Some things I cry about

The last several weeks have been busy and while that’s no excuse for avoiding my blog… this is: I have a lot of negative thoughts going on. While many of these thoughts involve big life-altering dilemmas that lots of soon-to-be grads worry about, others are too raw and too personal to make a headline in a blogpost.

Which leaves me thinking… what topics are too private for a blog? None. I’m realizing it is not the topic but how comfortable the writer is associating herself with the topic that gives it permission to be shared. It’s only those thoughts that we’re afraid to admit that we deem too personal, and it’s not until you get a thought into words that it becomes an extension of yourself. Before it’s verbalized or written, it’s still inside of you. Safely.

Someone doesn’t write about coming out and embracing their sexual identity until they are comfortable enough (and brave enough) to do so. Someone doesn’t admit that they have a drug dependency until they have come to terms with it. Someone doesn’t talk about pursuing their biggest dream until they feel confident enough to share their progress with the world. For those of us who use words to express ourselves, it isn’t until those words are staring you back in the face that you realize … I just said that. I just admitted that. I just meant that.

And putting those words out there may be the biggest relief or the most terrifying step of the whole process. Once you say it, you have to answer to it. Unless you say it anonymously which is why POSTSECRET is a beautiful thing. I realize this post should lead into some big self-revelation/conclusion/announcement, but like I said, I’m not there yet. Instead, we’ll go back to Topic A: big life-altering dilemmas that lots of soon-to-be grads worry about.

Today while I was making my 6th annual trip from Harrisonburg to my parent’s house for the Thanksgiving holiday, I cried. I cried because I remembered pieces of all those other Thanksgiving trips I made before this one. I remembered carpooling with my freshmen friends and how we had to wait for everyone to finish their Tuesday class before we could leave. I remembered listening to Christmas songs the whole way because I won a bet that I could make a list of 150 of them. I remembered not getting to leave with all my other senior friends because I had to stay behind and close a whole residence hall. I just remembered all the times I’ve been leaving and coming back to this place I call home.

I love JMU so much and its such a huge part of who I am that I don’t feel like I’m ready to part with it. Because of this feeling, I’m making every micro-step of this semester into a bigger-than-it-needs-to-be ordeal. My last summer in Harrisonburg (three months ago) ended with me being a crybaby at Westover pool. My last batch of mom-made back-to-school brownies (two months ago) brought me to tears (mainly happy tears because I love my mom and I love brownies). My last home football game (a couple weeks ago) ended with me crying over the fact that I’m not going to be sporting my duke dog cape or purple and gold fencing socks until I come back next semester as an alumni. Even then I plan on doing my best to disguise the fact that I’m an alumni. I’ll be the alum who forgoes those comfy seats I paid for to squeeze into the student section.

I don’t know how else to say it, but seeing those beautiful Shenandoah Valley leaves turn brown literally causes me pain. I love JMU with my whole heart. It has been so good to me. I have learned so much about the world and myself through my years as a double duke. I know that because of my time here I am closer to being a world citizen who is ready to lead a productive and meaningful life, I just don’t want my time to be up. I don’t want to graduate yet, and every step that signifies that time is moving closer to May hurts my heart. I don’t have to graduate yet. I have six more months to flaunt my student status. I just need to have a next step set up which has me running into all of these questions:

  • Should I pursue a PhD program or dive into a real-world job?
  • Does moving to Colorado and opening a bakery with your best friend count as a real-world job?
  • When making big life decisions should your ultimate loyalty be to your family? Your significant other? Or your biggest dreams?
  • What really is more important: financial security or doing what you love?
  • What if the things you love only have money associated with them if you’re really, really good at them?
  • Do I really have to leave JMU? I know there are jobs here.

…and I really don’t have answers to any of these questions yet. Your insight is greatly appreciated.

6 thoughts on “Some things I cry about

  1. We are funny friends, Nicole. We are so very different in some ways and so very similar in others. Missing JMU hurts my heart sometimes and I have been gone for a year now. I miss that life and until I know where and what my next life is going to be, I think I will continue to miss it.

    The bottom line is you can do anything, and while that thought is overwhelming, it is empowering too. If you want to move to Colorado and open a bakery and you think that will make you happiest, then do it. I probably should have stayed in Chesterfield and taken that last interview, but I decided that financial security wasn’t as important as some other things. I don’t regret it and I think I’ll be just fine. I think I would have always wondered and regretted it if I had stayed.

    And I’m really happy you updated this. I love everything you write. You can do that, too, you know. Write. From anywhere basically. Though I can’t say that solidly since everywhere I’ve applied or attempted to contact in the writing field has failed to answer me, but I’m sure someone could answer one day!

  2. Okay, I admit it, your post kinda got me a little teary-eyed. I share your love for JMU, although I didn’t realize it until coming back. I’ve met some of the most open-minded, intelligent people at JMU than anywhere else. In the “real world,” I missed those interactions.

    The questions that you asked fill my mind on a daily basis, and I regret that I cannot provide any solid answers. Although, I remind myself that even those who have” made it”, financially or personally, think they haven’t done enough…there’s always that longing for more in life. But, perhaps that is the essence of life — striving. As far as jobs, it’s unfortunate that it seems that the ones that “do good” usually don’t equal financial security. I remind myself that it is difficult to “help” others when the basics aren’t covered for yourself(a.k.a reasonable pay,vacay, health benefits = sanity). If I can’t do as much “good” as I’d like, then just do as little “harm” as possible? There’s always those people who do their less lucrative passions on the side, and then end-up quitting their day jobs. I do know if you opened a bakery that you’d have some darn cute cupcakes to boast. You’ll find your way with your kindness, smarts, and creativity 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  3. oh lady. I wish I could write you from 2 years post-grad and tell you those questions get answered…I imagine you realize that they don’t usually, but that’s the thing stories and memories are made of. The loyalty question is one I grapple with often. Family? My dreams? The pursuit of happiness outside of New England again? You’ll figure out a way to make it through, albeit– you probably have a few more good cries in your future. But relish every salty tear because you can look back and know for sure how much life you lived in the last 6 years. <3 miss ya & keep on writing!!

  4. Leigh’s right.. those questions sometimes never get answered. I can tell you that sometimes you have to *make* the opportunity for your dreams to come true. I still miss JMU. Terribly. There are times when I really wish I could just jump in the car and drive up to JMU for the weekend. If you are good at doing something you love, financial security will come, mostly because you will MAKE it happen. What seems to happen to most soon-to-be grads is that you just have to come to terms with the fact that you have no idea what the future will hold. (Such is life, really.) However it works out, though, I know you’ll find happiness and joy in your life. That’s just part of who you are, Nicole!!

  5. Fantastic post. I wrote one very similarly when I left JMU. (http://www.jmu.edu/madisononline/lusk.shtml)

    2-years post-grad and I can tell you that I am the happiest I’ve ever been (which I did not think was even possible outside of JMU). I live in a place I love, with a person who is the most brilliant partner imaginable, I have a challenging job, and am comfortable with my body and age.

    For me this occurred because I did what I needed to do without regard to any other person. I believe there is a singular moment in your life when you have to do that, at least once. It lead me to every good thing I did not have before. Take a leap, my friend, I guarantee you will always be glad you did.

  6. I come back and read this post and these responses whenever I’m feeling scared about the future. I can not BELIEVE it’s been a year since I graduated. After a couple months of terrifying (and strangely liberating) uncertainty, I found the great job in a great city that’s close to home. I’ve been happy enough, but 11 months later, here I am about to “take the leap” and make a big change again. I still question everything and doubt everything and worry about things. I didn’t used to be like this.

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