Countdown to Graduation

Countdown to Graduation
One senior scrambles to cram in all things Carolina before heading out into the real world.

posted 2/28/2009


Perhaps I've been far too upbeat and maybe even a little mushy (okay, maybe a lot mushy – so far I've made a friend cry and a boyfriend blush) when it comes to this blog. I mean, this is a countdown to my graduation and as I've come to learn, it's not all sunshine and roses out there. I'd like to say I've gotten good at being rejected, as it happens so frequently, but can anyone really say that? Maybe what I'm trying to say is that I'm just getting better at it. Now my pity parties only last a couple of hours instead of the all night pity binges I used to go on.

Not to say I haven't had my fair share of cool jobs and internships. I did get to interview the baseball gold medalists a day before watching the gold medal basketball game that the Redeem Team led by my real boyfriend, Kobe Bryant, won. I also worked for an NPR affiliate and while the stories weren't so glamorous, I just love saying I worked for NPR. At any rate, I'm not trying to sound fatalistic, but for every job opportunity I got, there were 20 or more employers who didn't think as much of me. My friends often tell me I have nothing to worry about because I've had so much experience. What I try to tell these people politely (without blowing any sort of gasket) is that everyone in my journalism boat has experience!

A quick digression – I think I would thoroughly enjoy life on a journalism boat. Journalists make the best conversationalists because we never run out of things to ask. And aren't all reporters just exceedingly nosy people? The gossip that would fly around that ship would make ears burn.

But, back to the point, we all come from respected schools, all good writers and all have had essentially the same experience on different publications. The hard part is making yourself stand out from the rest, and I've often been unsuccessful in doing so. One of the biggest rejections so far has come from the Sports Journalism Institute (which at one time was my ultimate goal of internships; I've since altered my view for sanity's sake.) It's a great opportunity where you attend a week of sports journalism classes and then are placed into a paid internship at a newspaper's sports desk. And if you know me at all, it's pretty safe to say that's about perfect for me. It's a minority internship for mostly minority races and ethnicities, but white women are considered a minority in sports journalism (which of course I'm hoping I can do my part in changing in the future.) I actually received this internship last year, but turned it down to go to Beijing. Talk about a hard decision, I was distraught for days about whether I did the right thing. It was still up in the air whether China was a sure thing or not (after all these references to China, I'll be sure to do a whole post about it), and I was sure I'd end up with nothing. There were many calls to my mom and sister bemoaning how I've ruined everything and I'll have no future (like I said, at times I can be a tad fatalistic.) In the end, it all worked out and I was comforted by the fact I could apply for SJI next year.

So, I start working on my application in October, cockily thinking I have this in the bag. My resume has only gotten better and my writing stronger. Well, apparently the judges weren't as impressed by me as I was. I got the dreaded e-mail thanking me for applying and wishing me well in my other endeavors. I didn't even get an alternate spot! Well, I'm a crier anyways (for good news and bad news), so it didn't take long for the tears to start flowing. It was the first time Gabe had heard me cry, and because I'm a happy go-lucky person most of the time, I think that was a little distressing for him. And when I'm upset, I don't really want to talk about it, I'll do a little bit of wallowing then move on. My sister claimed it was because I rejected them last year and my mother thought it had to be I was too old and on the verge of graduation. And though it's easy to make excuses, it'll be better for me in the long run if I just admit there were better applicants. I'm not going to get better if I blame others for my failures.

I woke up the next day feeling I had something to be sad about, and once it all came back to me I did bury my head back into the pillow with a huge, drawn out sigh. But, it was time to move on, to other applications and to other rejections. If I cry over every "no," there'd be no tears left. And not to sound too Dr. Phil, but learning to cope with rejection is really an important part of life, and while I wish it was all "yeses" in my inbox, I can see the silver lining in it all.

It was actually pretty cathartic to talk about my failures. I think this could be a weekly tradition, Beth's Rejections. Though I think I need a better title, please feel free to comment if you have a clever one. I might resent you at first for being smarter than me, but I will learn to deal with that too.

posted 2/25/2009

A Creature of Routine

Humans, cats, dogs, mice, lizards, etc. are "creatures of routine." I thought that was some famous quote, turns out it's just a cliché used to describe almost anything. And as I've learned from countless journalism teachers and newspaper editors, clichés are bad! Then I ask, even if it fits wonderfully into what I'm trying to say? Is it my fault what I want to write about has been abused by someone else? Well, this is not really the avenue for that debate. What I'm really trying to say is that as the dreaded graduation date looms closer and closer, I'm really starting to think about the idea of having routines, or to use a more fun word, traditions.

People love to describe themselves as spontaneous, and I would argue that's probably just a go-to adjective that's not often too accurate. And, I'd also like to argue, what's wrong with that? I love having a routine, or tradition, that I look forward to every month, every week or every year. And when those traditions fade away, I legitimately get sad. I think some of the things I'll miss the most when I graduate (and some things I unfortunately already miss) will be the traditions that are no longer possible because my friends are scattered across the country, and maybe even the globe.

My favorite routine by far has to be Sunday morning breakfast at Weaver St. Market with my friends Katie N. and Cathy A. I met Katie and Cathy on my study abroad trip to London. We were randomly assigned as roommates in a three bed room in a five person suite. As many students I've talked with can attest to, study abroad breeds some of the strongest friendships from college. It's hard to put into words how sharing such an amazing experience can bond you to people you've only known a few months. The problems with said friendships is that even if the bond remains, the interaction can fade once you're back on campus with your regular group of friends. Out of the seventeen girls I studied abroad with (there were no boys!), Katie and Cathy are the only ones I keep in consistent contact with and I would attribute a lot of that to our dedication to our traditions. Last year we tried to make it to trivia nights or karaoke nights (a British influenced tradition) regularly, but those often fell through due to individual schedules.

This year, Sunday morning breakfast has stayed strong throughout. Each Saturday night we text each other to figure out what time we want to go (we wait until Saturday night so we gauge how many drinks we'll have or how late we'll stay out), then head to Weaver St. in the morning. We love Weaver St. because we can sit outside and people watch, and as many who visit know, Carrboro is full of a number of interesting characters. It doesn't matter if we just get a cup of coffee or the full breakfast bar or if Cathy brings her own cereal and milk (as she's been known to do), all that matters is we're continuing a tradition we all enjoy.

And not all traditions have to end well to be memorable, or even a good time. Take me and Katie N.'s tradition of seeing the Vagina Monologues each year (another tradition started in London.) Each February the Monologues are performed in Chapel Hill, and Katie and I make it a point to go. If you haven't seen it, I resoundingly recommend it. It's powerful, funny, and haunting all at the same time. The weird part about this routine is that two out of the three times we've gone, Katie has fainted. She has a history of fainting a lot, so it was nothing to get too worried about, but it does makes for a good story. I joked with her this year before we went that I should bring a candy bar just in case her blood sugar gets too low, turns out I should have followed through. About three-quarters of the way through, Katie faints and me and another friend take her out to the lobby for fresh air, fruit snacks and water. Though it's only happened twice, we now joke of the tradition of Katie fainting and nothing binds friends together more than an experience like that. Now, we can joke about the police officer who showed up and was obviously embarrassed at the parts of the Monologues he could hear from the lobby. He hesitantly asked what the show was about, and we replied that it was pretty self-explanatory. I'm not sure if we'll continue on with that tradition as it seeming to be a hindrance to Katie's health, but it's a great memory I'll take from my college experience.

It's true that some of my best memories from UNC are days and nights that were unexpected, but as I'm starting to think about all the things I'll miss about UNC, I've realized that a part of my life will be missing because of the lack of these traditions or routines. I guess the goal will be to start new traditions with new friends, and try to keep some with old friends. When I travel back to Chapel Hill for basketball games or homecoming weeks, I hope that table at Weaver St. is still waiting for me.

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