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To Be A College Student

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I’m sitting outside of a classroom now, recognizing how much I have changed yet again. Maybe I should have a category just on my self-change realizations. Basically, this time, my question is: Can you be a college student without really being a college student?

I don’t mean can you be immature, not quite at the level college is supposed to require. We all know that happens all the time. And, if you didn’t know, I am sorry to say that you should probably quit reading here. I may keep destroying your beautiful view of people in college because a lot of us are procrastinating, coffee-inhaling zombies- unless of course you get us on a good day. Then you can cut out the zombie part.

That’s not the point in this post, though. Today I’m trying to figure out where I went wrong when I came to college, how I missed that necessary step, until now, to become part of the folds. I walked over the bricked walkway next to my library, made my way to sit outside of my next class and wait, and found myself looking around. With my laptop in hand, backpack on my shoulders, and a not too warm but still uncomfortable breeze blew my direction, I realized that, until that moment, I had missed something vastly important to my experience here.

Too often, I’ve told people that college isn’t like it is in the movies. Not here, not where I go to school, but is it? The campus screams college. It’s all sleek edges and perfect scenery, people on bikes and skateboards and advocating the Greek life. In a way, it is all like the movies, and I’ve not been a part of it until now. I have existed in a half-college attendee for a long while, this being the beginning of my second year.

I have to wonder if that is because I began college differently than most. By no means was I any prodigy or undiscovered intelligence, but with my zeal for learning, a mother who worked in the Student Admissions office, and a high school that offered me a chance to attend college for free, I was handed an opportunity few even knew was out there. To walk in, as an entering Freshman in college with 45 hours under my belt of general education courses and just courses in general was crazy. At the age of 19, I am a Junior on my way to getting a Bachelor’s in English and a minor in Business.

At some point, though, I think that hindered me. I came to think of college as just another set of classes to take, rather than a part of my life to experience to the fullest. I haven’t attended clubs, I go to work four out of seven days of my week, I interact with my roommates on only a very basic level, and I exist in college like a mother going back to school after many years would. I do not look at college as a new experience or interesting new world. I look at it as a necessity to get a good job. My off-campus, campus apartment is not a way for me to meet new people, it is a convenience to avoid an unnecessary 45 minute drive unless required.

So, I guess in some ways you can be a college student without being a college student. I mean, I’m succeeding rather well at it, though I’m not sure if, now that my eyes have opened to it, that might not change. What do you think? I’ve got 51 followers now, and I thank you ALL for that, though I have not said so yet, but none of you really tell me what you think, and I would love to hear your views on it.

I thank you and will see you soon. I will eventually get back into my weekly routine of blogging, I’m just not there yet. Stick with me.

Megan

Sometimes It Hurts…

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The pain in being shy does not lie in the shy tendencies. It lives in the darker place that no one sees, in the want to be like the rest of the crowd around you, the want to be friendly without a fear of what could happen, immediately ready for engaging with the person or people you have to meet and realizing that, no matter how much you might want it, it’s just beyond your reach.

This is just something that came to me today, and though I am thinking of trying to write a piece to go around it in a story, it struck me how unutterably true it is. I don’t know that you see it here. Can you? Whether you can or can not, though, does not really negate the fact that I am, and have been since around the age of seven or eight, shy to the point of terror. Where some say they are shy, they are really just not great with meeting new people, or they don’t really want more people in their life.

For me, it is completely different. I sit cloaked in a social phobia. I am terrible at communication. Crowds… no. A new person in general? Kill me. You probably don’t believe me, though, so let me interest you in a little fact. I can count, on one hand no less, the friends I actually spent time with that I had before a year ago. Can you guess how many? Three. And to take it a step farther, none of those three were my friend at the same time as another. I could only deal with one apparently. Another instance? I spent a year at college. In order to avoid the cafeteria because I did not have a friend to go with and could not imagine without a painful sort of terror braving the crowd on my own, I spent seven days in my room alone surviving on three packs of peanut butter crackers and tap water.

I wish I was joking. I am getting there, though, and with the help of some wonderful people, I might someday make it to being able to deal with the fear on my own. As of right now, though, I am stuck in a sand pit that, when in the company of close friends, I can walk freely in and have a good time. In the presence of anyone new, be it one person or one hundred, turns into quicksand. The terror makes my throat tighten painfully and I imagine I can’t get enough air. My hands  go clammy, I wrap my arms around my torso and hold myself, I hide in baggy hoodies, I don’t make eye contact, don’t smile, though I try my best to hide my internal misery, and I certainly don’t speak.

So often people believe that people in my own situation don’t try to get past it, that they do it, in the end, to themselves. Well, if you ever meet me and get the chance to get past my terror, you’ll see that I am nothing but friendly, loving, caring. To be angry hurts me nearly as much as being shy. I will do anything for someone. And I am trying to get past it. I know I love it when someone notices my shirt or my hair, something. And to try to give other people that same feeling of a little pride in themselves, I am attempting to conquer my fear of people by forcing myself to compliment them when I notice something nice about them. Not only is it forcing me to engage with new people, but it is noncommittal and makes people feel good about themselves.

Sometimes it hurts… but I’ve found that pushing through the pain is, at some level, possible with the right friends there to help.

Playing Trash Ball

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I know what you’re thinking. What on Earth does trash ball have to do with the price of tea in China?

Well, I’m sitting here writing. Yes. Actually putting pen to paper instead of typing everything out because typing hasn’t gotten me much of anywhere here lately. So, anyway, here I am, writing some new- probably fleeting- idea out, and I seem to keep getting frustrated, tearing the pages out, balling them up, and throwing them at the trash can.

I’ve decided that this is actually a very large part of writing, and an even larger part of why I haven’t been able to get anything decent out recently. There is a major flaw with technology these days in the field of writing, and it is this:

There is something supremely cathartic in the ability to rip your words out- the words you have brought to life in a story- ball them up, throw them, tear them further, stomp on them, and generally cause them the pain that they, in not flowing freely or correctly like you want them to, have ultimately caused you.

Unfortunately… you can’t do that with a Word document. No, no matter how many times you delete those words, whether you do it letter by letter, sentence by sentence, line by line, page by page, chapter by chapter, or an entire book at once, you will never feel as good as you do when you rip that page out and all but tell it that it is trash that no one loves. And yes, despite the fact that I sound not only vindictive but also insane at the moment does not go unnoticed.

I know my words are not people, they are not alive. That being said, though, they are in some way something… not inanimate. It’s because they live inside of me. I know the story they should put together, the story I want to put out to the masses, and the story that they are fighting against becoming. So, though I know there is nothing real about them, I also know that, if put together correctly, they have the potential to create a living picture in someone else’s mind as well, and that is beautiful.

Therefore, if Word really wants to impress me as a writer, it should give me the ability to somehow electronically and satisfactorily destroy my words like they sometimes do me.

So, if you’re having trouble with a piece, don’t keep trying on your laptop or desktop. Don’t scratch out lines. Write them, rip them out, and play a little trash ball. You might find it was exactly what you needed, just as I have.

Dreaming a Dream of Coffeehouses

I’ve told you all that this is my author blog, and perhaps it is in a way, but I think, for the most part, this might be instead my blog of dreams. Since I dream of being a successful author, my place as an author fits in here but only partially. Dreams span far and wide for me, born a dreamer after nine months of growing, and so I guess this is, in a way, my medium for getting them all out, just like in my writing.

The reason I even bring this up is because I am, inevitably as this is a major dream of mine, back to thinking of the coffeehouse I’d create if I had the money and the experience to do it. There are Starbucks far and wide, yes. There are ritzy coffee joints in big cities, in well-to-do areas, and even small towns. I want to create something different, though.

Don’t we all?

When you walk in somewhere, do you immediately think of how to adjust the atmosphere, how it could be set up differently, how it feels? I do. I pass by a building these days and I say, “That could be perfectly renovated into a beautiful little coffee shop!” or I look into a business already being ran and decide if I like the layout or the chairs or the menus or even the uniforms. I see paint swatches in stores, and I start to search for what exact shade would create a warm, not too dark, and always homey feel, what would accent that nicely?

But, as most of you are aware, I’m 18, and what you don’t know is I tend to try to be logical.

Starting your own business is a terrifying thing rife with struggles and let-downs, stress and long hours. At 18, in college, is not a time to even begin to think I’m ready for that, and with the business sense only slightly better than that of a goldfish, I couldn’t even begin right now. In fact, not too long ago, I gave this dream up as one of my Unreachables, something I’d forever struggle for yet never actually try to reach out and grab.

That’s the thing, though.

Ever since I gave this dream up for nonsense, illogical nonsense, everything around me has been about living your dreams. People will comment how it’s amazing I have a book out there and published at 18, YouTube videos about school procrastination end on some note about living your dreams while you still can and before all you have left is the “What if?” I’ll go to a class, and the teachers are talking about it.

So, I think I’m supposed to live my dreams.

No, no, no, guys and girls, women and men. I am not saying I’m going to run out, try to get a place right this second, grab a place, renovate it, set it all up, buy the equipment, and decorate it all to start my business now. Goodness, no, but I am taking steps to make it happen.

I’m going to take a Small Business Management course, take a few extra business classes, and really work on making myself business savvy as much as I possibly can. I have a business minor already, and I am doing what I can to achieve these new goals I’ve set for myself.

So, if you’re like me, and you’re sitting and wondering about a dream, but you’re writing it off as just another silly notion, this is what I have to say:

All those teachers, your parents, your friends, the vloggers you watch on YouTube, and everyone else around you are right! When you get older, when you’re lying there with nothing but memories, it’s a lot better to say you tried and failed than to wonder what would have happened. If you think you can’t do it, don’t get discouraged. I never thought I could publish a book, and that’s done. I never thought I’d be able to work towards owning my own coffeehouse, but I am.

So, go out there and do what you’ve got to do- unless it’s vile and mean or horrid to other people and will make them cry. That’s not nice. Please don’t intentionally make people cry.

Well, that’s all for now. Have fun living, dreaming, and living the dream!

Tiptoeing through New Territory

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Ah, the joys of being a writer. It opens up new worlds and ideas, stories and plot, characters and dialogue with each day.

But what happens when you, as a writer, veer from the worlds you’ve been exploring and space-jump or even just perspective jump to another world or genre entirely?

Well, if you’re me, you worry constantly. You tiptoe through this new idea, terrified of where it will lead you. What if you step on that stone? Do you have to make the main character feel that? What if she says this? Oh my God, what if she’s not even a she? What if you want her to be a he instead? What then? How on earth does a guy react to stepping on a stone?

You think I’m joking. I promise you I’m not.

New territory is always terrifying for me because it’s not what I know I can do. Perhaps sometimes that’s a good thing, but for the most part, it’s terrifying. So, I tiptoe, which is horrible because it causes my “me” as a writer to be left out, and trust me, if you lose a writer’s “me,” you’ve lost your story. Then it’s the bare bones, something someone’s read a million times before and can fill out like the answers to a test, and reading through it is a test for the reader, a test of their patience, endurance, and stamina.

What I say when it comes to new territory? Well, excuse my phrase, but you better go balls out because your reader is experiencing this for the first time too. Sure, I worry, but I also have to force myself into the story. Make it happen. Tell it how it is. It’s difficult, don’t get me wrong. There will be some tiptoeing you can’t avoid, some exploration you’re scared of getting into, but sometimes that’s when you force yourself to go for it.

Maybe this is me rambling on, but maybe some of you feel this way too. So, come on, let’s go traipsing through a new world together and see where we come out.

To Delete or Not To Delete

Sometimes a writer does research. Topics that are unfamiliar to them- time periods, family situations, state systems- are necessary things to research. There is always going to be that reader who picks up a book and says, “They are wrong. That is not what really happens.” You don’t want to give them any cause to be able to say that if avoidable.

The effects of research are interesting, though. Say you’re me, picking up a text on the topic of a new novel you’re working on that you haven’t let anyone really know about yet. You start to read, and you begin to wonder, what about this specific text can I use in my story?

And then it happens.

I decided to scrap nearly all three of the chapters I’ve finished and the beginning of the fourth one to completely change the way the story goes and what exactly it’s about. The joys of being a writer is that you can. The pain of being a writer is that you want to, and the difficulty of being a writer is that you’re not always sure which is the best way to go.

I love the way my story is now. I like how it’s progressing, but I’m at a point of being stuck, not knowing where to go, and when I think of going a different way, my entire soul just lights up. I’m not changing the character or her end game, I’m just thinking of starting a little ahead of the game.

Who knows, I may just add a little extra to the beginning of the book. There’s really no telling. The thing is, where I’m at now is important I think, but since I’m in the business of telling stories that could really happen, there is no telling if I’ve earned what exactly I’m trying to write at the moment. I need to know a little before my character got here, the how and why she’s here. If I can do that by writing a different novel, why not write a different novel?

I don’t believe I’m the only author to go through this, but maybe I shouldn’t encompass all of us. This is me. My joys, my worries, my pains, and anything else that might pop into this character-crowded head of mine.

To start at the beginning or the middle or the end? To delete what I have or not to delete? These are the questions that plague me now.

Pick up a pencil, a laptop, or a pen. Write the first thing that pops into your head. Who knows? An entire story may evolve.

With a salute and a smile, I’m off-

Megan