Tag Archives: graduation

A Body In Motion Tends to Gets Shit Done

If I have learned anything from post-grad life, it’s that unless I absolutely force myself to do something, it will probably only happen every 5-6 months.

Since graduation, I have written exactly one complete story and have revised absolutely nothing. This is devastating because I am not doing the very thing I went to school for 5 years and earned two degrees to do.

And it’s much too easy to convince myself that I am just too tired after my six hour work day to go for a 30-minutes run.

The hard truth of it is that in school, you need very little self discipline because you have hard and fast deadlines to adhere to. Post-graduation, that’s just not the case, so one must develop some serious self-control in order to actually get things done, even things you legitimately want to do (because there will always be an excuse not to).

How do you go about cultivating some self-discipline?

According to the first link I found on google, one must:

1. Develop and Follow your Priorities

2. Make a Disciplined Lifestyle Your Goal

3. Challenge your Excuses

4. Remove Rewards Until the Jobs is Done

5. Stay Focused on Results

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For me, personally? I’ve made a few strides in getting myself to actually get things done, and the number one reason is this: I adhere to a schedule. And I don’t let myself slow down or blow it off.

I am finally in the office every day, so when I come home, the work day is actually over and there is a separation between work and play. This is particularly crucial because after working from home for 5 months, the lines began to blur and I started to seriously resent my living room couch.

So now, when I come home, the first thing I do is: sit for a moment, have a small snack, drink some water, and then I immediately go for a run. I’m usually tired, kind of want to make dinner, and really just want to watch tv–but no. It’s 30 minutes, I have no reason not to go.

When I get home from my run, I shower and feel like I have accomplished something.

And it is that that feeling of productivity that keeps me going. Without feeling productive during the day, I get depressed, feel down on myself, and then proceed to accomplish NOTHING.

It’s all about inertia. A body in motion tends to stay in motion, so start your day by being productive and keep being productive.

Come home and go on your run. Come home and write your story. Sure, take a small break, but don’t turn on the TV, don’t lay on your bed–keep yourself in the mindset that you aren’t done for the day  just yet.

Because the minute you sit down and stop, you stop for the night. At least in my experience, it is really hard to get moving again, and that’s what has been killing my productivity. Don’t let it kill yours too.

 

 

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This Big Scary World

It’s always a strange feeling to realize that many of my friends have been out of school for at least a year now, while I am still waiting to finally move away from campus. Some of them have already switched jobs twice, some are engaged, some are married and some have taken their year off and are headed back to school. In a way, I am ahead of people my age because I finished grad school a year early, but I also feel like I’m a year behind.

When you’re in school, you always talk about that big and scary “Real World” where you’ll have to find a job and support yourself. Now, suddenly, it’s a reality, and I’m really scared. But that’s normal, right?

Maybe I’m not setting myself up for the smoothest of transitions. I’m in the process of moving to a new place away from my parents but populated by a good number of my college friends. I have an apartment, I have furniture, I have savings, but no job. That’s right, I’m part of the ridiculously high percentage of college grads with liberal arts degrees going off into the real world without a job. And again, I’m really freaking scared.

Everyone keeps telling me how brave I am and how impressed they are with my courage. Hah, great, thanks guys. That makes me feel good about this life choice.

I think this is something everyone who studies English (or any discipline that can be described as a “liberal art”) encounters when they make the choice not to pursue a career in teaching or academia. What are our skills good for? Well, tons of things. I only went to school for five years to learn how to write and communicate well, including multiple genres and forms. I am great at researching and fact checking. I can edit for grammar, style and content. And I am ridiculously creative–something my liberal arts degree encouraged and required. I can analyze pretty much anything within logical bounds and identify what an audience prefers over something else, and why they prefer it. So why then is it so hard to find a job?

I think it has more to do with the state of the job market and how companies are operating in an employers market. When you have the pick of the masses, you’re gonna pick the ones you don’t have to train. It makes sense and I can’t argue with that. It’s frustrating as someone just starting out and hoping someone will take a chance on me, but I do understand.

I just have to keep looking, and looking, and looking…

What is much more frightening about this big move is that for the first time, my life isn’t scripted. When you’re in your school years, it’s one grade after the next, and then college, then grad school and then a job. But what job? Where do you work? What work do you do? There is no set path anymore.

So here I am, wondering if I am making the right decision. Is this the right place to move? Am I applying for the right jobs? Am I going to live in the right neighborhood? Now, everything in my life is subject to second guessing. Now that is scary.

But everything will be fine, right? …right?

I find myself switching back and forth between absolute terror and unbridled excitement. I can always be a stereotype and work in a Starbucks to pay the bills. And if I can’t pay the bills, I will move back home. I am surrounded by friends, I have a supportive family, I’ll be okay. With that in mind, I feel like nothing can go too horribly wrong. And yet, what if this is the first time I fail? What if I use up all my savings and never get a good footing? What if I can’t make it work? Then I move home and I take a different path. And that’s okay. Deep breaths…

I think the hardest part of this whole ordeal will be coming to terms with my unscripted life. Maybe I won’t use the skills I gained in my college years. Or maybe I will. But I can’t pigeon hole myself into one path. That’s not how life works, and it’s really hard to accept that.

Reminds me of writing a book. Sometimes the outline you spent hours planning just doesn’t work and the story veers off in a totally new direction. Hopefully this one has a proper happy ending, or at least some really awesome adventures along the way.

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It’s Official!

I Passed!!

I am officially a Master of English!

Sure, this was *technically* taken two months ago, but now it’s for real. Feels good man, feels good.

I should probably thank all the people that got me to this point in my life:

My father, for convincing me I could get into grad school when I was doubting whether I should submit an application at all.

My mother, for letting me vent whenever I needed to (pretty much all the time).

My boyfriend, for being proud of me and supporting me all along the way.

My roommate, who shared this ridiculous BA/MA experience with me.

My professors, for accepting me for who I am as a writer and encouraging me to purse what I love, not just what is considered “literature.”

My cat, for all the cuddles he provided when I was was feeling down.

And to everyone else–my peers, my readers, my co-workers–who gave me the confidence, the support, and the reassurance that this was the right path for me and everything was gonna be just fine.

THANK YOU.

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My Farewell Reading

As the semester wraps up, it’s starting to become more and more real that I won’t be coming back to Miami next year. It will be the first time in five years where Miami won’t be my home, and I won’t have classes to attend, or homework to complain about. It’s weird.

But the end of the year, though bittersweet, is always accompanied by some great events. Like the “Goodbye Forever” final grad student reading. Not only was it the last reading of the year, but it was the very first time I got up in front of a (very large) crowd and read my own work. For everyone outside of the fiction program, it was the first time they’ve heard or seen something I’ve written. It was exciting, scary, and as soon as it was over, I wanted to do it again.

I’d say I did alright. I practiced a little before hand, but not enough to allow me brief glances at the audience. The whole “eye contact” thing would have been great, but I figured for my first go at it, not flubbing the words would be better. I even got some solid laughs! I may have preempted the biggest joke in the story by chortling at it first, before actually delivering it. Everyone said it was endearing, but I’m going for the hard sell, deadpan delivery next time. It’s what the story deserves.

The other readers were amazing. I got to hear a number of the second years that had also never read before and damn, I am sad to see them go. Check out the names on that flyer because you will see them in print someday. And definitely catch them at a reading if you can, because they are great.

Unusual for a reading, but a great treat, was listening to a short concert put on by Ellery (www.ellerymusic.com), which consists of one of my grad school friends and her lovely husband. I’d never heard them play, but they have had quite the success in recent years and actually only went to grad school to try something different.

I, of course, bought both their CDs and you should too. They are fantastic. And if you ever get to see them live–wow. Just, wow.

It was a great night–sad, but wonderful. There are so many people that I hope I keep in touch with, or at least see again sometime in the future. Somehow it feels like grad school lasted an eternity, and yet my time with these people was way too short.

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