For my readers:

I don’t have a large group of followers. I am not a well-known blogger. But that means absolutely nothing to me. Each and every one of you mean something to me. 

When I started this blog I wanted to inspire through the written word and maybe get some things off my chest. I wanted to write more and I wanted to help others write more. What amazes me is how many people actually listened. And responded. And continually kept me going.

My blog isn’t flashy; I rarely include pictures, it’s a huge work in progress but I’m still learning. And despite all that, you all stayed with me. You shared my triumphs and my sorrows and often tried to help me along the way. And for that, I cannot thank you enough.

If I have helped, inspired, or related to a single person in the past 3 1/2 years I’ve had this blog then I have done my job. Keep writing. What you say is important. Your voice matters. Write.  I beg you to keep the written word alive. Find value in the words of others and your own. Write love letters, thank you cards, little reminders, whatever it may be. Words can be the most powerful weapons in the world if we allow them to. So please, WRITE!

This blog has helped me chronicle my journey in a way I never expected. However, I am about to embark on a new journey. By the time this is published, I will have just finished up my last final in my college career and will be counting down the hours until I walk across the stage. I will no longer be able to call myself an English major. But on the good days, I will be able to call myself a writer. 

I hope that you too feel like you have earned the right to call yourself a writer. Even though this blog has run it’s course, I am far from finished. Please visit my new blog, “Confessions of a 20-Something” and follow along if you so wish. I greatly appreciate all of you and everything this blog has provided me over the years.

I love you all.

-Marina

“I write so that people can see the entire universe through the lens of me. I write because I must. And most of all, I write to let those stranded in the darkness know that they are not alone.”

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Rushing Through

I am 22 years old and I want too much. I want so much for my life.

I graduate in 3 1/2 months and I have no idea what I’m going to use my degree for. I don’t know what I want to do to make money. But I know what I want to do.

I want to see the world. I want to go to the big cities that make me feel alive. The cities that make me feel right at home. The cities where getting lost doesn’t feel uncomfortable. The cities where my fashion sense can actually be appreciated. The cities where people don’t know your name so you can escape and be totally invisible.

I want to go the small towns that make me feel accepted. The towns that welcome any newcomers. The towns that are so small it’s nearly impossible to get lost. The towns where my fashion sense would make people wonder where I came from. The towns where everybody knows you and won’t let you escape or be invisible.

I want to see everything there is to see. I want to feel the warmth of the sun and a cool breeze through my hair at the same time that someone else is getting snowed on. I want to marvel at the green hills of Ireland and the mountains of Switzerland. I want to share these sights with my family and some day with my children. Because I want them to yearn like I do. With one condition: I want them to feel as though what they are yearning for is within their reach.

I want to own a little bakery that people visit every Sunday. That my kids will have memories of. I want the smell of bread and brownies and cakes bring a flood of memories to people. I want to share my family recipes and love of baking with people who will enjoy it. I want to do the things that I’m too afraid to try.

I want to believe that the things I yearn for are within my reach.

I think about how I have spent the past four years of my life, and I wonder if it was the right thing to do. If it’s right for anyone to do. We’re told we can’t make it in the world anymore without a college degree. So then we shove as many students as we can into colleges and we all come out with degrees. And then we’re told that that degree doesn’t make much of a difference anymore because everyone has one. So what were we doing with those four years then?

Maybe I should have taken my student loan money and used it to see what I want to see. To do what I want to do. Maybe I would have learned more about life and about myself and about failures and success had I not spent four years in a classroom listening to someone tell me what’s important. Maybe they should have told us to figure out for ourselves what is important.

I hope that this doesn’t come off as ungrateful. I have said many times before that I am privileged to go to college and get the education that I have received. All I am saying is that there are plenty of other forms of privilege we should recognize. And plenty of other reasons to feel grateful in our lives.

Most of us come to college at only 19 years old and they tell us we need to decide what we’re going to do with our lives now. 3 months ago, we had to ask if we could use the bathroom but now we’re given that huge responsibility? Why are we always in such a rush? Then we pick a major and we rush along in hopes to graduate on time so that we can rush into the real world to find a job so that we can get into a routine that go through mindlessly every single day. Why do we do that to our young adults? Why do we do that to ourselves?

We only get one life and I’m tired of rushing through mine.

The End is in Sight

Three and a half years ago, I drove to Fort Collins ready to start my college career. I was nervous, scared, sad and excited. I was sad to leave my friends, family and life that I had made for myself. I was excited to meet new people and have adventures. The night before I left I made a playlist called Fort Collins drive. It was 2 1/2 hours of songs that reflected my varying emotions. I tearfully said goodbye to my sisters and my parents followed behind me in a separate car. I cried for about half of the ride.

Today, I drove to Fort Collins ready to start the last semester of my college career. I was nervous, scared, sad and excited. I listened to the same playlist, now 2 hours longer than the original and I cried for about 10 minutes of the ride. This time, there was no one to say goodbye to me, my parents are on a trip and my sisters live elsewhere and already said goodbye a few days ago. The whole time I was home for Winter Break I knew that I would be starting my last semester but it didn’t hit me until a few days ago. I was sitting by myself in my parents’ new house when I got an email that my graduation contract was ready for pick-up… and it hit me. I was about to start my last semester of college. I have no job prospects, no motivation to take the LSAT again, no real plan for the rest of my life and no one to say goodbye to me. Not to mention tens of thousands of dollars of debt. I started to panic.

I move out in exactly four months. I move out of my first apartment. The apartment that I have 3 years of memories of. The apartment where my boyfriend first told me he loved me. The apartment that I brought my first pet home. The apartment where I raged about my last roommate, and welcomed my current roommate. The apartment where I cried about my classes, and celebrated my successes. The apartment where I was able to watch myself grow and change into the person that I am. The apartment that I have made into my home away from home.

Naturally, I start to feel a bit nostalgic every time I think about graduation. I think about receiving my acceptance letter, and attending Freshman Orientation. I think about that first drive up here and all of the others in between. I think about life in the dorms, when making and keeping friends was easy and there was always someone there to give you a hug. I think about my terrible professors and about the great ones. I think about the countless essays I have written, books I have read and all the time I spent procrastinating. I think about the late nights and the lazy mornings. The 8AM classes and the 1AM IHOP runs. I think about the fights, the arguments, disagreements and debates, the tears, the hugs, the triumphs and the failures that I have experienced these past three years. I think about all the times I have spent laughing and all the time I spent wondering, questioning and doubting. Those questions and doubts still find a way to sneak up on me from time to time. Some days, I know how to handle them. Some days, they get the best of me. I have questioned whether or not I deserve to be here. I have questioned whether this is the right path for me. I have questioned if college will be worth it in the end. I have doubted myself, my worth, my ability and my strength. But I have never doubted that I am lucky.  I have never doubted that I have been privileged to be here and to have had the experiences I had. I have never doubted that I should feel honored to get an education, to make friends, to have a roof over my head, a family that supports me, a job, and opportunities.

I still have four more months of memories, laughter, failures and triumphs, questions and doubts. I thank each and every one of my readers. I thank my family and friends, professors and classmates that have made these three and a half years so incredible. Let’s make the last four months just as memorable.

Millennials and Technology

The more I am surrounded by technology, the more I grow to hate it. I am only 22 years old. I am not downplaying the benefits that we have gained from technology. I have the platform that I am using to voice my opinions because of the advancements of technology. Skype, medical advancements and others have given this generation unprecedented access to things that previous generations never would have believed. This is a post about the downfalls of technology.

Romance is on life support in this generation. We have no concept of what it is like to not have the ability to be in constant contact with our significant others. Did you know our parents, met and courted each other without the use of Emojis?? They were forced to find a phone and dial a number that they had memorized and hope that the other person was by their phone and could answer. There were no text arguments or winky faces to try and show your tone. During a date, they did not just pull out their phones when there was a lull in the conversation. They communicated through hand written love letters, phone calls and face-to-face communication. We think that if we are not texting our significant other all day, everyday, they must be mad at us.

There have been multiple studies about how Facebook and social media is actually making us less connected to those around us and more lonely. There are two videos that I absolutely love that talk about this same topic. I deactivated my Facebook for about a month around Thanksgiving. My first thought was: “Now who do I tell that I deactivated?” And I knew I was doing the right thing. I reactivated it to download pictures for a Christmas present and I deleted 100 “friends” from my friends list. I thought that I would miss Facebook and looking at everyone’s pictures. The truth is, I really only missed seeing my out of state family’s pictures and if I really wanted to see them, I could have asked them for copies. I was more surprised by how many people said they were thinking about deactivating too when I told them. We literally have the world at our fingertips, we can have all the knowledge we want because of the internet and we use it for cat videos and memes. And what did I do in my spare time without Facebook? For a while I forgot that the internet even existed other than Netflix. I read a book. An actual book. And I socialized in person more. I finished all my finals ahead of schedule. And I didn’t stare at a screen before and after I fell asleep.

Our use of language has disintegrated to the point that we don’t even want to type out whole words. We are condensed to 140 characters or less and use a symbol that was once used for numbers to smash 18 words into one in order to try and elevate our online status. Our online status is the way we see ourselves in the mirror. We take pictures of ourselves and post them to get likes and delete them if we don’t get any. Rather than our confidence coming from within, it comes from the opinions of people we barely know or even talk to. The amount of texts he sends is not equivalent to the amount of love he has for you. The amount of “friends” you have is not equivalent to the amount of people who genuinely care about you.

Those two videos just point out that we need to balance our time wisely. When you’re interacting with people, put your phone away. When you’re feeling down, try deleting social media sites for awhile. When you’re in a situation that you want to remember and that you want to be present in, don’t ruin it by taking videos and pictures of it. Just be present. Enjoy. Look up!

For writers

The amount of writing I have done for the past week is absolutely ridiculous. It has all been for academic purposes and it has drained me of all my energy, creative and otherwise. However, today in my Writing and Style class, we wrote a final reflection on the class. The instructor told us that the best way to go about doing this is to write a letter to ourselves 10 years in the future. This took on a different form than I expected it would. Our audience was ourselves, with the teacher eventually reading it as well. And now, it only feels right that I share it with my larger audience. This is especially aimed at any writers. Whether you consider yourself a “writer” or just like to write in your spare time, I hope this will ring true for you.

Dear Marina,

I hope that you have continued to write in any way possible. Carrie Lamanna said at the end of the semester last year that “Each and every one of you have something to say. And each and every one of you has written something that is important and that matters.” And while right now it’s hard to imagine that anyone really cares what you have to say, you at least have to try to get them to care. If you stop caring, so will they. This semester you looked at the word “this” in your own writing so much that it lost its meaning and almost forgot why you were looking at it for so long. Remember the word you are describing needs to be immediately after the “this.” THIS TECHNIQUE is something that has and will continue to make you a stronger writer.

It’s hard to imagine that you’re not still writing at this point. And I mean writing substantially, more than just lists or cards or emails. I mean writing with every ounce of emotion that you do on your blogs or in your profile piece on law school. When you write your emotions and use your voice and put a little piece of yourself into your writing, it tends to be pretty amazing. All those love letters you wrote this year as part of your own challenge to write more, those were moving (if I do say so myself) and that same kind of feeling and devotion is what you should be putting in all your writing. (That is why I say write something more substantial than lists. It’s a little hard to put your heart and soul into a grocery list. Fresh, ripe, and juicy tomatoes – while entertaining, it may be a little over the top).

Remember those sentence imitations that we did and do some now. When you find a sentence that strikes you or that you just fall in love with, write it down and imitate it. You were pretty proud of those sentences too, and you are more than capable of writing them yourself. Write sentences that other writers would want to imitate. Write sentences that people find so striking, they stop reading, look up and think about it, and then they read it again. Write with such meaning and intention that people use your words as quotes.

Above all, just write. That’s what you do and you’re pretty good at it. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. If this class has taught you anything it’s that you can always improve on your writing. And you can always write. The title of this class is Writing and Style. For you, it was more of “Writing and Life” because it helped reinvigorate the writing skills that tend to only show up in your blog posts. While your blogs are great and they are more of a tool for you to write and put it out there when you need to, don’t focus on followers. Even if you only have one follower, that’s one person who cares about what you write and finds value the words you put on a page (or a screen) and that one person should be enough for you to keep writing. Keep using your voice and putting your thoughts and emotions out there. People care. Not everyone, but let’s be honest, you don’t care about what everyone has to say either.

At this point in your life, you’re 31 years old and you probably have children. If you can’t find it in you to write for yourself, write for them. Show them that you are strong enough to use your voice and that they shouldn’t be afraid to do the same. Write them letters for the milestones in their lives. Write blog posts that are dedicated to them. Write on the day that they are born and on their first birthday. And then share your writing with them. Let them see those same pieces of your heart manifest themselves on pages. Let them see that they mean enough to you for you to write to them and about them. Write, share, grow.

Believe in yourself and give future writers the belief that they need because it is quickly becoming a lost art. Use nice paper and ink rather than a screen and some keys. There is no way to improve upon your writing if you don’t do it. If you don’t share your writing, you are not allowing for any kind of constructive criticism. Write, share, grow.

Keep writing. You can do it.

With love,

 

Marina 5/6/14

I’m a Grown Up?

Now that I am almost finished with my college career, I think it is absolutely ludicrous to try and figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life at 18 years old. We’re pressured to pick a college, pick a major, pick the right electives, pick our future career path and we’re still teenagers! 

When I’m a parent, I am going to make sure that my child knows that the one thing that they have is time. Time is on our side and yet we spend so much of it stressing or daydreaming or otherwise just not living our lives. We grow up faster and faster and because of that we become so bitter at such a young age. The American Dream, to our generation is on life support, if not dead. The American Dream is to make sure that we can pay off our thousands of dollars of debt and still provide for our family. It’s to make sure that our degree is worth the money, or that we use it in any kind of relevant field. 

I went into college knowing what I wanted to do. Or at least thinking that I did. And now, three years later, I am so burned out that I have no passion for anything anymore. College beats students down so much that it’s almost impossible not to question everything. What am I doing with my life? Did I choose the right major? Should I take an unpaid internship or pay my bills with an irrelevant job? Am I supposed to know what I want to do after school? Am I making the right decisions? Will this class ever help me in the real world??

I asked my four year old nephew, “Do you know what you want to be when you grow up?” and he said, “No, what?!” And I feel the exact same way. People have stopped asking me what I want to do when I “grow up” which implies that I am a grown up. When did that happen? I still feel like I’m just barely getting by with all the classes that I’m taking. Now the question they ask is “What do you want to do when you graduate?” And to that I reply, “I don’t know, figure out what I want to do with my life, figure out how to make good use of my degree, learn how to make it in the real world without loans and a roommate and classes everyday.” 

College is not for everyone. We, as Americans, really need to stop telling people that it is. Pushing as many people into colleges devalues degrees and we are doing a disservice to ourselves and society. 

Let us Experience

I think it would do this generation and past generations a world of good to live a day or a week in each era of America starting with the 20s.

Let us experience the roaring 20s in all it’s grandeur and extravagance. Then let us experience the stock market crash and the reality of the luxurious lifestyles we enjoyed so deeply.

Let us experience the 30s. Let us experience the meaning of The Great Depression and having to make ends meet and struggling to make rations last.

Let us experience the 40s. Let us experience what wars were like when social media wasn’t around. When enlisting into the army wasn’t a choice. When we didn’t have technology like Skype to talk to loved ones oversees. When letters were meaningful and personal.

Let us experience the 50s. When sleeping around wasn’t seen as the norm. When people stayed in marriages for better or for worse. When the family sat around the radio and listened to fireside chats.

Let us experience the 60s. Let us experience a truly nationwide struggle for basic civil rights. When protests meant more than changing your profile picture or putting a hashtag in front of a catchy phrase.

Let us experience the 70s. When your ability to dance wasn’t judged on the color of your skin. When drugs seemed harmless but really changed peoples lives negatively.

Let us experience the 80s. When exercising was important and even trendy. When we first discovers medical conditions specific to a population that was considered outcasts and not seeing a cure in sight.

Let us experience the 90s again. When technology was advanced but not enough to consume our lives and everyday actions. When we still appreciated family time and that didn’t mean being in the same room playing the same game on different devices. When books had pages to turn not a screen to touch.

Let us experience how lucky we are as a generation and a society. Let us experience that while we still have work to do, we have a come a very long way. Let us experience that the things that are viewed as “problems” today, pale in comparison to the problems of the past.
Let us experience what life was like in the past and then maybe we could appreciate what our lives are in the present.