrive on that. I was easily able to make it to class and to the lab. I lived on a meal plan, so even if I didn't have the energy to cook, food was there for me, so I ate regularly. Now, I have no routine. Some days the only thing that gets me out of BED is my boyfriend asking me to come meet him for lunch. Some days that's the only food I eat that isn't some kind of shitty junk food crap from my bed. And yeah, there's nothing wrong with junk food, but when all I eat in one day is brownies and popcorn, I'm not taking care of myself. The only thing I can seem to manage to do is drink enough water.

So yeah, I kind of feel like I've failed.

This is the first time in my ENTIRE LIFE I have failed at something. I am at such a weird crossroads. I don't know what the best road is and everyone seems to have a different opinion. My dad says I should just focus on grad school this summer and volunteer if I can, but don't worry about working at McDonald's or whatever, because that won't look good on a CV since it's not relevant to what I want to do later in life. My mom thinks I should get a job in the meantime, but keeps encouraging me to apply for ones that are a little cushier than waitressing or retail- jobs I am never quite qualified enough for. My boyfriend keeps telling me to go to a mall and hand out resumes, or apply online, and focus on grad school at the same time. Everyone seems to think their option is best and I don't know what to do, and now the option of more classes has come up. It's all I want- all I know how to do is be a student.

And I'm sitting here writing this when there's a dance going on. I completely gave up on swing dance this semester, just stopped going to meetings, to dances, to practices... I let myself slip away because it was easier, because I did not have the mental energy and didn't want to force myself. I still have to shower before I can go, so I'll be late, but... god dammit, if I show up, that's worth something, isn't it? That's me trying to claw my way back, right? That's something.

So sure, it's failure. It's not scraping-the-bottom-of-the-barrel failure. It's not the worst I could do. It's not the worst I will face in my lifetime. And I know here I will be defined by how I get the fuck back up again. And if that means it takes me three months to find a job and seven potential supervisors at every school I try to apply to because the first six don't like my explanation of why there's a monthlong gap of nothing then that has to be okay. If that means I have to spend money going to therapy with a psychologist because my thought patterns are broken that's okay. If that means I have to run even after I read an article saying it's not good cardio because I actually like to run, that has to be okay. If that means I show up an hour late to a dance that probably won't last that long, that has to be okay.

I have to try.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

I'm still unemployed

God, ok, I know everybody thinks gosh, wouldn't it be great if I could just sit at home all day and watch Netflix? That would be the best. Which I think says more about our work-life balance, but hey, I can't really comment on that at the moment. But god, you really have to be careful what you wish for, because I am so bored. And lonely. And I know my roommates are probably decent people who don't care about this but goddamn it sucks to be the one roommate with literally nothing going on. Where's swegan? Oh, in her pajamas. Still. Why? Because she has no job, no classes, no volunteer things going on (until tomorrow, anyway, and that's if I can figure my fucking car situation out) (long story short my car is a huge fucking mess thanks to some bitch that hit me back in SEPTEMBER but nobody knew it was a mess until now and now it's "unsafe to drive" so I have no car and this CITY IS TOO BIG TO NOT HAVE A CAR)... I am the lazy roommate.

I mean, I've been DOING stuff still. I leave the apartment once a day. I built a dresser. I panicked and washed every machine washable thing in my apartment yesterday after a bug crawled out from underneath me ON MY BED. Not the kind of bug where there's just one bug, either. Not that I've seen any more-- but that was my day yesterday. Maybe if the fucking idiot bitch I rented this place from (the subletter, not the landlord) had bothered to, I don't know, clean ANYTHING before she left... that's a whole other can of worms not discussed here, my "sublandlord" being the hugest bitch on planet earth. Thankfully once she moved out I discovered her other roommates hate her too, and so love me by default, and that the landlord doesn't like her on top of that. But anyone who tells someone to "pipe down" when they point out that possession at noon does not mean possession at 2:30 and then straight up threatens them with homelessness after is not someone to deal with lightly ("you'll pay me now or you'll hand over the keys until you do" says the idiot bitch who forgot to ask for payment before throwing the keys across the table at me and saying "here's your keys" before leaving for 2.5 hours.... like....? you're not that smart are you). Supposedly we're getting the locks changed soon. She owes utilities since November. That kind of person. Anyway.

All of this just reeeeeally makes me want to be back in school when everything was simple and I had nothing to worry about except things I knew how to deal with. I don't know how to meal plan, at all. I'm literally cooking just for me now, which is nice since I have leftovers for DAYS and can experiment because no one will suffer except me. It's less nice to think that I'm going to end up wasting food before I figure my shit out. Oh, and our microwave's broken too... this place is honestly a mess. There's a light that's been burnt out possibly for years on some very dark stairs. The carpet hasn't been vacuumed in a long time, and the vacuum does sfa. There's literal, actual mould in the dishwasher, which by my roommate's own admission "doesn't work very well, so just rinse your plates first." All of which makes this place sound like a dump, but it's really very nice and in a very good location, so... can't win em all?

I wish I was 10 again and worrying about the Great Email Scandal of Fifth Grade. At the time I was so worried that would follow me forever. Sometimes I think of it to give myself perspective. That, and the time I cried during a chemistry exam in high school, cried when I lost a scholarship competition last year, cried after my chem 102 exam (chemistry and I have a bad history), cried for literally like an hour when my extended essay supervisor insulted my essay MORALLY, when I cried on the first day of first grade and sixth grade, and when my plans for fulfilling the A part of CAS in high school fell through. None of it mattered in the long run; in fact, almost none of it turned out poorly. But, of course, hindsigh is 20/20, and I hope that one day when I'm stressed out about, I don't know, getting children to school on time, or a big project at my job, or completing my Ph.D, I can look back and remember when I was stressed about this.

I know that adulthood is mostly just stumbling around failing at things until you figure out how the world works, but we could probably produce adults who stumble a little less.

yer pal,

Monday, April 24, 2017

I'm writing this from a bus

Lucky me, I managed to find a place to live. No, not the bus, but a place just a block away from where I currently live. I managed to negotiate the rent down $100. It has a parking space. It is very close to a grocery store, albeit probably the shittiest grocery store in the city. Unfortunately, I don't get to move in until April 30.

I've spent about 6 hours looking for a job at this point, cumulatively. I applied for four jobs online after writing a cover letter and having someone look at it. I pounded the pavement for 3 hours handing out resumes and making notes, and learning where else I should apply online. Seems big chains don't like people applying in-store these days. Of course, the benefit of applying in-store is that I don't have to have a cover letter.

How the fuck does one write a cover letter to work at David's tea? Especially how the fuck does one do this without any previous retail, hospitality, or service industry experience?

People have been making recommendations to me about where to go where they'll hire me without any experience. Earls, Boston Pizza, the Old Spaghetti Factory. And I've applied at all those places... in person. Despite the fact that the online applications say they only want a resume, the overwhelming advice of the internet (and my personal gut feeling) says that a cover letter is really a good idea. It's just so hard to explain why I think I have good customer service skills when I don't have any experience to back it up that's technically directly relevant. Thank god I bothered to start my own club (with the help of Carina, beautiful angel that she is (I say this because she really covered my lazy ass a lot this year as my co-prez)), because I feel like that looks really good. What evidence do you have that you're a self starter? Oh, only that I started something. It doesn't get much better than that.

But seriously, almost every job I look at says that prior experience is an asset. And if not that, then it's a fucking requirement. I keep saying I wish my parents had made me work a summer at a dairy queen or a store in the mall or something in high school, but the lab experience I gained helped me get MORE lab experience- more summer jobs, more research opportunities, and likely it will help when I look for grad school. But of course, lab experience peters out once you, y'know, graduate. Fuck, the number of additional things I could apply for if I was just continuing as a student next year... almost makes me second guess my decision to graduate on time.

So, this is the way it goes: if I'd gotten some service industry experience, all my lab experience would have been harder to come by (especially since my grades are, somehow, not competitive), and I would have defaulted to service jobs anyway. Since I didn't, I got a lot of good undergrad opportunities, but now that I'm about to graduate with a very bare-bones plan, I'm fucked. Nobody wants to hire someone who's in their early 20s who's never waited a table before, and I know if I was 16 they'd be more willing to overlook that. I mean, 16 year olds have to start somewhere, right?

The thing is, nobody has bothered to tell me what the real world is like. I'm forced to figure it out on my own, like this, like I guess everyone was. But nobody explained to me that a bachelor's degree in science in and of itself is nothing more than a stepping stone. I can't get a job in any scientific field with just a B.Sc. And nobody, and I mean nobody, bothered to mention that while the whole world was encouraging me to go into science because what are you going to do with a degree in the arts? Well, what the fuck am I going to do with a degree in genetics? I have a few options: 1) start my own company. 2) work in an unrelated industry 3) more school. The fact of the matter is that everybody has a bachelor's degree now. Why the fuck do you think it's so much harder to get into medical school?

I guess the point of this post is some advice: university isn't a mistake, but please, for the love of god, do stuff while you're there. If you take 6 years to get a degree, it won't fucking matter. Try and find some internships, or relevant work experience. Volunteer as much as you can, join clubs, take on exec roles, start your own club. And do stuff in the community if you can- volunteer, or even work. Don't just go to school and get good grades- that's important, but it's only one tiny piece. I'm glad I went to school; I don't regret getting a degree. I will find a way to make use of it, because my goal is to go back to school. But I am so, so, so glad that I pursued different and interesting opportunities while I was there. University is full of these things, these chances to get involved, they're literally thrown in your face and so easy to take, so TAKE THEM. Fuck, even my two years with the engineering group were good- it was Management Experience Lite (TM) and now that that same group just launched a satellite, it makes me look even better. Sure, I ended up leaving once I discovered it wasn't for me- but that's okay, because I tried in the first place. The club I co-founded this year might not have worked out either, but at least I would have tried and learned something. And it did work out! And now we have this amazing new group of execs ready to take on the second year of operations, and I get to say- look. My time here meant something. I did something here, I left a legacy at this school, however small. I helped fill a gap that needed filling, and I did it with one of my best friends. How many opportunities are there to do that in the real world? I'm about to find out.

In the meantime, my research project report is still due on Friday and I'm not quite finished. I'm hoping, though, that this recent uptick in blogging is a sign that I can get back to this in my time away from school. Perhaps I can just leave bizarre life advice here every couple of weeks.


Friday, April 14, 2017

It's been a while

School has been far more intense than I could have imagined, and this last year has been especially hard for me. I've been doing a lot of intense thinking about what I want to do next year, once I no longer have to work towards a degree. Should I really have shoehorned myself into all these classes in a desperate attempt to graduate in four years? Maybe not. But here I am anyway, powerless to stop it. Despite the fear and trepidation, I registered to graduate, took my grad photos, and have made it publicly known in my social circle that I Am Graduating. And also, that I'm taking "a year off."

I don't even know if I can really call it that, since it's not like I'm taking a year in the middle of a degree. It's become rapidly apparent to me that if I wanted to be in graduate school next year, I would have had to put more effort into finding a supervisor. When I did summon the courage to email one, she encouraged me to explore my options more (and then come back to her if I was still interested- so it's not like she just wanted to get rid of me). I realized as I left her office that she was right. If I'm going to spend 2-3 years working closely with a supervisor, I need to make sure they're someone I want to work with, and also that their research will be something I can stomach. The only thing I'm sure of so far is that I can get behind almost any research- it's all interesting to me, especially translational research. But I know I can't devote the time I need to to that, and to finishing my degree. Hence, the gap year.

It does make sense, I suppose, to take my time and carefully consider this decision. Do I even want to do traditional science grad school? I still think I do, but there are other options out there. Either way, I'm giving myself an academic year. I don't want a year off spent waitressing (or potentially doing something more interesting I can't imagine) to turn into two, or three, or ten. I want to go to graduate school. I know I have what it takes, despite what it sounds like. Geez, she can't even handle classes and planning for her future, some may think. Why does she think she can handle the stress of a graduate degree? Which is something I've thought myself more than once, but honestly... it just doesn't make sense anymore.

I've come way too close to the edge this year, way more than I'd like. Being on the precipice of the rest of your life is completely terrifying. Don't I owe it to myself to take it slow? It's not like I'm graduating and being like "whew, no more science for me!" My degree wasn't a waste of time, it was a learning experience and a tremendous opportunity that allowed me to gain lots of relevant skills I plan to use. I still want to be working in that area. But if trying to pursue the "traditional" path is... not working for me, why not modify it for my life? Pushing myself down that road would ultimately end poorly. I'm choosing myself, and my own life and health, by stopping for a second to breathe.

That being said... is this year going to be sunshine and rainbows? I highly doubt it. Am I going to get rejected a lot? Well, doesn't everybody? The worst thing I could do now is curl up in a ball and refuse to face the world because I couldn't do it "properly." Would I really look back on one odd year as a horrendous mistake that ruined my life? I don't think so. I'm not going into this because "ugh, the real world has GOT to be better than school!" but more because "I need time and space where I'm not concerned about my final grades to make sure that the next educational decision I make is the right one." I'm not going on a year to "see what happens" so much as it's to take time to evaluate my next steps, keeping a goal and a deadline in mind. THAT being said, I don't want to be so rigid that I refuse to let life happen. Obviously having a goal and a deadline will help me keep this year to just one instead of three, but I still don't know what could happen. When I look back at my life as it's unfolded so far, great things have come where I least expected them, and not everything turns out as I expect. That satellite project didn't get me anywhere, but I can still put it on my CV. Deciding to take the leap and pursue undergraduate research paid off in more ways than I could have imagined. Even last summer turned out wildly different than what I expected. Heck, this YEAR did.

My point is: I can't predict where I'm going to be a year from now, but I'm still in the driver's seat. I can still steer, but I don't know what's ahead on the highway. I'm hoping that by keeping my seat buckled, speed limit reasonable, and a destination in mind is about all I can do. I don't know if there's construction ahead that leads me down a side road, or a slow vehicle I get stuck behind, or a gas station just when I'm about to run out. I can't pretend I'm not afraid that all that's ahead of me is a giant boulder blocking my only path, whatever that looks like when it's not a metaphor. But it's not like I can stop driving.

With all of this being out in the open... I'm really trying to think (in between studying for my finals) about what I want to try and accomplish next year. I figured maybe one of those things could be a blog. Sure, maybe no one would read it, but if I could find someone's blog right now full of their experiences on a "year off," especially a year off that's NOT spent teaching English abroad (not knocking that, I just have no interest in doing such), I'd really appreciate it. Maybe this will be the last you hear of me for quite some time, but I hope it's not. I guess we'll see how it goes.


(a side note- quick but very heartfelt shoutout to redbeard for helping me through all of this, time after time after time. He's heard the most about it and been unwaveringly supportive, and I appreciate more than he knows)