What if We’re Not Actually Busy?

There are five other things I could be doing right now, but instead I’m writing this.

That’s a predicament we find ourselves in often, isn’t it? We have a laundry list of things to do, but we don’t do them. We find something else to do that is much more trivial. Netflix, for example. (Or blogging…)

But we still manage to let people know more than once a day that we are “soooo busy.” Sometimes it becomes a competition. “I have three papers and a text this week!” “Oh yeah? Well I have FOUR papers and THREE tests this week, plus I have to walk to Canada and back WHILE studying for my THREE tests! Beat that!”

Hang on a second.

What if we’re not actually busy?

What if we just like telling people we’re busy?

There’s a kind of badge of honor that comes with being “busy.” It means we’re important. People need us. We have deadlines because we hold important positions. We whisk ourselves away from one thing to another, wearing our “Hello, my name is busy” name tag with pride.

I took a class my sophomore year called creativity, innovations, and problem-solving. It’s a requirement for everyone at my school. And you guessed it – creativity was the key talking point. Many people think they’re not creative, but really they’re just not giving themselves enough time to be creative. Some people use the excuse that they “just don’t have time.”

You know what my professor said to that? “When students say they don’t have enough time, I offer to go through their schedules and find time for them. They never take me up on that offer…because they know I’ll find time somewhere.”

It’s our best excuse. “I just don’t have time.”

But what if we actually do?

Take a minute to take inventory of your time. You don’t need to be excessive. Just think through an average day for you. I’ll give you my example. I wake up at 7:15am. I hit a button on my coffee maker so it can do its job, and I sit down with breakfast until 8, when I get ready. During this time, I’m usually on my phone. I have classes in the morning, then a lunch break at 12. Sometimes I’ll do homework, other times I’ll be on my phone…again. Then I have class and work until 4, then about an hour til my evening activities, which will go til either 6 or 9 depending on the day. Then I’m in bed my 11.

It might look busy, but I can pinpoint places where I actually have time – my hour-and-a-half lunch break, the half hour I have between class and work, the hour I have before dinner and evening activities. You might have less time than this, but I can still guarantee you that somewhere, you have time.

I’m not going to be the grumpy “get off your dang phone!” mom-ish person, but – sometimes you gotta get off your dang phone. I think sometimes we feel like we’re busier because when we’re not busy, we’re keeping up with everyone else’s busyness. Then all of the sudden – gasp! Off to the next thing!

That’s not the point of this post, though. I’m not saying we all *think* we’re busy because of our phones.

I think it’s because we’re supposed to be busy.

This is America. (Probably, unless you’re reading this somewhere else.) Everything is time-based, schedule-based. Our phones ding when we have an appointment. We have color-coded planners. We have to-go food. Because we’re always going. We’re looking ahead on our planners to see what’s coming next. When we’re not actually doing things, we’re looking at what’s coming next. 

What if you just stopped for a second? Record-scratch, freeze-frame style?

e.e. cummings wrote a fantastic little poem called “little man in a hurry.” Take a look:

“little man
(in a hurry
full of an
important worry)
halt stop forget relax

wait

(little child
who have tried
who have failed
who have cried)
lie bravely down

sleep

big rain
big snow
big sun
big moon
(enter

us)”

(Source)

Since it’s cummings, it’s a little bit hard to interpret and remains somewhat ambiguous. But I think you can get the gist of it. Halt. Stop. Relax. But even his “little man” is stopping and halting breathlessly, as indicated by no punctuation – “halt stop forget relax” like it’s a to-do-list in and of itself.

Relaxing isn’t just another thing to check off your to-do list. It’s necessary to your mental and physical survival. 

And if you do decide to relax, you’re not being lazy. 

What “important worry” are you carrying around? Is it really that important? Can you “halt – stop – relax” for just a moment? I think you can. Because sometimes we wear our busyness like a badge of honor.

I’ll make the moral of this post short and sweet. To quote Elizabeth Schuyler from the immortal musical Hamilton:

“Take a break!”

When You Go to College in Your Hometown.

“You’re living far away from home; and you’ve traded everything for a stone.”

– “Everything for a Stone,” The Belle Brigade

Before I get into the actual topic of this post, I’ll begin by saying I wasn’t planning on going to college near my hometown. I’ve talked in previous posts about how my college plans changed rapidly (see post Growing in Struggle.) I ended up at a small university in a decent-sized metropolitan area near where I grew up. I was born and raised in a very small town with a lot of cows and cornfields. Drive twenty minutes one direction and you’re in the city. Drive twenty minutes the other direction and you’re in the middle of nowhere. The area is a very odd, somewhat jarring hybrid of country, suburban, and metropolitan settings. It’s equal parts quaint and cultural, rural juxtaposed with urban.

My hometown is about a half hour from downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan – if you’ve never been there, GR is like a very small Chicago. A very, very (very very) small Chicago. My friend described it as a “Holiday Inn Express” for hipsters – it’s neither East Coast nor West Coast, but there are definitely strong hipster vibes in the city (everywhere you turn there’s a farmer’s market – one of the benefits of a metro area surrounded by fields.) My college is located on the “north end” of town, and I was raised on the “south end.” If you’ve lived in a metropolitan area, you’ll understand when I say that “north-enders” and “south-enders” are very different. Same overarching culture, but different subculture.

Like I said before, I didn’t plan on going to school in my hometown. I only applied to two colleges because I basically had my mind made up – but then, in true teenage fashion, my mind was changed, and very quickly. As a result, I ended up at this small, private, liberal arts university on the north end of Grand Rapids.

It was fairly convenient – I know not everyone grows up in a college town or even a town that has any college at all, which means they have to move away if they want to pursue higher ed. The other college I was considering was two hours away and a true college town (the college was literally the town. Other than that, there were Amish people and a Burger King.)

“So Audrey,” you might (or might not) ask, “What has your experience been like, going to school in your hometown?”

Well, Nameless Imaginary Inquisitor, it has been wonderful. I have loved going to a university that is so close to a large metropolitan area where there’s lots to see and do. And it’s been great being close to home (I mean, free laundry and food, am I right?!)

“But Audrey,” you continue, “don’t you feel like you’ve missed out by staying close to home? Aren’t you sheltered now? Isn’t it just the same as it was when you were growing up? Are you ever going to have the courage to move away?”

Whoa, now, don’t get ahead of yourself, Imaginary Inquisitor. I’m not saying that going to school locally is the best idea for everyone, or that it’s perfect, but I am saying that it’s certainly not a bad thing. And here’s why:

You’re staying close to your roots. College is going to hit all of your ideals, beliefs, and opinions right between the eyes, no matter where you go. Whether it’s your professor or your roommate, someone is going to disagree with you and possibly shake up some of your predispositions. Sometimes, these things are hard to grapple with. When you’re far from home and where you grew up, you may feel lost, maybe somewhat marooned, like you’re on a ship without a captain. When my beliefs were somewhat shaken in college, my roots helped me shape my own opinion of what was being taught to me in college – I wasn’t allowing myself to be directly spoon-fed information without first approaching it with opinions of other people whom I trusted. Having roots close to you can help with that.

You know the area. It’s easy to feel isolated in college because you don’t know anything about the city it’s in. In the case of that college-town school I was talking about, there literally wasn’t anything in the area except farmland. And at a remote college like that, most students are also from out of town so they know as much as you do. Going to a local school I had the benefit of knowing some things about not only Grand Rapids but the surrounding communities. I also found myself learning more about the area than I’d ever known before (like the dearth of coffee shops GR has to offer.) I got more connected with my church, explored new areas, and made connections in the city that I had been totally unaware of up to that point. It’s kind of nice to go into college with some background knowledge of not only the school, but its city.

You’ll have a new perspective. Although you’re in the same place, you’ll see it through different eyes. With college comes freedom to be independent and think for yourself in more ways than you ever have. I learned more about my city in college than I ever did growing up near it. I explored more towns in the outlying area than I ever had before as well. In the fall, I explored uptown with my roommates, which was a place I wasn’t too familiar with. I auditioned for shows at the community theatre. I volunteered at an inner city school. Sometimes the best opportunities are right under your nose for eighteen years and you never realize it because you’re too busy grinding through the American school system (not bitter.)

All of this to say – if you’re searching for colleges right now, don’t rule out the ones that are twenty minutes down the road. It doesn’t mean you have to live with your parents (unless you want to – I mean, free food. And your pets.) People might hardcore judge you, but that’s okay. They just don’t understand, because they were taught their whole lives that they have to go far away for college. Or they didn’t have the amazing privilege of growing up in an awesome spot like you did.

So don’t take your hometown for granted. You might just realize that it’s where you really belong.

Don’t Feel Bad for Being Booksmart.

Don’t Feel Bad for Being Booksmart.

It is the cry of all products of the American school system, after sitting through seven hours worth of coursework followed by the after-dinner ritual of checking off assignments until who-knows-what hour of the night (or morning.) High schoolers, liberal arts college students, human beings who have ever had to sit in a biology class – all of them collectively throw down their Bic or their Ticonderoga and wail:

“When will I ever use this????”

We’ve all been there. I’ve been there. After getting an algebra question wrong for the umpteenth time in seventh grade, I threw my calculator across the room, breaking my bedroom lamp in the process (though she be but little, she is fierce.) Watching the clock strike midnight as I was barely halfway through AP government homework. Dissecting a very sad-looking fetal pig in human biology my sophomore year of college, wondering, why does a communications major have to learn about the inner workings of a farm animal? 

The answer is simple and not so simple at the same time. The American school system is flawed. We all know that by now. Some kids learn faster than others, some love every single class and graudate with a 4.0 while others scrape by because they don’t see the point. Everyone is tested based on the same things. Every year, high school juniors sit down in a big room and melt their brains over a Scantron sheet to see if they can regurgitate enough information to get into a good college with good scholarship. (And they say daytime television is mind-numbing?!)

So yeah, there’s problems. In school you learn that mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, but you don’t learn how to change the oil in your car. You learn long division (?!) but not how to file your taxes. You figure out what equals but you never really figure out why you need to know that (see what I did there?)

But don’t worry. It’s not useless. You didn’t waste your childhood sitting in a desk, I promise you.

The pursuit of knowledge is a noble thing, even if you don’t know exactly why or how you will use it. You may think your schooling has been impractical or mundane, but there was something else at work in the midst of that. School wasn’t designed to teach you how to do taxes or how to fix a car. That’s not the point.

You learned about cells so you can understand that your body is freaking awesome and you should take care of it by drinking water, eating reasonably healthy, and going easy on yourself when you’re sick.

You learned English and read novels so you could write a solid, descriptive resume or cover letter, free of grammatical errors. You read those novels to understand other worldviews, other places in time, the way the language you’re writing has changed an evolved.

You learned history because – well, it’s history and it’s important. I don’t need to explain myself on that one.

You learned adding, subtracting, long division, and algebra so you can calculate your tax deductions, your gross income, and your adjusted gross income on your taxes.

My point is this: the purpose of school is to teach you how to learn and understand. Take grades and all that out of it. And if it’s not teaching you how to learn and understand, it should. 

So don’t feel bad if you like school. That means you like learning. You like understanding things, even if it’s outside of what your main interests are. I’m not a huge fan of math. However, I do like the simple pleasure of seeing an algebra problem methodically solved by eliminating bits and pieces until you get the answer. Chemistry was never my strong suit, but it taught me how to get permanent marker out of various materials because of the chemical compounds at work.

You might be more booksmart instead of street smart. And that’s okay. Don’t let people make you feel bad for not knowing about car insurance or taxes. If you’ve got anything between your ears, you know that there’s more to life than taxes, interest rates, oil changes, and dividends. There’s mitochondria and Charles Dickens and algebra and Thoreau and JFK.

Albert Einstein (a shining example of a genius who rose above adversity) once said, “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” The end-all and be-all of our lives isn’t to know how to cook a full-course meal or file taxes correctly or change a tire. Our end-all, be-all is to be humans who thirst to learn more, to discover. Discoveries build bridges. They help us understand why some people are booksmart and other people are street smart. They help us understand that mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell, that it’s possible to solve for y, that we need history or else we’ll repeat the mistakes of the past, that we need each other in order to understand. If we don’t seek to understand these things, we’ll be no better than an unfiled tax form.

 

Not Good Enough?

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I can taste the salt in my mouth if I think about it hard enough. You know that feeling your face gets when you cry? It feels kind of full of everything – snot, tears, emotions. Your face just kind of turns into a big mess and there’s no way of hiding it. You just have to know that people know you’ve been crying, no matter what you tell them. “Oh, I just decided to wash my makeup off for the day.” Likely story. Nope. Your face is full of emotions. It’s written all over your…face.

You know that feeling your chest gets when you cry? It gets smaller, but your lungs stay the same size. All your breath is squeezed out of you until you’re all but hyperventilating. You start choking on your own sobs, if it gets that bad. (Trust me, I’ve had experience) The best place to cry is in bed, so no one sees you. It’s just you and your emotions staring you in the face. That’s when you’re most vulnerable to them, when all the lights are turned off and it’s quiet and you’re alone.

When was the last time you had a good cry? And what was it about?

I can remember a very specific time that I cried. Really hard. It was last spring, and I’d just gotten back from an event on campus. I was in the shower (another good place to cry) thinking about what had happened that night. It was a dance, so I had watched a lot of dancing happen. I asked my friend to ask a guy to dance with me (that’s the way I am.) He did, but then left immediately afterwards. As I thought about the night and the couples and the dancing, I lost it. Even in that crowd of people, I’d felt alone.

What am I doing wrong? Am I not enough? 

A few nights ago, I was laying in bed feeling totally numb. (Remember, those emotional times happen when you’re quiet and vulnerable, like in the shower or falling asleep.) I’d given up on feeling. I was bitter and I didn’t know why. I still really don’t know why. I cried again, but this time the tears were hot and I was angry. 

I think it was because I was tired of feeling like I wasn’t enough.

We all know people who seem like they’re “enough.” They’re the people we follow on Instagram who don’t follow us back. The people who post cute pictures of themselves with their friends and a neat cliche caption underneath. Who seem so strong in their faith by the way they worship onstage at church or in the pews. The people who make life seem so easy. I’m pretty sure you know who I’m talking about. I’m sure you’re picturing them in your head right now.

For some reason, this quote from The Great Gatsby popped into my head. (Wow, so original. A young adult woman quoting F. Scott Fitzgerald.) It goes like this. If you went to high school, you’ve seen this quote before:

They were careless people…they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their…vast carelessness…and let other people clean up the mess that they had made.

This quote is talking about two rich people who run away from responsibility (like murder, which is not what we’re dealing with here) but I think it can apply to people you think are “enough.” The thing is, those people who seem like they’re “enough” aren’t. They’re just as messy as you are, but they run away from it. They hide it behind a smile, a sheen of fake joy, a Facebook status (FYI, Facebook is an easy platform to run away from things on, for a number of reasons.)

Maybe the reason I was crying a week ago was because I was done with trying to be fake. It’s exhausting. Sometimes it’s hard to determine the real from the fake in people. I feel bad for people who are trying so hard to be “authentic” but all the while are as fake as store-brand Coke. And pandering to fake people is like buying the fake stuff when real Coke is right there on the shelf.

There have been a lot of times in my life when I’ve tried to be as “enough” as these people seem to be. I’ve done really stupid things that the real Audrey wouldn’t do. I turned into a social chameleon, blending in whenever it was convenient. I admit that sometimes I become that chameleon again. Because I’m not enough.

I don’t have to be.

I’m a good writer, but I’m not a great writer. I don’t have enough money to get my own website with cool pictures and put all of my work on it – but if I had that, maybe then I’d be enough.

I’m pretty good at taking pictures, but I’m not great at it. My Instagram is full of pictures of trees and ironic selfies, usually with fewer than ten hashtags (I have standards.) I don’t have a DSLR camera, I don’t have a VSCO account, I don’t even go on cute little photoshoots with my friends. I don’t have 1,000 followers. I probably average 15 likes per picture, which to me is mind-blowing…until I see an “enough” person with 180 likes on theirs. If I had that, maybe then I’d be enough. 

I’m a good singer, but I’m not a great singer. I don’t have awesome equipment or a SoundCloud account or even the confidence to record myself. And when I do record myself, it’s full of mistakes and awkward pauses because that’s who I am as a person. I know two chords on my guitar. I can’t just sit at a piano and jam with my friends or spontaneously worship like “enough” people do. But if I could, maybe then I’d be enough. 

Maybe then. 

But do I really want to live a life of maybes? Of course not. If I did, I’d never accomplish anything. Sometimes I think I rely on that word too much. Maybe I will. Maybe someday I’ll actually be enough. “Maybe” equals waiting, and it’s foolish to live a life spent waiting.

The thing is, I never will be. Ever. No one will ever be enough. There will always be an unattainable standard, whether it’s one you’ve set for yourself or one you think others have for you. It hurts to feel like you’re not enough. It causes those choking sobs.

I’m going to bring out our good friend, the Bible, to help you understand what it means to be “not enough.” You probably understand already, because you’ve felt it, but I’ll put it in words (a seamless segway from Fitzgerald to Scripture):

But he said to me: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Cor. 12:9, ESV) 

Audrey, I’ve heard this before. Blah blah blah Jesus is enough for you. But it doesn’t feel like it, does it? It’s not supposed to. Because Paul was asking God to take his weakness away. God wasn’t gonna. They were going to stay put for Paul to wrestle with. And that is a blessing.

Our weakness, our pain is a blessing. Someone once said, “There’s nothing memorable about a good night’s sleep.” Or something like that. We remember painful, draining times because they taught us something. Our “not-enough”-ness can teach us something. It taught me that fake people exist, and they need help more than anyone else, even if they look like they have it all together. Don’t lie about your “not-enough”-ness. Wear it proudly on your sleeve. I’m a human. I’m broken. I’m hurting.

But I’m learning and I’m growing.

One last literary quote for you. I recently watched the film version of The Little Prince (I’m not crying, you’re crying) and this specific quote spoke to me:

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Your struggles are mostly invisible to those around you, but they’re essential. Your unseen “not-enough”-ness is essential. It’s essential so that the love of Christ can be made perfect in your weakness. He is planning unseen, essential things within you every day. And sometimes those things aren’t so clear. They may not be clear in this world.

Pain is essential. Emptiness is essential.

It’s true – you’re not enough. But you’re essential. Boast it so everyone knows. Because they won’t see your mess – they will see rightly.

How to Be A Frugal College Student: A Sort-Of Practical Guide

We’ve all been there. That boring 11am class and you’re struggling to keep your eyes open. You resort to internet shopping. And there it is – that one perfect, beautiful thing that will make your life complete…that you absolutely don’t need at all. But it’s right there! And it’s on sale! And you just got paid!

A week later, you have $5 in your bank account. How did that happen?! All you did was buy that one thing on Amazon…and then a subscription to a magazine you won’t read…and then groceries, which also involved buying a pair of shoes (and jewelry was buy one, get one!) and then grabbing appetizers with friends at 11:30pm, because that’s college.

TL;DR version: little things like that add up.

How do you stop the madness? Do a total spending freeze and not buy anything? Well, that’s a little extreme, but if you think you need that, go for it. Other than good old-fashioned resisting temptation, there are a couple other things you could do to curb your spending. I’ll walk you through each one, based on category.

1. Internet Shopping. Just don’t. That’s really all the advice I have for you. HOWEVER. I know that sometimes you find a deal that you just can’t pass up. So if you do fall into the online shopping rabbit hole, WRITE DOWN HOW MUCH YOU SPENT. Whether you’re able to log it onto a banking app on your phone or actually have a paper transaction record, write it down so you physically see how much you spent and where that money you thought you had went.

2. Grocery Shopping. Two words: Store. Brand. Buy store brand everything. I worked in a grocery store for a summer, and they let me in on a little secret – most store-brand products are the exact same as name brands – they are made in the same factory but labeled differently. So seriously. When you get store-brand stuff, you’re not getting lesser quality. You’re just not paying for the name. However, some products (like Coke and Oreo – c’mon, we all know that the store brands for those are crap) have trademarked recipes so they’re not the same. I still buy name-brand Coke because I don’t want the sTRAIGHT SUGAR EXPLOSION taste of the store brand. (“We don’t have the recipe…let’s just throw MORE SUGAR in there.”)

3. Coffee. This is very important to me. (In case you were wondering whether or not coffee was important to me, look at the header on top of this page.) I do not go cheap on coffee. People often judge me for my coffee budget, but I glare at them over the rim of my iced red-eye extra ice with mocha (yes this is something I order – I GET POINTS ON MY LOYALTY CARD, OKAY?!). Let’s face it – coffee is expensive. Unless you get Maxwell House. And I am NOT TELLING you to get Maxwell House. Or the f-word (Folger’s). Here’s what I would recommend though: store brand coffee is actually pretty good. Plus, they often has a wholebean station where you can grind it up fresh (fresh is always good). A bag of (good) coffee at the store will usually cost you about 8-12 dollars. You could buy in bulk, which will save you a little bit of money.

I DO NOT recommend this: A Keurig. If you drink a lot of coffee (I average three cups a day), then do not get a Keurig. A box of K-cups will cost you 8-12 dollars as well, but you go through them a lot faster than a bag of coffee. One of those boxes would usually last me a week…that’s $8 a week. A decent-sized bag of coffee lasts me two or more…and makes multiple cups, which is helpful if you have roommates. So don’t get a Keurig. Get yourself a nice coffeemaker (you can get single-serve ones that aren’t Keurigs which you can fill with coffee of your choice!) that doesn’t use plastic cups. Your coffee will be cheaper and taste fresher.

If you’re craving a fancy latte, I also have some cheap recommendations in the form of DINING HALL HACKS. If you’re a veteran college student, this is not news to you. When I want more than just black coffee, I stop in for lunch at the dining hall, fill my cup up with coffee (I know, dining hall coffee isn’t always great, but bear with me) and then go over to the ice cream station (because every college worth going to has self-serve soft-serve ice cream) and put some flavored syrup in your cup. It masks the grossness of cafeteria coffee and makes you feel frou-frou because it kind of tastes like a latte. And it tastes waaaay better than whatever they put in the cappucino machine. (Sand and water. That’s what they put in there. Sand and water.)

4. Budgeting. You should probably have a budget. Even if you don’t have a steady income yet (ESPECIALLY if you don’t have a steady income). I am a student worker and I usually work about eight hours a week, so I get a small check every two weeks. That doesn’t give me a lot of spending wiggle room, unless I dip into my savings (which you DO NOT WANT TO DO). Speaking of, the first thing you want to do in order to budget is have savings of some sort that you do not touch unless you absolutely need it (and by absolutely need, I don’t mean shopping spree at Target. I mean broken leg or student loans.) I’m not going to go full-blown Dave Ramsey on you, but you should have some sort of savings. Even if it’s just $20 in your mattress. But I would recommend a little more than that.

There’s also some budgeting apps for your phone (gasp! An app?) I use Mint, mostly because it’s free and it syncs with my bank account. It shows me where my money is going using this cute little colorful pie chart and sends me alerts when something’s up (Example: “You spent $500 in candy this week. This is $400 more than you usually spend.” Stuff like that. I cannot confirm or deny that this happened.)

So, there you go. There’s my budgeting crash course. Frugality 101. Not even 101, it’s like pre-101. Just Frugality. So go forth and be frugal. Save those dollas and change the world.

20 Things That Are Familiar to Every Communications Major

Every college major has its staples. Something, be it a diagram, a picture, a feeling, that’s familiar to all who studied that in college. As a communications major, I’ve noticed a few of these familiar things in my journey so far. Allow me to elaborate:

 

1. This picture. 

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Ekman’s six universal facial expressions. Because Paul Ekman is king. (https://genevievewanucha.com/2015/06/26/whats-in-a-word/)

2. And probably this picture. 

definition-of-communication

Or a more/less complicated version of it. Actually, a comm major’s life consists mostly of diagrams. (http://www.project-management-skills.com/definition-of-communication.html)

3. “Oh you’re studying communications! You must like talking a lot!” 

Well, no. Not really. *uses the fish in water analogy excessively*

4. “What exactly is communications?”

“What ISN’T communication? It’s math. It’s science. It’s language. It’s ART” 

5. Research on research on research. 

Comm is a great major, but you’re not going to miss all those readers full of studies or those comm research methods classes.

6. Taking Interpersonal Communication and finally realizing why your last relationship went wrong. 

“Oh now I get it…the costs were greater than the rewards, and there was very little self-disclosure.”

7. “You’re such a good listener!” 

Perk of being a comm major: You learn how to listen to people reaaaally well. We know that there’s a step-by-step GUIDE to listening.

8. Being totally prepared for any job interview. 

Definitely true. You know how to persuade people and put yourself out there by using things like the color your wear or the strength of your handshake.

9. “What do you want to do with that?” 

Sure, this is a question most college students are faced with. But what DON’T you want to do with comm?

10. Coffee. 

Coffee.

11. Analyzing all of your current relationships and driving everyone crazy doing it. 

Or analyzing other people’s relationships for them. They LOVE that. (That’s sarcasm, which is hard to communicate in written text.)

12. Being way more clever on social media than anyone else. 

Your social media courses have taught you well. You know that people don’t want to see a status saying you ate a grilled cheese sandwich at 2:25pm, but you can whip out a snappy status like the best of them. In fact, comm people know their way around most social media sites and they’re great at marketing themselves.

13. “You know that feeling when someone stands too close to you on the elevator…” 

Yes. That’s called the Expectancy Violations Theory. Seriously. There’s a theory for everything. *person backs away from you slowly*

14. Finding out your conflict style. 

Are you an aggressive shark or an accommodating teddy bear?

15. Watching an episode of Seinfeld in at least one comm class. 

Or Gilmore Girls. Or Friends. If it was a 90s sitcom, you probably watched it.

16. Ekman is life. 

Ekman is king.

17. “92% of communication is nonverbal.” 

…maybe? Mehrabian is a pretty smart guy, but some comm people aren’t so sure about this one. Whatever the case, you’re gonna hear this a lot.

18. Using more math than you thought you would. 

Remember when you learned about standard deviations in eleventh grade? Yeah, you’ll need that.

19. Speeches. 

Speeches.

20. And last of all, not wanting to trade your major for the world. 

It’s not just the major. It’s the people you meet. It’s the lessons you learn and the opportunities you have. It’s finding more out about yourself. Or, as Pocahontas once said, it’s learning “things you never knew you never knew.”

 

Doldrums.

Hello, Internet. It’s been awhile since we’ve sat down and told you what I thought about stuff. The last time I was here, I was talking about being single and stuff. Now I’m going to talk about other stuff that’s similar to that stuff, but not exactly that stuff.

“Audrey,” some may say, “why have you been so silent for so long?”

That’s a good question, Internet. The reason I haven’t been spouting off lately is because there’s nothing going on in my life that I can spout off about. Nothing inherently interesting has crossed my radar.

“But Audrey,” says Internet, “that’s never stopped you from talking about stuff before!”

You’re right, Internet. I like to pretend to know things and then talk emphatically about them. I have three blog drafts to prove it (some of which you might see crossing your various feeds in the near future, if I think I pretend to know enough about the thing I know nothing about).

The truth is, right now, there’s really nothing going on.

A couple weeks ago, I was sitting in the living room of my friend’s house and we were just talking (apparently that’s what adults do) about our summers and what was going on. Me, my friend, and her boyfriend were all pretty much saying the same thing – nothing was really going on. We weren’t doing anything exciting. We’re all working a lot, sleeping a lot, and that’s about it.

It was during that conversation that I actually realized it, too. I feel like I’m not doing anything special right now. People ask me, “So what’s new with you?” and I can’t think of anything.

Then I start to panic. Does that make me a boring person?

I get up. I go to work. I go to my summer class. I go home. I go to bed. I wake up and do it all over again. And that’s about it.

I call it the Doldrums. I think that’s a nautical term for a sea that’s totally flat. No wind, no storms, nothing. If it’s not a nautical term, it’s still a good term for whatever I’m trying to talk about.

I’m not traveling overseas to rescue orphans. I’m not taking a grand tour of Europe. I’m not interning at some prestigious company. I’m not getting engaged or married.

Isn’t it funny how when you’re in the Doldrums, it seems like everyone else isn’t?

Another good term for the Doldrums is Stuck in a Rut. A bit more crude, but it’s still an accurate description. It seems like you’re doing the same things every day and getting nowhere. Didn’t everyone tell you that repetition leads to success? That hard work will get you somewhere?

But where the freaking heck are you going?! You’re still driving the same car on the same road to the same place you go every day, whether that’s work, school, or somewhere else (maybe you sit in a field all day. I’m not judging.)

What do you do when you’re sailing through the Doldrums (well, not really sailing, because there’s no wind or wave to take you)?

That’s a great question. Because I have no idea. I’m in the middle of it too, and it’s hard to figure things out when you can’t see the big picture.

It’s scary. You feel like you have no direction. Like you’re a beatnik, or whatever those lazy people used to be called in the fifties. You feel like a bum. Is this going to be me forever? Stuck in this “rut”?

The answer is, of course, no. You know that, I hope. But it’s still hard to see when you’re in the middle of it. It seems like everyone else you know is lapping you, running the race so much faster.

Remember that horrible term that people used to describe certain children? I’ll remind you. Late Bloomers. Were you one of those cursed children? “Oh, she’s just a late bloomer,” a mom says, laughing sheepishly while putting a hand on her shy second-grader’s shoulder. Whose idea was it to use that term? It’s horrible. You weren’t a late bloomer then and you’re not now. Just because you couldn’t add and subtract as fast as everyone else doesn’t make you slow or stupid.

And just because you’ve been turned down for three internships within three weeks doesn’t mean you’re slow or stupid either. It didn’t make you a late bloomer then, and it doesn’t make you a late bloomer now.

So don’t let anyone tell you that.

I’ve yet to come on the other side of these Doldrums, and I don’t know its purpose as of yet, but I do know that it’s helping me, somehow. If anything, it’s helping me appreciate the little things more. Even that moment sitting with my friends on a drowsy summer afternoon, talking about nothing at all. Those are the moments that you’ll remember for a long time.

You are on your track. You’re on the track you’re supposed to be on. You don’t need to be living your dream life right now. That time will come in its time.

Keep dreaming. Keep hoping. And most importantly, keep waking up, getting in that same car, and riding that same road.

Because eventually, that road will take a turn.