July 28, 2010 by Jenn Addison
When I compare my life now as a rising senior in College to my life back when I was a rising senior in High School I’ve come to the conclusion that for two seemingly different times in my life-they are actually very similar.
Remember that time that you were 17 or 18 years old? And remember how that automatically made everyone around you feel entitled to ask you what you were doing post-graduation? Remember how people felt entitled to ask you where you were going to college way before applications were even available? Well think about how awful and annoying that time in your life was and then think about how awful and annoying it would be to experience it again four years later-welcome to my life.
Even as a freshman I remember a few inquiries here and there about what I wanted to do post-undergrad even though I had barely even begun my college journey. Now as a senior I don’t think that I can make it through the day without getting multiple inquiries about my future from curious parents on tours, faculty members, or even my friends; and the truth is the more people that ask me about it, the less interested and motivated I am to figure out what lies ahead for me. I don’t know what I want to do and I’ve never really known what I ultimately want to do or where my life is taking me but I have been perfectly content with the opportunities that I have taken and the decisions that I have made up until this point in my life. I have always been content because even if my life path in the long run may not be too clear right now, the experiences that I have been fortunate enough to have are enough to reassure me that I must be doing something right and eventually I’ll figure things out I just need to keep doing what I’m doing.
So what’s my answer when someone asks me what I’m doing after I graduate? I don’t have an answer-I don’t know. Even though I’m okay with the unknown, I often feel like the majority of people are not. Most people seem to be unsatisfied and unsettled by the idea that a year away from entering the real world I am still entirely clueless.
I think the reason why it doesn’t bother me it because I have goals, I have dreams, I have ambitions. My goal is to be happy, plain and simple and throughout my life experiences thus far I have found things that make me happy but almost more importantly I have discovered what doesn’t make me happy. For instance, I know that my future will not consist of me wearing a suit to work every day and sitting in front of a computer screen from 8-5. I know that my future has to involve my return to the Middle East because I know if it does not I will forever regret not going back. Honestly, it’s comforting knowing that I’m not going to settle and whatever I choose to do is because I genuinely wanted to do it. Of course I have dreams-when I was younger it was to be a firefighter or an astronaut and now of course I still have those crazy dream jobs. My dream jobs of the moment are to-become a commercial pilot, become a chef and own a restaurant, or work for National Geographic. These may or may not be realistic-that is an arguable point-but I think that having big dreams keeps me sane. My ambition of the moment? To remain calm through all of this senior year chaos of finding a career or the perfect job. I don’t know what the perfect job is yet, I have no clue but that doesn’t faze me.
What really scares me is that with this liberal arts degree from the College, the options and possibilities of what I can do are endless and that is scary, overwhelming, yet incredibly exciting all at the same time. I’ll ease the pressure that people feel so entitled to put on me by just continuing to do what I love and what I feel is right because so far I’m doing fine and I truly believe that every decision, choice, or mistake that I’ve made so far has taken me somewhere. So sure I’m not sure where exactly I’m going on this journey but-I’m going.
July 12, 2010 by Jenn Addison
Today in the wee hours of the morning, I woke up to what I thought was a mechanical defect with my air conditioning. It was making this really annoying sound that, in my sleepy delirium, almost made me believe that someone was playing the drums right outside my window. My second thought was that my air conditioner was in its last leg after being constantly set at the highest possible setting and coldest possible temperature in an attempt to battle the heavy Williamsburg heat. Then I spent the next five minutes trying to decide A) if I could possibly muster up the energy to get up and turn it off so that the drumming would cease and sleep could continue B) If I turned it off would I then be kept awake by the heat that I knew would immediately set in, thank you Williamsburg.
I guess for a while I was just thinking too loudly to notice that the drum was changing tempo or in other words that there was never a mechanical problem with my AC and that it was actually rain hitting the outer part of my air conditioner that hangs out of the window. Oh and there was never actually anyone playing drums outside of my window which I guess is obvious now but hey I was convinced in my groggy state. It hasn’t rained in weeks and so I was pleased to discover that I had a few more hours of sleep to go, curled up under my covers, and fell asleep to the sound of thunder and the rain pitter pattering on my air conditioning; a sound that is considerably less enjoyable than thunder but I was able to fall back to sleep only after a few seconds of tossing and turning out of annoyance.
A few hours later I faced yet another conundrum. I was lying in bed, perfectly bundled up, the room had just the right amount of dark and gloominess, the conditions were ideal for continuing my morning in a deep slumber. Ideal minus that whole job thing that I had to wake up for. After pressing snooze about 6 times I finally, stubbornly, emerged from the cave that I had constructed with my covers and pillows and lazily got ready for work while desperately trying to resist the seductress nature of a summer thunderstorm trying to allure me back to into my bed. Finally, ready to brave the elements, with no idea where my umbrella or rain boots were, I headed outside…it was only slightly drizzling at the time…so the walk from the back door to the car wasn’t too bad.
Stopping by Wawa on the way to work for some Earl Grey tea on a rainy day is so crucial so of course that’s what I did. Then I came outside to find that the drizzle had picked up into more of a tropical storm type downpour. So, I went back into Wawa and came out equipped with a plastic bag ‘rain hat’ over my head and booked it to the car. Soaked. The only thing the plastic bag did is nearly suffocate me. Great. The next step in this game was to get dropped off at the admissions office. Readjusted the paper bag hat. Jumped out of the car. Ran to the door. Soaked. Risked suffocation once again. Oh and that Earl Grey tea that I was looking so forward to, burned my tongue in the car. Still bitter about that.
Once I made it out of the rain, I headed downstairs to dry off in front of the space heater. Apparently the downstairs had also felt the wrath of the storm and brown murky water was slowly seeping in. I finally found a spot, away from the rain, flooding, and scolding hot tea. Despite the morning, I actually hoped that it would continue raining all day and I was excited to spend all day at work looking forward to going home, getting back under the covers listening to the rain, and watching movies till my brain fell out of my butt. But of course once I got to work and was safely inside the sun showed its face just to taunt me a little bit. I’ve managed to stay nice and warm and dry inside the admissions office all day. So its stopped raining for now but its 4:53pm and I’m about to get kicked out of here and start my walk home. Who knows what could happen. Wish me luck.
June 25, 2010 by Jenn Addison
I have made the same mistake twice but it’s not too late to go back and fix either error.
I’m talking about how I’ve grown up for the past 21 years in Washington, DC, our nation’s capital, one of the most visited tourist destinations in the country; a location that tells the story of the birthplace of our nation, where some of our best and worst leaders have walked the streets. I have lived there but I have not lived there. I’d be ashamed to try to name the number of times that I’ve gone into DC just to be a tourist, to just look around, go see Lincoln, pretend that I’m a super secret spy at the Spy Museum, or relive important historical events at the Newseum. In reality, outside of elementary school field trips I really have not gone out to appreciate DC on my own and that is something that I regret, but it is not too late. The past four years of college have slowly but surely reawakened my thirst for knowledge and exploration post high school senior slump. I’m glad that I’ve taken the first step and realized that I’m letting myself take this incredible place, where I’ve been able to grow up, that is so rich in culture and history, for granted. Looking back on high school, I discussed how eager I was to finally be able to go out to bars in Washington, DC but didn’t talk enough about how I wanted to go see the latest exhibit at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum or National Gallery of Art.
My second mistake? Over the past three years I’ve had the incredible opportunity to live in a place that prides itself on being a living history, Colonial Williamsburg. The College of William and Mary and its surroundings is a hot spot for tourists, people pay lots of money and come trekking from across the country to be here and all I have to do to enjoy the sights is walk out my front door down the street and with a flash of my student ID I can enjoy all of the sights and sounds and wonders of Williamsburg. But have I ventured beyond the Peanut Shop, Aroma’s, or house dressing, nope. And I’m not proud of it. I have met innumerable history buffs that would love to switch places with me for a day just to have the opportunity to live here.
I’ve slowly started to make amends with Washington, DC. I was one of the thousands of people who braved the bitter cold to watch President Obama get inaugurated on the steps of the Capitol. Sure I was nowhere near the Capitol; I was actually on the complete opposite side of the mall on the lawn of the Washington Monument, but that’s not the point. The point is that there I was experiencing history as it happened right before my eyes, the inauguration of our first African American President. Even though I may have missed out on numerous other chances to experience history being made, here I was, changing that because it’s never too late. Just two weeks ago I was at the Smithsonian of Natural History captivated by the towering fossil of the T-Rex, double checking that I had no hitchhiking butterflies on me before exiting the butterfly room, and just feeling like I was back to my curious 8 year old self. I’ve been missing out on a lot in the incredible city that sits just across the river, but I’m so glad that I realized that I have been missing out and am now doing something about it.
Next year will be my last year as a student at the College and hopefully next time you see me walking towards CW and ask me what I’m up to I’ll say, “headed to the Cheese Shop for a sandwich…then I’m going to check out what I’ve been missing these past 3 years.
June 25, 2010 by Jenn Addison
Why did I take feminism and the environment? Why am I in the Muslim Students Association? Why do I choose to do my work at the Daily Grind instead of the library? Because I can. Because I wanted to. Because these four years of college that I am about to complete are my four years. It is true that college is the best four years of your life but it took completely removing myself from the campus, the state of Virginia, and the United States all together to realize why these truly are the best years of my life.
Last semester I faced my fear of everyone on campus forgetting about me and left my home at William and Mary for the Middle East. It was by no means easy to leave W&M. By fall of junior year my insecurities and anxieties were down to a minimum and my comfort level had pretty much sky-rocketed since freshman year. Leaving, at that point, in my eyes, meant risking all of the ease, comfort, and confidence that I had found. Unsure is an understatement in terms of me feeling secure that leaving my lush, green sunken garden for the dry, dry desert. But I discovered that leaving was more than right, it was necessary; necessary for me to realize that these four years are a gift. I have pretty much been handed opportunities throughout college, to join this, take that, meet him or her, go here and there, and that, I discovered, is why I love this place and these four years.
The four years of my undergraduate experience will have ‘Jenn’ written all over them once I graduate. All of my decisions, mistakes, risks, achievements, failures, tales and travels are 100% mine. Sure I am at the College of William and Mary with 5600 other students that are also taking classes and joining clubs and traveling to far away places. In the big picture, we may all be doing the same things and going through the same motions to graduate but when you take a closer look, you can see that we are all making our own Colleges of William and Mary that is uniquely us so that each student makes these four years into exactly what they want and all of our stories are different. No two William and Mary’s are the same. When else will you have four years with all of the resources that you can imagine-grants, scholarships, incredible faculty, supportive community-that allow you to make those four years into a creation of your own.
These four years are the best of my life because they are mine and no one else’s, 100% me.