The BIG New Journey

I have been trying to think of where to start this new chapter in my writing. Previously, my blog was all about the life of an undergraduate. Now it is going to be all about the life of a graduate (obviously) trying to find her way in this crazy world. This is a little trickier for me because the past four years, my mind was focused on graduating with my bachelors degree. Everything I did kind of contributed to that. Now that I have done that, what happens? I guess we will find out one day. I am going to share journeys of The Overwhelmed Graduate because I believe that the journey is more important than the destination. I promise, these journeys will be out of order sometimes, but I will let you know when they happened! They will include career related, travel, cooking, and anything else that I want to share!

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One of the first new journeys of The Overwhelmed Graduate I would like to share is my new big girl job. I accepted a Laboratory Technician position at The University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS). I never expected to be working in research. I always thought that I would be a Veterinarian working with horses all day. Now I will be a laboratory member; reading papers, doing experiments, and working with laboratory animals. Once I realized I didn’t want to be a Veterinarian, I decided that I wanted to get a feel for research. Since then, I have wanted to work at UMMS and I can’t believe it is actually happening.

Disclaimer: I won’t talk about the research I will be doing until I know if I can share certain things or not.

Once I am cleared from Employee Health on Tuesday, I should be able to start. I am so excited that I can’t sleep. The amazing thing about working in research is that you are receiving an education as well (providing your laboratory team wants to teach you). What I mean by this is you are constantly learning. New techniques, new animal usages and protocols, new updates on diseases, medications, biotechnology, etc., just to name a few. The possibilities are endless. This is what intrigued me about research, and I am excited for the learning to begin.

I decided that before I graduated college I had to get experience in a laboratory. Last semester I got an internship at UMMS. It was like a dream come true. Although I didn’t get to spend too much time there (due to classes and work), I learned so much. My internship gave me the confidence to know that I am heading in the right direction. This is a career that I will be happy to go to every day. I am excited to triple my weekly laboratory time and learn so many new things.

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Goodbye to the Overwhelmed Undergraduate

IMG_2911On Saturday, May 9th, 2015, I graduated from college with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology. It is so surreal to me that it is over and I am sure it will take a while to set in. I can’t imagine where I would be in life if the past four years of my life were not spent at my college. The memories and experiences are irreplaceable. The people I have met will always hold a special place in my heart. The friends I’ve made will be my friends for life. And all of the tears, anxiety, and all nighters are a thing of the past. These past four years have been crazy to say the least, but they have truly helped me start to figure out who I am as a person. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

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One thing I want to work on is blogging more. Within the next month, my blog is going to get a makeover and I am going to get back to some of my weekly posts, as well as the random ones. The difference is, all of my posts will be from a graduate’s perspective, rather than an undergraduate’s. It is going to be a fun change! Also, since I am no longer an undergraduate, my blog will have a new name. Stay tuned!

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Today

This past month has tested my patience like no other. It was the last month of college classes and the start of finals, the last month of working 4 jobs and an internship while being a full time student, the first month being long distance with my girlfriend, a month full of crazy stuff going on back home, and the last month of what has been normal to me for the past four years. Everybody keeps asking if I am excited to graduate. I always answer, “well I am excited to be done with these classes”. The truth is, it hasn’t hit me at all that I am actually GRADUATING. You think about that moment for years, even your whole life. Graduating college. To think that I will be walking across that stage a few days from today is unbelievable.

Today I took my last undergraduate final. I studied for it. Ahead of time actually. But I could have studied more. I think I have said that about every single final exam I have ever taken. And just like that it is finished and over, so it doesn’t matter how much I studied anymore. The only thing standing between me and being finished is a stupid 2 page paper. So instead of writing that, I am writing this. I figured I might as well procrastinate the last assignment, just like way too many before it.

Today, 3 different bosses/professors told me to make sure that I see them before I leave. If there was one thing that would make graduating sink in, that was it. I have spent countless hours with these individuals over the past couple of years. I can’t imagine not seeing them on a weekly basis, some even daily. Not only them, but many others. My college has become a second home to me, and so many people there have became family. Recently my friends and I have been looking at old pictures and talking about all of these amazing memories we have made here. Graduating is so exciting and long awaited, but it is completely bittersweet.

Today, a professor told me that when I am working in the area next year (hopefully) that I have to come talk to her classes about working in a research laboratory setting. We talked about this previously, but it is here. I am not going to be a student anymore. I’ll be the guest lecturer that so many students struggle to sit through but really appreciate having there. I’ll be an adult or something.

 

Today I realized that tomorrow, my undergraduate career will be finished.

What’s Next?

It seems as though time is flying by rather quickly recently. I graduate from college in about 75 days and I am not really sure how it happened! Last I remember, I was driving to Cumberland Farms with my new friend Emily for the first time, or I was sitting through my first Resident Assistant Training, or I was playing football outside of May House with my residents, or I was eating breakfast in the dining hall at 12:00am. I don’t remember fast forwarding to the part of being almost done with college.

Of course, I am ecstatic about graduating, who wouldn’t be?! For me, it is a little more than that. After going 250 miles away from home for college, I realized that this place became my new home before I knew it. I walk down the halls and know so many people, some who have become part of my family over the years. I drive all over Massachusetts and know where I am going, like the back of my hand, which still confuses me daily. I feel comfortable here, and I am going to miss that.

So the mundane question that comes from everyone, “what’s next”?

In my opinion, this answer should not be simple. I am 22 years old and I have so many opportunities ahead of me, most of which I don’t even know about yet. Maybe I will go to medical school, or maybe I will get my PhD, or maybe I won’t. Maybe I will travel abroad to work with animals and research. Maybe I will move to a different town or even another state. Maybe I will get married. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I will have children and dogs and horses, but maybe I won’t. Why does the graduation of college mark the day that you have to make all of these decisions for your life. In my opinion, nobody is obligated to do anything in life, unless it makes them happy. I have written before that I want to engulf myself in everything and anything possible. That still holds true except in 75 days, I will be engulfing myself in everything and anything possible with a nice Bachelor’s in Biology by my side.

This is one of the most beautiful things about life: it is wide open. If you don’t like your job, you can try to find a new one. If you want to go to more school, make it happen. If you want to move to another state, figure out how that will be possible. If you want a new car or to travel, save some money. If you want to go out and make an ass out of yourself (providing there is no legal trouble), great, do that. Figure out how to apologize to your friends in the morning. You get out of life what you put into it and it is as simple and as complicated as that.

It seems that we are always so ready to rush life. When you are in 8th grade, you can’t wait to get to high school. When you get to high school, you can’t wait to graduate and move away from home. When you’re in college, you can’t wait for every semester to end. When does it stop? Why can’t we take life one day at a time? Evaluate every opportunity as they come up? Change your mind about your career or even your major? Why does everything we do have to be set in stone? I don’t think it does and I definitely do not plan to live my life like that.

So, what is next might you ask? Well, I am going to keep living my life. I am going to do things that make me happy. I am going to work to make myself a better person each and every day. That’s what is next.

Love is Love

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Today, I saw my chiropractor whom I haven’t seen in awhile. We had our usual, “what’s going on, how’s school, how is your ankle, and what’s going on with you back” talk, which led to the infamous, “so, do you have a boyfriend” question. I said no, I have a girlfriend though! Although surprised, he didn’t even second guess it. “That’s great! How long have you guys been together?” And the conversation went on. Where did you meet, are you happy, what happens after graduation, etc. He even apologized for not knowing that I liked girls because he felt bad for assuming I was straight (jaw drop). As I was leaving he hugged me and said, “the world is going to love you for who you are, because you are an amazing person”. Such kind words, it touched my heart.

Not only is it nice to have somebody tell you that you are an amazing person, but it was even better in this context. He wanted me to know that my sexual orientation did not determine what kind of person I am. Which it never should. Gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, what have you, none of that determines the kind of person you are. I know gay people who are complete assholes. Guess what? I know straight people who are complete assholes as well. Just like I know black people who have been arrested, and I know what people who have been arrested. These stereotypes, whether race, gender, or sexual orientation, are truly outdated and ignorant.

He also told me something else. “Love is love.” This quote is in the description of my Instagram, so I was very excited to hear him say it. He said that he told his three sons the same thing, love is love, and he would love them no matter what. I told him what I always say when people say these things to me: “Thank you for feeling that way. I wish more people did.” You know what he told me? That he has seen people change as he has gotten older. People are less judgmental. People are more accepting. And it is only going to get better. What a beautifully optimistic viewpoint he has. I realized that sometimes I am pessimistic about it, but he is completely right. Although there is still room for improvements, things keep getting better for the LGBT community.

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Who would have thought that he would have opened my mind even more? Well, like I said, there is still room for improvement. Same rule applies to myself, and I will keep improving.

November 11, 2014

One day, I hope to be able to say that I am a part of the United States Military. It is something I have dreamed of for years, and I think that my time is coming soon. For now though, I want to take a moment to thank everyone who has served or is serving in any branch of the military. Going to work every day is one thing, but going to work every day in a military uniform is a completely different ball field. This song will always touch my heart. I have never heard a more accurate description of what comes to my head when I think of a person in the military.

Although we should thank these outstanding individuals everyday, we especially should today. So thank you, to all of the Veterans of The United States of America Military.

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A special shoutout to my amazing girlfriend for being an extraordinary Airman in the United State Air Force.

When Your Pituitary Gland Gets Confused

I know that I have not posted barely anything on here in months. I actually haven’t really written much in months. Here is why:

Starting in July, I kept getting sick randomly. Headaches occurring more often than ever before, exhaustion constantly sweeping over me, and out-of-the-blue nausea and vomiting spells. The beginning of this coincided  with my summer internship that I had to drive 45 minutes to almost 7 days a week. Needless to say, it sucked, but I did what I could to make it work in between hospital and doctor visits. Fast forward to a couple of weeks later, the beginning of the fall semester of my senior year of college. I am living with my bestfriend in an apartment off campus and we are ready to have an amazing year. BAM, Friday afternoon one week I get a migraine that won’t go away no matter what. The following Thursday, after almost passing out in class, my roommate drove me to the ER where they found that my pituitary gland was enlarged. Cool, so now what? After bloodwork and an MRI, they found that my hormone levels were elevated. Yes, get your laughs in, my hormones are crazy! But really, it is a pretty frustrating thing. After some medication changes, I am starting to feel slightly normal again, so hopefully that was the cause of this ruckus.

What is the point of this story exactly? Honestly, probably the biggest cliche in existence; never give up. Typically, I am a very upbeat and happy person. Having a chronic illness for any period of time is exhausting, especially as a college student. My headaches were so bad that I could not study or write papers. I could not eat normally because I was constantly feeling sick. I could not hangout with my friends, except for on my couch, because I was always tired. I could not go to the gym or ride horses because of all of the above. I could not do any of the things that I needed or wanted to do as a college student, and it happened at the beginning of my senior year. I know, fun times. A few days ago, I finally hit the point of frustration. I was mad at the world for throwing this difficulty at me and I wanted nothing to do with being strong anymore. I was done. After taking a nap and waking up on a better side of the bed, I had an epiphany. I told myself to get over it. Yes, I am still frustrated, and yes, I am ready to be caught up in all of my classes, and yes, I hate feeling horrible just as much as anyone else does. But as always, life goes on.

One day, I will look back at this and laugh at the imperfect timing of my pituitary gland’s confusion, but for now, I will just keep moving forward.

One Year Blogiversary

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One year ago today I decided to start this blog. I was constantly being told that I “needed to get my feelings out somehow”. To me, that was crazy. I was perfectly fine with ignoring my feelings and being numb because that was all I knew. I figured that this is something I could try and maybe like a little bit. Well, I think I made the right decision. Unfortunately I haven’t been writing much the past couple of months because I have been sick with constant headaches. Regardless, my blog has opened many doors for me.

I do not post everything that I write, which I am sure is common for most “writers”, but I think this is a good thing. I write whatever I want for the time being and it usually helps. If I like it, I post it. And sometimes other people like it, which is cool. I have fallen in love with words all over again. I was always a reader, but NEVER a writer. I remember struggling through my english classes in high school. I hated writing papers. I hated reading poems and plays. I hated watching movies and talking about them. I hated it all.

Thanks to blogging, I am so much more appreciative of literature. I read things that I would have never read before, I have learned a lot, and most importantly, I write. I try to write pretty often and I constantly have new ideas flowing through my head. I have been able to access so many emotions and ideas that I couldn’t before. I have also found so many interesting people, with amazing stories. It is truly inspirational.

So here is to one year, and many more.

It Demands to Be Felt

One year ago today, I was ending one of the hardest weekends in my life. You know that Timehop app? It kindly reminded me yesterday what I tweeted. “This is going to be some of the hardest hours of my life.” I remember the exact moment I sent that tweet. I was getting out of my stepmom’s car, outside of Northampton County Prison. I sent that tweet before I handed her my phone. Visitors are not allowed to take their cell phones up. Visitors are actually not allowed to take anything up, except for the badge they give you. It tells the guards upstairs where the inmate is that you are visiting.

The last time I saw this building was when I was walking away from the courthouse. It seems to come up all blurry now, but I will never forget the sounds. My mom yelling my name, asking me why they were doing that to her, the sheriffs telling her to calm down, the creaky floor beneath me, and the soft kiss on my cheek from my stepmom. A few people hugged me in the hallway and I had the feeling that I needed to get out. The tears started to flood my eyes without warning. I think I only cried for a few moments. Then my body went into shock. None of it felt real. I went completely numb. I walked and breathed, unconsciously. Driving wasn’t an option, so I sat in the passenger seat, smoking more cigarettes than imaginable, and begun suppressing the memories and feelings, hoping that one day, they would cease to exist.

The elevator ride took forever. I was accompanied by a woman visiting her boyfriend, wearing eight inch stilettos, smiling away as if this was normal and another woman who looked completely terrified. As for me, I assume I looked cold and emotionless because that’s how I needed to be. I exited the elevator and turned left to head toward the female wing. I passed rooms with tables and then glass windows, with phones hanging next to them. Just like the movies. I got to the last window and saw her, sitting there wearing a green jumpsuit. I expected to sit in a room and talk face to face, but we were separated by glass, making it feel like worlds apart. But in the end, we were worlds apart.

The second visit was a little easier. I didn’t have to fight back tears the entire time I was there. The following days got a little bit easier, and I started to hurt a little less. But as John Green wrote, “that’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt”, the pain never truly goes away. Sometimes it randomly creeps up on you, but something more important comes along with that reminder. It does go away and life goes on.

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Catch Up Post

I haven’t posted on here in way too long, as some of you may or may not have noticed. So this is my “catch up post”. What have I been doing for the past 3 weeks?

Week #1

In the midst of working for a food stand that I work at sometimes in the summer, doing way too many loads of laundry, “packing” to move to my apartment (which I procrastinated of course), and actually packing to go on vacation the next week, I spent time with my friends. I feel like I never have enough time with my friends from home, and my family for that matter, before I am heading back to Massachusetts for school or whatever. It is always bittersweet.

Week #2

Vacation! My family typically goes to our beach house for the 4th of July week. Vacation is always great, obviously. I love our beach house. The only thing about this vacation is I knew I had to come home for one day and turn around to move into my apartment the next. A little stressful especially since packing didn’t really happen prior to vacation.

Week #3

The first official week in our new apartment for my bestfriend and I! Also, I started my internship at a wildlife rehabilitation center. So exciting, right?! Of course! Except my stomach decided to hate the antibiotics I was prescribed, causing me to be extremely sick for the past week. Sick enough to drive 4 hours home yesterday. Yeah, happy homecoming to us! Hopefully I can head back up to my apartment this weekend and continue the fun. The real fun…