Wrangling the fear of graduation (there will be other joys, too.)

For the past day or so, I’ve been trying to scrounge together the words to part ways with my college dance team. In a way, saying bye to them and all of the experiences I’ve had with them is like saying bye to the entire college package; they were my first friends, and are certainly the best ones I’ve found in these wild, wild four years.

This past week we competed at NDA Collegiate Nationals in Daytona Beach, Florida, and despite the handful of practices we’re still going to run in these last fleeting weeks until I graduate, I can’t help but feel an aching sadness that things are coming to an end; things aren’t really going to be the same anymore.

But then today, when I returned to classes missed for my attendance at the competition, a feeling of closure fell over me like a cloud of grace.

My poetry professor, bless him, asked me how things went down at the competition. I smiled and thanked him for asking and told him that we ended in the middle of the pack; not our best showing at nationals, for damn sure, but still an experience that fills our hearts with gratitude. He smiled back.

“It must be so sad,” he said to me. “I know how much joy being on that team brings to you.”

I remembered my first class with him, back when I was small and a second-year student, when I handed in my first assignment about a specific day in my life. I chose to write about the breathless moments on stage with the dance team a few months prior, when we danced like champions and came home like some, too.

He really did know how much joy it brought me.

But there are going to be other joys, too,” he finished.

And suddenly I pieced things together; with humble and thankful fingers, I found not just the words about saying goodbye to my team, my first college friends, but words about saying goodbye to the last four years. To my identity as a student. To whatever river I’ve been coasting down for my whole life.

It’s frighteningly easy to fall into the fear of the future. I don’t have a job. I’m going to be living in my parent’s house (even though that’s a totally okay thing to do!). I don’t have any clue what I’m capable of, and I’m petrified that it’s nothing. I look at these joys that my time in college has brought me, and I want to white-knuckle cling to them.

But there will be other joys, too, and I want to do the challenging thing and face them with excitement and fearlessness.

I might be jobless right now, but there will be the joy of finding something to do and finding a spot in this busy, busy universe. I might be leaving the dimpling laughter of college friendships, but there will be joys of new friends and new relationships that will keep my hands light and full and good. There will be joys of knowing that the earth is spinning beneath my feet right now, and that if I keep sending love out there, it’s going to come back to me.

I can’t keep my feet planted in this place for too long. I’ve sucked it dry of all the nutrients, all of the love and peace, joy and lust for life that it’s given me, and I’m going to starve if I keep trying to feed myself here. I need to trust that every warm and loving vibe that I throw out into this world is going to come back to me some day. And I think now I’m starting to trust that there are going to be joys, bigger and smaller, coming my way; there will be other joys, too.

On Dancing, Love, and Other Drugs

dance blog realOn January 12, 2015, exactly eight days ago today, I published a post entitled, “5 Teams to Watch at UDA Nationals 2015.” It was literally exactly how it sounded—a list of five teams I was super amped to watch at UDA Collegiate Nationals. Now, eight days later, I’ve gotten 679 views on that post. 679. I hadn’t even gotten that many views on this entire blog until the start of 2015. Like what? Dang.

The really cool thing about it all is that I would’ve come up with my favorite teams heading into the competition whether I’d decided to post to my blog about it or not. I freaking love to dance and have obsessed over collegiate nationals for years and years and years, so doing my thang and being able to post it to the blog was rad because I didn’t need to come up with a blog post for the week.

Especially since making other blogger ‘friends’, I’ve been looking at other people’s blogs and being like, “oh, okay,I need to do this, this, and this.” By “this,” I think I’ve meant outfit reviews and DIY crap and recipes. And that’s really not who I am. You want me to post an outfit of the day? Why don’t you take a gander at my collection of plain white shirts and black leggings. You want me to post about DIY crap? I’d rather just buy a set of coasters rather than modpodge photos to some. You want me to post recipes? Well guess what—I may make a lot of baked goods from scratch, but I don’t know crap about actually making up a recipe.

Let me set the record straight: There is nothing wrong with the fact that I accept a free mascara to review, or hair conditioner, or whatever. Posts like that are fun. Posts about my day seeing the Nutcracker are fun. But this blog was supposed to be about my poetry, and although I can’t crank out a sonnet the way I used to, I feel like I’ve lost the purity of my intentions.

Which is why the “5 Teams to Watch” post came at the perfect time.

I have two great loves in this world. One of them is dancing. I love having it hurt when I inhale the day following at 7-hour practice. I love working through a dance and realizing that my mind truly will give up before my body does. I love the camaraderie and the way that this art has somehow become my space, my breathing room.

The other is writing. I love threading a sentence through the eye of a needle. I love taking a totally universal feeling or emotion and articulating it in a way that nobody would’ve thought of. I love recognizing this predictability amongst the human race, recognizing that we’re all sort of just writing the same story and that’s really beautiful.

And when I wrote “5 Teams to Watch,” I was, in the most natural and serendipitous way, just putting those two worlds together. It’s like, there are parts of dancing– the dance, the feeling, the photos of teams learning of their victories– that are in themselves poems that I am not conceited enough to think that I know how to write. But I still want to try.

I started the second semester of my senior year today, which pretty much just indicates one thing—I have to figure out what the fuck I want to do with the rest of my life. And I’m starting to kind of realize that whatever I do, I have to do it with love. Do it with love, and what will follow is the success.

I really hate when people wrap their words around old clichés, making them feel really dank and heavy. This is not Oz—not everything you write is some pulling away of the curtain which hides the universe’s secrets. Sometimes it’s just about a boy in your car or the cruelty of hearts beating or of the way two people holding hands can look like Mary Magdalene—a bunch of drugs that we get addicted to and breathe in like some intoxicating potion.

So I’m sorry that this was all incredibly heavy. I’m sorry that I’ve spent this last page just throwing my heart a cliché and hoping it will stick. But I hope you all know—I did it with love.

…because when it comes to college, there are things people don’t tell you.

I recently wrote and published and article for my school newspaper, Le Provocateur,  about different things incoming freshmen needed to know in order to survive. Naturally, there were things I simply couldn’t publish. These are those things:

  1. Everyone poops. Period.

So maybe someone did tell me this back when I was four and my mother read the book to me, but in an age where girls are supposed to poop glitter and never fart, I think it warrants repeating. Because who has the energy to set alarm clocks at random times so you can go when no one else is in there? Who has the time to make a detour to the deserted campus center bathroom? No one. So get over yourself and realize that those things that go on in the bathroom? They happen to everyone else, too.

  1. Fun? It doesn’t hurt.

Because which fifty-year-old says to their children, “yeah, I remember that night I got a lot of sleep… it was awesome”? Because, as cliché as it sounds, these are years you want to remember. Because amidst your duties as a student, the stuffy professors and library cubicles, not only is laughter okay, it’s encouraged. Because this is where it gets personal for me.

When I was a freshman, I was petrified of going out. I was petrified of poking my head into my neighbors’ door and I was petrified of all the people I didn’t know in a small space. And sure, it’s easy to be sympathetic; it’s easy to say that I wascollege party scared and nervous and it wasn’t my thing so it’s fine that I stayed in. But it wasn’t. Because you know what gave me the courage, the comfort, the ability to socialize at campus parties? Putting myself out there.

Stay up until 6 a.m. Procrastinate on that paper. Tell yourself you are going to that party because when you recall your college years for your grandchildren, you won’t be telling them about your GPA; you’ll be telling them about the night you put off a paper to go to the party of the semester.

  1. Loving school doesn’t make you a loser…

…so when you see posters for that lecture that actually sounds interesting, you better go. Don’t fear that no one will be there, don’t fear that you’ll miss out on something else going on, don’t think that caring about something automatically makes you less of a person. Because it’s those kinds of lectures, the ones that aren’t required, the ones that happen in the basement of some lecture hall, that are the kind that change your life.

  1. He’s going to break your heart…

…but maybe you should let him. Because maybe you need to let him make your heart smile and let him hold your hand and let yourself fall into the way his voice sounds when he says your name. And maybe you should let him push you out of it.

Because as much as falling in love shows you your capacity to feel, watching the sun rise because your broken heart bars you from sleep pulls you to the hallow depths of everything you’re capable of. You learn howBreaking-Up-Couple empty it is down there and you learn how to pull yourself out. You learn that nothing says ‘strength’ like the way a mended heart looks—like a battle scar.

  1. Not everyone has had sex yet…

…so your rush to lose the v-card is pretty irrelevant. Your gut is a pretty strong thing, so you should trust that it will tell you when the time is right, when his name is right, when the way he holds your hands when he kisses you is right.

  1. It’s okay to choose passion.

Everyone’s going to say this one: it’s a pretty great thing that you’re going to college. You’re lucky to have this because so many oCourage-to-chase-dreamsther kids don’t. But what people might not say is that you now have a responsibility.

And I don’t just mean to show up to your classes and to actually try and challenge yourself. Yes, please, do all of those things. But what I mean is to pursue the thing that you are meant to do.

Because considering the empowerment you gain from your education, it’s kind of a mockery to surround yourself with subjects, a future job, that makes you miserable. Because the lucrative job your parents are pushing you into might put food on the table, but if it’s not your passion then what will feed your soul?

I firmly believe that the purpose of education is to give people their voice. We talk and talk all day but at a certain point that doesn’t really seem to matter because nobody else can really hear our voices. And so we go to school, and we read books and learn these theories and make these discoveries and all of this is facilitated by people who have found their voices.

And one day you’re going to find your voice, too. Who are you to try and silence it?