Life

Disillusionment After Uni: Moving Forward

grayscale photo of woman covering her mouth using her hands
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Well, what can I say after a title like that, huh? Well first let me start by saying that this is in no way a negative sort of post, it is a self-recording of what I have been through since graduating college.

I have taught myself a lot since my education has fallen into my own hands. When attending college, I didn’t seek out much guidance because I was often told to take pricier classes, or more classes than what I needed. One time I was placed in a math far above my level, I’m not so good in the mathematic area, but ever since then I never sought out any guidance and took only what I needed. This meant I only worked in a library job for 2 years for fun, with no real intention on being a librarian.

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What have I learned?

Well, I guess I have learned that not planning what my next move might have made the transition from student to working adult a little more tedious. Now I only have vague credentials that are “all over the place” like most hiring jobs tell me. I come from a very small town in Ohio (in the United States for anyone reading who is unfamiliar with the states), this is a place where I see poverty every day. People struggle to make ends meet and are “stuck” in place by the questionable economy.

When I graduated, I started applying to every place I could. I sent my resume to blogging sites, magazines, and even libraries. But no one was hiring a fresh and possibly inexperienced grad.

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When I got my hundredth (or quite close to my hundredth) rejection letter, I wanted to give up. I would throw myself onto my bed and stare at the ceiling- I knew I’ve hit a roadblock.

What now? What now? What now?

I would repeat those words as I paced, unemployed for two months and running out of savings. I then caved and applied to any opening I saw online, jobs high schoolers usually had. That was when I got a job at a movie theater.

two white and red admission tickets
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Now I don’t want to be a pessimist and say that the world was awful for reducing me, a college grad, into such a position as a part-time cashier at a small theater in a dying mall. It was the opposite. I went into myself for the time, watching the world as an observer. I didn’t want to think about the direction my life would take next.

So now here’s the hard part- I got an idea. What if I teach myself what they would teach me in school for a lot less and find a job that would give me a chance? Well, I started to pay for courses online (making sure they were accredited) while I started to reapply for jobs like a mad woman.

That was when I got a phone call. One private business called up my house and was asking to see me for an interview. My heart nearly flew out when I heard her say “for the photography assistant position”. Holy crap!

I had taken two years of Photoshop, film, and media training in a career center during my high school years. Nothing to do with my college degree. I jumped on the opportunity and went to my interview with high hopes.

What I came to was blessing in disguise.

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I didn’t want to get out of my car. It was a very warm May morning, but I wanted to just sit in my car and stare at the building before me. I couldn’t believe my one big breakthrough was in a dilapidated old house right beside a run-down bar. I set out an alert on my phone, knowing I’ve seen movies that ended badly after these situations before going in.

“No one really walks in the door when the see the place,” said one manager as we sat down for the interview. I told them my experience with photography and editing, and how I liked to create beautiful videos and pictures in my free time. Next thing I knew, I got a phone in the morning. I was hired!

Now I’m not saying it was the best gig, but it was an amazing experience to travel on the road and see new things and places. The girl I was assistant to was the sweetest person I could have been matched with. This job gave me confidence in myself and made me think ‘if I could find this job, I could find any job if I give it a chance’.

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That job didn’t last more than two months, the business went belly up and I was once again only working part-time at the theater. I knew I had to put my degree to good use one way or another and what better way than being a substitute teacher? I applied and got the job as fast as I could, traveling from school to school to teach new kids every day… I hated it.

I was desperate for money and I had two jobs that were not what I wanted to do. That was when my friend told me about the full-time position I am currently at now. It’s not what I had wanted, but seeing how far I’ve come and all the adventures I’ve already had, I know I won’t be lost for too long. After everything I went through this last year I found that my degree isn’t everything and it won’t give me the world. My determination and open mindedness got me every job I’ve had so far. They aren’t in my field of study, but they are helping me get to where I want to be.

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I am here to encourage anyone, degree or not, to keep your mind open and enjoy where you are because just one year out of college I found a huge group of friends, traveled for miles around as a photographer, met many different people, seen many strange places as a substitute teacher (while getting tips on a possible way to go if I wanted to pursue education), and found a job that gave me my own office (which oddly has been a dream of mine).

I can’t wait to see where this new year will take me! But I know I don’t have to stay in one place for too long if I don’t want to.

Writing

Writing Habits: How To Make Writing A Daily Routine

We all dream of the perfect routines that will meet our writing deadlines, but do we know how to go about that? Here are tips on how to at least start a daily writing routine and reach your goals.

First, you can’t change your daily routine dramatically. If you are a late riser, eat cereal for breakfast and lunch, and never go to the gym; you can’t change suddenly start waking up early, cooking every meal, and going to the gym once a day. That would be too much of a change. It would be like being very hot and suddenly jumping into a pool full of ice cold water, your body would go into shock.

I would suggest setting one goal for yourself like waking up early every day. Once the habit is engrained into your routine, you can change something else in your lifestyle. So, writing should be the same. If you don’t write every day, setting a big 5000 words a day goal might not be advisable. Instead, I suggest writing 500-2000 words. Be sure to meet your goal every day for a week before increasing your goal.

Second, have a habit trigger. If you write with jazz music in the background and turn on jazz music every day, it can make your mind ready to write and create when you hear jazz. This habit will trigger the writing part of your mind and get you into the writing mood.

Third is to disconnect. This means to turn off the internet, put away the phone, and all other distractions that might stop you from writing your story. This does not mean you can’t look up things having to do with your writing (i.e. Google). Turn off notifications from all social media and exit out of all other apps on your phone.

Treat writing like a habit and less like a hobby. You don’t need to do it to survive, but you need to do it to better yourself as a writer and spend more time writing. If you fail to meet your goals, then try again. You can never stop trying to reach your goals.

Enjoy the journey we all love and keep writing!

Life

“The Dangers of Reading Maps” : Finding Your Unpredictable Path Through Life

depth-of-field-direction-finger-34753 copy.jpgSo we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” – “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

            Hello again! After a long break, I’ve gotten back into the blogging business. All right, I am making this blog as a personal/inspirational blog and wish to share my journey through it. Today, I would like to discuss how life is never what you planned it to be even when it seems like a flawless plan.

            Recently, someone I know lost a 30-some year career with no compensation or remorse from the Universe. This was a great shock and made the world out to be so cruel. It proved that when you believe you have everything figured out, life can come and drag you down to uncertainty until you question what your journey and struggles have all been for. Where is the justice? Don’t you deserve reward for putting in your time? I believe there is a purpose to such nasty wake-up calls the Universe sends us occasionally to keep us on our toes, even if its a cruel lesson to teach us.

            The person I am talking about has a new chance to pursue something they like or something that makes them happy. Truthfully they were worn down by their job these recent years and wanted a way out. The Universe then answered. It was still a shock to hear they had lost the future they always believed was inevitably theirs. They sat there stunned after being wrenched away from the path they had planned to follow decades before.

            I cannot help but relate with the same uncertainty. When I was a college student, you expect that the world will take notice and give you a well-paying job because you “deserve it” for getting that degree. That cannot be further from the truth. The world doesn’t care about what I believed I deserved as much as it didn’t care about my friend losing their livelihood. Earn everything in life, do not rely on things being promised to you at the end of the very long path you follow, or it is possible you will be surprised when your world turns upside down and the future you were so sure was within your grasp is wrenched away by an unfeeling higher power.

            Life can be scary with such insecurity. I perceive life now as an endless trail we must follow with so many twists, turns, and bumps as you chart your path. Thick forests on either side of you, hiding you away from other people on their own journeys. You don’t witness every challenge or hurtle they overcome, you may glimpse their successes between the trees, but they must keep moving as should you.

            Some see life as stagnant. They park their car, fixate on the surrounding scenery, unable to glimpse the road that continues beyond the bushes.

            WE must forge on.

            I battle with this fear every day, wondering “what is there for me on the path ahead,” but I know stopping will guarantee I will not grow.

            Though this all may seem rather depressing, keep in mind that life can change in ways we can never predict. 

Writing

The Writer’s Post: The Voices in Your Head

Ever roll your eyes when another writer says: “oh, I had to have that in the book because [name of their character] told me to”? Well, next time believe them.

I know, I know. You must think: ‘Cassandra? You are defending these people when they believe their imaginary friends are talking with them? They might even talk to them out loud!” Oh, the humanity! Really? Is this the worst thing these people could do?

Sit down before you continue reading.

Writers are talking to someone. They aren’t crazy and the characters aren’t fictional. The voice inside the writer’s head is themselves. As we go about our lives, we are influenced by the people and places within it. Writers are delving into a memory, emotion, or a person they knew in the past when they conjure up an idea of a character, it is not “from scratch”. We can never have an original thought, thoughts and ideas will always have their origin. So no, the people they make aren’t enterily fictional. How else can the characters evoke emotion from the readers if they do not come from another human’s heart and personality?

Ever felt a personal connection with a computer? Exactly.

Emotions are the building blocks a writer uses to understand what type personality and backstory a character will have. For example, a stern side of a writer’s personality can inform the creation of a paternal character. “Speaking” to this fragment of themselves is all part of the process in forming believable characters that readers, people who were never inside the writer’s head, connect with. It is through the writer’s humanity that makes it possible for readers to feel connected to their fabrications from real-life experience and exploration, while we can’t connect with the experiences of a hair brush. A high school character can connect the writer and reader through their own experiences during the dreaded teenage world of angst and emo bands.

In conclusion, writers do hear voices in their heads, voices from emotions that are very real. Writers follow that emotion to form a person, give them a goal readers can find reasonable- no they can’t be evil just to be evil. Without a true understanding between the audience and characters, the reader won’t care if they live or die.

Writers: The voice in your head, or as we like to say: “the character’s voice”, is your own emotions and experience with your own life story leading you in your writing. Sometimes you will deviate from what you originally planned and form your story into something almost unrecognizable (I have been through this many times). It is all part of being a human and having the emotional capacity to create worlds and stories. Go with your instincts, it is you advising yourself anyways under the guise of a character.

Keep striving, growing, and learning. And never EVER stop writing!pexels-photo-799420.jpeg

Life

Stop Feeling Guilty For Pursuing What You Love! (My First Blog Post!)

Hello! And welcome to my very first blog post! I had been planning to make this post an introduction about me, but I currently feel that there is something much more crucial at hand to talk about.  I am writing this post from my own experience and struggle with depression. This depression, I think, is directly linked to the fact that I never let myself play or dream. I just put all of my energy and blood into work that does not feed my soul or mind. For my entire life, the things I love to do have always been placed on the back burner until I had some time set aside from work. This life-style depressed me. By the time I got the opportunity to work on what I was passionate about, I was too tired to put much effort into my drawings, creative writing, or whatever I wanted to do.

Someone asked me a few weeks ago: “What do YOU want to do, Cassandra?” Posed with this question, my programmed mind came up with a practical answer: find a job, get an  apartment, and start a normal life. But now I understand the question much more clearly and it is quite literally a question of: ‘What I want’.

I must work for money in order to pursue my interests, of course (at least for now), but that should never be the main focus. What is it that you want in life? What is a passion of yours? I have been crying so much these past six months because I made no time for that part of me, none. I would make myself feel horrible if I ever wrote one creative page for my novel instead of focusing on work.

While in my final semester of school, I drew a picture of one of my novel’s characters. I remember having such a hard time finishing it because of the guilt I had for not working on assignments. I actually stopped drawing the picture for a week, and the creative side of me wanted to get back to it. I remember negotiating with myself that I would finish the painting and leave off the rest of my creative projects until I graduated. The matter seemed settled, and I worked on the picture a little more. But the anxiety of not doing a project or studying for an exam came clawing back into my mind. Out of a pure panic, I summed up the drawing in a matter of 30 minutes. I stepped back and looked at it. The picture was not at all what I had wanted. It had so many careless mistakes because I wasn’t focused on what it needed while I thought of other things.

I feel like that picture reflects my life. It took myself 24 years to finally realize that I am only doing what others expect out of me. I am killing my own internal creativity and my own self. The anxiety and the depression I had for years was that part of me slowly being snuffed out but fighting to live. I had almost smothered it.

I think it is time to realize that we all need to express that part of us, to do what makes us truly feel like we are living. If your passion is sports then pursue it, even while working full-time; if you like racing, then nothing is stopping you from climbing that ladder; or if it is just surrounding yourself with business driven people, then find those circles (the internet is a great tool to find like-minded people). Do what you want to do more than anything in the world. I know, I know. It sounds cliché to say “no one is stopping you, but yourself”,  but it is kinda true. I have written this to warn you with my own experience and lesson in life. And if you do find yourself crying all the time like I have been recently, then know you aren’t the only one facing the anxiety the world puts on us.

You are not alone.

Please reach out to others and ask for them to just sit and listen to you. If there is no one in your personal life to find support from, then hop online and find groups that support those with depression and anxiety. I have found a few groups for myself and have found people who are going through the same kind of struggle and who are willing to offer their support with so much understanding.

Be gentle on yourself. If you need someone to talk to, some outlet to go to, then you must seek it out.

My closing message is this: Pursue your passion no matter what anyone says. If someone says you aren’t good enough and you’ll never make it, most times it is done out of jealousy. If you work really hard in what you love, then there should be nothing that is stopping you from making it to your goal.

Keep Learning. Keep Growing. And Always Strive For A Better You.