Reality of junior year hasn?t met expectations

My junior year of college began with an overwhelming amount of excitement.

I ended August in Massachu?setts, where I took a 40-hour mediation-training course. I learned so much, which was exciting in about a hundred different ways.

I carried that energy home to Chicago, where I was excited about being an upperclassman and finally feeling like a ?real? part of the university.

There was an attitude of excitement surrounding my new ?big-girl? (off-campus) apartment, where I looked forward to living a more independent life and entertaining friends in a beautiful space.

There was excitement around my class schedule, which appeared to be full of material that would be directly applicable to my intended career path.

I?m not trying to be a total downer, but the first part of the semester has in no way lived up to my expectations.

Although my apartment is only about three blocks from school, I?m always rushing back and forth, never feeling relaxed, settled or like I?ve fully accomplished anything. There?s always somewhere to be, someone to see, something to be done, and living an additional few minutes away has only added to the stress of my too-full schedule (and my pathetically poor level of timeliness).

On top of that, I hadn?t anticipated the stress that comes with paying rent, organizing bills and going grocery shopping on top of working and taking a full set of classes. It might not seem like much to someone who hasn?t tried it before, but the stress all of that creates is really the worst.

In a nutshell, this ?big girl? life that I?m pretending to lead isn?t all it was cracked up to be. I?m starting to understand why friends and family urged me not to try to grow up so fast.

They saw what I couldn?t: that the responsibilities on the flip-side of the freedom coin bring unnecessary stress and can consume your life.

I?d probably feel like I was more a part of campus life if I actually lived on campus and had the time and energy to invest myself in the community. It?s not that there aren?t opportunities?it?s that I?ve removed myself from the equation.

And while my classes cover interesting topics, they are way more group-project oriented than I expected. As much as I love people, I do not love sharing workloads with them, especially when my grade depends on our collective success. In my experience, these group projects only complicate and add stress to a process that could be much more quickly and efficiently completed on my own.

Phewf. It felt nice to get that out.

But now, because I don?t want to end on a completely depressing note, I will concede that this year hasn?t been a total waste.

I?ve been able to stay in frequent e-mail communication with one of my mom?s older sisters, Tia Lyrysa. I can confidently say Lyrysa is one of the most amazing people I will ever know.

I haven?t met many others with her brand of humor, kindness, care and brains. Best of all these endearing characteristics is that she believes in me and all my crazy dreams.

She?s been one of the greatest encouragers of my writing, almost always the first to offer feedback and affirm my growth as a writer. I appreciate hearing this from anyone, but it?s especially meaningful coming from a fellow writer.

Sometimes, after a long, stressful day when I feel like I can?t do anything right and I have a million papers to write and the universe seems to have been swallowed by an endless number of complications, I will see Lyrysa?s name in my inbox. It may not seem like much, but for the 10 minutes that it takes to read her e-mail, I breathe a little easier.

It doesn?t magically connect me to campus life, it doesn?t make watching the money escape from my bank account any less stressful, and it doesn?t make me love group projects… but it reminds me that I?m not alone and that someone believes in me, and some days, that?s exactly what I need.

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