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.