Why I’m Happy I Went to Notre Dame (Despite my Mountains of Debt)

loans

Literally, the cost of my college education is equivalent to the small mountain of student debt I will be paying back forever. Even despite this astronomical cost (that I am now just beginning to fully grasp) the value and benefits of my time at Notre Dame far exceed the monetary cost of attendance. (bold statement right?)

There is something about a collection of young, curious, intelligent, inquisitive minds that is priceless. This environment provides endless opportunities for new ideas to be explored. Both academic and otherwise: from carefully analyzed theories on who the starting QB would be, to intense debates on social justice, and conversations regarding the physics of time travel. Participation in this kind of community provides an educational experience that goes far beyond simple text book and classroom learning.

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Millennials. Extraordinary?

Participation Trophy

Millennials are confident. We’ve been told that we are winners just for showing up. We get prizes and trophies for participating. We are told that we are special and different and wonderful. We are told this is a bad thing. We are told that these are lies. We are told we can’t all be extraordinary. But let me say this:

Even the word “extraordinary” has ordinary within it. Each individual essentially begins the same. A babbling, buoyant, but uneducated baby: raw potential. What sets an individual apart is not an inherent difference, but rather the way their raw potential is cultivated. It is this cultivation of youth that allows our society to advance and individuals to attain remarkable success and achieve extraordinary accomplishments. Therefore, it is logical that to realize Continue reading

#GIRLBOSS

GIRLBOSS

I can’t tell if this book is a memoir masquerading as a self-help book or vice versa. It is truly interesting to read about Miss Amoruso’s unconventional path to success, but to me, the book felt over wrought in its attempts to give advice. Miss Amoruso attempts to navigate the fine line between giving advice in a cool, relate-able way and sounding like your annoying know iit all older sister.

The chapters are littered with cliched (but good, nonetheless) quotes and advice, and each one ends with a “witty” observation meant to capture the spirit of the chapter — some are funnier than others. Her overwhelming use of #GIRLBOSS to describe successful women annoyed me in general.

Overall, it was difficult for me to discern who her intended audience is. Frequently throughout the book it seemed as though she was catering toward teenage girls with advice like, “money looks better in the bank than it does on your feet”, basic interviewing advice and “Take pride in what you do. Don’t do sloppy work”.

If #GIRLBOSS does offer one transcending piece of wisdom, it is this:

The Straight and Narrow is not the only path to Success.

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Power Posse

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This is what my celeb power posse is like in my imagination

Traveling for work means that I am sorely lacking a posse. I hang out at the office, and spend a lot of time in a hotel room by myself. And when I do venture down to the hotel bar for a glass or two of wine, I’m surrounded almost exclusively by men my dad’s age in suits. Thankfully I have some great friends who are always willing to chat when I’m feeling lonely, but I still have a lot of time to day dream.

In some of this free time I’ve been thinking about  which celebrities (or pseudo-celebrities) I would want to be best friends with and have around to hang out. Who knows, maybe if this goes viral I’ll actually be able to hang out with one (or all?!) of them. Continue reading

Play Like a Champion

Six months ago, I was devastated to find out that the most formidable woman I have ever met had unexpectedly passed away.

I’ve been thinking for a while about how to approach writing this post and I’m still not sure that I can do it justice, but it feels appropriate to try.

Six months ago, I, no, the world, lost Cathy.

I’m not even sure how to put into words what Cathy was to me. Our relationship was complicated. And tense at times.

She didn’t accept incompetence, and she never once let me off the hook. Cathy didn’t take crap from anyone, ever. Nothing made her angrier that a student walking into her office and spinning some bullsh*t tale about why they just couldn’t be an engineer. Cathy respected hard work. Plain and simple, in her eyes, it seemed nothing worth doing was simple. Continue reading

Thoughts on Pay Day

YES YES YES YES YESSSS!

I have monies!! Time to pay all of my bills………YAY!

Shoot.

I need a pedicure, desperately.

But student loans. Ugh.

Wait…. where did it all go?

What the heck did I buy this month on my Amex?

Oh…. right… that…… Target. damnit Target.

I worked so hard and it all gone. waaaahhh.

Thank goodness I like mac and cheese? cheap groceries for the win!

Adulting is hard.

Rules to Live By: Part 2

As of today I have been a member of the adult world for exactly six weeks. On one hand, I can’t believe its already been that long. On the other, I’m astonished that’s it. As much as I love Notre Dame and it will always be a part of who I am, I feel very far away from being a college student lately.

If you’ve been following this blog over the last couple months, you may remember that I had the opportunity to would at an amazing YMCA program this summer. During this program we had four rules:

Be Safe, Be Kind, Stay Smart, Have Fun.

Today I was at a leadership development meeting at work, and I got to thinking about these four rules. While I think that they are, and will always be applicable to my life personally, I started thinking about how they could be adapted to apply to professional life. Here’s what I came up with: Continue reading

Stuck

What scares you? What really scares you? Is it spiders or ghosts, dying or loneliness?

For me, tonight at least, its getting stuck. I’m so scared of getting stuck, of taking all those big dreams and wild hopes inspired by the boundless possibilities of youth and putting them on hold. I’m scared of growing up so much that I only do what is practical and responsible.

The big adventures in life aren’t practical, but I don’t want to miss out on those crazy impractical adventures. I want to find the time to chase those “pointless” dreams. Learn French, just because. Volunteer, travel, teach.

But these adventures aren’t free. And student loans are a thing. And rent. And food, and transportation, and doctor’s bills. And a nice stable 9-5 job to fund it all. And while that job lets me be a responsible, financially independent adult, it also means that I have many less hours to chase after experiences on a whim.

I’ve already have a list of things to do once I’ve finished paying student loans. I recently compared this list to the things I put on the bucket list I made at 17. The more recent list is significantly less imaginative. While at 17 I might have under estimated the benefits of Lasik (the first thing on my post-loans list), I don’t want to lose the “anything is possible” spirit that inspired the list I made at 17.

So to anyone reading: please share some of the wild crazy hopes and dreams you have for your future. (If you don’t mind) Help inspire new dreams for my future and keep from getting “stuck”.

Middle School, Jury Duty, Cliches and Success

Lately I’ve been thinking about a lot of things that come with being an adult. Paying back loans, investing, health insurance, rent, and that ever elusive “five year plan”. In the midst of all this I’ve been circling around the question of what exactly success looks like to me.

Is success power, or money? Influence? Title? In reality I think most people come to the conclusion that success is not something that can be tangibly measured.

For me, I think that success is defined by happiness. But this concept isn’t any less elusive than the concept of success itself. Happiness doesn’t necessarily mean that you walk through life in a state of euphoria, to look for that is to end up chasing cheap thrills and quick highs. Impulse buys, and bad decisions. Expecting happiness to be a state of EVERYTHING IS AWESOME a la Lego Movie is ridiculous.

So what is happiness? How do you get there?

If you ask me (and you didn’t, but you’re here reading anyways) happiness is built on the freedom of choice.

Happiness has highs, and lows, and stress, and exhaustion. Happiness is the ability to throw your self into something full force. Happiness is knowing when to engage and when to pull back, and feeling like the elements of your life are in your control.

Think back to middle school. Most middle schoolers I know detest school, or at least claim to. Do 12 and 13 year olds really hate learning? Do they really hate being with their peers for 6 hours a day? I would venture to say no… but I think most people DO hate feeling that they are being forced to do something. When you have no control over the events of your day, its easy to resent the thing that takes that control away.

Think forward, what are the things that are most upsetting to adults? Not responsibilities that we have chosen to take on. If you volunteer for a project at work, or to help planning a charity event, or to fund raise for a cause, its almost fun. You take pride in what you are doing, how you have chosen to spend your time and the responsibility that you have taken on.

But conversely, think about how you feel about a demanding boss, or being summoned to jury duty. Frustrated. Grumpy. Disgruntled. Not Happy. These things take away your ability to chose what to pursue and how to spend your time.

So what about when life throws you a set of circumstances that take away your ability to choose? There are all sorts of situations in which you have exactly zero choice. Sometimes things just happen. According to this theory, how can you be happy when life plays you a bad card?

Well I would venture to say that no one is happy when they get dealt a bad hand (excuse all the playing card allusions lately). But you CAN find happiness in how you choose to respond, what you choose to do next.

So in the spirit of being young and naive and optimistic, here’s a cliche. Maybe life really IS what you make it. Success is determined by your own definition, and happiness is quite literally, in your control.

Carpe Diem

A college essay revisited. I’m not quite sure what the prompt was. I’ve bolded the parts that I would echo today and added some commentary in italics at the end.

Carpe Diem

Life is full of clichés, “live like you’re dying”, “carpe diem”, “and “shoot for the stars”. These little pieces of encouragement and inspiration infiltrate our lives, but at their core, they are almost contradictory. Throughout life people are faced with the choice between following a short term whim and working toward a long term goal. Ultimately it is a balance of these two conflicting possibilities that affords the fullest quality of life.

Spontaneity is an essential part of living a fulfilling life. The phrase “live like you’re dying” seemingly encourages acting on impulse and satisfying short-term goals. Though these impulses may occasionally come at the cost of a longer term goal, they are usually beneficial. The ability to be spontaneous and enjoy random and unpredictable moments in life is what differentiates humans from machines or animals focused solely on survival. Emotion, passion and delight are forces that one must reconcile with logic and reason as a human being. It is these same forces however, that give us the ability to experience life beyond the ordinary and routine. The gratification of a whim or impulse has an unpredictable impact on one’s life, often taking them on a winding journey of discovery. These discoveries may include new relationships, unforeseen successes, or even advancement toward a long term goal. Life’s unpredictable nature ultimately makes choices based on impulse, whims, and short-term pleasure reasonable and necessary.

While decisions made on impulse or whims are beneficial, one must also maintain long term goals and aspirations. Goals focused in the future give one a sense of direction and purpose as they navigate various obstacles throughout life. These goals eventually become the heart of our life’s purpose. A long term goal helps to sustain focus, foster responsibility and develop character as one must overcome adversity and devote themselves to achieving this long-term success. Additionally a long-term goal lends a sense of higher purpose to the mundane decisions of everyday life and can help one to avoid rash and reckless actions. The cliché “stand for something or you will fall for anything” exemplifies this philosophy. On the whole, if one has no direction, they are likely to simply follow the crowd and float through life never achieving greatness. Therefore long-term goals should be well thought-out, individualized, and approached with zeal. Though short-term goals create the embellishments on a life, long term goals and successes are the fabric upon which they are created.

Thus life should be a combination of short term whims and impulses that enrich the journey one embarks on to achieve long term successes. The clichés that permeate daily life, though seemingly conflicted, indeed offer words of wisdom. It is, in fact, possible to “live like you’re dying” and to “shoot for the stars” as both impulses and focused goals are essential to a fulfilling life. Ultimately neither can exist alone and our objective should become to live each day “carpe diem,” to “seize the day” simultaneously putting forth effort toward long term dreams and aspirations while snatching moments of impulse as they appear.

SO. Upon re-reading this attempt at wisdom from my teenaged self, I think that this essay is one giant cliche. There are a few points that I think are well made (go me!) but ultimately I would send this essay through some serious re-writes at this point. 

On a completely unrelated note… I would love some feedback! Would anyone at all want to see more old college essays? Would anyone want to see a re-write? Let me know?