Thursday, December 27, 2012

Train Derailing

Perhaps it is a result of never having an actual direction or purpose for this blog, but it seems I have let it slip to the wayside again -  certainly not for a lack of time, but definitely a lack of motivation. I have a list of topics that once inspired me to blog about, but even when starting on some of those, I never completely finished it and just abandoned the post altogether. Keeping in mind that my last post was the first few days of October and this is coming at the tail end of December, I have managed to post about one blog a month and completely skipped November. I just do not want to write about the mundane, and I have not had any overarching concepts or issues that I was struggling with that I felt compelled to hammer out in writing.

By the end of last semester, a complete sense of apathy and lack of motivation had set over me. I slept a lot more, spent a hell of a lot less time in the library, slacked on my reading, and put some things to the wayside. And the backlash for it? I had already exempted my Management Final, and I knew I had a final paper due in the last week of class for Macromarketing. I crammed for one exam by reading all of the chapters the day before and staying up late studying with friends, and I ended up getting a 100% but had to take the final despite having 151/150 points because I had a missed an A by one question on my first exam. In my Promotional Strategy, I abandoned half the reading and got an even higher A than I had on the previous exams, exempting that final. Sports Law was never graded very harshly, although I enjoyed it greatly and always kept up with the case study readings. I kept my motivation up for that class regardless, and shined through class discussion. The take home final was relatively simple, and I just took it to campus on a Sunday and worked through the afternoon on Cooper's back porch on a lovely day and finished it up over Buffalo Chicken Wraps in Hendy.  At the end of the semester, I had my second straight 4.0 on much less effort. Is this real life?

I have probably watched more Netflix and played more Playstation through the end of the semester than I had in my previous three years at college combined. Now at home, I am keeping up that mindset without the school work - sleeping in, dusting off the old Age of Empires II and III, getting my ESPN kick with cable, watching Bowl Games, family time, a solid Christmas. The attitude remains more or less the same. I know the run will come to an end: the train is derailing. I am only taking 12 credits in my last semester and have a very simple schedule, but my German Lit class is sure to take up a ton of time through reading, re-reading, paper writing, and all auf Deutsch. It's been a solid year since I have had an academic German class, and two years since that has involved heavy doses of literature. I am sure to be rusty.

Even if my last semester proves to be a similar workload as this previous semester, the change is going to come regardless. I will graduate in May, and the ride will be over. I have hashed out previously my future plans, and the only real update to that is that I had a moment of clarity to actually grind through the application process and try to meet that for this coming Summer, even though the Michigan State program would not be until January 2014. I feel like this will push me through the decision making process, because I am definitely terrible at making decisions. I have not worked out how I would make the transition from graduating from Clemson in May to moving stuff back to Michigan to turning around and starting up grad school in June in Georgia or Texas logistically or financially yet, but that would be worked out if it needed to be. Issues out of my hands and the possibility of having an extra nine months to work them out is crippling to my decisive actions, and I do not want to decide where I go to grad school because one school started later than the others. At this point I think it makes more sense to apply to all of them and not go into the process having a set 1-2-3 ranking. That way I can factor in things like turnaround time, finances, prestige, program specifics and faculty and just worry about the pros/cons of each instead of trying to pick out a top program.

So that is where I stand. Not going to attempt to sum up the months I have not been blogging, but I think this is an accurate portrayal of where I am in life right now. I am not sure where this coasting attitude has come from or what specifically has set it off, but I just get the feeling that if this train is not derailing now, it certainly will soon. Whether that apathy continues to spread to my blogging, well, I guess the future posts or lack thereof above this one will tell.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Changing Life Plans

Not long ago I posted about where I could be one year from now/how up in the air the possibilities were. Recently a crazy idea has crept into the back of my mind, and it is beginning to take shape - what if I went to Grad School? Now, there are a lot of reasons why this idea has popped into my head: Greg getting ready to take his GRE and researching Architecture Grad Schools, Josh recently getting accepted into MUSC for Med School, my Macromarketing professor emphasizing the decreasing value of a college education and recommending graduate school to all of us, going to the Career Fair and only seeing entry level sales jobs or management trainee programs, increasing doubt about pursuing Sports Marketing as a career. There are most likely even more reasons I could list off if I really dove into it. As I've mentioned, I've enjoyed and had success in my statistics courses and have considered Market Research as an alternative if Sports Marketing does not work out.

Perhaps it's natural to have cold feet about my path, and it's certainly not the first time I've considered a change or come up with some crazy scheme of what I could do with my life - switching majors to  Psychology and interning/studying abroad in Germany during my senior year come to mind. In reality, I came to Clemson as a Management major (I had applied to schools thinking Business Administration in high school), without a real thorough idea of what I wanted to do. It became quickly clear to me that Management was not the way to go - I went through the Pre-Business class Business 101 searching for answers. It finally came on the last day of class: one speaker on the panel was talking to us about his career in Sports Marketing. I don't recall his name, his actual job title, or even who he worked with. I just remember being enthralled with the idea.

I have always loved sports, and here I was pursuing a business degree at a school that offered a business degree related to sports. As a freshmen, it was easy to fantasize about what could be - as a senior, it has become a lot less idealistic. In all actuality, my degree will be in Marketing, with a specialization in Sports Marketing. I could walk into my adviser's office tomorrow and change to Services Marketing, and it would not change my curriculum one bit. I've taken all the required classes for a general marketing degree plus Sports Marketing, and it's been up to me to choose the additional support courses. There are only four Marketing specializations, and Sports Marketing is overwhelmingly the most popular. A lot of people love sports, but how many jobs are realistically out there? How many others have the same vision I had, just within my own school, and what have I done to set myself apart from them? Obviously I've taken all the sports related marketing classes that are offered, but I've also tried to pursue a well-rounded array of marketing/business classes as well. You know, "just in case."

Well, "just in case" is quickly setting in. My biggest fear is sending out a million interviews to highly competitive sports marketing jobs, sitting on a desk ignored without an interview, and reluctantly accepting a job in another area of marketing (read: entry level sales) that I dread, but become deadlocked into for a career. I also fear, to a lesser extent, tainting one of the most influential and important interests I have. I've already noticed when I go to a sporting event or watch on TV that my perception has changed - I pay attention to the sponsors, think about the process of selling/maintaining those sponsorships, observe the management of the game or pre-game events. Sports has always been a separation from reality, something that I could always rely on to take my mind from the mundane. By making this my work, would I lose this magical connection? Would I go to a game and think only in terms of ROI, activation costs, branding, signage, mid-inning PA announcements and who this replay was "brought to you by" instead of enjoying the game, the pageantry, the athletes, and the competition? Perhaps the first option wouldn't be so bad, if I could always retreat back to sports to take me away to my real passion: being a fan.

I posed a hypothetical question to Greg - "What if I just up and decided to go to grad school?" - and poked around a little bit about different programs. It was an intriguing idea, but one I figured was being considered way too late in my college career. After all, I would have to study for and then subsequently take the GRE, get my personal statement together, fill out applications, wait, make a decision, and be ready to go for more years of school. Today in the library, however, I decided to sit down and actually do some legitimate research on the idea. The information was actually really helpful, and I've opened it up as a legitimate possibility. I'm actually not in any crunch for application deadlines for a few programs that looked enticing. I'm looking at a one year MS in Marketing Research program, and there are a couple backed by the Marketing Research Association. The two most intriguing as of now are Michigan State and Georgia. I want to find out more about Texas at Arlington and keep searching for  a few more. Wisconsin had a very cool looking program named for A.C. Nielsen of the Nielsen Ratings, but it was an MBA with a Specialization in Marketing Research - they were looking for candidates with at least two years professional experience, it was a lot more expensive, and an MBA is not what I foresee myself pursuing.

Michigan State seems like the most viable option as of now. The program only accepts candidates starting with the Spring Semester, so after I graduate I would have about 9 months to work a part-time job/do an internship and still have plenty of time to take the GRE or GMAT and apply before Spring 2014. I would be able to stay in Michigan and get in-state tuition. It would finally push me to pick a side in the Wolverines/Spartans rivalry. At the end of the coursework, there is a paid internship to help break into the field with the corporate partners or Marketing Research Firms that MSU pairs with. It all seems like a well respected program, and more or less what I am looking for.

One time freshmen year, Greg brought me over to Ryan Newman's place right before Christmas Break for a little post-Thanksgiving leftover feast. I met one of Ryan's friends who had recently graduated and went to UGA for I believe Law. When he found out I was a marketing major, he wanted to talk to me about a new program they had recently started in Marketing Research. I tried to explain that I was actually going to be a Sports Marketing major, and I wasn't really interested in going to grad school for research. Ha ha. Ha. Well, here I am. Although it is a relatively new program, Georgia has partnered with Coca-Cola through their Business School given the proximity to the headquarters in Atlanta. How cool would it be to get a degree with a foot in the door to my favorite beverage company and their consumer research department? Obviously a lot would need to fall into place first. They actually start their one year program in the Summer, so I would have until mid-February to apply for June 2013 entry. That would leave me just enough time to move out of Clemson, stop home for a little bit, but really jump right back into schoolwork. It appears to be a highly competitive program (but what school is going to promote that they are easy to get into?), and it really would not leave me any room to at least test the waters of the job market. Also, continued out-of-state tuition...although they list it around $11,000/semester and under $1,000 per credit hour. I'm not too familiar with the going rates for grad school tuition, and there are always opportunities to combat those with fellowships, financial aid, grants, etc. It would be a quick turnaround, but it's not too late for me to start the process like I kind of figured it may be by October of my senior year.

I'll definitely have to look into it more. It is by no means a for sure decision. To some extent, I think I may just be delaying entering the job market with more schooling, which is not what I want to do. However, if I'm going to change my career path, this is a fairly seamless way to do it. Graduate from Clemson with a Marketing degree that could get me into a Market Research program, possibly attempt a sports marketing related internship in my gap time/year off, and see where I am from there. A lot is on the line, but I still have some time to play with some different possibilities for my future.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Becoming An Ambassador

As I get into the swing of things at school, I can't help but notice whenever I run into a fellow OA that I had not even met that person a year ago. All the ambassadors are amazing people, some of which I've formed very close bonds with. Going forward in my life, I won't be able to think back on college without touching on the time I spent as an Ambassador, and the wonderful people I have met through it. Nearly everyday I run into someone on campus, and it makes my day. Catching up on our lives in the ten minutes before class starts with Adair, Erin and Brian (and making snarky remarks throughout). Getting dating tips from Aaron. Seeing a flustered Ashley between classes. Joking around with Caleb. Seeing Emily begrudgingly trudging to Spanish. Chatting with Erika. Oddly seeing Hunter multiple times all in random locations. KP with a big smile on her face and an even bigger Accounting textbook under her arm. Being acknowledged by THE Kayley Seawright at the end of the First Friday Parade. The most happy person in the world, Kena. A lovely chat with Lydia. Making sarcastic comments to Miranda. A handshake with Neyle. Realizing Sam knows the glory of Buffalo Chicken Wraps from Hendy. A point and wink to SG. An overly peppy SK. Gossiping in the office with Sarah...just Sarah. Extended catch up sessions with Senator Sidney J. Nimmons. An excited "Jallyyyy" from Sophie. Flashing the Turtle to Tanner. Having a helluva run with The Tim Erb. Not to mention going to the NSFP Office and watching the pro staff drop everything just to talk to you and catch up on your life. Seeing Wes's return from Knoxville. Keeping up with Lauren as she tears up Las Vegas. Explaining to a perplexed friend, "Oh, I know them from Orientation." or "They were an OA."

My friends don't always seem to understand, and perhaps it's a bond that is difficult to articulate. The role has certainly changed me - for the better - and every ambassador had a part in that. I'm more confident; I have a better vision of myself, a broadened scope of life at Clemson and beyond. I've made close friends within Greek Life which I would have just reduced to stereotypes without getting to know them only a year ago - and I hope these people can have a new vision of a Central Spiriter, an independent, hell even a Northerner in some cases. Everyone had a passion for Clemson, and it was an important lesson to learn just how many ways that passion can be manifested - that my way is far from the only way. I've changed so much in the past year. I'll continue to change in the years to come. And it's inspiring to look back and reflect on who I was years ago.

I had always wanted to spend a summer in Clemson. I knew from over the summer after my  freshmen year that working with Orientation was what I wanted to do to make that happen. My post-sophomore summer I found a great study abroad option, and I do not regret taking advantage of it at all. I knew that after junior year, it would be my last opportunity. I wanted to help students who might have a difficult transition, and assure them that everything would be great. They would come to love Clemson as much as I do. It would change them, and that's a perfectly acceptable and positive thing. In all honesty, I do not remember too much about my Ambassador. His name was Tim, he was in a fraternity. I couldn't tell you his major, his home town, or his word of advice - but no doubt he affected me, and influenced how I was as an Ambassador. He wasn't going to assume the role of constantly happy, upbeat, in-your-face because that was not his personality. He was honest, he treated us as adults, and he prepared us for a realistic transition to Clemson. I aspired to have these same qualities as an Ambassador, and I hope I achieved them. In fact, as a kind of homage to "Tim's Team" I went ahead with my idea of "Team Air Jordan" as my group name.

Going in to the interview process, I had no idea if I would actually get the job. I didn't have a lot of applicable experience. I didn't have the personality of a typical super-out going image of an Orientation Ambassador. I take a while to warm up to people, and that obviously was not an ideal attribute for someone who needed to interact with 50 new incoming students a week in small group sessions. This came through in the group process interview. Looking back at my file, I was "forgettable." I was "quiet." I was listed as a "maybe." The personal interview painted a different picture. I was nervous, but my personality shined through. The reviews were raving. I knew a lot about how campus worked by my junior year. I had experiences my peers couldn't match, like studying abroad and holding an exec position in a major student organization. My visions of myself as an Ambassador impressed the pro staff, and I walked out of the Union with a quiet confidence and pleased with how the interview went. One December morning I received a friend request from Kayley and a confirming phone call from Kaela, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

One Year From Now

I've had this thought in the back of my mind since the end of Junior year, but with starting up classes again this fall it's a good time to cover it. I had my last "first day of school" (excluding the possibility of me ever going to grad school) and the thought resurfaced that I have absolutely zero earthly idea where I will be one year from now. Not so much to the exact date of August 26th, 2013, but to the point of after graduation: where I'll be living, whether I'll be job searching or *knock on wood* where I'll be working. I have a bunch of idealized views of what could be, but I'm also very flexible. I've always pictured myself living in a big city - I've loved visiting Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco, Tampa, London, Phoenix, Chicago, Milan, etc. Living in Perugia and being able to walk to the grocery store after class and pick up a bag full of groceries for dinner that night was a lifestyle that I really enjoyed, as well as seeing all the people and the amenities that come with living in a metropolis. Granted, there are a lot of negatives associated with long term residency as well, like higher crime rates, noise, traffic, higher expenses, and so on. There are tradeoffs, but it's one that I'm willing to make at this point in my life - and I think coming right out of school is one of the only times in your life where you can make a big no strings attached move and try something completely different.

 I've been fortunate enough to be able to spend some time over the past year visiting my brother in Chicago, at his high rise studio apartment right downtown and his new place just a few blocks west. It's been a great experience to add some tangibility to my vision of living in a big city, and getting to know the public transit system and not do the normal touristy things but actually get the feeling of living there. I've been building a list of cities I could see myself living in - granted I'll have to do a lot more research on them, but at least it's a jumping off point. It would be great to go back to Philadelphia, I've always been drawn to Tampa, I've loved living in Chicago. If I follow my 12 hour drive sequence west, that would put me in maybe Memphis or St. Louis. Who knows where I'll end up - the possibilities keep piling up as my curiosity increases.

Now the bigger issue, which will lead me to where I'll be living, is what I'll be doing. I've dreamed of working in Sports Marketing, which I think would be a great opportunity. However, I'm also trying to be realistic and realize that it's extremely competitive. I will definitely give it a shot and sent out a trillion applications all over the board (hence the many different city options!), but I also need a solid plan to fall back on. When I graduate, I'll have a shiny new marketing degree which granted I can go a lot of different directions with: sales, advertising, PR, market research, customer service, social media. It's strange because I came into college as an intended management major without a real grasp on what I wanted to do - after my first semester with Business 101 and completing the Pre-Business program, I went into marketing because I was very intrigued by the Sports Marketing aspect. Now coming out of it all, I'm looking at what options I would have outside of sports. I really enjoyed my services marketing class last semester, and market research is something I can see myself doing also - statistics has been a subject that came pretty easily to me, but I feel like grad school would loom on the horizon if I wanted to go that route. I cannot express how much I do not want to go into sales, it's not a good fit for me and it's not something I could see myself being happy doing. I can see myself in more of a consulting role at a marketing firm or working in some aspect of customer service, things like advertising or hospitality are intriguing options but something I have no experience in.

At the end of the day, I'm very flexible - which is good - but I lack direction and a real plan - which is problematic. I've never been one for always having a vision of my future, I'm much more comfortable going with the flow and seeing what happens. Growing up I didn't have the slightest clue about where I would go to college, but once I got down to looking I found Clemson, and it has been an amazing fit. I can't think of another decision that has affected me as greatly as this one, and the process never really stressed me out or caused anxiety. But alas, it can only last four years, and the next biggest decision is quickly looming on the horizon. It's just strange that for the first time in my life, I can only guess and ponder about where I'll be one year from now.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wrap Up

Let's knock the dust off the old blog, eh? There were a few times during Orientation where I started to write some posts (let's be honest, only Saturdays and Sundays) but they were all abandoned when I found I was rambling and not coming to a specific point. As I've stated before, I don't want this to be an outlet for my day to day happenings and that was what most of those posts wounded up being about. But sadly Orientation is now over, and I'd like to spend a bit of time truly reflecting on what a fantastic experience it was.

I don't want to speak in cliches and give the typical ambassador answer of "this was/will be the best summer of my/your life" because honestly it's a really tough comparison with studying abroad last year. They are two completely separate entities - I love Clemson to death, but being able to prance around Italy and live in a city last summer? That was pretty freaking cool. In terms of people, however, this summer blows last summer out of the water. I came out of Italy with a one fairly close friend, a few more people to say hey to on campus, and a few as well that I dread having to see to be completely honest - which is awkward cause we were nearly all Marketing majors and I have had/will have to still see them in classes. Granted Orientation saw it's fair share of drama (never a dull day at Orientation 2012!) and tempers boiled over at times, but there is no one I dislike coming out of the summer and to my knowledge nobody who has any issues with me individually. (If you do, step up and say something! :P Haha) There are OAs that I never really got to bond with and just know in passing, but there are no hard feelings at all. I've also made a lot of close friends that will (hopefully!) last beyond Orientation. What's even greater is that these are friends that I probably would have never run into without this experience, and even if I had I may not have given them a second thought or ever even spoke to them. Crazy to think about how our choices can send our lives spiraling in wild different paths.

Whereas the OAs were not nearly as cliquey as Italy, it was still kinda cliquey. I'm not going to lie, there were a  few times where I felt like I really did not belong, like there was no one I could turn to, that I did not fit into the other friend groups. Rooming with Sid really helped with this - I consider Sid to be my best friend from Orientation, and I am really glad he was my Lever roommate. We shared many laughs, ridiculously outlandish discussions, and bounced our sarcasm off each other. Sid really hates groups, so whenever I was frustrated with the cliquey feel to everything, it was nice to be able to just hang with Sid and do our own thing. As I've written about before, I tend to bounce around from friend circle to friend circle without ever fully being engulfed in one. While this wasn't a huge issue of exclusivity, I could pick out a couple different divisions among the OA team - clique is a strong word to use for this situation, it was more just who tended to spend free time with one another. By the end of the summer, I found myself hanging more and more with the sorority girls - who would have thought, me of all people?! I have this uncanny habit in college, I've found, of hanging out with a group of girls I don't really fit in with and making great friendships out of it - I can count four other instances through my college experience where that seems to hold true. But I am glad to have broadened my horizons and to have had a great time with some awesome people - special shout outs to Sarah, Adair, Erika, Lindsey and Sophie on that note! You are all amazing individuals and I am glad to have gotten to hang out and know you better this summer! I also have to give a big shout out to one of the presenters at SROW from the University of Tennessee - unfortunately, I do not remember his name. He was an introvert, however, and in a presentation on the topic he gave a great piece of advice for an introvert to "survive" the summer of Orientation. Embrace who you are, but do not let the stereotypes define you - for a team to work best, the extroverts need to take hold of some of the best qualities of introverts and the introverts need to learn to step into more of an extroverted role. I definitely embraced this right away in terms of working Orientation, but when I applied it to bonding with the OA staff as well, it did wonders for me. I wish I could thank the giver of this advice, but for now I'll suffice it to hum Rocky Top to myself and track down Wes in the fall and maybe have him pass it along, after doing an internship with the Tennessee Orientation Leaders.

I must admit, small groups was probably the biggest challenge I thought I would face this summer when working with students. When I went through Orientation and Convocation, the two things I disliked the most were the ice breaker games and the pointless small talk. As an Ambassador, I would now be the one forcing the incoming students to participate in those exact things. With the helpful advice of our Team Leaders, especially Caleb, I thankfully was prepared for small groups well during training. Without Caleb's advice, I don't know how I would have reacted to my initial meeting of my first small group on Day 1 of Orientation way back when. Literally the most blank and awkward faces you could imagine on 18 people at the same time - that's when the damnedest thing happened...after playing an ice breaker, they actually brightened up and became talkative! Crazy those things actually work, although ironically not for someone like me - at my Orientation, I don't think I said two words during small group time outside of the typical "Name, Hometown, Major, Fun Fact" formula. Well I wish I would have been able to lend more general wise words from an old Senior, I quickly learned after that first small group that people really do not want to hear you talk at them - especially after sitting in Brooks Center and being bored to death by the introductions that always put us behind schedule session after session. I knew going in that I was not going to be an in your face extroverted ambassador who tried to pump small group pride artificially - hell, I didn't even have a cheer until Session 3 and depending on my group's interactiveness in the morning, I sometimes didn't even mention it. But I did step out of my comfort zone to try to lead the new students along in discussions when no one wanted to talk, tried to make connections when I could with people rather than just letting everyone go around in a circle so they could introduce themselves and then forget everything anyone else said. I'm not saying this was the best way to do things, because that's absurd to think that there is a right and a wrong way to do things when dealing with so many different personalities. I'm just glad that I was able to stay true to myself and still come up with a system that worked for a scenario I definitely would not have been able to handle my freshmen year, all with minimal adjustments being made since Day 1.

 And speaking of Day 1, as much as everyone tended to complain about it - and yes it was exhausting standing around after not getting much sleep, especially as the weekend loomed just a few hours ahead - I feel like I really came into my own and excelled on Day 2 of our Orientation Sessions. They get a bad rap among the OAs because as the students, parents and guests go into their different interest sessions and academic advising, we are standing on our feet in the same spot and answering the same questions on about 6 hours sleep if we were lucky, from 7:30 to around 2 without lunch. Yeah, it was sometimes tough keeping alert on Day 2, and I'll be the first to admit I would succumb to short breaks of wandering over to a friend to have a quick chat and laugh before returning to my post, but there was never more of a true customer service feel than being able to help people out on that dreaded second day. Whether it was as simply as pointing a confused Engineer towards P&A for the 10th time that morning, clearing up a scheduling question for a parent, or running around the chaotic registration room and easing the troubled mind of a stressed out student or being able to return from your pleading to the masters of the registrar and inform them that yes, you were an awesome person and yes, you did get them into that class that was closed and hearing the thanks that were associated with all those scenarios truly made it all worth it. The ability to help people like that is why I wanted to become an Ambassador in the first place, the positives I hope to one day (soon! Eek!) take from a position in marketing. Maybe I have a future in customer service - taking angry/confused guests and giving them the right information was something I found I really had a knack for. And I don't consider myself an expert at crowd control, but I gained a reputation among our pro staff and especially with the staff at Tiger 1 for being able to manage the lines in the bookstore when ID Card pickup rolled around. One of the most rewarding moments I've had all summer was during class registration, where Sid and I spent the better part of an hour helping this poor little double Math-Econ major, abandoned by the CES advisor, build a class schedule and hearing her gratitude when we had finally done it, with enough hours, having all pre-requisites covered, paced for an on-time graduation, with a pretty awesome schedule time-wise to boot! All in all, this position has given me a lot of great experiences, across the people I have met, the friends I have made, and the skills I have developed/discovered. This has truly been one of the best things I have done in college, and I know there are still plenty of benefits to pay off from it in the future. For now it's time to look forward to living it up my senior year, continuing the friendships I have forged over this summer, and making sure I leave Clemson with no regrets.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Getting Oriented

Last Wednesday I made my way back to Clemson to start working for Orientation for the next 6 weeks. It was great to see everyone who was back in town, hang out, and just laugh for a while. It's crazy to think that six months ago I didn't know any of these people, and now I'll be spending the summer with them, working long hot days, hanging out on off times, and struggling together through lack of sleep and energy. I like to think that I've got a good grasp on many people's personalities by now after seeing everyone interact both in and out of class last semester, but I really don't know that much about everyone's lives - it's weird to think that we all have different back stories and struggles/successes from our past that only a few of us are in on, yet we can all feel really close to each other in terms of knowing personality quirks and interests over such a short amount of time.

Thursday a lot of us all went to the Y Beach to just hang out. I got ridiculously sun burnt, but I still had a great time. Plus, if I'm going to burn, I'd rather burn early - hopefully it will give me some color and prevent future burns. The relaxing day was short lived, though, as Friday morning at 7 AM we officially started training - though I must say, it wasn't that taxing of a day. We had an hour for breakfast and bonding, spent the morning moving boxes and Orientation materials down from the NSFP Office in the Union, and then went to Lever to unload it all. It was nice to have everyone there to work with - it made the actual labor easier, and it seemed to make the time pass quicker as well. We could just talk and laugh through our tasks, which made it a lot more enjoyable. Once we finished with that, we had to wait on a delivery for all of the summer reading books, and boy did we wait on them. We went to lunch where a group of us took about an hour and a half - until the Schilletter staff basically kicked us out - just laughing, talking, and killing some time/watching SportsCenter reruns over and over. Having free time but knowing we would be called back to unload books, we decided to just go back to Lever Classroom and wait it out...for about three hours. And the books never came. I'm fairly certain we slowly went crazy as we cracked up over the littlest things in our delirious state, but it was a lot of fun regardless. The right people can really turn a sour situation into an enjoyable experience.

Saturday we had our first intense training session. It was a lot of sitting in the Senate Chambers listening, but it was nice to have a physical schedule, a sample outline of typical Orientation days, and more concrete instructions as to what we will be expected to do. I was definitely not craving so much structure as all the Js we have on staff, but it was still helpful. I'm really looking forward to the summer, and I'm glad that I was picked to be one of the representatives of the College of Business and Behavioral Science for help with advising. I think CBBS does one of the best jobs out of all of the Colleges at advising, and I remember being really well informed and comfortable going into my registration as a freshmen at Orientation. Now hopefully I can utilize some of my old man senior marketing knowledge to help future students out as well with this daunting monster we like to call class registration.

Training and Orientation will certainly keep me busy - at times during the day it seems like I don't have enough time to think. I'm spending a lot of my free time working on painting my poster for Freshmen sessions and working on the clipboard that we present to another staff member at the end of training. I tend to find myself on the fringe of friend circles a lot - going back to high school/junior high even - and I've noticed that is happening here as well. I don't mind at all, don't get me wrong. It seems like close friend groups form, and though I'm never a part of those close knit groups, I'm usually accepted into their activities and able to laugh along with them - it's a role I've always found myself comfortable with. I enjoy having some alone time to reflect and relax, so I never have to feel like I'm letting anyone down when I prefer to go to Fike on my own or make my way across campus to do some errands instead of hanging out with others. But at the same time I feel like I'm not a polarizing figure that often happens when people associate you with a certain clique - to my knowledge, there isn't anyone who has a problem with me, which makes it really easy to bounce around friend groups and hang out with all different types of people. I make an effort to eat with different groups of people every meal and not try to pigeonhole myself into one group of people. Even if I don't say that much or add a whole lot to the conversation, I enjoy sitting in on different groups and laughing along with them. I'm not always considered a part of their close knit group, but again I always feel welcomed and accepted to join them. As a part of all my crafty/painting activities, I've found myself over at Sophie's a lot as she and Sarah help me out with my lack of artistic abilities. As a point last night, Erin and Sarah were talking about one of their friends - I don't know who she is, can't even remember her name, and thus had little to add to the conversation. But I still laughed along with their jokes and stories, and when they apologized for gossiping, I just said that I was happy just laughing along with them and wouldn't judge - clearly I was not a part of this friend group, but I was perfectly content to just hang and laugh, even though I had no real contributions to make. This is just a quick little example, but I've found myself in similar situations a lot so far - I haven't had such close interactions with everybody, but little things like dinner/shopping with Miranda, Sophie and Neyle, hanging at the Y Beach with the KDs, Todaro's with Caleb and Aaron, Lever Classroom chilling with Sarah Grace, Erika and Hunter, breakfast with Tanner, Austin and Lydia - all of these interactions I'm just kind of encroaching on the fringe of other groups, but I like being able to broaden myself  and interact with all these different people. That being said, my closest friend is fast becoming Sid here at Orientation, so many as cliques continue to develop and differentiate, I can box out my own little close friend group before the summer is out. But I still don't want to lose that ability to jump into other peoples' circles and plans without feeling like someone has a problem with me or it is unwarranted. Only time will tell now that we are all living together how the group dynamics will shake out, but I will say one thing - I sure am glad that there are more Ambassadors than people we had on our Italy Study Abroad. Because although I got along with everyone initially, as time wore on and two main groups formed, I felt a lot of pressure and anxiety to pick sides - splitting my time wasn't working, and eventually I was drawn towards the people I felt I had more similarities to, but I think it took me too long to make that call and I lost out because of it. At Orientation, even if there is a group that turns me off and makes me not want to hang out with them, I'm not anticipating such a great divide that it's either one camp or another - there will be enough people and different personalities that I can get along with multiple circles of friends, and there should be some overlap in terms of who hangs out that it won't seem like an "either/or" choice like Italy did.

The main takeaway, I think, is to be comfortable in initiating hanging out with others and not feel like I am bothering them by stepping in on what I envision to be a close group of friends does not want to accept me. I guess that has its roots in deeper issues - but discovering that I can run with many different people without feeling like I'm an unwarranted outsider is a big life skill that I've yet to completely develop, and I think I will need to very soon. That's a topic for a different day, I feel. Point being, since leaving dinner yesterday, I went to Fike on my own instead of making plans, said hello to some ambassadors I saw there but didn't hang with them, stayed in my room until I could Skype with Tess, and then found myself without any plans Saturday night. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy being able to do my own thing on my own time at the gym, and the Skype date was long anticipated and much overdue - technology struggles aside, it was great to be able to see her for a little - but once I finished it was kind of what? I ended up painting some more with Sarah and Erin, but now it's 1:00 on Sunday and I've gone to the store to pick up things and have been sitting here blogging without seeing any of the OAs and without a clue of what I'm going to do the rest of the day. With the lack of those reliable few friends I know I can always count on, I resort to doing things on my own - it was a personality trait I noticed hardcore freshmen year, and it's something I don't want to have happen all summer. I guess it's a double-edged sword of my personality - I am comfortable being on my own and like to be independent, so I don't have a problem doing things by myself. When I tend to do things on my own, I don't feel like I'm as involved in the close friendships I see others forming around me. And without close friends, I feel uncomfortable jumping in on things and waiting on others when I can just do things on my own by my own schedule. I'm almost too comfortable hanging out by myself and getting into things that I don't have to rely on other people for, and so I lead myself into this vicious cycle. I'm not sure of the root cause of all of this - whether it be fear of rejection, anticipation of awkwardness and therefore avoidance of it, lack of confidence, or simply just being comfortable on my own - but it's definitely something I want to make an effort to learn more about and possibly change over the summer. Finding some real close friends will certainly be apart of that. I guess I'm just weird about feeling like the people I consider to be my close friends would not consider me to be one of their close friends. Orientation will be a great time to sort through these things and continue to learn more about myself.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Last Night's Dream

I'll start this out by saying I am notoriously bad at describing my dreams, but I the dream I had last night was just so bizarre that I need to sort through it and try to see what I can remember. That's the main problem with my dream recall, I think - after I get up, my memories of my dream fade quickly, and the ways that the different themes flew together at night seamlessly suddenly seem to make no sense at all. Normally I forget my dream pretty soon into the day, but this one has lasted since 6:30, so let's see what I can piece together. I apologize in advance if this makes absolutely no sense.

The first thing to keep in mind is that this is a sort of Inception level dream within dreams type deal; the second thing is to realize that I believed I was awake the entire time, unable to sleep and dreading the fact that I had to be up early in the morning.

The deepest level I can remember consisted of a few different scenes or adventures, let's say - I don't recall exactly how many different ones there were, but I can remember glimpses from two or three. The most memorable one: I was at a house on a lake, and the owner of the house had a pet dog - except that I was apparently the only one who could see that it wasn't a dog, it was actually a wolf. I got really uncomfortable every time it was around me, fearing that it would give in to primal urges and bite me. I'm being very vague and don't recall any details, but I know at some point I looked out to the water and the dog/wolf was tearing at this carcass, fighting over it with a bear through a white picket fence. After a struggle, the bear tore away what appeared to be a rotting alligator carcass and took off. Without any food to fight over and still obviously hungry, the wolf whipped around and stared me down - then it sprinted towards me and started attacking me. Just as I felt a sharp pain in my face, I "woke up" with a fright to find myself in the bathroom spitting out a strange white substance that was coming out in solid white pieces. Keep in mind, this was also a dream...I was not in fact awake in the bathroom, I was fast asleep in bed.

From there, it seemed to go back into the deeper dream level. I don't remember almost any details of the other adventures, and I don't know how many there were in total. There was one scene where I was riding in the back seat down a crowded highway, another where I was waiting backstage with other Ambassadors in Brooks or Tillman, maybe even more. But every single one ended with me stirring awake in a fright, spitting out strange solid white pieces. By the last adventure, I had begun to spit out whole pieces of a white rotating fan - first the solid dial and then the propeller started to come out. Always with this sharp pain in the roof of my mouth, I suddenly realized that I had spit out an entire fan. I looked up to the bathroom mirror for the first time, and although I could feel the sharp pain as I opened my mouth as wide as I can, when I looked in the mirror I found that my mouth was hardly open at all. It felt wide open, but the mirror said otherwise. I used my hands to prop my mouth open, which made a disgusting sound, and the rest of the entire propeller came out relatively easy as opposed to the last night full of struggle starting bit by bit. Relieved that I had finally got this out of my body, I sat perplexed and confused - how exactly did this just happen, what did I do to somehow consume an entire fan, when did I do that and why did I have no recollection of it? As I was sitting on the bathroom floor contemplating these issues, I "woke up" again.

At this point - let's call it level 1 with level 2 being the bathroom and Level 3 being the various adventures (which I keep getting glimpses of different ones without any tangible way to describe them once I try...maybe they're just an intangible figment of my imagination?) - I was relieved to find that I had just woken up and realized how preposterous it was to have that dream that I was painfully spitting up a fan piece by piece. However, I worried because it seemed like I had been lying in my bed forever, and I really needed to get some sleep. I didn't know how long I had been lying awake, but it seemed as if it had been nearly the entire night.

Just like that, my alarm went off for real, and I awoke in my Thornhill bedroom for real - Level 0 if you will, actual life. I hopped out of bed and realized the complete complexity of my dream levels. After having thought that I was waking up over and over again at night, I realized that I had been asleep the entire night. I guess I had rationalized in my dreamworld that I had been in so much pain in the bathroom that I would blackout and have a dream, but always come back to the same world - Level 2 - and continue to struggle to spit up those strange white pieces. Then I came to the conclusion that lying in my bed - Level 1 - that of course that was a dream, nothing like that could ever happen, and I just needed to fall asleep again for real and get some rest. By the time I actually awoke, I was just confounded at the whole concept.

I'm sure a Freudian psychologist could have an absolute field day with this dream. I know spitting out teeth is a sign of insecurity or lack of power, but what about spitting out a mystery substance that resembles teeth, but you know isn't your teeth? What of all the individual adventures, must of which my now conscious mind can no longer recall? What does it mean to have a complex dream like that with so much continuity - always coming back to the same gathering point, and then dreaming that you're awake when you've really been fast asleep throughout the dream sequence the entire time? The only thing that has ever happened to me that I can remotely compare it to is a dream ages ago, when we still lived in Perkasie. I had dreamed (stupid and simple as this is) that my feet were much bigger...I guess they had grown to inconceivable size. Then, still part of the dream, I dreamed that I had woken up, checked under the covers, and my feet actually were bigger. Needless to say, when I woke up for real, the first thing I did was check my feet under the covers, and they were normal size - but it still freaked me out to have just one level of continuity. After such a complex and confusing dream, I'm not quite sure what to think - maybe it speaks loads about my current mental state, maybe it means nothing at all. Just some rambling to get my thoughts in order, that probably makes absolutely no sense to anyone except me for experiencing it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

It's Been Awhile

So I've never really gotten into a regular swing of posting, and writing has kind of fell to the wayside for me since my last post. Certainly not for a lack of time, as I've been home for a week and a half now. I've just been lacking direction - I have a few minor ideas to tackle sitting on my desktop, but nothing I've really been inspired to write about. I guess I'll just give the standard life update and try to ease back into blogging.

I last left you off at the beginning of Finals Week. This semester was definitely the easiest final schedule I have had at college. I was taking 15 hours, but 3 of those were from OA class. No doubt, I definitely learned a lot and it was something that I looked forward to every Monday; however, not much went into the grades for that class, and there was no final. Additionally, my Business Writing "final" was the culmination of our semester long project working with the Graduate program and the Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville. By finals week, all of our work was over - we had put together ways to launch a Facebook Page, Alumni group, and Database for the Governor's School and had given the presentation the Thursday before. So 2/5 were down right off the bat. In addition, the next two were not actual exams. A group paper for my Marketing 450 class - which was definitely a struggle working with my group, as it was all semester, but in terms of my individual work load that was not a difficult paper to write at all. After editing the other group member's portions - some of them two days after they were supposed to have them done by...*sigh* and covering the weaker portions on my own, I printed that out and turned it in a day early. Woohoo! With that paper, I also turned in my Venue Naming Rights Project for my Sports Marketing Strategy class - also a day early. Look at me go. I had taken a lot of time with this project, so I never felt rushed or had to deal with the wrath of procrastination, and I was very happy with the final product. It was a lot of fun getting to work on it, even if it's something I rarely have to tackle in professional life. Add to the fact that I got assigned the venue of RFK Stadium - home of my beloved DC United - and I really ran with it. It will surely be one of the few items in my Eportfolio that will actually be useful to me. By meeting deadlines early and having a light workload, I was able to spend a lot of time studying for my only physical exam, Services Marketing. It was partially cumulative, but it was more heavily weighted towards new material from the end of the semester. I filled out the study guide, had it memorized, and kept on plowing through my studying. I walked in confident and walked out half an hour later feeling as if I nailed it. Side note, I was on the border of an A or B in four classes, and when all was said and done, I ended up with my first 4.0! Although, I'm still very bitter that I ended up with a 3.97 freshmen year - I was taking 17 hours had all A's except for a B in my one credit Business 101 class because my margins did not match the rubric requirements on one of our only grades all semester. Womp. But nonetheless, it is a special accomplishment! I would not have guessed that this semester would be my best academically, but things came through in the end. Side note: I considered writing a "Junior Year Wrap Up" post, but just could not gather my thoughts enough over these past two weeks to sum up my year in an entry. In that vein though, this year held a lot of high expectations coming in, and it has gone out with a lot of unexpected surprises.

Which brings me to my next life update: Ladies, I am officially off the market. I won't go into the full back story, but ever since we returned from Spring Break, we had been talking/hanging out/dating/whatever label you want to put on it. Things were getting pretty serious, and by the last week I decided it was time to address the elephant in the room of "what we were" and where we were headed from here. I sought and got some great advice from close friends - especially Greg - but I was still nervous about how things would go, if it would get weird between us, etc. etc. It went well though - we discussed it, had a good talk, and decided that although the timing was indeed unfortunate, we were going to become official. It seems silly, but it's nice to have that validation - even though it was pretty clear how we both felt about each other, it was nice to hear it spoken plainly, and I really look forward to what the future holds. I don't want to get ahead of myself and get caught up in my thoughts, but regardless I'm still looking forward to it. We're long distance for the summer, which will certainly have its challenges, but in the grand scheme of things, a summer is not that long. I'll visit her at least before going off to Orientation, and hopefully we can work something out for post Orientation plans as well. It's always nice to have little milestones to look forward to like that. For now, she's out of contact away on a Maymester trip while I've got plenty of free time at home, but it's been nice all things considered. I miss her, sure, and even something as simple as a text here or there during the day is sorely missed. But it's been nice to have time to myself to do what I please before my schedule gets crazy busy. By that time she'll be working full time and I'll be running every which way with a hectic Orientation schedule, but at least I'll be surrounded by great people and have something to constantly be working on. Throw in some phone calls and Skype dates, and I think it can work out with our busy lives. From there, who knows how the last month of my summer will play out - we'll tackle that when we come to it. All in all, I'm very happy with where we stand and what lies on the horizon.

Completely off topic: After getting a new hard drive, losing all my files, and regaining my music without my precious play counts, I have embarked on the grand venture of listening to every song on my iTunes straight through. I have nearly 6,000 songs which if I just let it run all day and night would take me 15 and a half days. I've been going all of April and halfway through May, and I've made it to.....F! Granted, I have large deposits in my library and F is one of them - accompanied with A, D, and S - so I have made quite a bit of progress. But I have also noticed some bands that have not made the transition to my new iTunes, which I'll have to go back and add. It sort of bugs me in a nitpicky way that I've lost all of my ratings and play counts, but at the same time it's kind of nice to have a fresh start and be able to reevaluate everything I have. Going straight through all of my Eminem shortly followed by Emmure discographies was an over 8 hour undertaking, but they're both artists that I have not listened to in quite a bit of time. It was nice to have an excuse to just listen through it all without any hesitation of "do I really want to listen to this right now?" I'm looking forward to when I get to all my Jay-Z stuff as well, to really give that a deeper listen. Who knows how long this project will take - it might not even all get listened to by the end of the summer!

All said and done, my time at home has been much needed. Day to day there's nothing real special on my agenda, but it's nice to take a break from schoolwork and just relax. I've picked up an old favorite video game, playing a little baseball on the PS2 and doing some work with the Phillies franchise I started...oh gosh, four, five years ago? Allow me to nerd out for a while, the progress I've made in a full 162 game season baseball franchise is something that I'm oddly proud of. I'm also regularly scouring On Demand and Netflix for offbeat, interesting movies that I would enjoy, catching How I Met Your Mother on TV when I can, and even dabbling in some Friends! Would you look at that. I've also got some doctor's appointments and am working on tying up some ends before I ship back to Clemson for Orientation. I've spent a lot of time tossing and turning at night running over what I want my message to incoming students to be, what stories I want to share with them, what me opening up to complete strangers and sharing my most vulnerable stories would look like - who I could affect, what lives I could...touch? Dare I say, change? I can only hope to have such an impact. Even if I never realize it, if four years down the line a current high school senior looks back on their college career before graduation and can pick out something I said, some piece of advice I laid out, or just a feeling of acceptance and transition into college...that's a very powerful thing, to truly make a difference in someone else's life. I guess that's the passion that really inspires people to get into teaching. Not to mention, there's plenty of tangible stuff I need to do as well - get some nice khaki shorts, decorate a fellow OA's clipboard, and make my poster. Although I have a design in mind, my actual poster board lies with Tanner currently, since he was nice enough to pick it up, so I can't actually work on that until I'm back in Clemson. Regardless, despite the abundance of free time, there still is a lot to do quickly coming up on the horizon.

That's where I'm at with my life now - I need to make more of an effort to write, and I'd like to expand a little more. A lot of my close friends still don't know I've been keeping a blog, but I still want to keep a fairly small circle of friends who are aware of it. It's a bit of a conundrum - I don't want to plaster it all over Facebook and Twitter, but I also don't want to shove it in people's faces either. "'Hey how's your summer' 'I HAVE A BLOG.'" I just need to let things progress naturally, I suppose.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Greek Life

Last Wednesday night I was sitting in the office working on my Venue Naming Rights project for my Sports Marketing class due during finals week when Sarah walked in. She asked me what I was doing, asked if it needed to be done right now, then told me to get in the car when I said no. Turns out she was headed over to Erika's where a lot of the Greek OA's were going to the joint KD/Sigma Kappa Crush Party. Granted, she had lost her phone and didn't really know how to get there, and I had been before, but I was still flattered. It was a Woodstock theme, so I was ridiculously unprepared - but at the very least I had worn a neon shirt, so I had that going for me, I guess? But I could not have been dressed more like a GDI if I had physically tried that morning - Detroit flat brim, Central Spirit neon shirt, cargo shorts, and sneakers. Needless to say, I felt completely out of my element going to a Woodstock themed Greek Event...

Now, those that know me fairly well - and I hope that would be everyone who is reading this blog - knows that I'm not the biggest fan of Greek Life. I'm not hardcore against it, I just understood right off the bat that it wasn't for me. Regardless, all of the OA Greeks brushed off my attire and made me feel welcome. When I tried to explain that I had been working on my project, had just jumped into the car to navigate without knowing anything about the event, and wasn't planning on actually going to it, they were all adamant that I come. Sophie claimed me as a date, and one very interesting Catbus ride later, I was at my first Greek Life event ever. And I must say, I had a lot of fun. I caught shit from a bunch of my independent friends the next day, and frankly, I really didn't appreciate their comments and stereotypes. Everyone was really receptive and just wanted to have a good time, they didn't care about my excuses and didn't tolerate my embarrassment. This is now the second time I've been one of two non-Greek OAs over at Erika's, and both times I've had a great time - having great chats, opening up, and just generally having a fun night. It's a very promising sign for an awesome summer, and I keep looking forward to the amazing experience that lies before me. Come Friday, I need to start my last year as an undergrad off and have an unforgettable, unbelievable, unpredictable year.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Tomorrow marks our last class for Orientation Ambassadors, and it has been quite a ride. It is unlike any other class experience I've had. Every Monday afternoon from 4:00 til 6:45 we meet, and you never really know what class will be like: from full out open discussions, simulations, presentations from our lovely graduate assistants or watching clips of Jersey Shore, Disney movies, and drugged out hippies dancing with no shirt on. This class has taught me a lot about myself, given me a direction for the summer, and helped to form great bonds with my fellow OAs that I cannot wait to pick up over the summer.Granted, it hasn't been all sunshine, ponies, and roses - and I'm not naive enough to think the summer will go off 100% positive with no hitches, but the good has tremendously overshadowed the bad for me so far.

We are 33 extremely different people, with varying personality types and different backgrounds - we can be incredibly boisterous and unruly, but it usually leads to a lot of fun. I think we have a great team in place that should complement each other through the summer. No doubt there will be conflicts and tempers will run high at times through the summer. But at the end of the day, we all love Clemson, we all want to help transition incoming students, and we will all have an unbreakable bond as Orientation Ambassadors.

Tomorrow will be bittersweet: I hate that this will be our last class, and that we'll be saying goodbye to Lauren and Wes - but at the same time, it means that the summer is that much closer, and we'll be able to truly get rolling with Orientation: meeting everyone, sharing stories, easing transitions, and hopefully changing some lives! This class has given me a new perspective and introduced me to people I never would have associated with otherwise - and as it turns out, some of them becoming some real close friends of mine. While I will certainly miss having OA class to make my Monday, week after week, I must remember that I'm simply turning the page, anticipating the next chapter of my life that will begin June 1st.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I Am A Tiger.

Recently, Clemson has unveiled a new campaign with a giant banner on the side of the Visitor's Center that reads "I Am A Tiger. I Will Lead." Quite simply, I really like it.

First off, this year (and somewhat last year as well), I've really stepped up into leadership roles. I've never really seen myself as a leader, but as I grow up/grow into myself I'm broadening my sense of self. I realize that you don't have to be born a leader to become a leader, and that there are multiple ways to lead. I'm finding the best way that works for me, so that when I leave Clemson I'll be more prepared for a leadership role. So first off, I'm glad that that is the message going out to incoming students - you may not be a leader not, but you WILL Lead...just give it time.

Moreover, I'm writing based more on the tiger aspect of it. I've always really liked mascots in general - not necessarily in terms of a guy dressed up in a costume going around trying to get people to cheer/being annoying, but in terms of an animal/warrior/local flavor or what have you that represents a team or larger idea. As a kid, I enjoyed picturing what a battle between the two mascots would look like - whether that was at a soccer tournament or watching a professional game. Nowadays, I like to keep a Mascot Bracket during March Madness, mainly just for shits and giggles and to see if it will turn out any more successful than my "real" bracket. Point being, I'm drawn to thinking of mascots more than just a representative, but as an actual, tangible thing/character at times.

Perfect is a strong word, but I think a tiger is an almost perfect representative for me. I'm no wildlife scientist, but I have seen my fair share of documentaries and National Geographic segments to have a fundamental understanding of tigers. For a counterpoint, take the lion - the lion spends its entire life with its pride: hunting as a group, defending its kind, and following the herds. Without the pride, the lion would not be long for this world - it is completely dependent on others. The tiger, however, is solitary. It hunts alone, it finds new territory and claims it; it defends this land to the death, and is fully self-reliant. Now, I am by no means fully independent - financially first and foremost - but I like to think of myself as more independent than most my age. I've claimed my own territory - choosing colleges, I headed twelve hours south, away from all friends, family, and with a limited idea of what I could expect. And now? I claim it as mine - I have pride, maybe not so much in South Carolina as a whole, but certainly in Clemson. I define myself with it, it has completely enthralled me; it's my home for the majority of the year, and it has become an inseparable part of my identity. One of my greatest experiences of the summer last year is when I decided to travel to Bologna on my own. I won't get into the details of it, but basically I had researched it and decided I really wanted to go - when nobody else jumped on board, I said fuck it - I'm going anyway. I caught shit for it, but it was an unbelievable experience and something that really allowed me to grow as a traveler and a person.

Furthermore, I don't avoid solitude - in fact, I often find comfort in it. I enjoy strolling through campus - especially late at night - on my own, with my headphones in and hoodie up if the weather calls for it. I had friends freshmen year that, if they couldn't find anyone to eat with, would simply skip meals. That blew my mind that they were so interdependent. I can't even fathom how many times I just went to the dining hall alone freshmen year; surely I preferred to eat with friends, but if no one could go, I didn't let that stop me. And in fact, a lot of the close friendships I made freshmen year were because I jumped into a group of a few people I recognized and started meeting their friends on days when I trekked to Harcombe all by my lonesome. In fact, I'm a little too comfortable with solitude at times - I'm able to spend the day hanging out at my house revisiting old video games or watching stupid movies on my own all summer long. How many people would be driven crazy by that notion? And yet, I find an almost solace in it for a certain period.

You can't discuss tigers without talking about their exterior - the iconic tiger stripes. Amazingly, these stripes help to keep tigers camouflaged in the tall grass or foliage of the jungle; but take them out of their element, and they are easily recognizable and completely stand out. I don't think I need to explain what the color orange means to me as a Clemson student - I could go for over a month easily only wearing orange and never doing laundry - but needless to say this is pretty applicable. On campus or at a game, Solid Orange is a way of life for me. I can easily blend into a crowd decked out from head to toe in orange - hat, shirt, overalls, socks, shoes, the whole nine yards. In fact, as a freshmen on days that weren't Friday or a game day for whatever sporting event I was attending that day, I took advice to avoid orange and wear something unique to me (something from Philadelphia or a favorite band shirt, perhaps) in order to see if I couldn't strike up a conversation with someone and make a new friend those first few weeks. By wearing everyday clothes from high school, here I was standing out. Yet leave Clemson, and people start to look at you funny when your wardrobe consists of all orange all the time. Out of his natural element, the tiger sticks out like no other - and so it is with me when I depart from dear old Clemson.

It's funny - when I look back at my college decision, I invariably wonder what my life would be like somewhere else. I am truly happy here and with my choice to come to Clemson, and so I have no regrets about that. But I do think how my life would be different if I had gone to NC State. Honestly, it doesn't even seem like my second choice any longer; the more time I spend here, the less affiliation I feel to my "backup" or what have you. There's really no way to grasp the changes there would be in me and my personality - maybe in some parallel universe - but I do consider: how would my life be in Raleigh? What would I have chosen to get involved in? What would my friend circle look like - and with that: would I be reflecting on how well I fit into my Wolf Pack?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Slow To Start

I took the big step in creating this blog, but aside from the first entry, I have yet to really do anything with it. That's partly attributable to the fact that I lack direction - with Perugia, I always had something to write about: travel, field trips, interactions with new people, and just adventuring around during the week and seeing what I could get up to. Nothing ever seemed mundane, so I never overlooked it. Believe me, there has been plenty going on here recently, but I don't think that's the route I want to go with this - just describing my day to day activities. Anytime I've had the desire to keep record and start blogging again, it's because I had a concept I wanted to hash out or pour over more, and writing was a great way to put it down on some virtual paper. I draw a lot from Greg in that respect - I want to write more about ideas and thoughts rather than happenings. This won't be an everyday posting, though perhaps that would be a good goal for break: keep myself occupied by challenging myself to update everyday. I definitely don't want this to turn into my middle school Xanga page, though, where I just wrote about my ridiculously boring days (sometimes with up to three posts a day!) without ever coming to a real point or drawing readers' attention - but I must admit, it's amusing to me to go back and revisit my old page!

Ultimately, though, I think the major reason behind it all is much deeper: I have a problem starting things. This is a concept that struck me the other day, and the more situations I apply it to, the truer it seems to ring to me. Part of the reason I abandoned my go-to "what I want to be when I grow up" position of a small business owner, in addition to actually learning more details about what that would entail, is that I would do a terrible job starting something from scratch. I prefer to take an existing thing and strive to make it better; I'm not creative, I'm an "improver" or so I'd like to believe. This year, especially this semester with Orientation and Exec, I've learned a lot more about myself - rivaling the huge strides I made across my first semester at college, even. One of those things, which I've found to be completely true - is that I am an analyzer, and one of the biggest flaws of an analyzer is that they will take too much time examining problems from different angles instead of just making a decision. I don't like to make decisions - I never feel ready. There's always more research to do, more to discuss, more I'd like to speculate on; I need a hard deadline, and even then I sometimes push it a little further. I've "found my niche" as we so often like to throw around in OA class, as being that right-hand-man/adviser/confidant role, where I can take someone's problem, flip it to another perspective, and hand it right back. I offer advice or a new point of view, and maybe offer up a few options for courses of action, and it falls on them to execute it.

Reeling this back in to something more relevant to my current situation, I've reflected recently that so many of my "relationships" or rather pursuits thereof have been motivated right before breaks - mostly summer, but one winter break thrown in there freshmen year. In some cases, the thought of being away has made me realize I have feelings for someone, but most often I draw this imaginary line in the proverbial sand and say if I don't motivate myself to make something happen, I'll either A) regret it or B) lose the opportunity. Frankly, I'm not sure how much to expand on my current situation because honestly we haven't talked about this elephant in the room yet and also I really don't even know who my audience is yet (I've been meaning to send out invitations and links, so I'll get to that right after posting). To sum it up, I have been semi-seeing a girl recently (even that term I struggled to come up with and don't know if it really fits), but summer is rolling along in two weeks. Open heart on my sleeve: I think it's clear that we both like each other, and I'm purely speculating here, but I can picture this turning into something concrete - but, summer is a long time, and a lot can change...I think it would be foolish to worry about putting a label on anything or think too much about what comes next. However, I think we need to go into summer at the very least on the same page, even if that means having an awkward conversation way too soon. We shall see what happens with that.

Point being, my toughest battle is with starting. Whether that be with finding a job, getting my license, writing a paper/working on a project, making friends, or pursuing relationships - the first steps are always the most difficult for me. I don't know if I can account that to over-analyzing, lack of courage, fear of leaving my comfort zone, or any other of a multitude of reasons - I'll need to do more soul searching for the answer to that million dollar question. Right now, I just have to focus on overcoming it. Making decisions and owning them, maybe throwing caution to the wind every now and then, and just initiate more. Be aggressive. Assertive. Brave. Unafraid to be me. And with that being said, I'd like to officially welcome you to my blog. If you're reading this, I truly appreciate your time and want you to know that I'm making an effort to be more open and share myself with you.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Hello, friends! My hiatus from blogging is potentially over. It was something I really enjoyed doing in Italy, but I never really transferred it over to everyday life. Be forewarned: this blog will feature me ramble often, so be prepared. Here is rambling number one, which leads to why I ultimately decided to start a blog.

I've discovered my immense need to documents things - seemingly electronically only. I've never been one to keep a journal or scrapbook, but essentially I've found ways to do that over the internet that I utilize incessantly. Way back in the day, I had a Xanga that documented my tedious day to day activities. When I first got to Clemson, I was that freshmen that always had a camera, and I became notorious for uploading my pictures right away. I've fallen in love with FourSquare and obsess over keeping track of the different places I've been. Recently I lost all the documents on my hard drive after having to get it replaced, and I should be much more worried about losing all my school documents for my Eportfolio than I am. In the face of losing these important documents, I still was bummed about my music mostly. Even though I was relieved to discover all of my iTunes were backed up thanks to Google Play, I lost all my ratings and play counts. It is unbelievably trivial, but I liked having ratings that allowed me to stream only my favorite songs onto my iPhone and always tried to keep track of how much I listened to different songs/artists and how long it had been since I listened to something.

Along those same lines, I routinely go back and look at my old Facebook albums. Even if nobody does much more than flip through them as they are uploaded solely to procrastinate/creep, I like having it there for me - I like going back and seeing what I was like, how I've changed, what's still the same. With the conversion to timeline, Facebook has a map feature. I've dabbled with similar applications - from an old white board map of the US that I colored in all the states I'd visited as a kid, to the Where I've Been interactive map and profile. But this seemed so much more - every picture or significant event could be tagged and traced back to a location, streamlining two of my hobbies on a platform where I kept everything. I'm still in the process, but I've spent countless hours already going back through my pictures to create a more complete map, tagging things one by one back to fan pages that are scarcely visited. As a result, I've put a fairly complete map together from recent travels, clumping all my pictures up into geographic region, then destination, and even down to the attraction. Bringing this all back to a logical point, as I was putting this together, it gave me an excuse to go through all of my Italy pics and revisit my blog from the summer ( for those of you who never checked it out!) I loved jumping back into it, reading what I had wrote, reliving all of my travels, looking back on my first posts and comparing that to how I had felt leaving. It made me miss blogging, and occasionally when I've been overly sentimental or nostalgic, I found myself wishing I still had a blog for the seemingly mundane. Who knows, maybe one day I'll want to look back at my college years, or (as long as I make time to write this summer) my experience as an Orientation Ambassador.

I reasoned with myself that when I had a name I was satisfied with, I would start up a blog. I would try to make time to write, I would spill out my true thoughts, I wouldn't worry about what other people think. I would just document everything in the moment, knowing that I could always look back on it and cheer up, relish in a past chapter of my life, or just waste some time on a slow evening. Well, I recently came up with a name that just "worked" for me. I don't pride myself as an especially creative person, but I do put a lot of thought into things and hold myself to a high standard with things like these - screen names, my twitter handle, so on. As a sophomore, sitting in class last April out of nowhere the word "perusing" came into my head and I liked how it flowed off of Perugia, the city I would be studying in. It was perfect - "to examine or consider with attention and in detail" seemed fitting for how I would spend my time traveling and studying, and the alliteration was in effect. I wouldn't have been satisfied with a generic or uninspiring name, but it was really just for me than for anyone else. And so, as I brainstormed for a title for this blog, I didn't really know where to begin. I wanted something simple yet meaningful - it didn't have to define me, but I wanted an element of my personality in there. Nothing was stopping me from just writing and changing the name, but I stuck to my personal agreement and decided when I had a name I was satisfied with, I would be ready to get rolling with the blog.

The tangent comes full circle, and we'll re-visit my data loss. In an attempt to get a start on my beloved play counts, I vowed to start from the A's and listen to every song once though my iTunes - a feat that will take me over 15 days if I listened straight through for 24 hours. I reached Anberlin - not my favorite band by far, but I do enjoy their stuff on occasion - and caught a lyric from The Resistance which I've always liked. It's directly the title I found fitting enough to go with, so it should sound familiar. Speak for yourself, you paper tigers. Obviously the tiger bit resonated with me - in fact, inspired my Greg, I've started my own little sticky note on my desktop of blogging ideas. One of them is what being a Tiger means to me, which I hope to write about soon once I formulate the whole concept. In addition, a paper tiger is a cool little saying coming from the Chinese - it's something that seems vicious at first glance, but upon further inspection is actually harmless. And finally the speaking for yourself bit, it fits so perfectly. It's exactly what I hope to achieve. I want to write for myself, and I know that nobody will ever find as much meaning or enjoyment from this blog as I will looking back over it.

So the logical question remains: if I'm always documenting for my own benefit, why broadcast it? The internet is seemingly the worst place for a private place to reflect. The logical answer would be in the fact that it's much easier to type up and edit online than it would be to write everything by hand. Maybe throw in the fact that I can access it from anywhere, not have to worry about losing old posts like I have my other documents, or any sort of generic reason why the internet is the best place for information sharing. But if I'm being truthful, there is additional aspect to it. I don't want to hide, I don't want there to be separate pieces of me - a different face for each situation or interaction. I'm writing for me, so I can be 100% truthfully myself - and the fact that there may be an audience shouldn't change that fact. I'm working to be more open, take more risks, not worry so much about perceptions, and my Orientation class is helping me a lot with that. Perhaps that's a topic for another day. For now, I can rest assured that I'm going into this project with great intentions and hopefully great results - and that's good enough for me. After all, I've spent enough time considering it that it's about time I just go ahead and jump in. I over analyze way too much as it is, the fact that I've internally debated for so long whether to start on a medium that will allow me to review and analyze everything speaks volumes! I hope everyone finds this blog enjoyable as you learn more about me and the way I think - and future me, I know you're reading this as well! :)