Life Lately

May 9, 2016

My absence on the interwebs, with the exception of Instagram, in the past three months can largely be ascribed to the responsibilities of life. The challenges I’ve faced, the decisions I’ve made, and the people I’ve met have all dramatically shaped the direction of my life in the coming year, and I couldn’t be more pleased with where I’m situated. I chose to step away from blogging in this time because I had countless other tasks to tend to, but also people with whom I had to spend time before we all went our separate ways. Yesterday, I graduated college. I opted not to walk across the anticlimactic stage in the chaos with my peers, but I graduated nonetheless. I rounded out my time as an undergraduate at the University of Kentucky with two Bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and Gender & Women’s Studies. Although it means next to nothing in the real world, I finished my studies with a 4.0 GPA. This insignificant number has come to mean a lot to me over 16 years of school, and I’m quite proud of its ability to reflect my work ethic and academic achievements. I’ll probably never speak of it again, but, for now, let me savor this moment.

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If someone asked me what I’d be doing after graduation this time last year, a shrug of the shoulders would have been my best answer. The post-grad job market, particularly for liberal arts students, seems likewise limitless and impossible. With my two degrees and experience in tow, I set my sights on administrative positions in the realm of higher education. Given my leadership positions throughout undergrad and other professional internships, I saw myself transitioning smoothly into an advising, recruiting, or retention-related role in the university community. After submitting 43 applications to various public and private universities across the Commonwealth, I faced the reality that so many millennials do when they have no connections to their target employer: silence.

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Despite countless résumé revisions, drafts of cover letters, follow up emails, LinkedIn connections, and business card distribution, I had no bites. Finally, I received calls to interview for two positions: one at my beloved University of Kentucky for an administrative position, and the second with an education abroad program provider for a program manager position. Fortunately, both outlets led to offers, and I chose to stay in my hometown to continue giving back to the community and university that has already given me so much. I’m thrilled to see where my future with a new college and unfamiliar department takes me, but I can’t help but be nervous. New jobs are scary, not to mention discussions of benefits, salary negotiations, retirement, and continued education. I’m fortunate enough to be eligible for university’s program for continued employee education which will allow me to earn a Master’s degree in Higher Education over the next few years. I’m delighted to have these opportunities, and know that they are the product of hard work, patience, support from friends and family, and relentless networking.

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When I stopped writing on my blog this semester, my writing energies were refocused on my senior thesis project. Officially submitted on Thursday, my final capstone is titled “Legitimizing Scholarship: The Value of Feminist Blogs in the Academy”. In this work, I explore the complexity of blogs and new media, and the nuanced value of feminist digital works in traditional academic disciplines. I probe the adaptability and flexibility of the academy at large, and expose the millennial student and their new concerns and academic needs in tow. Interacting with bloggers I met through the InfluenceHer Collective, I conducted six interviews to highlight the complex production, symbolic, emotional, and power-affiliated relationships feminist millennial bloggers must maintain to find success in the profession. The journey of bloggers to receive scholarly recognition in the academy and to monetize their content closely parallels the experiences of Gender Studies professionals who spearheaded campaigns that justified feminist studies as deserving of formal academic acknowledgement. I’m quite proud of the work I’ve accomplished this semester on my capstone subject, and have set my sights on publication for this article. I have no doubt that I will continue to probe this topic in future blog posts.

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Around February, I found myself grappling for sleep and simply relaxation because I devoted nearly every minute of my senior year to school, to work, to this website, and to other professional ends. I had the sad realization that I was letting my early twenties slide by all too quickly. Sure, I have been rather successful, but it has often been at the expense of my friendships and relationships. The second half of this semester, beginning with Spring Break, I made every conscious effort to care for myself, my mental and physical well-being, and to be the best friend I could be to those I love so much. My beautiful, intelligent, and ever-graceful roommate of two years, Noell, leaves next month for her journey in medical school, and I couldn’t be more proud to see her successes. Jordan and I signed a lease for a new chapter in Lexington in which she will close out her studies in the Teacher Education Program, and we’ll take on “summer sixteen” in our new townhome. My little prince of puppy turned 1 in March, and we threw him probably the most pretentious party I’ve ever been a part of. I can’t imagine life without Winston as he had become such a trusted companion and source of love in my life.

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In the past few months, I allowed myself to say yes to new opportunities and no to ones that did not align with my personal and professional goals. First, I followed through with a long time and top secret goal of mine to complete the Citizen Police Academy. My physicality will never allow me to be a real cop, but I figured this program was the next best thing. Over seven weeks, I spent three hours every Tuesday sitting in the classroom building and learning about all things law enforcement. I learned about university policy and campus safety initiatives, conducted firearm training, and scheduled a ride-along with an officer. I don’t have much reasoning behind my interest in this program aside from a love of Cops and Law and Order SVU, but I can say with confidence that I’m glad I graduated from this academy and did something solely for myself based on personal interests that had no grade or money attached. Second, I left my sorority. Although I now hold alumna status, it was fitting that my time in Kappa Delta came to its natural end. I found myself consistently avoiding chapter responsibility and distancing myself from the organization because I simply took on too much during my senior year. I don’t like to give up or admit defeat, but I no longer felt like the organization supported my goals, and I stopped enjoying my membership because of the sacrifices I continuously had to make to attend events. My conflicting sorority experience will be explained in greater detailed with the release of my first eBook at the end of the summer.

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I’m still avoiding the fact that some of the best friends I’ve ever made are heading off in different directions across the country and world to pursue their own dreams. I made the most of my time with these individuals over countless dinners, midnight milkshake runs, bar karaoke on Fridays, and even attended the Kentucky Derby for the first time. The infield wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but I’m definitely proud I can cross that event off my bucket list. During this school year, I often referred to my love life as a joke. I certainly could relate to numerous memes about being forever alone, although I was never looking for anyone in particular. I went on dates, ate some great food, and met some neat individuals. Until recently, I never allowed myself to think outside of my familiar circle and to open my heart to someone who understands just how delicate of a task it can be to care for it. It feels good to be loved and appreciated by someone who genuinely respects you and your interests, cares about your opinions, and who prioritizes your relationship. Sincerity and love go hand in hand.

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2015 was one of the darkest years in my life. I spent time neglecting my own interests and responsibilities to love and care for individuals who didn’t respect me. I harbored so much hate and frustration that it became a detriment to my emotional health and general wellbeing. I watched myself sacrifice opportunities, lose treasured friendships, and shift my energies towards individuals, ideas, and objects I did not truly value. 2016 has justly been a year of “me” thus far, and I’m so excited for the direction of my life in the months ahead. I want to extend a huge thank you to those who have supported me, those who love me, and those who are loyal readers of my work. You are so appreciated. Cheers!

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