RELEASE No. 8: Safer at Home (?)

I have not *left* my house or the area I reside in since the second week of March? Well okay, technically I left the house to go to work twice but I don’t really count it because other than there, I didn’t go anywhere else. Today is April 26. A little over a month and a half.

I guess this is me slowly coming off of my hiatus, and if you read through you’ll see why. I feel a bit rusty in my writing, but I think this is a good way to start back.

Work

So in my last RELEASE, I shared that I had shifted over to being a professional staff member in the department I was in. It has been about a year since that post and, there has definitely been a lot of changes. At the end of June 2019, I left that position and started graduate school (which I will discuss next). I started working as a graduate assistant for a cultural center, and then I attained a second graduate internship for a leadership & student engagement department. Both super cool positions, am I right? Over the course of the year in both of those roles, I have definitely learned a lot about myself and the work I want to do. I discovered I love the student engagement and development piece. I want to see students and interact with them. I, for sure, cannot be in an office *completely* by myself. Or at least, I need to have interacting with students as one of my core responsibilities. So hypothetically speaking let’s say I become a senior student affairs professional and I have my own office. I want one of my responsibilities to be to attend events where students are engaging in the programming. I want to be able to say, “(insert content relevant to the programming), and if you ever want to touch base again or catch up here’s my email/phone number! Feel free to contact me and we can set up a time to meet.”

I am very much on the full-time job hunt as well. I have submitted a couple of applications and had/have a few interviews. The waiting game is not the greatest, but I am doing what I can with what I have. I am also being very intentional about the work I want to pursue. I have been looking for positions that are in the realm of a student’s personal and/or professional development. Some functional areas that I am keeping on my radar are the following (in no particular order and not limited to): Student Activities, Student Government/Student Unions, Community Engagement, Multicultural/Diversity Centers, Career Services, Admissions & Orientation Services, Residential Life, and Learning Centers. I feel the challenging part currently in this job process is that I am also wrapping up spring semester, which means I am also in final paper and project mode. However, I do feel I am in a better position than last semester, considering I do not have to physically go anywhere and I have a lot of time to spread my work.

Graduate School

I did pick a school. I am also graduating soon. In about nine weeks to be exact. Alright well *technically* we’ll be walking in about three weeks and there is a week of vacation or so, then we start our last term. The last term is about five weeks from mid-May to the end of June. Wild to think that this is all ending soon. Graduate school has definitely challenged me to think beyond my scope and made me hungry to learn and do more. I am extremely happy with where I decided to attend and how much I have grown. All of my professors have challenged me to think beyond the surface. I will write out more in a separate post of what my graduate journey has been like. Maybe I’ll separate it out into two posts: one for Fall, one of Spring. Then I’ll dedicate the last term to a reflection post or something.

Since about mid-March, my school has also shifted online, which has its perks and its challenges. On the brighter side, I know I am fortunate and grateful to have food and not worry about if I have enough money for my next meal. I also am happy to know I do not have to spend money on gas with calling/video-calling into work or class. However there is still some downsides. I know a lot of my colleagues are experiencing “screen fatigue” or something of that vein. I personally have been experiencing challenges with online learning and work. It is definitely hard to step away from my laptop because there is always something happening that I need to be virtually present for. Or when I have a meeting or about to be in class or am in class, my parents call me to do something. I know for a fact, by the time our 7pm class rolls around on Thursday nights, a lot of us are mentally checked out. It is a struggle to get ourselves fully engaged after a long week of work and school completely online. I am also sad that my cohort and I did not get to finish our last full semester in person, and most likely summer as well. Now, I’m pretty sure these people I’ll be seeing when our in-person commencement happens, or even if we work in a similar department.

My Mental

The hiatus really helped in making sure I stay on lock with going through graduate school. There were many challenges that arose during the past year, and mostly was due to the growing pains that I have been experiencing with navigating two jobs, graduate school, leadership positions, and, the biggest factor of all, family. Living at home, going to school full-time, and (if you put all the hours together) working full-time: it is a lot. I will tell you now, I cried a significant amount. Especially during Fall semester. Even more during Spring. For different reasons of course. It was challenging for me to continuously allow my emotions to flow through me. I feel like I unconsciously put a “it’s okay, this is for the better” mask right when something difficult happens. I have been working on myself in terms of this — letting myself sit in my emotions and acknowledging these thoughts of sadness or frustration or grief.

The pandemic also has been taking a toll on my mental health. At the beginning of the Safer-At-Home stuff, those earlier weeks I was swelling a lot with my health condition as well as a 10-day long journey of mild shingles. That took a huge mental toll on me because all I wanted to do was rest and do what I could to get through classes. I did not want to stress my body out…but regardless it was very stressful and I was very scared I was not going to get better. Thankfully my physical body has healed up. Now,  it is more so just the emotions that come with staying inside too much or the screen fatigue. I get so exhausted just being on the computer too long or staying inside that I have no motivation to do anything for a certain amount of time. Thankfully I am able to go outside into my neighborhood, practice social distancing, and go for walks with my dog or my partner. I also have been indulging in activities that I have not done in awhile, such as painting, reading other non-school related books, playing Animal Crossing, and writing letters. These, among other things, have helped me keep my balance to the best that I can.

My Relationships

Can I start off by saying how much I miss the people in my life? Do not get me wrong, I love being with my immediate family. However, I miss my friends, I miss actively hanging out with my partner (I’ll dive more into this in a second), I miss everyone.

Writing letters has been helpful though. I love writing out my stream of consciousness and incorporating little drawings into my notes that I send to people. I have also been playing a lot of Animal Crossing (the most that I can with school), playing Jackbox, and having Zoom get-togethers. I have also been reaching out to a lot of people, messaging and texting when I could. Sending good vibes and messages to them, checking in to see how they are doing. Twitter and Instagram have been pretty good about keeping me up to date with people and the shenanigans they are up to.

In terms of my partner and I, we are doing the best that we can. We both had pretty busy schedules the past couple weeks, and in a couple weeks, it may get even busier. We only see each other a few times during the week when we’re swapping food dishes, sendingn groceries, or going on our walks. Earlier this month we celebrated our official one year, although it has been a little over a year that we initially started dating. For our one year, we went for a walk, played Jackbox with our friends, and watched Onward through Discord. This quarantine stuff has definitely been a challenge for both of us, because it limits our physical touch (hugging, holding hands, etc). However, we have increased exponentially in other love languages, especially quality time and acts of service. I miss him a lot though, even though we do talk every day. It is really different when you get to go to the park, go to Target, hang out at home and play with the dog, or play board games together. I do believe we’re growing together because of this. I cannot wait for the day I get to really hold his hand and hug him fully again.

Overall

2019 was a year a lot of us took for granted. We didn’t know 2020 was going to be like this. However, as time passes, I hope everything will get a little better. Fingers crossed.

Do what you have capacity for and enjoy your daze~

 

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