Three Years

24432_635985877795_793803990_nFor three years I lived on 60-75% of my income. I can count on two hands how many times I went shopping. I was a hermit, and my friends had to convince me to take breaks. I was in the zone. For three years I focused solely on one thing. I dropped everything for this. Everyday was the same thing:  6:30 wake-up, go to work, leave work between 2:00 & 3:00, go to class, get home some time between 8:00 & 9:30 (a couple times I was lucky enough to get home at 6:30!), eat, do urgent assignments, and sleep as soon as I can. On the weekends I slept in and did school work. When my brain couldn’t take  anymore I’d try to relax and do something else–mostly procrastination–but there was always something else I should be doing. That guilt was always eating at me, so even the times of relaxation were stressful…for three years.

Those three years were not only the most stressful time of my life, but also the most focused and peaceful time of my life. There is a nice calm that comes over you when you know for certain what you are doing, what you are doing it for, and what the outcome will be. When you know what you’re doing, the decision-making process is simple–at least it should be. There is only one question that needs answering:  Is this going to get me closer to what I want? If the answer is yes, then you do it. If no, then you don’t. Plain and simple. In the stressful times, it was very comforting knowing that the chaos was for a reason–a good reason. It kept me going.

I saw firsthand how God loves unconditionally. I neglected my spiritual life often all in the name of being too busy, too tired, too this, too that. But God never stopped providing for me and ordering my steps. It was three years of confusing amazement. On one hand I felt far from Him, but on the other hand I’ve never felt closer.

In three years, I met a lot of interesting people and learned a lot of interesting stuff. I hope that I was able to make a positive impression.

The last three years were awesome experiences, but I am relieved they are over. This post is bittersweet (mostly sweet though) because it is the finale of The 2nd Time Around category. People have been asking me “what next?” You’ll see! I expect the next three years to be far more awesome than the previous.

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Almost There

It’s been a minute since the last time I posted.  Sorry for leaving you guys hanging.  My world is a bit hectic at the moment–heck, the last several moments :-).  As you remember, I’ve been in school for the past two years (see my other posts in The 2nd Time Around category).  As of right now, I have four weeks left in the semester before the last one!  I have a terrible case of senioritis, and I believe it started during spring break–that was eight months ago!!  With four weeks left to go, I still find myself confused and frustrated.  I still haven’t totally gotten adjusted to my schedule.  I don’t know what day it is half the time.  I don’t look at my iPad to see when my assignments are due.  I’m in really bad shape!  Well, let me give this disclaimer before you REALLY get concerned about me:  I’m not failing any classes!  (lol)  I’m not in THAT bad shape.  I’m just having a motivation issue.  I don’t care to be bothered with school anymore, and I just want my life back.

I usually have the best performance during the fall semesters.  After having that nice long summer break, I’m amped and ready for a challenge.  My study habits are great, time management on point, and I make the best grades.  That one time I made the dean’s and the president’s list was in the fall.  However, I go so hard and exert so much energy that by the time the spring semesters come, I’m out of it.  I’m ok in January, but by the time spring break comes at the beginning of March, I am toast!  After spring break, I could care less and performance is on a steady decline.  I remember having senioritis when I was in school the first time, however I remember it being different.  I think it’s worse, but those who remember me from then disagree.

I very concerned about this upcoming semester.  If I typically start losing steam at that time, then what in the world happens when I never had any?  I’ve been working full-time and attending classes near full-time.  Next semester I’ll be working full-time and attending classes full-time!  Thirty one hours at work, and 12 hours at school…every cotton pickin’ week…for the next four months.  I’m so anxious about it I could throw up!  My life is already hectic and bland.  My friends would have me think of the positive.  There is only four more weeks!  HA!  It’s soo easy to say, but they’re not going through it.  However, they are right.  The end is near.  It can’t get here quick enough!

 

“School is your job.” – Humorous Perspectives from an Hourly Employee

As a full-fledged adult with real responsibilities, I really hate the phrase “school is your job.” One semester, my young classmates were complaining about having too much work to do in one particular class.  They said that they had jobs and the amount of work the professor was giving was a lot more than any other professor–I actually agreed, but having been through school once before I didn’t think the load was that bad.  The professor sympathized with us, said she understood, and knew it was hard, but SCHOOL IS YOUR JOB, and so your coursework should come first.  WHAT?!  I KNOW she didn’t pull that one out on us!!  Don’t you just hate it when someone claims to see your side of the story and they throw a “but” in there?  It’s like they totally counteracted everything they just said with the “but.”

Anyway, there was a time in my life where the school is your job thing would have been appropriate.  However, I HAVE a job, and I’m not looking a second one!  School being my job is not appealing on so many levels, however, I want to explore one of them right now.

I have always been an hourly employee.  I don’t know what it’s like to be anything else.  What I do know is that, at this point in my life, salaried life is not for me!  When people say, “school is your job,” the meaning comes from a salaried, career oriented perspective.  It mostly only applies to traditional students because for a short time school is the main focus in their lives just as a career is for others–salaried employees.  So, I thought it would be fun to explore how school being my job is a horrible concept from an hourly perspective.

1.  “You can’t take it with you.”

The best thing about being an hourly employee is that I don’t have to take the job home with me!  I work from 8:30 to 5:30.  When the clock strikes 5:30 I am no longer obligated to to stick around unless I choose to.  However, if school is my job, then what’s homework all about?  Why do I have to spend my personal time studying and doing projects?

2.  “If you need something done you have to do it yourself.”

Another great thing about being an hourly employee is I don’t have to be concerned (terribly) about getting stuff done.  If something isn’t done today, then I can do it tomorrow for the most part.  Often times there is someone else who will have to complete it for me because it will become their task when I leave.  However, if school is my job, then who’s going to “foot the bill” for me?  Who’s going to have my back and finish my work if I can’t get to it?

3.  “What happens in Vegas….”

A wonderful thing about being an hourly employee (that is, if you do it right) is I don’t have work waiting for me when I get back from vacationing–mostly.  I do what I can before I leave, I go to “Vegas,” and if something just happened to not get done, then it becomes someone else’s problem…unless that person is really evil and saves it until I get back!  However, if school is my job, then why is it that every time I get back from “Vegas” there’s always something waiting for me?  How come teachers always assign stuff to do when I’m supposed to be in “Vegas??”  This job bites!

4.  “There ain’t nothin to it but to do it.”

I think some people in my department forget that I am an hourly employee.  They expect me to think about the job when I’m not there, take on extra responsibilities, improve my skills, consider doing extra [unscheduled] work, and all kinds of other things after hours and on the weekends.  To an hourly employee, this is called overtime.  To a salaried employee, it’s just called life.  They think that the extra money I’ll earn will motivate me to do more, but ummm…I have a very full life outside of work–I’m a student!  They fail to remember that whatever I do that is work related outside of work they must pay me to do it.  So, no, I didn’t get your email last night.  Why?  I was asleep!  You don’t pay me to check email at home…on my personal computer…on the Internet that I pay for.  So, when people say that school is my job, they are DEFINITELY coming from a salaried position.  They expect me to have school on my mind 24/7.  They want me to join clubs and do extracurricular activities.  They want me to read every email they send no matter what time it is!  They want me to study at least two hours per class period per meeting time PER DAY!  Do they not realize how many hours that is in one day?  That’s a full time job!  Oh, wait…school is my job.  😉

It’s More Interesting Now

This has been, by far, the best semester I’ve ever had! I have great professors, great classmates, a decent workload, and I’m learning a lot. I think I’ve learned more this current semester than I ever have! I look at my little classmates (lol), and I see how anxious they are to get out of school and graduate. They’re barely paying attention in class. All they care about is what’s on the test and getting a study guide. There’s no sense of appreciation or flare for learning. It’s like, give me the stupid piece of paper so I can jet! I felt the exact same way the first time around, and I didn’t understand that mindset until now.

Traditional college students go straight from high school to college. Before high school there was junior high school. Before junior high school there was elementary school. Before elementary school there may have been preschool. Before preschool there may been “Your Baby Can Read,” Leapfrog, or whatever. That’s a lot of school!! By the time a child gets to college, the poor kid is close to mental burnout! She can’t take anymore school and all she wants to do is be done with it. I can definitely identify with that!

Now that I have been away from school for sometime, although school has definitely made my life more crazy, I have a fresh perspective. My brain is near empty and can stand to have some things poured into it lol. And, especially since I’m learning about things that are important to me and/or things that would serve me well to know, I’m more inclined to pay attention and be engaged in the learning progress. Every time I feel myself getting frustrated when someone asks, “is This gonna be on the test,” and I want to turn around and say, “SHOULD IT MATTER,” I have to remind myself that, a. I was there once, and b. they haven’t had my experiences. To be honest, I’m really not that much older than they are, but is amazing what a few short years in the “real world” can do for you.

Here’s my public service message to you parents out there: now that I am having the college experience all over again, I’ve changed my mind about some things. If your junior or senior is having some doubts about life, or whatever, and they are considering delaying college for a couple years, I would let them do it. Don’t push them to go to school right away if they don’t feel they’re ready. A little break may serve them well. School is serious–it is they’re job. And, if students want to excel, then they need to be fully dedicated to it. It’s very hard to be dedicated to something you’re unsure of. Trust me–I know! Listen to your child and don’t force them to live out the dream that YOU have for them. It could turn out to make a world of difference!

Purpose Is Awesome

 

I’m still in the “honeymoon” period with school.  Although I was over it toward the end of last semester, I’m still very happy to be there.  I had an epiphany last semester.  Those who know me well know that I’m trying to become a recovering control freak LOL.  It’s hard!  Anyway, it was around registration time for the current semester, and I had all the classes I wanted to take lined up.  I wrote down the CRNs, took them to work, and was thoroughly prepared to register at exactly 10:15 AM!  However, I had a little trouble, and I won’t bore you with the details.  The short version is that I could not register for one of the classes which happened to be the one I REALLY wanted to take.  I was wrecked!  What in the world am I supposed to do NOW?  I reluctantly started looking for other available classes to sign up for.  Being a working commuting student, I only have certain blocks of time that will work for me. Anyway, I picked a class that I needed to take anyway, but wasn’t interested right now.  It’s one of those university requirements that you can’t escape from if you intend on graduating.  It’s called Fitness For Living.  I fit it in my schedule, and I sat back and thought about it for a moment.  I thought about how taking this class would actually help me with my wellness goals for next year.  I said, “Dag, God interrupted my agenda to let me know he cares about my health.  If He cares about it, then maybe I should too!”  That’s when I “for real” decided that in 2011 I wanted to get my health & wellness together.

So now it’s 2011, and I’ve been seeing some doctors to see what I need to be doing for ME–not some blanket diagnosis and prescription they gave to someone who sounded like they have what I have!  I got a lot answers and things to do.  They’re not easy, but I am on the road to wellness!  So, I’m sitting this class right, and we’re talking about cardiovascular fitness.  I just knew that the majority of the room was bored to tears.  How?  I’ve been there before!  However, this time around–a more purposed perspective–I was having a blast!  Seeing as how I recently came from the doctor, this class was like an explanation of a lot of things that they told me.  I learned the difference between HDLs & LDLs and which ones are good and bad.  I learned how to calculate my resting & maximum heart rates so when I do cardio  I’ll know how to get the most out of it.  I was having fun!  It’s amazing at how much you can learn when you have a reason to pay attention.  That’s one piece of advice I give my “little classmates” (LOL, they make me feel old sometimes).  When they’re talking about they don’t know what to do with their lives and stuff like that, I tell them to stay in school as long as they can until they figure it out.  I know it’s expensive (if you get loans) and may be boring & uncool, but it’s a lot easier to just stay put until you find out what you should be doing with your life than graduating, doing something you don’t like, and THEN discover what you should do.

You know…God’s plans are solid!  I am still amazed at how so many seemingly “little” things line up when you’re doing what God wants.  Not only doing what He wants, but also allowing Him to direct you and possibly wrecking your plans occasionally!  That’s a big pill to swallow for someone like me, but it’s so necessary.  Situations like this remind me that I need to depend on God for EVERYTHING.  One of these Saturdays, I’m gonna wake up and just say, “Hey, God…what should I do today,” and see what He comes up with 🙂

 

Observations of An Older Student

You know how we always say, “if I only knew then what I know now?”  Well, I’m not gonna say that because that phrase gets played out sometimes.  However, with hindsight always being 20/20, it’s soo interesting to look back and reflect on what you could have done differently.  I’ve been in school for one week now, and as I’ve touched on before, the contrast between how I think and engage is totally different from my peers.  I’m guessing that the majority of them are “sophomore/juniorish,” but their behavior and thought process is nothing less than sophomoric–no pun intended.  They are more concerned about how they are going to be graded on an assignment and what’s on the test instead of focusing on the material that if they did indeed study it, then they wouldn’t be concerned about getting a bad grade.  It’s funny–I was in my Human Communications class today, and the professor has a power point up to supplement her lecture.  But of course, the majority of the students have not read the chapter yet and were trying to copy them down word for word because this professor does not post her slides online–smart woman.  Now, mind you, we were assigned to read chapter one last Monday–seven days ago!  On top of that, this lady is very good at emphasizing what is on the test.  She’s also given us hints to her lecturing style for deciphering what is test material and what is not.  So, pretty much, even if you did not read the chapter you should still be able to take efficient notes from the way she teaches.  So, she’s trying to move on, but half of the class yells, “WAIT!”  I must admit…I used to be them!  I never read a chapter before we discussed it in class.  However, I’m actually doing that now, and OH-MY-GOD it makes such a difference!!  If you’ve already read and have taken notes, then the majority of your work is already done for you!!  You can actually sit back, and LISTEN to the lecture and think about what it means!  You know what I do now?  I listen, and then with a highlighter I mark the content that is important.  This way when it’s time for the test, I’m not stuck “studying” (cramming really) 80 pages of notes.  All I have to do is just take the few highlighted points and study those and I’ll be straight!  Who would have thought something as simple as reading before class would totally revolutionize my classroom experience?!  Yeah, yeah…I know all of you out there are smarties and knew about this already, but that is NOT my testimony (lol).

You know what else is cool about being in school at this point in my life?  Seeing as how I’m learning about stuff that I really really REALLY need and want to learn about, I’m finding myself looking for resources outside of the classroom that will help me.  For example, I’m trying to find creative ways to expand my vocabulary.  I’m also considering subscribing to a newspaper so I can have constant exposure to journalism.  I was also looking for some sort of online grammar tutorials that I can do, but last night I discovered that one of my textbooks (which was optional but I bought it anyway because I knew it would help :-)) has a website with that feature already built in it!    As I mentioned months ago, I don’t just want to be in school to sit through some classes to say I did the work and skate by just to get another degree.  I want to do exceptionally well!  Not just to make good grades, but because I really want to understand and know this material like the back of my hand.  If I just slink in and out of classes just focused on passing (like my peers), then I would be shortchanging myself and doing others a disservice as well.  See, THAT’S why it’s soo important to know what your purpose and life’s contribution is!  When you realize that this life is not about you…when you recognize that there are people attached to you that you haven’t even met yet…when you realize that your success or failure will enhance or jeopardize someone else’s life, THEN the game is changed and you become driven.  You MUST do your best!  You MUST go the extra mile!  You MUST come out on top!  Why?  Everything you do impact’s someone else.  Isn’t that powerful?

So, for all you college students out there…who cares who’s looking at you!  Who cares who wants to date you!  Who cares what people are saying about you!  Who cares what you wear and how much it cost!  Who cares what you drive and how much money your parents give you!  Who cares about all that sophomoric hub bub?!  Go to class and actually get the education that someone is paying for!  Learn the material and be well versed in it!  So what if you think you’ll never use it again!  People’s lives are at stake…and it’s not just your own, so give it your all.  Go and “get yours” …for someone else 🙂

Taking Notes

Anyone out there an avid note taker like me??  Does anyone ever attend a class, seminar, or even church for a short amount of time, but yet you come out with pages and pages of notes?  Maybe you read a few pages but end up with like 10 pages of notes.  That would describe me very well!!  Some people like to highlight the important points, and that’s all they need.  I’ve always wished that I could be that person.  Maybe it’s the way I learn, but I MUST write stuff down.  However, I think there’s an underside to it when I read, though.  Being a semi-control freak, I think it’s not that I am actually capturing the highlights.  I think that I’m subconsciously rewriting the book the way I think it should be written lol.  Most textbooks that I’ve had have all used big, flowery words that I don’t care to know what the mean.  Or, they’ll use such flowery phrasing that I need to write the sentence down in a way that makes sense to ME.  I mean, how can I learn something if I don’t understand what’s being presented?  I think that’s why it takes me forever to read just one chapter of a text book because I spend soo much time rewriting everything.

I finally found the “perfect” textbook!  As I mentioned before, I’m usually not one to highlight because I’d probably end up highlighting the whole book the way some people write. However, I bought my books last week, and I actually started to read one of them (the writing one–of course!).  I was shocked at how clear and concise the wording was which is what they teach in the book.  It was very easy for me to point out what’s important and what’s not.  Most of my other books has the important stuff hidden inside the not so important stuff.  Anyway, I didn’t want to take notes just yet, so I actually got a highlighter and started marking what I wanted to write down later.  To my surprise, today as I started writing down the highlights, I started to realize that the book was written soo well that I felt very comfortable just jotting down a few words about a subject!  [gasp!]  That is SOO not typical for me!!  I’m usually soo afraid I’m not gonna know what I was talking about (and that it would be just as hard to search the chapter and find what I was talkin about) that I feel the need to write out the whole sentence.  However, as I was writing, I found myself saying, “Well, if the book says x, and then the next few sentences are describing x, then why do I need to write them out?  Just write down x with a general definition, and if you still need clarity then go back to the book!”  I must say that made me very nervous!  The highlights in my books (when I do it) have never been a supplement to my notes!  I always take detailed notes so I won’t need the book when I go back to study. But this time, I would feel very comfortable using my notes to study, but having the book handy in case I need a bit more detail.  This book is almost a little too concise though.  Of course, I’m only two chapters in so maybe I’m speaking too quickly.  Nonetheless, so far this book is pretty much like, “This is x…you use x when…don’t use x this way…here’s an example of x.”  What I’m used to is, “This is x…x started back in 1796…Christopher Columbus discovered x…they used x as a means to get to y…y started in 1799…here’s an example of x.”  You see the difference and why I get soo muddled when I’m taking notes??  I’m loving this book, but I guess I’m soo used to too much detail I’m like, “Ok…x is cool, but what if I want to use x this way?  What if x and y don’t go together?”  But, the fact of the matter is this is what it is and how you use it…there are no questions lol.

Ok, so I know this was a pretty nerdy post and probably no one will read it, and the ones that do won’t feel me LOL.  However, I just wanted to share my excitement for finally having a textbook that I don’t mind using as supplemental material.  This is one that I’m definitely not selling back!