Life

Disillusionment After Uni: Moving Forward

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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.

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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.

Life

My Words on the Word “Defeat”

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Cassandra here! Now I know that this is the time of year we have our yearly goals and resolutions, which we have either stuck to or paused (the key word there is paused). When you think about it, we never stop whatever progress we make in our life, because we can always continue our goals later on. You want to go back to the gym after taking a month off, then do it. The voice in your head that’s calling you a failure is wrong. Shut that voice out right now. Saying you “failed” can kill the drive to keep going.

You can hold yourself responsible for not achieving a goal, but it becomes toxic if you use it as a weapon to beat yourself down. My advice is to embrace the times when you have a set back and to learn from it. Try to ask yourself why you stopped. Was it the fact that you believed naysayers? Did you not feel as inspired as you thought you would? Did medical reasons get in the way? Determine if it was wise to stop, and by wise I mean will it benefit in making you a happier and healthier you without putting yourself at too much risk.

I believe we all have our reasons for continuing or discontinuing our endeavours.  Trust yourself and tell yourself there was a reason, whether good or bad.   Change what you label it. If you label it a “failure”, then everything in life you do not achieve is a failure like: waking up late, forgetting to return a call, or spilled milk. If life was full of failures, then it is a wonder why we even bother getting out of bed in the morning. Failure, by definition, is the lack of success (aka defeat). Our goals are made to boost us up, so it is strange that we use such goals to tear ourselves down when we made them because we wanted to achieve something more. It seems like a cycle of a self-defeating mind-set.

Years ago, during my high school career, I attended college. In the evening, mom would pick me up from the bus then drive me to campus. While there, I was exposed to the classic authors like: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mary Shelly, and Jane Austin for the first time. I knew I wanted to write novels. While I didn’t understand all the literary significance, their worlds and characters captured me and I knew writing was something I wanted to do. In one of my first college classes I wrote research papers based on these books with the idea I could show off my gift in writing with the world. I mean, I had been writing stories from the moment I could hold a pencil. Whether it was through comics or written word, I was always telling stories. Boy was I wrong. Handed back poor grades, I was stunned and tried to fix my writing, but never seemed to grasp it on my own. One day I was called down to a professor’s office to discuss my paper, I was practically told that my writing was awful and that I might want to change majors. This was not what I had planned.

Now, I could have given up and went for a “safe” major like nursing or accounting. I could have decided anything for my future at that time. I left the building in tears, clutching my paper with red marks scarred all over it. It was my work, my voice, and it was not good enough. That was what I told myself. And that thought had almost ended my love for storytelling, a skill I had discovered as a pre-schooler while making characters through plastic dinosaurs. I thought I was just not talented enough to write, so might as well give up.

The inability to leave was my saving grace. The only thing keeping me in those classes was the fact that dropping out might cost my parents a large sum of money since my high school had already paid the tuition. So, I thought, if I fail might as well make it count. Studying college papers online, I taught myself how to construct an academic paper and how to best form an argument. Soon, I discovered that my previous pessimism was because of the initial negative feedback. I identified what was giving me this feeling. It wasn’t because I no longer wanted to write, but because I didn’t get the glorious praise I expected from the first few papers. The problem was that I was just inexperienced. My inexperience resulted in bad grades. So how could I fix it? I gained knowledge and experience on my own, turning the writing boat right around. The next semester, I got handed back C’s, then B’s, and then the most frequent A’s.

The moral of the story is that there will always be set backs. No lofty goal is achieved without many setbacks and nay-sayers. A life seen as being full of defeat will make you unable to see the next step after being told “no”. That is the great thing about goals. You achieve them after working hard, making them worth achieving with pride. If one route doesn’t work, try another. It is not failure. It is not a defeat. Keep studying, working, and growing and you WILL get there.

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.