What Sophomore Year Has Taught Me

College is quite a wild ride. I never expected to learn, change, and grow as much as I did. Sometimes, I feel like a completely different person. Other times, I feel merely like a more mature version of my high school self. Regardless of the impact college has left on you thus far, it’s inevitable that its going to teach you a few important lessons: some in the classroom and some in the broader sense of life.

Friendships are hard to maintain, but so valuable.

What everyone always told me about college is true: you do meet people who completely change your life, for the better. One of the absolute best parts about Emerson for me so far is the opportunities I’ve gotten to befriend some extraordinary people. It’s so rare to meet people who make you feel loved, supported, and cherished, but that’s what Emerson has done for me. However, I’ve also learned that friendships are hard. It’s easy to call someone your friend when you cross paths with them every day during the semester and can easily meet up at the DH after class or run down two flights of stairs to their room in LB. But, as soon as it hits summer, it honestly gets so difficult to see a lot of those people you still call “friends.” When you have to really go out of your way to make plans and schedule times to meet up with someone off-campus, those friendships might face a four-month hiatus. It’s disappointing, but I think it really proves to you, deep down, who your best friends really are. They are the people who you genuinely want to see and with whom it’s never a hassle to make plans. They’re the gems that college has given you.

Never take family for granted.

Family can mean something different for everyone. It’s not just the conventional family that we all expect; families can come from friends and organizations, too. Regardless of who it is you call “family,” college has taught me that those are so rare and meaningful. Family is the people who you know will support and love you unconditionally. And, as a college student when life is turned upside down often, it’s nice to have something like that. As most other high school people at that time, I hated being at home during high school. I was constantly out of the house and rolling my eyes about my parents. Now, I often can’t wait to go home and just lay around the house with my parents and sister, reliving old memories and laughing about things only we’d understand. Having a constant in my life has been such a breath of fresh air in the swirling vortex that can be Emerson. I’ve come to appreciate my rich culture and the caring parents who raised me in it. I feel wiser, stronger, and more independent because of my family.

Putting yourself out there is everything.

My first semester of college was, to be brief, a tragic mess. I, someone who was a social butterfly my entire life, finally felt like my wings had been clipped off. Starting fresh in a completely different environment was a major stress on my life. I didn’t know how to make new best friends when I’d known my best friends from home since the sixth grade. It wasn’t like I was holed up in my room alone every night; I just only really spent time with my roommates and went home every other weekend. I owed that solitude to the fact that all I did was go to class and come back to my enclosed dorm. I wasn’t a part of any organizations and didn’t have any opportunities to make friends. That simple idea of not putting myself out there by joining any new organizations and clubs almost led me to transferring from Emerson. However, second semester rolled around, and I got accepted into Emerson Noteworthy, an a cappella group. Finally having a group of people outside of class to see regularly and be myself around changed everything for me. Because that’s all it took: having an outlet where I could do something I was passionate about and also have people with whom to share it. That slowly led me to opening myself up more. And here I am now, a member of 6 different organizations and thriving (in most ways).

Nothing is certain, and that’s something you just have to embrace.

It’s really terrifying looking into the future and having absolutely no idea what it holds. That future for most college students is in the post-grad life; for me, it also includes the next two years of my life at Emerson. Since coming here, I’ve changed my major, made and lost friends, and had so many of my perspectives on life questioned and completely flipped around. I thought that I was going to graduate with a degree in Journalism to go on and pursue a career at a news station as an anchor. Now, I’m working towards a degree in Marketing Communications, hoping to someday be on a marketing team for one of my favorite brands (maybe even a CMO someday, or at least that’s the ultimate dream). I’ve had some best friends come and go with semesters and others remain permanently rooted in my life. I came into college extremely skeptical and uninterested in Fraternity and Sorority Life, and I am now a proud member of Zeta Phi Eta. It’s truly impossible to predict your every move in college. As you shift and grow, your likes, dislikes, beliefs, and opinions will shift and grow, too. I used to be the kind of person who needed to know exactly what was happening, when it was happening, and where it was happening. While I’m still like that at times, I’m learning to recognize that there are just some things that cannot be controlled. And while it can be disappointing and heartbreaking to lose people who meant the world to you once and have your entire future plans halted and turned on their heads, it’s also exciting. It’s thrilling that life can take so many twists and turns and that every decision can lead to a million wonderful things you never expected. Life is so moldable, and that’s quite beautiful (especially for an arts student).

So, regardless of if you absolutely love college or if you’re dying to get that diploma, it’s obvious that where you go to college, the classes you take, and the people you meet can have a huge impact on your life. It has an eerie mystery to it, yet that mystery holds so many unseen opportunities. It teaches you to exemplify your strengths and improve your weaknesses, making you a stronger and wiser human being. In the end, college is a brief time in your life, but it’s a special time that can really influence your path in the future.

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In Defense of Young Love

As I packed up my boxes to leave my dorm room for the summer, I felt all the usual end of the year nostalgia. Saying “goodbye” to the friends I’d begun to call family was certainly not easy. But, I also could not help but feel a wave of excitement rush over me. Of course I was happy at the prospect of no more school work or final projects to stress over, but more so I was happy at the idea that for the first time in over nine months I was going to be able to wake up each morning next to the boy I loved. This meant no more FaceTimes with roommates intruding, no more crying simply because he was so far away and no more late night fights about how much we missed each other. Finally, we would be able to return to our in person relationship, and I could not be more thrilled.

This year marked my three year anniversary with my boyfriend, John, as well as the beginning of both our first years of college. We’ve been together ever since sophomore year of high school when our chemistry as lab partners was undeniable. We held hands across the lunch table for weeks before even exchanging phone numbers. We officially became boyfriend/girlfriend after a friend asked if we were “a thing” and both of us just looked at each other and smiled. “I guess so,” was the final decision. Thus, began three years of seeing each other everyday nonstop and falling more and more silly in love. We even spent a summer living together.

However, in the fall of 2015, our college plans separated us by over three hundred miles. John attended a university in New Jersey while I chose a school in Boston. Despite the distance, we knew that we were going to continue on and make our relationship work. Though he now plans to transfer closer in the fall, we always knew that we wanted to stay together no matter what time apart or distance we may have to endure. Many people, especially “adults”, have told us to simply give up, claiming that breaking up would just be easier. Since we are young, they believe our relationship is not something worth fighting for. I have heard one too many lectures on “all the fish in the sea” to ever consider using the hackneyed phrase again. John’s own mother has infamously said that she thinks “high school relationships should stay in high school.” But, for us, from the beginning, breaking up was never an option or even a conversation.

Now, I am not going to pretend that long distance is an easy feat. There were times when the mere fact that we were physically so far apart led to fighting and mental distance. Both of us were having new experiences and changing so much in such a short period of time that we of course had to wonder if we were growing in opposite directions. Still, our relationship stood strong as we texted and FaceTimed and made room for each other even in our ever-evolving new worlds. And, guess what? It worked. Now that we are finally on the other side, I am so happy to be reunited with him.

Though we may be “high school sweethearts,” I would venture to say we’ve been through a lot together already, and our relationship is just as valid as any other despite our ages. We’ve been with each other through some of the most pivotal and life changing moments. We’ve made so many memories together and encouraged each other as we’ve grown. I feel so lucky to have had him by my side these past three years. From holding me up at my grandfather’s funeral to holding my hair back when I’m sick, John has been there for it all. There have been so many tissues and sleepless nights both good and bad. He truly knows me better than anyone else in many ways simply because he’s been there for so much.

Sadly, it is still so often assumed that our relationship’s long standing will only eventually end in tragic heartbreak and the idea that we have wasted these years together. Many family and friends wonder if we’re planning too far ahead, especially as John transfers to a school that while academically more rigorous than his current institution also happens to be geographically closer to me. They think we are too young to allow our lives to intertwine quite so deeply and to decide upon such a definite future. Although I can try and understand this concern, I am dead set on the fact that they are unbelievably wrong.

This is mainly because John is not simply my boyfriend but my best friend. He is the first person I want to go to with my problems and the first person I want to share good news with. No matter what we are doing we always manage to have fun together, we can laugh together for hours over silly things. He is the person I want by my side on my every adventure. Our favorite thing to do; get in the car and just drive. Already, we have seen so many places together from the coastline of Maine to small art museums across the North East. We have admired the Brooklyn Bridge at night and the beaches of Newport at sunrise. Our mission to see all fifty states together began the first time we took a train into Philadelphia. I can not wait to see even more and learn even more. I am so excited to continue exploring the world with him.

But, I also have made a point not to sacrifice other friendships and relationships in my life for him. I have always been a big proponent of the fact that while having a boyfriend who is your best friend is nice it is important not to make him my entire world. It is important to us both that we both have friendships and interests outside of our relationship. Thus, we share our interests, challenge each other, and celebrate the times that we can have adventures hand in hand.

Despite the fact that I am young, I am quite certain that I could never see my current relationship as anything but a benefit in my life. Even if circumstances abound and for whatever reason we go in separate directions, I can not imagine seeing our time spent together as a regret. In addition each choice that we make is ours to choose, and at the moment we are certainly quite happy with my choices. So, let us be happy. We are constantly making new memories and having new experiences because we are young, and at least at the moment we want to experience it all together. It is certainly not easy to be young and in love but, it is definitely worth it. 

Looking Back on Childhood Friends and Memories

There are hundreds of relationships that one will have during their lifetime. There is the childhood friend, the high school group, the best friend, the boyfriend and the family friends. Of course, there are plenty more, and each will have different and unique experiences and memories. There will be a ton of laughter, smiles, and secrets, but also tears, fights, and second guessing. It happens with everyone, slowly, but surely, and at different times of everyone’s life. Within each relationship that you had, have and will have, there are lessons that you learn. The lessons, in turn, will be established in future friendships that you will make.

When I was little, like many, I had a childhood best friend. We did so much together, which was less of our choosing and more because our moms were close friends. Either way, we wanted to have “play dates” and play imaginary games. Personally, I believe that having a childhood best friend is important. It could be a person, imaginary friend, or a loved pet. With any of these types, we learn to play, love, interact and learn from others. I can confidently say that my childhood best friend began to teach me all of these characteristics and everyday human capabilities that would later turn into major building blocks for other friendships.

There is always a specific memory that you can tag to a person. With this friend (you know who you are), we used to play on the wooden swing in her backyard. It was the type of the swing that had a plank of wood connected to rope, you know, the ones that swung really high with just one push. We used to take turns playing on that swing for hours, screaming and smiling all at once as we quickly got higher and higher off of the ground and closer to the shining sun. This was one of my favorite things to do when I was a kid, plainly because it was just so simple but so fun.

Unfortunately for me, I have always been scared of heights and also that feeling of dropping backwards without having control of it. Therefore, I would always have fun going up, but as soon as it hit the highest part of the swing and began to go back to the ground, I would panic. I thought that I was going to run into the wooden fence that shut my friend’s yard off from weeds and sharp bushes that lived in her neighbor’s. I would shut my eyes tight, and turtle my chin into my neck, ready for impact. But it would never happen. She would always catch the swing before it would hit the fence. I would open my eyes and find myself still intact.

As silly as this sounds, these simple playtimes at the swing helped me to begin building trust for people besides my family. The fact that I never crashed into the fence because of the true dedication of my friend (think about it, two small and young girls can’t stop a fast moving swing with someone equally as heavy on top of it that easily) helped me to open up to other people rather than hide from them.

Now, with an experience that brought me so much trust to instill in my everyday surroundings and the people within them, came others that brought me back down to earth. We all have experienced friends who talked about us behind our backs, lied to us, or smirked meanly at us when we made stupid comments. Maybe you didn’t know it, but someone did. Middle school and high school, for most of us, are the grounds for bringing down our trust levels. Especially for girls. We really are mean. I mean, guys are also pretty bad. Though, in middle school, they tend to separate themselves into two categories: loud and obnoxious or quiet and shy. Girls on the other hand, well, quiet or not, we are just plain mean. If not all of the time, then a pretty good amount of it. And half the time we don’t even intend to be.

For me, I was more quiet in middle school and stuck to a smaller group of friends. But was I a perfect friend who never talked about anyone behind their backs? Absolutely not. It’s in our nature, and at a time when everything both physically and mentally is changing for us, it helps something to feel normal. This by no means excuses bullying, however emphasizes that sad fact that we as girls do eventually thrive off of some sort of drama in order to distract ourselves from our own ongoing lives.

As I thread through thousands of unfinished journal pages covered with sloppy handwriting and unidentifiable drawings, I remember those times in my life while growing into that “awkward middle school phase.” I remember times that I was mean (like when I threw a dinner roll at my aunt to stop her from telling an embarrassing story) and then times that people were mean to me. (Remember FormSpring?) If I could relive those moments now, as a 20-year-old woman rather than a ten to 13-year-old girl, I would probably change a couple of things. One, I wouldn’t throw the dinner roll, I would most likely let my aunt continue her embarrassing story and secretly plan a less harmful revenge. Two, I would probably delete my FormSpring account and never look back at it again.

Both of these instances described above, (one being cute and nostalgic, and the other more of a laughing stock), are completely different. However, both of the relationships had in them helped me to become the person I am today. As you can tell through this article, I am a big believer of “everything happens for a reason.” But thinking back onto every relationship you have ever had (which is a lot), there is some sort of happy, sad or angry ending to it that makes you more wary or trusting about others around you. If all of the relationships that we had in our lives were happy and had positive outcomes, no fights or crying, then we would never expect anything bad of anyone. We would be naive and a serious target for anything and everything horrible and evil.

Even through intimate relationships we learn. If I acted shy and uncomfortable around my current boyfriend like I did with my first boyfriend, then our relationship would not be going very far (and would possibly already be over.) If someone had never made fun of me, then I never would have built a thicker skin (and a wildly large determination to do everything to prove them wrong.) And even as I am presented with similar relationships that I dealt with in the past, I realize that it is another chance to deal with them in a better and more responsible way than how I did before.

As awkward as our memories of the past may be, they can not be rewritten. And honestly, why would you ever want to?

I am a Poseur

I’m a huge poseur. I have been all my life. And while I’d been mimicking other kid’s skooter tricks for years, the art of posing truly began to manifest in my sophomore year of high school. That’s when I decided enough is enough; I was going to look exactly like Rae Jefferson. Rae was a girl in one of my classes who I’d been idolizing for over a year. She was effortlessly cool, confident, and dazzling. I wanted to be just like her even though we had nothing in common. I decided the best way to do this was to start with her clothes which I mimicked horribly for the next three years.

That’s where it began: my horrible imitations of Rae’s outfits. With that, the act of copying those I admired became a way of life.

In fashion, I looked to more people I admired and started dressing like them too. I admired Rachel Berry’s talent so I bought bobby socks. I listened to a lot of Lana Del Rey so I made and wore flower crowns.

Later, when I decided to become serious about writing, my poseur life dramatically shifted in a new (and not so surprising) way. At this point, I had written a few stories but, like every young writer, lacked an individual voice. As a result, I decided to copy exactly how other writers wrote. I read Les Miserables and forced myself to write like Victor Hugo, I read Mrs. Dalloway and did the same with Virginia Woolf. My point of view switched as I changed from J.K. Rowling to Sylvia Plath to Stephen King. Each author suffered my embarrassing wannabe stories in their style. When I go back into my journals and read my old short stories I can distinctly identify who I was reading at the time.

Of course, this whole confession of my posing is embarrassing. Looking through the archive of my Facebook I usually shutter. But while I was trying my hand at floral button downs and abstract prose I wasn’t just looking and writing poorly, I was figuring shit out.

The thing is, writing and fashion have become the two main ways in which I express myself. Being 14 and not knowing anything about myself, it was imperative that figured out who I was by copying. And now, since I have gone through all the posing, I feel I have a better grasp of what I like and who I am. I am able to more easily craft what I have to say and present myself to the world according to what I’m feeling. All this with the help of being a poseur (*crowd cheers*)

Of course, a lot of people say that this time for experimenting is contained to high school but I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Since people are constantly growing I think it’s safe to say posing is something that happens your entire life. With that being said, I think, in particular, Emerson is a place where it’s impossible not to be a poseur.

That sounds like an insult but it’s not. Emerson, as campy as this sounds, is a place for artists who are trying to find their individual voice. It’s a place where people with great taste are able to pluck what they like from those they admire and string it together to make it theirs. Are yes, they are poseurs until they do make it theirs. They are poseurs when they are inspired by a filmmaker, when they have heroes and when they create through that lens. And, you know what? It’s wonderful.

In many ways being a poseur seems like the most human thing in the world. It’s how people adapt to who they really are; like Eat, Pray, Love mixed with Darwinism.

I think Lourdes “Lola” Leon, Madonna’s daughter, sums up the embarrassing yet beneficial life of posing in her recent blog post. As an aspiring fashion designer Lola experimented a lot of clothing which eventually brought her closer to the style she likes. She writes:

“Oh how I wish I could go back in time and urge my 14-year-old self not to wear black rhinestone-studded t-shirts with bloody skulls on them, purchased from really “hip” stores (wtf is hip anyways). I like to reassure myself though, that I had to go through that awkward time of ‘trying stuff out’ to figure out what I liked wearing best.”