I have a friend who likes to list potential band names on her iPhone, just in case she magically develops an incredible guitar talent and finds the next Taylor Swift of song-writing sitting next to her in class. Thinking about this list motivated me to think about a list I could start. It came to me instantly: potential autobiography titles. It's fun to imagine that there might be a world of people someday who would love to read every not so juicy detail of my life thus far. I plan to keep adding to this list, but I just got started.
Here's what I've got so far:
Please enjoy this cliché photo of a man sitting on a park bench alone.
This blog post is inspired by my lovely mother, who worries about me in the loving way that all moms do. When I told her that my roommates were all going out of town for the holiday weekend, she half-shouted, "So you're going to be by yourself, all weekend? Won't you be so lonely?" I quickly reminded her that "all weekend" meant Friday evening, and Saturday after my pottery class, because my roommates would all be home on Sunday. But still, she was worried. She didn't want me to be alone for all that time.
Being alone isn't scary or weird for me. It's quiet, which is rare when you live in a house full of eight (yes, you read that correctly, eight) college age girls, but as you can imagine sometimes you need some quiet when you have seven other roommates. Now, a whole weekend isn't ideal and I'll admit freely that I've already watched four episodes of Law and Order: SVU on a television channel that I had never heard of until today...but that aside, I think that spending some good ole' qt with yourself is a good idea. Another admission: I have Frozen on in the background as I write this so that I don't go to sleep scared.
I think that one of the reasons I don't mind being alone is the time it allows for thinking (and singing very loudly in the shower and playing your ukulele as much as you want!!!). I'm not encouraging that we should all go for a long period of time without interacting with other humans because I can already tell by the quality of my jokes in my group message with friends that I'm losing it a bit. But a certain amount of time without having constant conversation and chatter of other voices is helpful. It gives you time to sort through things that have been bouncing around unnoticed, cluttering up your precious thinking space. With graduation approaching, school, an internship, a babysitting gig, and a Relay For Life leadership position, I'm realizing that I don't have a lot of thinking space to spare. When I'm not planning for one thing, I'm brainstorming for something else. That doesn't leave a whole of time for a personal check-in.
Here's an example: I've been so busy lately, that when the thought of graduation comes up, my instant reaction is "ugh" and I try to stop thinking about it and I move on. This weekend, while I was applying to more jobs (side note: hire me please) I felt like I had plenty of time to consider what I was actually doing, and to be excited about it. I love UNC, and I'm more than happy to rewind and have one more year, but life after what essentially comes down to 1/4th of my life spent in one school or another actually is a pretty exciting concept. (Please remind me of this a week from now when I'm randomly crying after glimpsing my cap and gown hanging ominously in my closet).
So if you can make sense of this rambling, I guess what I'm getting at is that checking-in with yourself and spending some alone time every now and then is a really good idea. After spending a day to myself, I feel more connected to my goals and thoughts and hopes for the remaining month and a half of the semester. I'm very excited for my roommates to come home tomorrow for many reasons (one of which is so that I can stop jumping a foot in the air every time I hear a weird noise in the house) but I'm happy that in this period of high stress and worries about change, I've taken some solo time to wrap my head around everything.
Times when you should use the word sorry: when you genuinely need to comfort someone, show sympathy, or apologize for negative actions. Or if you accidentally step on your dog's tail because that is the worst thing in the world and you really should tell him or her you're sorry.
Times when I use the word sorry: When I make a bad joke, when I bump into someone, when I think there's a remote possibility that I've offended someone, when I make a weird noise, when I play a song that I think someone might not like, when I accidentally keep the children's lock on the windows and someone can't roll their window down, when I go for the coffee creamer at the same time as someone else at Starbucks--basically I say the word "sorry" at least 20 times a day, and usually, it's not because I need to comfort someone, show sympathy, or apologize.
Saying sorry for me has replaced the "ums" and the "likes" of everyday conversation. It comes out of my mouth faster than I ever expect it to, and I often realize that there's actually no reason at all that I should be saying it. I have a roommate who is known as the queen of saying sorry unnecessarily, and I've started to realize that I'm actually right along there with her. I didn't use to think it was that big of an issue, but then I realized how much I do it. I've started to identify some problems with it.
Problem 1: Saying "sorry" before saying something or after saying something instantly lessens the value of the words that you've just spoken. If you apologize for your opinions (or more often in my case your bad jokes), it's like telling someone that you don't at all value what you have to say...if you don't value what you have to say, why should anyone else?
Problem 2: Similarly to problem one, saying "sorry" suggests that you're not confident. Now, when you're saying "sorry" often among your friends isn't a big deal. But the issue is that the habit of apologizing will follow you into leadership roles and the workplace. Apologizing for your ideas, suggestions, or even your personality in those situations suggests that you're not at all confident in yourself or the thoughts you share with others.
Problem 3: Saying sorry suggests that you're perpetually in the wrong. There's absolutely nothing wrong with disagreeing with a friend's opinion and discussing that disagreement. Saying "sorry" every ten seconds in that conversation suggests that you feel that you're causing a problem, that you're starting a fight, or that you're an instigator--you don't need to perpetually apologize for who you are or for wanting to discuss something that could be controversial.
Problem 4: This one is a bit difficult to explain, so stick with me. Spending all of your time thinking about whether or not what you say requires an apology is exhausting. If you keep doing it, you run out of brain space to think about the actually important things that you're trying to communicate. If you spend all of your thought process with the word "sorry" in the back of your mind, chances are you're never really going to express how you honestly feel.
So here's a goal: stop apologizing, unless you actually need to. For me, I think this might result in an annoying trend of apologizing for apologizing....and I almost just said "sorry" for that potentially happening, so you can see this is going to be a real challenge for me. Moving forward, I'll be saving the word "sorry" for the Justin Bieber hit that you can't help but love.
I woke up anxious this morning. Vacation ended today, so it's sort of predictable I guess. I think what it boils down to is that spring break was the last mark on the calendar before the big one: graduation. For some reason, as I sit on this flight listening to Adele (and hey, maybe this is only the Adele talking because she gives everyone the feels) I'm tearing up and I don't really have any reason why. It's not like I'm going back to a terrible week full of exams and bad weather. It's just that the countdown is on, and for whatever reason, today, it feels more real than it ever has. I worried that sharing the following would be too personal and weird and uncomfortable. But, this is my blog after all, the one place where narcissism greets you with open arms, saying, "Think about yourself, Tatum! Talk about yourself some more!"
With that, let's just jump right in. I went through a tough time my sophomore year dealing with anxiety. I sometimes woke up with stomach aches and occasionally would really just need a good cry. If you've ever lived in a dorm, you know as well as I do that there's no good place to cry. There's always someone just around the corner and usually it happens to be that cute guy from your Spanish class that also lives there--conveniently, he's only around when you're crying or when you have to roll out bed at 3:30 AM to the sweet sounds of the fire alarm and leave the dorm because some idiot burned popcorn, again.
I share this upon approaching graduation because there's a common idea that your time in college makes up "the best years of your life." So far, I think this is absolutely true. I have thousands of moments and memories to prove it. I also think, though, that it's not always so easy. One night, at the end of my sophomore year, I confessed everything that had been happening to someone who was still a relatively new friend. I worried that I was unloading too much baggage, that I was becoming a burden...but she soon told me that she was going through the exact same thing. She later told me that my confession was one of the only reasons she didn't drop out of Carolina after just one year. She needed to know that someone else sometimes struggled too, just like she did.
There's a certain pressure that comes along with living a full life and taking advantage of every opportunity and making the most of the very short four years you have at college. Discovering yourself isn't just steady sailing on a calm sea. Sometimes growing up feels like you've got 10 holes in your boat and you just broke an oar and it's raining and a bird just swooped down and stole the last bite of your sandwich and Dad isn't right there to help you paddle. But mixed in with those times are the golden days of sunshine and laughter, cackling at bad jokes that just get worse and worse, and Maple View Farms ice cream and fake plastic cockroaches that your roommate hid all over the house before she left for winter break. There's that 30 minute phone call with your mom that makes you question what the heck you were thinking when you told her pre-college that you probably weren't going to call that often. There's the time that you and your roommates each buy a different food item with cheese from cheesecake to queso and host what will become the first of several "cheese parties." There are bad grades, good grades, average grades. Awesome days and downright horrible days. There are days spent lying in the quad and days spent holed up in the 5th floor of Davis Library promising to yourself that you'll never procrastinate again (hey, at least you tried to keep that one).
I don't think I would change my college experience for anything in the entire world. I had a bit of a tough time for a while, but who the hell doesn't? I will forever be someone who occasionally wakes up anxious, but I also think that I will wake up every day as a person who feels things more deeply, connects to everyone more closely, and appreciates the good times with more enthusiasm. I love who I am. I'm eternally grateful for everything that I've gone through to get to who I am. And, if you can't tell, I love the University of North Carolina.
We've all been here before: Writer's Block. It's the phantom, scary thing that lurks and waits to pounce at the moment when you need to be the most productive. Try as I might, I can't think of something to blog about. So, in a very meta fashion, I'm blogging about how I have nothing to blog about.
I think sometimes I feel like my brain has taken a vacation and gone to a nearby theme park. It's got great ideas, and horrible ideas, and they all come in go in the 2 minutes it takes to ride a rollercoaster. They typically follow the same pattern, too. You're waiting in line and there's absolutely nothing productive going on up there. Then you board the rollercoaster, and there's a spark of an idea. It builds and builds, until you're going downhill suddenly all too soon and the rush of excitement ends when you realize that blogging about all the ways you can use an avocado to enhance your life is actually not too great of an idea after all. I do love avocados though.
I think I'll call it a success that I've managed to crank out a paragraph of two, because everything else that I've written before this has been absolute garbage and I've quickly deleted it rather than sharing it with the world. Here's hoping for some inspiration.
“You’re not a $100 bill. Not everyone is going to like you.”
I don’t know to whom I should attribute the above quote, but whoever you are out there, you’re 100% right. We all want to be well liked. We want our coworkers, friends, and family members to have nothing but nice, positive things to say about us. Unfortunately, having everyone like you all the time just isn’t feasible. People are going to get angry, and sometimes, people just don’t click. I know that there are certain people I’ve met who I don’t necessarily like, and upon thinking about it, I can’t really tell you why.
As a perfectionist and a people-pleaser, I can’t stand when people don’t like me. I’ll begin analyzing everything that I do around the person, hoping to win them over or at least bring them back to neutral ground. But sometimes, it just can’t be done. Sometimes, people just don’t like other people.
I’ll give you an example. This past weekend, I was at my pottery class. For the first time since I’ve been going there (which has been for at least 3 months), a bit of a fight broke out. Before you get too excited, nobody threw any clay, broke any pots, or did anything crazy, but some harsh words were exchanged and the awkwardness of it hung in the air for the entire two and a half hour class. From an outsider’s perspective, I could not for the life of me understand how the fight had started—neither party did anything offensive or insulting, but I guess that’s just how I interpreted it. What resulted was a loud and far too long conversation (at least for a group environment) in which one party continued to berate, mock, and just generally hate on the other. The other party was reasonably upset. After I’d had about enough of the whole mess (I mean seriously, a group pottery class is not the place to discuss your personal feelings about someone), I intervened, asking the two to “take a pause.”
I don’t consider either one of the arguing parties to be mean or hateful people. But I do think that their argument quickly went from focusing on potentially constructive criticism to saying irrelevant, rude things to hurt one another’s feelings.
Now, the pottery class example may seem sort of silly, because, well, it’s a pottery class that consists of a few college kids and some middle-age women—not exactly a high stress environment. But I took two important things from this encounter. First, sometimes there is no reason at all for someone to be angry with you or to dislike you. You can both be the two of nicest people in the world, and your relationship might never progress past a small smile you pass one another in the hallway. The second lesson from this pottery class tussle is that negativity from others can fill an entire room. There were eight people in the classroom that day, and although only two people were arguing, the weight of that argument quickly came to rest on every student’s shoulders. In the workplace, you can’t stand in the middle of the cubicles and yell at each other. Your coworkers shouldn’t have to put up with that, and frankly, your fellow pottery class students shouldn’t have to either.
What I’m taking away from all of this is the importance of respect. I don’t care if you hate someone with the passion of 1,000 burning suns—you don’t need to share those feelings in front of an audience. Not everyone is going to get along, and arguments have the potential to be extremely productive in working through issues. But, you know those arguments whose comments focus on anger, trying to hurt feelings, and result in public confrontation? Those are the ones that I think we could all try to avoid.
Sometimes when a song gets stuck in your head you just want to share it with everyone (or the 10 people who read your blog).
Excerpt from a post UNC-Duke game conversation:
"Did you ever think that I'd be calling you crying about a college basketball game?" -Me
"Thank you for saying that, because I seriously wanted to." -Dad
"[Laughter]"-Both of us.
When I came to UNC as a freshman, I knew basketball would be a big deal. Michael Jordan, a sea of Carolina Blue, and "Jump Around" filled my thoughts as I looked forward to our first home game. I went to Late Night with Roy, and thought "Wow. This is intense." Little did I know that my freshman year excitement and curiosity would turn into a full-blown obsession filled with four years of heart-stopping moments and screams at televisions and rival basketball teams I never thought I would utter. I never thought I'd have aching calves for the first few minutes of a game after I jumped with everything I had until tip-off. I NEVER thought I would leave a game in tears, trying desperately to explain that I was both happy, sad, nostalgic, and proud all in one moment.
Growing up, I was never a huge sports fan. I watched my brother and sister play soccer constantly, and tried about every possible sport myself. But watching sports or connecting with a team and following them with passion was something that I never really did. I would laugh when my dad would mutter (or sometimes yell, although he denies it) comments at the TV when Georgia Tech would play football or basketball. I would look at my mom and say, "He knows they can't hear him, right?" Now I'm the one doing just that. It's a similarity my dad and I share that I never expected, but that I absolutely love.
I'm not ready for home games and student sections and screaming until my voice is hoarse to be over. I'm not ready to stop screaming every time that Brice Johnson dunks or Marcus Paige makes a three. I'm not ready to say goodbye to my quickening pulse and the feeling that my heart is literally rising in my throat and squeezing a friend's hand and watching the final seconds count down on the clock to result in a Carolina victory. I'm not ready to stop singing the alma mater after every game, win or lose. I'm just not ready, at all.
When I attended my last home game as a student, it hit me. Being a part of this has become as a key part of me and a part of how I identify myself and the world around me. My final comfort in graduating is this: I will be a part of this school, this rivalry, this team for the rest of my life. I will be proud of this team until the day I die. I wasn't Carolina born or Carolina bred. But when I die, I will be a tarheel dead.
Coach Roy Williams said it best: "Other folks wonder why we’re obsessed with this place. Being a part of the University of North Carolina is something that you never really get over."