What I’m thankful for | Education

While this is often the source of most of my complaints, it is one thing that I am the most thankful for: education.

It has taken me 24 years, 10 months, and 19 days to figure out that education is the most important and most valuable thing you can have in your life. Money, houses, cars, they don’t mean a single thing. It is the knowledge, character, and success that comes from education. It has taken me this long to also appreciate the success and preparedness that goes along with receiving a quality education.

A little fun fact that you might not know about me, is that I am a Catholic school girl. Pre-K through 12th grade, I donned a uniform every single day of my life. During these years, mostly high school, I didn’t know how to appreciate how much of a blessing Catholic schooling was. I was extremely well-prepared for college. I [would like to think I] am a well-rounded individual. I was challenged academically and pushed forward to success, even at an early age. I didn’t really realize the toll that this expense took on my family and that sending my brother and I to Catholic school for all those years was actually a huge deal. A deal now that I wonder about for my future children.. *How will I be able to afford this? Can I support this? Is this even possible? Why am I thinking about kids? I’m only 24 jeez slow down.*

Again in these 24 years, 10 months, and 19 days, I have learned about the importance of not only furthering your education but furthering your education in the right institutions. There is an extreme difference between a low quality and high quality institution, both support-wise and emotional-stability-wise.  Another little fun fact? I have gone to three colleges. I graduated with my Bachelor’s from one. Tried grad school at the other. And am about to graduate with a Master’s from the next.

That school in the middle? Hated it. I felt extremely uncomfortable being there. I didn’t feel supported. I didn’t feel as if I was learning adequate information, let alone adequate information that would actually pertain to my future. I felt lost, uninspired, and unmotivated. But what was even scarier? Coming to terms and accepting the fact that I needed to move on.. an opportunity that, again, I am thankful to have had. If I had never chosen to better myself and better my education and better my future, where would I be today?

I am thankful to have been raised going to Catholic school, an opportunity many do not have. I am thankful to be able to go to college, a blessing that some people unfortunately do not have. I am thankful that I have had these opportunities, and I wish that everyone else could say the same.

Education is something that I will fight for every day of my life. I believe that quality education paves the way for our future leaders, doctors, lawyers, teachers, you name it. Every kid deserves a shot at high quality education. Every kid deserves a shot at graduation. Every kid deserves a shot at success.

Education.. I thank you. xoxo.

Welcome to the real world!

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Today was a big day solely for the fact that this afternoon, I had my first interview for a job in my field of study. It went well and I am proud of how it went, but I am overwhelmingly happy that it is finally over. The first-time-don’t-know-what-to-expect jitters are gone and I feel like I can finally breathe again.

Here’s some tips for all you peeps out there beginning to enter into the real world post-graduation:

  1. It’s more than okay to be nervous.
  2. Plan the route to your destination ahead of time, and give yourself at least 15 minutes leeway to account for traffic or other unexpected traffic scenarios.
  3. Make sure you have all of the necessary paperwork they want to look over – drivers license, social security card, official transcript, certifications, etc. It is better to bring too many things than not enough!
  4. Dress to impress. Even if the attire for said-job is more casual, it’s better to be overdressed than under!
  5. Show up at least 15 minutes early. You do not want to be late, but also want to prove that you’re ready and excited to be there!
  6. Smile, stand up, shake hands, sit down.
  7. Don’t cut yourself short! When the interviewer asks you to describe yourself, your talents, your aspirations, your qualifications, don’t undershoot. Preach it to the choir that you are awesome and deserve this job!
  8. Relax. Breathe. It will all be over before you know it!

Now, all that’s left to do is sit and wait for the call telling me if I got the job or not, and to prepare myself for [possible] other interviews to come! xoxo.

The Power of Putting Your Happiness Above All Else

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Growing up, I have always had this aching need to make others happy. I thought that by doing everything by the book, everything expected of me, that I would find my own happiness in knowing I never did anything to let anybody down. I wanted to accomplish things so that others would be proud of. I wanted to be perfect in the eyes of everyone I knew.

I got by living this way for a solid twenty-something years. I went to Catholic school and was a “star student.” I rarely broke the rules. I graduated high school with distinction. I was in a long term relationship with a guy my family loved. Wasn’t a teen mom. Wasn’t addicted to drugs. I moved away to college and graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in 3 years. My life seemed to play out in a way in which I thought, “this is too good to be true.” I was right, but I didn’t know then what I know now.

Spring semester of my senior year of undergrad, my world slowly felt like it was crashing down. All this hard work over 21 years brought nothing but rejection after rejection to graduate programs for my chosen field. My love life was rocky. I lost connection with friends. Things were going on in my life that I never thought I’d face. I felt worthless. I felt as if I had wasted all of my time and worked hard for nothing. This didn’t seem right. It didn’t seem fair.

Instead of sitting down and putting immense thought into my future, I hastily accepted a spot into a program at a school that I did not care for. It was the first acceptance letter I had seen in months, and I jumped at the opportunity. I thought it was an easy fix. My parents wanted me to go there, my friends went there, and I wouldn’t have to endure a “gap year” — something that I didn’t think I needed until now.

I lasted an entire two years in that program — halfway through getting a Master’s degree — only for me to pass the point of no return and have a mental breakdown. From the outside, nobody would have ever known. My grades did not suffer, but my mental health did. I was faking a smile, telling people I loved my school and I loved my potential career choice. I felt as if everyday I was living a lie. I knew I wasn’t happy, but I didn’t want others to know it.

Everyday, I would wake up and go to bed anxious. I was afraid of backing out because I didn’t want others to see me as a failure. I wanted to prove that I could overcome hardship. That although my original dream did not come true, I could make it better. But instead, I was only making it worse. I lost friends. My stress put a damper on a new relationship. I went out more. I ate less. I tried so hard to find a glimmer of happiness to keep me going. I tried until the very end, until I decided to be brave and to forget what everyone else thought.

I remember leaving my now-old school after my last cumulative final. That was the day I learned I got accepted to a school I loved into a program of my dreams. I cried the entire drive home. How would I tell my parents that I decided to change my mind? How would they react to me getting accepted into a different program at a different school? This would be my third college and I only have one degree, would they be mad?

It was the overwhelming excitement and support from my boyfriend and my best friend that made me realize something — nothing else matters but my own happiness. Why wasn’t I proud of myself for getting into a program that only accepts 20 students? Why wasn’t I proud of myself for being brave enough to walk away — walk away from fear, from stress, from a life I didn’t want?

My friends and family could not believe all I have endured inside of my head. My mother was upset I didn’t share any of this with her so that she could help me get through it. The more I opened up, the more I saw that I made the right decision. I had nothing to be afraid of. I don’t regret it, but I wished I had found help long before I realized I needed it.

It took time, but I am here. I am ecstatic knowing that in one short week, I will be pursuing something that I love. Contrary to my prior beliefs, I do not see anything that I have been through as a failure. It was terrible, but I would not take any of it back. Sometimes, the road to your happiness can be rocky. Hardships are brought into your life to be a stepping stone to get you where you need to be. It won’t happen overnight, but things do get better. I am surrounded by love and support, I am excited for my future, and — most importantly — I am happy.