Monday, August 11, 2014

Confession of an Academia Junkie

So in just 2 weeks the Fall semester will begin for me. I am getting closer and closer to the end of my BA degree and I'm starting to consider if I want to continue on for my MA or not. What I'm finding difficult is that everyone always asks "so what do you want to do?" after finding out my major is in English. No, I don't want to be a teacher. I hate that I never seem to have a solid answer though. When presented with the question "What do you want to do with your degree" I am suddenly dragged back to 10 years old and being asked "What do you want to be when you grow up" and I'm that one kid who has no reply.

The truth is, I have no idea. I have spent the last 21 years of my life chasing this dream to finish  my BA in English. Along the way I thought I wanted to pursue different avenues and tried Psychology, Theatre, Music and Photography. Ultimately I went back to English because it was my "default" and it was what I was closest to completing. But what do you do with a degree in English besides teach?!?

They say to find what you love and figure out how to make a living with it. That is all fine and well, but for me it seems to be easier said than done. I don't know how to make a career out of writing, reading, photography, music and theatre. I just don't I'm all creative, "the arts" has always been what I'm good at and I don't know how to do anything else. I really don't want to teach though, and every time I think I have an answer to that dreaded question I wind up second guessing myself and changing my mind.

My kids are starting 10th and 11th grade this next week and I find myself asking them what they want to pursue in college in just a few short years, as any parent would. But I feel like a fraud telling them they need to have an idea when I don't even know what "I want to be when I grow up". How do you choose what to spend the rest of your working life doing if you can't settle on ONE thing you just *know* is your so-called "calling"? How can you be an example to your kids when all you know how to do is be in school but not out in the "real world" applying the skills you gathered in college?

I used to say that I could be a career student and be happy, and maybe that is true about me. Maybe I'm addicted to school because it is the one thing I feel that I'm genuinely good at doing. That's all I know how to do really, be a student, because I have spent my entire life being one.

So no, I don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I don't know what I'll end up "doing" with my degree in English. Maybe write, maybe edit, maybe travel the world taking photos and writing about my experiences singing my way in dive bars to get by, and maybe I'll do nothing because I have nothing particularly interesting or profound to say.

I have no clue. I do know one thing though:

My name is Emylee Noel, I'm an Academia Junkie and I have no idea what I want to *do* with my life.

Friday, August 8, 2014

What's the point?

We all have days where we feel like our efforts are for nothing. All the hard work, all the workouts and all the sacrifices and what do you get? At the end of 2 weeks you have GAINED weight? That is a tough spot in which to find yourself. You watch other people barely try and here you are busting your butt and they lose but you don' fact you gained weight. It isn't "muscle". It is just how your body works. At least that is how my week has been.

When you have medical conditions that aren't life threatening and are for the most part "invisible", it can be difficult to be accepting of your situation when it comes to your health. It is even more difficult to get people to listen to you, including doctors and dieticians, when you are insisting that something is wrong. They tell you to just "keep doing what you're doing and eventually your body catches up." In my experience though, this isn't exactly the case. Contrary to what people often think, it isn't a matter of not doing enough, working hard enough, eating "bad" foods, not exercising, eating too much. Not always. Some times you can do everything you are "supposed" to do, and see no results. It can be frustrating, discouraging and extremely depressing.

You know what? That's ok. It is ok to feel discouraged and frustrated. You are allowed to feel depressed that you didn't have cake, passed up the bread basket, ate all your veggies, skipped the french fries and drank all your water. All while getting an hour or more of cardio every day, eating within your allowed calories and having at least 800 calories "left" at the end of the day. Yet not only NOT losing any weight but GAINING weight. People want to tell you how to do it, that you just need to do more, or do this or that differently. The thing is though, that you are doing all you can, you are working as hard as possible but not seeing any results. You don't need everyone else's "fixes", you need support, compassion and understanding.

What's the point? The point is to stay strong, find support where you can, and to continue to reach for your goals. You don't always see results on a scale or in the mirror. You don't. It is what it is. It isn't about "sucking it up and dealing" but at the same time it sort of is that way. You do have to accept that sometimes you can't "do" anything to change the circumstances. However you can choose to respond to the situation differently.

It might not feel like there is a point to trying to lose weight, or quit smoking or whatever it is you are trying to change. Failure might seem like it is constantly chasing you down and squashing every solid effort you make. However, when you step back and see it as an opportunity to gain strength and confidence in your own ability to bounce back and stand back up when knocked down, you find success.

So I gained weight this week, in spite of all my hard work and not letting myself convince myself that skipping a work out would be ok. I worked out every day. I didn't eat a bunch of junk. I stayed within my calorie goal...and I gained. I won't lie, I am upset. I feel defeated. I feel discouraged. I feel like it is pointless to work so hard to take 3 steps backwards. And that's ok.