college

I almost dropped out

Fall term was rough. I had a close friend run into some troubles and I was spending a lot of time making sure their life stays on track. I also had a death in the family during the first week of the term, which was somewhat expected, but none-the-less heartbreaking. On top of that, I was commuting about 5 hours a day, 5 days a week. After 10 weeks and almost 8,500 miles, I needed a break and the plan was to take a year off.

Thanks to the wonderful world of financial-aid-fuckery, I couldn’t take a break. That would mean my six-month grace period would kick in and I’d have to start making payments on my loans. This wouldn’t be a huge deal since the plan was to get a full-time job. However, after I do finish my final year I’d have to start making payments again immediately after graduation since the grace period will have already been used up. This is an issue because my path to becoming a Registered Dietitian involves applying and paying for an internship in order to get the RD credential. Basically, I’d be in an unpaid internship for a year post graduation AND I’d have to be paying off my school loans. There may be deferment options in this situation, but I don’t want to run the risk or deal with the paperwork, phone calls, etc. I decided to reduce my credit hours to half-time so I’m still making progress on my degree and I can put off student loan payments a little while longer.

It’s currently 3 weeks into Winter term and things are going well. I’m really glad to be taking the term at a slower pace. All that craziness of last term and all the nonsense of figuring out credit-hour requirements aside, I’m glad I didn’t take a full-on break. Being able to take fewer classes and spend more time on the material with less stress and anxiety means I’m able to retain more information and maintain my sanity. I’ve always been the type of person that needs to take my time and digest information slowly and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

I think it’s really important for people to take things at a pace that challenges them, but it should also work well for them. I can’t speak for anyone else or tell you all how you should run your lives, so I’ll just say from my experience, mental health, physical health, and sleep are worth more than finishing a degree in four years (among other things).

#itsnotarace

Merging Careers: Art & Science, hand-in-hand?

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A blogger I follow published an article yesterday mentioning how July is half over already and its been a month since he last posted anything. I realized I haven’t published a new article since May! Well, if you’re interested, I’d like to explain why:

About a year to a year and a half ago I was living in an apartment with my boyfriend and another roommate. I was working crappy jobs, spending not nearly enough time on freelance work, and doing almost no creative projects just for myself. I was struggling with the idea of continuing on my path of shitty jobs to pay the bills, and finding time to pursue my freelance career as an artist, designer, and illustrator.

Let me backtrack to about seven years ago: I was graduating from high school in upstate New York — legit upstate, not just 20 miles north of the city, but I digress — I was top of my class and hating almost every minute of it (mostly dreading the idea of having to give a speech, plus other bs that was going on with the administration). I was the valedictorian and by the end of the school year, I had no intentions of going to college. As you can probably deduce, my focus in high school was fine art so, I did consider art school, but ultimately chose not to go for a myriad of reasons:

  1. I had my older brother, TJ, as an example to follow (sorry brotato, but you were the guinea pig). He went to a school in Boston for music technology and dropped out after a year because it wasn’t until after he was already down the rabbit hole, that he realized he hated it. One year. Over $30,000 in debt. No thanks.
  2. I already had a job that allowed me to explore my creativity in fashion design, graphic design, web design, embroidery, modeling, writing, photography, illustration, and plenty other creative outlets. I was basically going to school and getting paid for it.
  3. I wasn’t 100% certain it was worth it to get a degree in fine art since I was cocky and let myself believe that I was already really good and wouldn’t learn anything.
  4. I felt like I had something to prove and wanted to show people that I could take the “hard road” to success and succeed without a degree.
  5. I didn’t think the degree was worth the financial burden.
  6. I didn’t want to conform to what I considered society’s standard: to follow along with the crowd as one of The Man’s little marionettes, and being forced into a life as a puppet getting walked through the educational system to fetch my piece of paper that would, down the line, mean something to employers.
  7. I was bitter.

There were probably more reasons, but the gist of it is that I didn’t want to be rushed to a decision, and the more that people tell me I have to do something, the less I want to do it. Plus, I’m a thinker, a planner, a worrier, and probably, nay definitely, a little bit of a procrastinator. I wanted time to think about what I really want to spend the rest of my life doing and to this day, I still feel like 18, for most people, is too young to know the answer to such an important question.

At the same time, I reflect and find hypocrisy in my opinions (this is going to be a tangent, so bear with me). I hate the notion that we have to have very specific careers and learn very specific skills to do a job that contributes to a larger entity. People aren’t as well rounded as they used to be and seriously lack a lot of basic skills they should know, as humans, in order to survive. People don’t even know how to plant and garden for shit’s sake! If grocery stores just vanished, I can’t imagine how many people would just starve because they can’t sustain themselves. Anyway, the hypocrisy lies within my mindset of wanting to find that one thing I want to do for the rest of my life: If I want to do one thing, isn’t that limiting, and narrowing my path to well-roundedness? I’d like to think not since I intend to pursue art as well as a science and I have other hobbies too, but I kind of feel a little hypocritical.

So, fast forward to last year. I had a conversation with Ryan (my then boyfriend, now fiancé), about my career:job:life angst. He told me he understands my reasoning behind wanting to thoroughly consider careers before jumping into school and wasting my time and money; he too went into the work force right out of high school. He then told me that eventually I need to get off my ass and make a decision because I can’t sit around thinking about it forever.

At first, I was a little insulted, but it was very sound, logical advice and it really kicked me into high gear over the past year. Sometimes I just need a boot to the ass to get motivated.

While pondering careers, I was hired to do a sketch of a woman based only off of verbal descriptions, like forensic sketch artists do, and it got me thinking about how I’d like to maybe become a sketch artist for law enforcement. After some research, I discovered that job is primarily, though not always, left to someone within the force who already has artistic skills due to the liabilities involved in having a civilian interacting with witnesses and victims as well as the financial burden of hiring an independent contractor.

With that in mind, I considered what areas of police work I could see myself being involved in so I could get my foot in the door to becoming a sketch artist. I had been interested in forensics for a long time and decided to see what I’d be looking at career-wise, locally. I signed up for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office Citizens’ Academy – a two month long class that walks citizens through various areas of the sheriff’s office, both lecture based and hands-on – and part of it involves a presentation by someone within the forensics department.

I very quickly learned that the jobs in my area are competitive and not very interesting: It would most likely involve finger print analysis or just collecting evidence. It’s possible other agencies nearby might have more interesting jobs, but after some consideration, I didn’t think I’d be able to handle the grotesque nature of the job. Aaaand just like that, two potential careers went out the windowIMG_5195.

I don’t remember exactly when, but I watched a few documentaries about nutrition, health, and obesity in America and it got me thinking about how much common sense people seem to lack in regards to eating right, and many peoples’ hypocrisy when it comes to not taking care of themselves then expecting someone else to pay their health sickcare bills. I thought back to when I was researching primary care physicians when I first moved to Oregon four years ago and how I ended up choosing a naturopath. What attracted me to my naturopath was her thorough examination into my health history and her genuine caring and interest in my health. Also, the fact that she is conscientious of my preferences and opinions of how I want to get healthier and doesn’t just prescribe pills right off the bat to cure everything (though she can if need be).IMG_2094

It clicked for me that nutrition is something I feel passionate about and enough so that I can definitively see myself making a career out of it. More IMG_3058-001research ensued and to make this long story a little shorter, I’ll just say that my goal is to become a Registered Dietitian and I will be attending Oregon State University in the Fall (finances and vehicle longevity permitting).

I still intend to pursue my art, and in an ideal world I will be able to combine the two in some way. I have ideas, I just need to keep chugging along, stop procrastinating, and just. Get. It. Done.

I’m working on — by working on, I mean it’s churning in my head — a series of phrases to help keep me focused and motivate me, that I want to turn into a series of illustrations or t-shirts or both. You can expect a transitional mish-mash in my blog topics that incorporate either or both art and nutrition and I hope you find all topics interesting and helpful.

One final note! An amazing coincidence happened this past year that I hope will help transition and merge my artistic career with a health and wellness career and I can’t wait to talk about it, but I have to wait until I get the go-ahead to do so. Yeah, that explains nothing. . . just stay tuned! It’s exciting!