The anxiety-ridden grad school experience

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My excitement for resuming my role as student was so strong, that I felt sure my good study habits from my undergrad years would automatically bounce back, even if there had been a two year gap. Boy was I wrong.

There was so much reading.

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After Los Angeles: Transitioning back to SC


By early September 2007, I had finished my year of volunteering in Los Angeles. I still wasn’t sure what to pursue as my next step. I applied to various jobs but nothing panned out.

Part of my growth while in California was being exposed to the world of journalism. I realized I enjoyed that kind of writing, but it was challenging to approach strangers and ask for their feedback. I was a small fish in a big pond; I felt like I was thrashing around trying to make things work. But there was some excitement nonetheless, a bit of a thrill with figuring out how to piece many little parts together into a finished story, even if the interviewing aspect was nerve-wracking and uncomfortable. (If you missed them, you can read the pieces I wrote for my San Francisco assignment and the personal article on my brother becoming a priest.)

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“What’s on your plate?” – A weekend camping retreat

Not my group, but someone else’s camping experience at the same park.

I’ve shared about how I found a group of young adults in the Southern California area, a group I spent a fair amount of time with. There was one memorable weekend of traveling to Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park for a two-night camping retreat. About fifteen people participated on the weekend, but I only knew one person before going.

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From deep in thought to pulled into conversation: Changing directions like Titanic

Credit Stephan Gürtler. I like this image because as a representation of being lost in thought, it shows a peacefulness of the experience. Being a deep thinker doesn’t have to mean a chaotic frame of mind or that it’s painful; it can be calming and enjoyable.

I’m a deep thinker. I can get lost in my thoughts very easily. It’s a comfortable place to be. There’s just so much to consider!

I can’t live there permanently, though. There are other people in my life. Yet, it can be challenging to transition from my thoughts to a conversation with someone, especially if I’m being pulled into that conversation. Sometimes I don’t want to leave my bubble. So there may be some deliberate or subconscious resistance, a longing to continue with what I’m doing rather than acknowledging that someone is trying to get my attention.

I feel like this might be a similar experience for someone who is accused of having selective hearing. You’re so absorbed in whatever you’re thinking about, that you lose track of the things around you.

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From happy to angry in 2 seconds


The holiday season reminds me of times when I was a kid and we had relatives come for a visit, especially those we didn’t see often. We might spend the day together or just a few hours. I was happy around them. The visit was pleasant without any hiccups.

I remember being on the front porch waving goodbye to them. And there would be a very real and noticeable internal shift. It was like a flipped switch; I went from happy to annoyed in an instant.

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Learning through example of family life


As junior year began, I no longer had 8 am classes yet I wanted to continue going to daily mass. There was some relief. The time was changed to 7, so I could sleep in some!

The later time brought in a new demographic of the parish. No longer solely retirees and individuals rushing off to work, now there were also mothers with children. The home schooling crowd.

There was a wide range in ages. I was impressed by their reverence, how serious they were about being there. The younger ones weren’t always cooperative; they are human of course. Generally speaking, though, they seemed to have a greater sense of awareness of what was going on than I did at that age.

Introductions were made. Though life was busy and chaotic for them, I was fortunate to meet women who had found a sense of calm within their routines so they could be open to welcoming a stranger.

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When you get friend-zoned (with poem)


To recap: I had an experience in college where a guy showed interest in me but I didn’t feel the same way. Then there was an experience where positive things were happening on both sides (at the very least they were some indicators of potential), but nothing developed. So it’s fitting to have a third kind of relationship, the unrequited type.

I met “D” in an intermediate basketball class. I wanted something fun and active for the semester. Honestly it should have been considered a beginner’s course, considering how much time was spent on the history of the game and other theoretical information and how little was actually played on the court.

After that class ended, I started seeing “D” more frequently on campus. Instead of exchanging phone numbers, he asked for my screen name because AOL instant messaging (AIM) was the popular mode for online communication.

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Brotherly advice wins out


My brother Andrew is two years older than me, but he was three grade levels ahead because I repeated 4K.

He finished two years of college before deciding he felt called to be a priest. He made the decision to continue that discernment process by entering the seminary. So as I began my senior year of high school, he started seminary.

My parents and I had some indication this might be the right direction for him, so it wasn’t a total shock. But he was dating someone at the time, so he had to break that off.

I was very proud of my brother. Proud of him for taking such a big leap and giving himself a chance to see if this was the right path. I was proud of him for going through formation and receiving a proper education, more relevant for priestly responsibilities than what he would receive at a public university.

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Allusions of Myself: The making of a poem


We did these exercises in high school where we wrote ourselves a letter, most likely highlighting our goals for the future. Then the teacher collected them and maybe one year later (or five), we received them in the mail. At the time of writing, it seemed silly to write out your goals, completely convinced there’s no way you’re going to forget what’s important. But you do. The elapsed time prompts other interests and priorities. Opening that letter means grasping a piece of the past; tangible evidence of the person you were back then.

That’s how I feel with revisiting my old journals; I’m uncovering buried treasure.

I was reading through my college journals recently and came across several pages where I did some brainstorming for a new poem.

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A boy + social awkwardness + missed signals = college regret


“G” was a guy worth taking a risk on, and I balked. He was easy going, had a contagious laugh and smile, and intelligence with a goofy side. He was shorter than me but somehow in a way that didn’t make it completely weird. I never saw him get angry. He had enough confidence in himself to be attractive without coming across as conceited. And the bonus was he worked well with kids.

So yeah. There wasn’t much of a risk to liking this guy. This didn’t have “bad decision” stamped on it. I just didn’t know how to handle the situation.

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