You're a little behind on my life.
See... last week I had orientation, and then the first day of class, and now I'm reading a million pages of required readings... throw work into the mix, and you'll see why didn't update you at all!
I'm so sorry. Last week feels like a million years ago and 2 seconds ago all at the same time.
But, ladies and gentlemen, I have a small, semi-interesting post prepared if you have time :)
So last Tuesday was the big New Graduate Student Orientation at NC State...
...I walked in to the conference-style McKimmon Center, tightly balling my fists with excitement. The overwhelming number of people and insane amount of air conditioning hit me at the same time, so I took a deep breath as I searched for a seat. I had barely chosen a pen from my new pencil pouch before someone got up to speak. Projector screens lowered, and over 1,000 graduate students looked to the same podium...
The speakers were nice, quasi-inspiring and, at some points, speaking precautions. Manage your time. Don't take on too much. Establish a good relationship with your Advisor. Manage your time. Manage your time...
At lunch I found a couple friendly girls in the excessively long bathroom line. We swapped stories about our soon-to-be graduate programs, our undergraduate experiences, our boyfriends... it was nice to meet new people. Most of the girls impressed me with what they'd been doing over the summer, from internships to taking classes... What had I done over the summer?
After lunch we split into groups. The graduate students with TA positions were herded into one room. We had a great speaker who regaled us with tales of his teaching experiences. He was fun, energetic, and you could tell he gave everything he had to his teaching profession. He was my hero, the best of the best... to me his name was Mike--- I really wanna be like Mike.
After he spoke we had a young woman who had just finished her Teaching Assistantship last May. She was really great as well. She opened up the floor for questions, allowing us all to reveal some of our fears.
How do I get the students to take me seriously-- I'm barely a year older than they are!
Do they call me by my last name or by my first?
Should I allow them to add me as a friend on Facebook?
After some of the questions were out of the way, she told us about her experiences. How she managed it all, some of her tough situations, advice... it was great and I was taking notes. I was so impressed.
After it was all over, I left the murderously cold air conditioning, took my new knowledge and new notes, and drove home. But something happened on the way.
I freaked out.
Seriously, I freaked.
I started thinking about my laundry list life. All the things I have going on. I thought about school, the classes, the readings and the papers, the teaching assistantship, work, the new marketing program, tutoring... it all hit me at once. When will I sleep? When will I cook? I just finally met all these nice people... will I have time to have a life???
Sometimes, all a freakout needs is a little organization. A little de-cluttering. It's worked for me before. I got home and straightened up the apartment, putting schoolbooks here, new notebooks there. It didn't help.
I sat down at the kitchen table, armed with my planner, and tried to plan out my semester. It didn't help.
I talked to my Mom and Tom a little, who both called to see how my big day had went. I let them know a little about how I was feeling. They both said similarly wonderful things, about how I had managed in undergraduate and how I would again, and both times I really did start to feel better. But then I would look at my planner... and those time constraints were still staring me in the face. Only 24 hours in a day, only 7 days in a week.
Matt got home, and we talked about everything in a roundabout way... eventually he just sat down with me and my planner and asked me to try and tell him how I felt. And like a total baby, I tried to say it but cried instead.
Big 'ol crocodile tears.
I tried to explain through my blubbering... I was scared. I had signed up for too much! Everyone thinks I can handle this and I can't. It's too much. I'm not as smart as everyone thinks I am. There's no way.
He calmed me down, and very pragmatically went through my schedule and the next two years. It was nice.
If you have to, you'll quit your job, he says. We'll make this work.
I start to feel better. When I comment on my immature tears, sheepishly wiping my face with a kleenex, he smiles.
That's why this is going to work, he says. You care so much, that you're crying on your planner. You're going to make this work.
I felt better immediately, and got my excitement back as the night went on. And then I thought of my inspirations.
Sure, I wanna be like Mike. He was amazing, captivating, inspiring... but is he really my idol? I want to be a great teacher, but I'm going to be my own great teacher. I thought of my real inspirations, and came up with a pretty good one.
My friend Connie.Actually, she's my best friend's Mom. She just went back to school this past year. She also has a son in high school and a brand new granddaughter (Abby!!). She's still working full time, but has received ALL A's in her classes so far. She's on track to complete her graduate degree by this April, because she's refused to take any time off school since the day she started.
I think it's great to have heroes in your profession, people to look up to, characteristics that you may strive to embody. But in the end, it's your real heroes, your family and friends, who help remind you that you can achieve. That an everyday goal can be accomplished with everyday courage and everyday fortitude. That you don't have to be a superhero to do it all-- you just have to care. To really want it. And I do.
Now, this wouldn't be a Class and Coffee post if I didn't say something about knitting or cooking. And I haven't touched my knitting needles all week! But, I can share something about cooking:
The Sunday Sandwich Maker!
When I was babysitting on Sunday night (yesterday!), Matt made all our sandwiches for the week. They're here wrapped up and just waiting to be grabbed so that we'd save time. He made mine with American cheese, my favorite :)
Life is good.
Next post: My first day of school!
Next post: My first day of school!
New Girl Blogger
New Girl Blogger