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The Junior Roster

This morning, I woke up, and it was spring. There have been (far too) many false starts and stops to this most glorious of seasons, but I think today was the beginning of something truly magical.

A freshman-year throwback, in honor of Spring Fair starting TOMORROW
A freshman-year throwback, in honor of Spring Fair starting TOMORROW

And also truly terrifying. The gorgeous weather had me staring at the calendar in a way I haven’t in months. Where did the semester go?! I swear I was freezing my butt off in February just a couple of minutes ago. It was then that I realized I had been truly remiss when it comes to my blogging duties: I have gone almost the entire semester without talking about my classes.

As a spring-semester junior, my schedule is pretty freaking sweet. I’m firmly planted in the upper-levels of my Writing Sems and Marketing classes and consequently loving life. These are the courses I always dreamed about taking when I was a freshman, gazing longingly at the registration descriptions. Now that I’m here, I want to give my favorites all of the airtime they deserve.

Advanced Poetry Workshop

This time around, I’ve decided to save the best for first. Advanced Workshops are the highest a Writing Sems dares to go, the end result of years and years of training. I’m lucky enough to be working with Sir Andrew Motion (Yes, you read that right. Sir.) For those of you unfamiliar, this guy was casually the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1999 to 2009. Aka, he’s a veritable poetry genius, and I’m so incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to soak up that genius every week. He’s issued some of the most compelling and challenging prompts I’ve tackled at Hopkins, and I’m confident I’ll finish out the semester with a final portfolio that’s submission-ready.

Intermediate Poetry: Poetic Forms II

Another Writing Sems favorite, this is the continuation of a course I took in the fall, Poetic Forms I. This semester, we read a book of new poetry every week, from Richard Wilbur to James Merrill, and identify their strategies to incorporate in our own poems. Greg Williamson is not to be missed, as evidenced by the amount of times he appears in the Acknowledgments of our required reading. As a big nerdy lover of rhyme and meter, this goes down as one of my favorite Hopkins courses.

Advertising and Integrated Marketing Communications

This class is so unique and incredible that it’s going to get its own post at the end of the semester. But just know that the brand-spanking-new PR internship I’m sporting this summer is all thanks to this bad boy. The entire class formed a student-run agency with a real-life client (Baltimore-based app Full Society—check it out!), and as Co-Manager of the PR & Social Media department, I got hands-on experience dealing with media contacts and essentially figured out what I wanted to do in life. No big deal.

This will allll make sense later.
This will allll make sense later.

British Literature I

Some old favorites get a new coat of analytical paint in this class. The course delves deeply into the lives and works of four famous authors, and the connections my professor draws between these seemingly unconnected pieces are nothing short of incredible. Professor Daniel peels back the layers of the classics you thought you knew back in high school, and I’ve done some of my deepest, closest reading in the class. I’ll never look at Paradise Lost the same way again.

loljk forcing them to live with me for the rest of my life

Spring Breakers

Spring break. The holy grail of college students, particularly Hopkins students, who tend to adopt that whole “work hard; play hard” mentality as early as Orientation Week. This lovely institution has placed spring break smack dab in the middle of March, aka the longest, greyest month of the year, making it the perfect time to jet off to a sunny paradise.

And that’s just what I did.

blogcruisepic1
See?

My roommates and I took off on a week-long Caribbean cruise, and, not gonna lie, it was perfection. I have a tan and five extra pounds to prove it.

Despite my blatant urge to brag, I assure you that this post is not just an excuse for me to gush about the Bahamas and assault you with cute pictures—though I will be unabashedly doing both. As I basked in my post-vacay glow, I was struck by how shocked everyone was that we managed to pull the whole thing off a) without breaking the bank and b) without wanting to kill each other by the end of the week.

Who could be homicidal with this view?
Who could be homicidal with this view?

Part A is easy to tackle. I chalk it up to my roommates’ excellent research skills and pure dumb luck. We snagged an awesome last-minute cruise deal (from a sketchy albeit totally legit website) and thus were able to splurge on jacked-up airfare. To be honest, I don’t think any of us were convinced it was actually going to happen until we were sitting in the ship’s golden dining room, looking out at the turquoise water and eating ice cream lunch. Not to be confused with ice cream dinner. Or ice cream midmorning snack.

Part B gives me pause. And it has since our return. It was the first question my father asked after I got off of the plane: “Do you all still love each other?” I laughed at him, and after I hung up the phone and shared my fears with Lauren, Caroline, and Liz, they laughed too. But now that I’m back on campus and hearing similar assumptions, I’m starting to get it. We stayed in a gorgeous but teeny interior room, packed in like bikini-clad sardines. We spent countless hours together, a foursome at every meal, by the pool, on the beach, at the shows, games, and nightclubs. I don’t think I went more than 40 minutes without seeing at least one of the three, and that was usually due to showers and naps. I mean, it only makes sense that we’d be craving some space by mid-week. Even families get sick of each other, right?

Wrong!
Wrong!

But that just wasn’t our reality. Every minute spent on those pristine beaches was made infinitely better by having these three ladies by my side. It was the shared joy of being on a ~dream vacation~ with them that made it paradise. I’ll probably forget the perfect feeling of powdery sand under my feet and the perfect temperature of Caribbean waters. But I’ll never forget trolling for aloe with a hilariously crispy Caroline, sharing the perfect chocolate soufflé with Lauren, or protecting Liz from non-threatening fish. I’ll never forget the nights spent belting karaoke, dominating at trivia, or “wobble-ing” until the wee hours of the morning. As the Eurodam pulled away from the port at Fort Lauderdale, the four of us were perched in a hot tub on the main deck, sipping daiquiris while the ship started its journey toward the Bahamas. It was a quick moment, an unassuming one, but I think that’s the luckiest I’ve ever felt.

Tomorrow morning, we register for our first round of senior classes. So begins the gentle, but terrifying, descent into our last year at Hopkins. And I’m already heartsick at the thought of leaving this place behind.

You begin college thinking that you have a pretty good idea of what it’s going to do for you—career opportunities, an impressive degree, a better idea of who you are and what you want. Hopkins has given me a thousand gifts, but these girls are the greatest of them all. The illustrious Carrie Bradshaw once suggested that perhaps our girlfriends are our true soulmates. Her judgment is notoriously questionable, but I think she was onto something there. They are my soulmates, my sisters, my future bridesmaids. They make Hopkins home. And they are the piece of Hopkins that I will take with me wherever I go, from Baltimore, to the Bahamas, and beyond.

loljk forcing them to live with me for the rest of my life
loljk forcing them to live with me for the rest of my life

 

 

 

 

I can always count on these girls to play hard.

Why Hopkins: A Crash Course

Every semester since coming to college, I’ve rolled out an emotional soliloquy in an effort to tackle the unavoidable admissions-season question: Why Hopkins? I’ve talked about the people, how for the first time in my life I’ve found myself surrounded by peers who make me feel supported and understood. I’ve tried to describe this feeling of belonging, the way I can’t help but smile walking to class on beautiful mornings because being here still hits me just as powerfully as it did on my first day.

But it’s nearly impossible. You just kind of have to be here, living the amazing life of a Hopkins student, to have that indescribable “ah-ha!” moment.

So until you step foot on Homewood soil and experience that inevitable epiphany, here are some of the more unsung—but totally indispensable—aspects of Hopkins life that come to mind whenever I hear the phrase, “Why Hopkins?” They may not capture the total picture, but they come pretty dang close.

Location. Baltimore is an East Coast powerhouse of art, food, and music. I’ve lived right next to this city my entire live and never really got a feel for it until moving here. In those short two-and-a-half years, I’ve eaten enough incredible seafood and seen enough mind-blowing theatre to last a lifetime. The city of Baltimore is a defining component of life at Hopkins—there’s never a dull moment here.

Professors. I’ve already sung the praises of Hopkins academics, and you know the stats: We have some of the best programs in the world, all supported by the best faculty. What you don’t know is that my Shakespeare professor dressed in all black during Hamlet week to embody the Dark Prince of Demark. What you don’t know is that my Poetic Forms professor is taking time out of his day to help me get published. And what you certainly don’t know is that my favorite marketing professor forwards me any theatre internship she comes across, simply because she knows that’s what I’m into. Studying with these people makes class a privilege, not an obligation.

Work hard, play hard. It’s hard to describe the general ~vibe~ of Hopkins, so I’ll let this clichéd phrase do it for me. Sure, every one of us has clocked far too many hours in the library, even on weekends. But we more than make up for it in our free time. A rough night before an exam just makes me more determined to get out there and do something fun the very next day, whether it’s checking out a new restaurant, seeing a show on-campus, or walking through the BMA. The key is balance, and it’s the first thing you master as a Hopkins student.

I can always count on these girls to play hard.
I can always count on these girls to play hard.
And these ones!
And these ones!

Spring fair. Aka what gets me through the period between spring break and finals every dang year. For one weekend in April, campus becomes a gorgeous, bustling celebration of the season. Food, rides, vendor booths, and live music take over the main quads and poof: stress and studying are rendered virtually impossible. I spend my winters dreaming of those handmade strawberry smoothies.

And gently giving my gorgeous roommate a pie in the face. <3
And gently giving my gorgeous roommate a pie in the face. <3
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For the Love of Greek Life

 

Spoiler alert: I’m in a sorority! You, dear reader, are definitely not shocked, seeing as I’ve been writing about good ol’ Alpha Phi at least once a semester since my freshman spring. Before sitting down to write this post, I took a walk down digital memory lane, sampling all of my past Greek life blogs as I went. I’ve been over the basics: reasons to go through recruitment in the first place, philanthropy, phamily, juggling sorority involvement along with everything else. If you have any questions about the wonder that is Secret Week, you have come to the right place.

I humbly offer my sorority squat as proof.
I humbly offer my sorority squat as proof.

But after happily saying goodbye (read: good riddance) to my roughest semester at Hopkins thus far, I find my past evaluations of Greek life, and Alpha Phi specifically, kind of lackluster. Like I had somehow missed the point of it all. This idea of not really “getting it” crystalized for me while we were preparing for this year’s formal recruitment. During this time, we’re often asked to think about our own unique experiences with Alpha Phi: why we decided to go through recruitment, how we’ve grown as people by getting to know such dynamic women. I listened as my sisters gushed—sometimes teary-eyed—about how Alpha Phi was the first thing about Hopkins that felt like home. It was here that they found their place on campus, their phamily, their people.

Believe me when I say there are few things more awesome than supporting your friends as they ~speak their truths~, or whatever it is the kids are saying these days. But I also felt kind of crappy about myself. Because that totally wasn’t my truth.

I joined a sorority for fun. That was really, truly the extent of it. I was excited to meet new people, dress up for wacky mixers, and fall in love with an amazing big (done, done, and done), but I wasn’t on the lookout for any kind of fulfillment, emotional or otherwise. There just wasn’t a void to fill. I already had a group of incredible friends and was hyper-involved in other organizations. Joining Alpha Phi was just the cherry on top of what was shaping up to be a near-perfect first year.

As is the case with all things, I got out of Alpha Phi what I put in. Since it was “what I did for fun,” it automatically became my lowest priority, forever taking the backburner when it came to my schoolwork and Barnstormers commitments. I have yet to see a semester where I haven’t missed a date party, mixer, and/or philanthropic event because of rehearsal. And this isn’t a bad thing! One of the best things about sorority life at Hopkins is that it can be whatever you want it to be. For my first two years, I wanted it to be the fun, social thing I did on weekends, and that’s exactly what it was.

#sosocial
#sosocial

And then junior fall hit, and the many unstable pieces of my life finally began to spiral out of control. For the first time, I felt deeply unhappy and out-of-place at Hopkins, and there were moments when I very much wasn’t sure how I was going to get to Christmas.

My best friends pulled me through, as did my family, and there aren’t enough mushy-gushy words in the dictionary to express how grateful I am to them for scooping my sorry butt off of the floor. And I did a show off-campus filled with wonderful people who reminded me that there’s a big, beautiful world right outside of the Hopkins bubble.

But, in so many lovely, unexpected ways, it was Alpha Phi that pulled me through. When I needed support, distraction, food, and fun, my sisters were there. I threw myself into as many events as possible, setting a personal record for how many mixers I attended in a single semester. No one judged me when I showed up to Red Dress Brunch looking a little rough-around-the-edges. I was given ten thousand hugs when I broke down during a recruitment workshop. And I’ve never felt closer to my fellow Phis than when I had the opportunity to express my gratitude to them, face-to-face.

Tl:dr I wouldn’t be the happier, healthier person I am today without these girls. Freshman JHU_Allison saw something in sorority life, but I never expected it to become such a lifeline, lifeboat, and lifesaver. And I figured it was high time to give this incredible organization the blog-worship is so dearly deserves. So thank you, Alpha Phi, for giving me all of the things I never knew I needed and never knew how to ask for. I finally get it.

I love you goobers.
I love you goobers.
They're my fun. <3

Surviving Week One

Okay, okay, okay. Technically this past week wasn’t the first week of classes. Winter storm Jonas saw to that, ensuring that the Hopkins population had a nice and easy start to the spring semester. I could have used my snow days to get organized, maybe even get ahead on some required reading, but instead I found myself binge-watching Making a Murderer and eating too many baked goods. I’m nothing if not predictable.

Thus, this first full week of school hit my unprepared butt like a ton of bricks. After five semesters in college, you think I’d be prepared for the stress-fest that syllabus week embodies, but nope! Here I am yet again, behind before I’ve even begun. But I refuse to admit defeat! I refuse to nap away my responsibilities in the face of overwhelming deadlines! Instead, I’ll write off week one—which was, don’t forget, basically week two—as a trial period. A warm-up. Now that I’ve dusted off the cobwebs in my brain, I’m back and better than ever. And I’ve rustled up a list of five ~tried and true tips~ (holy alliteration batman) for making it through week one relatively unscathed. Take it from a girl who knows.

Buy a planner. Love a planner. Be a planner. Take thirty minutes to pencil in important deadlines as the syllabi come rolling in. Not only will you ever be surprised by a paper or exam, but you’ll also be able to spot a deadline-heavy week a mile away. Having all of your crap neatly laid out in a planner will make it all seem a lot more manageable.

Or two. Type A? Who's type A? I'm not type A.
Or two. Type A? Who’s type A? I’m not type A.

Be textbook-savvy. Buying textbooks is tricky. On the one hand, you don’t want to spend money on books you won’t end up reading. On the other, you don’t want to scramble to get your hands on a copy when you’re given a high-stakes assignment on day one. Do research on the class ahead of time to find out which books are actually must-haves.

Take care of yourself. One of the sad realities of going back to school is that you’ll be forced to be around humans again. And humans have germs. Lots and lots of germs. Start the semester off right by getting enough sleep and upping your vitamin C intake. Hopefully those healthy habits will carry you through when the semester gets rough.

Tbt to when I needed an orange juice IV
Tbt to when I needed an orange juice IV

Make time for fun. The first week of classes is the perfect time to establish a semester-long balance between work and play. Make a conscious effort to weave some time with your friends into the workweek, whether it’s going out to dinner, having a movie night, or staying in and studying together. Your stressed-out psyche will thank you for it.

They're my fun. <3
They’re my fun. <3

 

 

Newest ~celebrity crush~

Media and PR in the Big Apple

You know what’s awkward about being a junior?

Let me paint you a picture. You’re finally on winter break, basking in the glow of the coming two weeks, aflutter with the promise of food and family and presents and irritating Christmas music. After last semester’s horrifying finals schedule, you’ve gained a new appreciation for the simpler, sweeter things in life. You are prepared to finally do what you couldn’t for the past four months: nothing.

And then it happens. You’re at a Christmas party, going in for that third Santa cookie, when a relative you haven’t seen since the Fourth of July pops the question:

“So what’s the plan after you graduate?”

This is not an unfamiliar question. It’s been haunting you since you crossed the stage at high school graduation. But if you’re anything like me, with no laid-out, pre-professional track to call your own, thinking about a future outside the hallowed halls of Gilman is enough to squash your appetite. When you’re a freshman, you can answer this question in a dozen ways, staying vague while chatting about your favorite classes or the new minor you just declared. But junior year is no joke. Having too many plans is basically a euphemism for having no plan, and everyone knows it.

For me, junior year brought the terrifying-exciting revelation that going to grad school right out of undergrad is probably not in the cards. While premed students cramming for the MCAT may be jealous of my exam-free intersession, I was panicking. Up until now, there was always higher education standing in the way of me actually figuring out what I want to do with my life. Graduation is coming, and I’m hardly prepared for the decision-making and job-hunting that lead up to it.

Thankfully, the universe sent me a gift in the form of an unassuming two-week intersession class, “Media and PR in the Big Apple.” The first five days featured a Baltimore speaker series, during which a whole slew of incredible company reps spoke to us about the business of marketing. We heard from ad agencies, publications as renowned as Baltimore Magazine, and several of the quirky startups that are taking Charm City by storm. My LinkedIn connections doubled, and I’m still sorting through business cards.

The second week of class was spent in New York City, the epicenter of advertising and PR. I was star-struck as I found myself touring some of the biggest names in the industry. We heard from creative strategists at ESPN, media planners at AMC, and social media gurus at Ogilvy. I played with Legos in one of Google’s many micro-kitchens and posed with Elmo at Sesame Street Workshop. And all the while, I was gaining deeper and deeper access into a world I could actually see myself being a part of.

 

When you don't care you're being touristy because it's freaking GOOGLE
When you don’t care if you’re being touristy because it’s freaking GOOGLE

The class was equal parts practical and exciting, and that’s exactly what I want my professional life to be. In a practical sense, it opened local internship doors, which had me crying tears of relief. No matter what I end up doing this summer, I’ll at least know I applied to anything and everything in the tri-state area. But from a less defined perspective, it also gave me newfound peace of mind. I don’t know exactly what my future holds, but I know I’m headed in the right direction. For every high-flying exec who entered his or her field right out of college, there were five who had to really work to find their way. And if Hopkins has taught me anything, it’s to never fear hard work.

Newest ~celebrity crush~
Newest ~celebrity crush~
See?

The Freshman Fifteen

Christmas has come and gone, and we all have the leftovers, Instas, and gift receipts to prove it.

See?
See?

Now before we let the holiday spirit wane, I’d like to offer up a slightly belated gift to the new class of 2020 (CONGRATS, KIDDOS!!). It’s the only freshman fifteen you’ll ever want to receive: a Hopkins pre-frosh Wish List. Don’t leave home without packing these fifteen unsung essentials:

  1. Rain boots: You think you don’t need them. You are wrong. Baltimore weather is unpredictable at best, and wet socks are the actual worst. Take it from a girl who had to wring hers out in the Hodson bathroom after a surprise Thursday monsoon.
  2. An extra set of sheets: Because you will get melted chocolate on your bed, and you won’t want to do laundry at midnight on a Wednesday.
  3. A bathrobe: In the dead of winter, that short walk back from the communal showers can feel like a hike over frozen tundra. I owe my lack of freshman frostbite to some fluffy, white terrycloth.
  4. As many headphones as you can carry: Losing a pair of beloved headphones is a somber fact of life. Lessen the tragedy by having more than a few spares. Never deny yourself the simple pleasure of jamming to TSwift on the way to class.
  5. An HDMI cable: There will come a time when you and your friends will want to hook a laptop up to a TV. Save the day.
  6. Makeup wipes: Again, the bathroom is often too far to justify a late-night face wash. Keep a pack by your bed, and make your life much easier.
  7. Chapstick: If you have a Burt’s Bees addiction like yours truly, then you already know that a pair of chapped lips can greatly interfere with your studies. Plant them all over your dorm room—and in any and all pencil cases—to maximize productivity.
  8. A window fan: It takes up no space, pushes warm air literally out of the window, and protects you from the springtime threat of bees. Everybody wins!
  9. A bag that isn’t your backpack: Whether it’s for rehearsal, practice, or just walking around Spring Fair in a dress without pockets, you’ll need something more than the L.L. Bean.
  10. Space-saving hangers: Buy the velvety kind in bulk from Walmart, and get the most out of your admittedly-limited closet space.
  11. A big, microwaveable mug: You’d be surprised by all of the yummy things you can “cook” with a mug, microwave, and several Charmar ingredients.
  12. Under-the-bed bins: My go-to storage strategy since 1995.
  13. Slippers: Warm, comfy protection from whatever gross things end up on your hallway floor.
  14. A reusable water bottle: Good for you, and good for the planet. Plus, the filling-stations in all of the freshman dorms have the coldest, best-tasting water on campus. Take advantage while you can!
  15. Earplugs: For when your roommate doesn’t seem to hear her fifteen alarms.

Happy Holidays, class of 2020! You can thank me later.

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Making Friends

The first few weeks of freshman year are a rush: to unpack, to settle into classes, to cozy up to professors, to become part of all of the organizations that Hopkins has to offer. And the school itself proves a huge help to that rush. A lot of it just comes naturally. The traits that make you a good student are easily adapted and applied to the ~college experience~. You know how to take good notes, do your homework, and make a stellar first impression on a professor.

But there’s one thing that’s going to be scary and foreign, no matter what university becomes your alma mater: making friends.

“Just be yourself!” say the adults in your life, from their lofty position of well-adjusted glory. They’ve paid their dues, made their friends, and they have the vintage wedding photos to prove it. It’s also worth noting, nosy Aunt So-And-So, that I am a human bag of neuroses with sweaty hands and a tendency to nervously over-share. Being myself seems a bold move. In the days before college, you’re forced to ask yourself a lot of the tough questions. How long do I wait before I reveal that I don’t understand football? Before I start belting show-tunes in the harsh, judgmental light of day? Before I show them that Budweiser Clydesdale commercial that makes me weep every. Single. Time?!

Okay, so maybe making friends isn’t as intense and existential-crisis-inducing as I’m making it out to be. Still, everyone feels the pressure. It’s like the clock starts ticking after move-in day, and there’s this great rush to insta-connect and find your people. There’s nothing scarier than looking around and seeing everyone jumping around and hugging one another like they’ve been besties since birth.

If I just described you’re greatest pre-frosh fear, fret not. This is by no means the norm. There’s a joke at Hopkins about how you’ll never see the first people you meet at Hopkins—your “Orientation Friends”—again after that first weekend. Meaningful connections always take time to develop—even in the pressure cooker that is college living. There are thousands of opportunities, from day one until graduation, to make friends across all dorms, majors, and clubs.

Maybe this is triggering a “no duh” moment for most of you, but it’s a side of the Hopkins experience I feel obligated to share with the class of 2020 (holy moly do I feel ancient). Looking through some of my past blog posts (searching for writing samples, internship apps are rough), I realize that I paint a pretty unrealistic picture of college friend-making. I gush about meeting my three friend-soulmates on the second day of orientation, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have to put a lot of time and energy into growing our little friendship seedlings into big, beautiful trees! That was weird, but you get it.

3/4 trees--Christmas trees, that is! (Get it?)
3/4 trees–Christmas trees, that is! (Get it?)

And it doesn’t have to all go down your freshman year either. Even yours truly, a crotchety old junior, makes new friends with each semester. This feels particularly timely, because two of the lovely new friends I made this fall, Ali and Victoria, are already leaving me for the greener pastures of real life. We grew close in the face of great adversity—a monumental International Marketing project that nearly ended us all during finals period. (We actually had a fantastic time marketing Cinnamon Toast Crunch to mothers and children in Spain, but daaaang that paper was long. It had 400+ endnotes. Take a minute to let that sink in.)

By the day of the final presentation, our little dream team had clocked like fifty hours together. These girls opened their hearts, home, and refrigerator to me, and I shall be forever grateful. Ali herself came up with this blog idea specifically because of the college myth that you don’t make friends after freshman year. Spoiler alert: You do! You really do. I, along literally everyone else, am living proof. So stress about which classes to take or which shoes to leave behind (none, if you can help it). Friends just kind of…happen. Sometimes when you least expect it.

If we look exhausted, it's because we are. But still super cute, right?
If we look exhausted, it’s because we are. But still super cute, right?
This girl.

Going Rogue

This fall, for the second time in my college career, I ~went rogue~. This is a term I coined (I’m sure you’ve never heard it before), and it refers to the making of an intense off-campus commitment, above and beyond the extra-curriculars you’re involved with on campus. My going rogue, of course, consisted of two killer musicals. Last spring, I went way (way…way) off-campus to perform in a truly stellar production of The Addams Family at Dundalk Community Theatre. Here’s a photo, in case you’ve forgotten what I look like as the princess of darkness herself.

brb devouring your soul
brb devouring your soul

This fall, I did things a little differently. I stuck closer to campus and was lucky enough to be cast in Zombie Prom at Spotlighters Theatre. This off-Broadway cult classic warrants a Google search for a full understanding of the plot, but for now, just think Grease…with a zombie. It’s a love story? Does that help?

P much sums up how I feel about the show being over.
P much sums up how I feel about the show being over.

Since Spotlighters is in Mount Vernon, I felt I got the true Baltimore experience this go-around. I rode the JHMI to and from rehearsal, which made me feel like quite the city-slicker. I met some incredibly cool Peabody commuters, who taught me how to look chill on the shuttle. I fell in love with a couple of delicious Mt. Vernon restaurants – the Stable and City Café are a must, especially before and after shows. Best of all, I joined a cast and crew of wonderful people in the Baltimore theatre community who I would have never met otherwise.

Like these gorgeous ladies!
Like these gorgeous ladies!

I usually take more time to work up to the moral of the story, but I’m packing for Thanksgiving break and dreaming of my Dad’s stuffing, so I’ll cut to the chase. There’s a world outside of Hopkins’ campus. I know that must be shocking to read, especially coming from Hopkins’ number-one fan, but it’s true. Life at Hopkins has so much to offer, and you can really find anything you could ever want or need right here. But there’s definite value to bursting the Hopkins bubble and getting out into the city, even if it’s in the name of something as dorky as musical theatre.

Maybe I’m appealing to a small audience, but if you’re a prospective student who eats, sleeps, and breathes musicals like I did, Hopkins’ one musical a year might give you pause. Scroll through my freshman year blogs, and you can read just how invested I was in that annual spring production, and how hard I worked to make it everything I ever dreamed of. When the Barnstormers chose Company for my sophomore spring, I’ll confess I was bummed to have to shift that investment to a show written for a cast far out of the college age-range. But the day after our selection meeting, I got a call about The Addams Family. And everything fell into place. I’m not going to say that throwing a commute into the hectic mix of my life didn’t make for a trying semester. But it was so refreshing to learn that there is as much to do and love off-campus as there is on-campus.

I hope to go rogue at least one more time this upcoming spring, but until then I’ll be at Homewood, thoroughly enjoying my roommates, my classes, my sorority, and my loves on SAAB. I don’t mean to brag, but who has two thumbs and gets to live the best of both worlds?

This girl.
This girl.

 

<3

For the Bad Days

There are good days, bad days, forgettable days, memorable days, meh days, yay days, days you dread for months, and days you wish would last just shy of forever. You could fill a whole Dr. Seuss book with ‘em, a la Red Fish, Blue Fish, One Fish…you get it. Insert a metaphor about how life is a patchwork quilt of feelings and experiences that allow you to grow and shape you as a person yadda, yadda. At the end of the day, we’re all just trying to maintain that balance between the good and the bad.

So, if you’re like me, upsetting that balance feels like a failure. By my own definition, I’ve been failing for a while now. The bad days have seamlessly turned into bad weeks, which have grown into bad months. There are lots of phrases for it, and I’ve been tossing them around for so long that I’m going to have to start to get creative: “going through something,” “having a tough time,” “in a rut,” “not feeling myself.” For a myriad of reasons and non-reasons, I’m unhappy, and it’s making my days a little rougher.

I feel pretty uncomfortable just throwing that into the black hole of the internet, but I owe it to you guys to be real when it comes to the bad days. It’s easy to have a blog and chronically over-share when everything’s shiny and wonderful, and I generally function at a shiny and wonderful level. My day-to-day is filled with shiny and wonderful things! But sometimes that isn’t enough. Sometimes it takes a heck of a lot more than shiny to pull ourselves out of holes. That doesn’t make us weak, but human.

I clicked on an article the other day that was designed for current rut-dwellers like myself. It presented a list of “ways to fall back in love with your life.” At first I was all like “wow stranger, way to steal that #showerthoughts idea I had for a blog but never actually said aloud or acted on, hate you.” And then I actually read their recommendations. Some highlights were “learn to forgive” and “be kinder to yourself,” which are, admittedly, definitely on my to-do list…right next to one hundred other idealistic and currently unattainable goals for future me. This article left me wondering, where are the baby steps? Where’s the gold star for making it to class, or getting out of your pjs, or eating a vegetable for the first time in weeks? Now’s the time to take on some molehills, not climb mountains.

So this one goes out to all of you staring down a long line of bad days, whether you go to Hopkins, are coping with the stress generated by the college admissions process, or are just looking for some ways to get by. I’m no expert, of course. Just a college student with an online platform, ~faking it until I make it~. Feel free to join me.

6 (Doable) Ways to Fall Back in Love with Your Life Survive The Bad Days

  1. Indulge in some minimal wallowing. Hear that? That’s the sound of me immediately losing my credibility. You’re supposed to live it up! Seize the day! Do the thing! But pretending like everything’s peaches and cream is just as unhealthy in the long-term. So let yourself feel the feelings, at least for a little while. Have a cathartic cry, preferably whilst hugging someone who loves you a lot. It helps.
  2. Cut back on social media. You know what doesn’t help? Being constantly plugged in and bombarded by the lives of other people. It’s a continuous source of blaring stimulation that you really don’t need. Detachment is peaceful and quiet. Deleting the Facebook app off of my phone for a while did wonders for my psyche. And don’t follow anything or anyone who brings you down.
  3. Laugh. Whenever you can. I try to work a little Louis CK and Amy Schumer stand-up into my day, even if it’s just in short bursts. You know I don’t mess with science, but I definitely learned in Intro Psych that boosting your mood can be as easy as laughing and smiling. It may not seem like much, but there’s no way out of the hole without a few giggles.
  4. Frequently treat yourself to pick-me-ups. For me, it’s taking a hot shower and belting along to Broadway Showstoppers Pandora, or marathon-ing old Tim Burton movies. Do them often, plan ahead so you have something to look forward to, and always follow through.
  5. Embrace routines. When everything’s awful and your brain is full of crazy, turn to structure. Get up, study, eat, and go to bed at the same time every day. Organizing and imposing order on the things you can control feels so stabilizing when what you can’t control seems unbearable.
  6. Hold on tight to lovely people. Those who stick around through the bad days are yours for life. Make time for them, fill your days with them, allow them to be the uplifting, healing forces that they are.
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I know none of that is earth-shattering. It’s not supposed to be. I’ve found there’s no art to getting by, just a series of little choices I make every day that get me to tomorrow. We’re doing this little-engine-that-could style.

My favorite commentary on happiness comes from the king of depressing Russian literature, Leo Tolstoy: “If you want to be happy, be.” Work on that whole being thing, and happiness will follow.

Until then, keep on keeping on.

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