Monthly Archives: October 2013

Don’t Judge a (Face)book By Its Cover

Welcome to the first of the Myths of Residence Life Series! This post was actually written BEFORE the idea for the series came about…but I realized it fit so well! Incoming students have the ability to see YEARS of their future classmates’ lives on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and whatever else social media platform that’s out there.

So I might be dating myself here, but I was in college when Facebook became open to everybody. I didn’t think too much of it. The only change for me was now I could be Facebook friends with my friends that were still in high school (I mean, I wasn’t that old).

And then housing assignments were released…I was working at my good ol’ Undergrad U student employment job. I was told that typically we get slightly more phone calls after assignments go out. People are unhappy with what building they are in or what floor they are on. Somebody’s precious darling has allergies and needs air conditioning. Typical calls. The calls started coming that very day and did not stop until the school year started. My supervisor said that she had NEVER heard the phones ring that much.

Why the incredible increase in calls? Students could now look up their roommates on Facebook. That was something I honestly never thought of. Yes, Facebook existed before I left for college, but my roommate didn’t (and still doesn’t) have Facebook. For the friends I did make on Facebook, all of our profiles were NEW. While this was only the first year, that’s still a whole year’s worth of photos. We’re currently several years past this point so now my incoming students are seeing photos of their future roommate’s high school career. Ugh…I couldn’t imagine having those awkward years documented on the internet.

The point is, so many students were making assumptions about their future roommates based on what they saw on Facebook. People use their Facebooks (and before that MySpaces) to display who they want the world to view them as. Back when all these phone calls were flooding in, people didn’t think about privacy settings on their pictures or censor themselves just in case a future employer might stumble across their profiles one day. Some students were calling to complain that they didn’t want to live with their future roommates because all they saw on Facebook were party pics or offensive jokes. Others were calling because their roommate seemed “lame” or “different”. It is impossible to describe what a person is like based off of what you see on Facebook.

While my roommate and I didn’t have the anxiety-laden opportunity of stalking each other on Facebook prior to moving in together, I wonder what a stranger would think of me based off of my Facebook profile. I have my profile set to super secret, so the stranger would have to request me first but that’s beside the point.

First off, we have my cover photo and profile picture. These tend to be absolutely ridiculous. In fact, when I first arrived at college, my Facebook picture was one of my comics. Oops. Right now my current cover photo is a close up of my favorite food and my profile picture is actually a poorly photoshopped photo of one of my friends. So at the moment random stranger would probably think I’m a fat man (not that my friend is fat…just the food and all).

Next, my “about” info. My main network is Hogwarts and my relationship status lists me as being in a relationship with one of my lady friends. My quotes and “info paragraph” haven’t been changed since 2008 and are just a listing of inside jokes. The only musicians I like are my friends bands or singing groups. I don’t have any books, movies, or TV shows listed, but at the moment Facebook is recommending kids books and movies…

And last but not least, photos of me. Since that’s where 99% of my students complaints come from. There are a LOT of pictures of me with my friends’ pets. Not too many party pics…but several photo bomb pictures. And lots of sorority pictures. Of course. Sorority squat!

I don’t think any of that accurately describes me. I don’t use Facebook to list every like and dislike and chronicle every moment of my day. Sorority pictures are in there a lot because those are a lot of the big events I go to…and that’s where the cameras are. At the same time, when I think about students “cleaning up” their Facebooks before they begin their job searches (or before applying for college housing), I don’t think the “after” version of their profiles represent them either.

It’s been a few years since I heard from those angry parents at Undergrad U. I’m still hearing from angry parents. They’re checking out their kid’s roommate’s Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. “He tweeted rap lyrics, my son doesn’t like rap, MY SON CAN’T LIVE WITH HIM!” I wish I was making this up. Now that I’m no longer a student, I’ve started telling parents that we will not change a room assignment just based on something they saw on Facebook. The whole idea of college is to figure out how to live on your own. If there are major issues or lifestyle differences that cannot be worked out once the students have arrived at school and given it the ol’ college try (pun intended), then we will look into finding your precious anti-rap darling a new place to live.

Student affairs professionals of the world…what are some of your most bizarre “well I saw it on the internet” moments you’ve experienced?

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Myths of Residence Life: A Series

I had this idea after housing assignments went out to write about all of the complaints that were coming in from the parents. I listed them down. And then I inadvertently wrote an ENTIRE post about just ONE of those complaints. Oops. So instead, while I am celebrating (and recovering from) my first big girl vacation, you can enjoy the Myths of Residence Life.

If you have any of your own myths that you would like to add, leave them in the comments!

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Take Time For Me

Lately, whenever I sit down to work on my blog, I always feel the need to start with something to post NOW to make up for the lack of posts. It tends to be some sort of apology. And it sucks because I spend my time writing that and then I have no energy left to do any actual blog work.

I never wanted this to feel like WORK work. I have one and a half jobs already. I don’t need (or have time) for another. But lately, it’s been feeling like work. With all of the extra stuff going on at work, I rarely have free time…I spend my nights and weekends catching up on work email…ugh.

Recently, I started working on two other blogs…one is for that half job I mentioned and it’s barely off the ground for the same reasons that this blog comes to a screeching halt every few weeks. The other is a more personal blog inspired by many people, including my follower Training Camp Rookie. Since it IS a more personal blog, I’m not going to post a link here (remember, The Author is anonymous) however some of my followers might see a new follower in the next few hours….you’re more than welcome to follow me! (In fact, please please please follow me!)

So what am I trying to say? It’s 9 pm. I’m in my bed watching reality TV. I set aside this time to work on my blog. THIS blog. Write some posts, schedule some posts, etc. I opened my binder and saw just how behind I was and I realized that I didn’t want to do this anymore. Well. That’s a bit…much. I just don’t want to do this right now. Tonight. Maybe tomorrow or the day after or next week I will want to write more, but right now I’m just really overwhelmed. When I like writing, I feel like my writing is better, and I don’t want y’all reading crap just because I don’t feel like it anymore.

I’m gonna go put my energy into at least ONE of those blogs for now. Who knows when I’ll update this next? Catch you on the flip side.

Anxiety

When I was MUCH younger, I hated doing homework. It wasn’t that I was a bad student or anything. The pressure of doing well in school just overwhelmed me. I was a stressed out nine year old. I would be too busy worrying about doing my homework to actually DO my homework. On top of that, my mom would see that I wasn’t doing my homework and yell at me to do my homework. This clearly did not help the situation. There were many nights that I would be up until ten or eleven (remember, fourth grade) doing my homework.

Everybody just thought I was a procrastinator. And to be fair, I am. But this was different. When I procrastinate, I will do everything else that can be done before I do what actually needs to be done. Laundry, dishes, cleaning…I’m a productive procrastinator! Instead, this seemed to be the opposite. I wasn’t getting anything done.

By the time I was in high school, regular homework didn’t overwhelm me so much, but major projects did. Life was also starting to overwhelm me – relationship issues, responsibilities, decisions. I would routinely have others make major decisions for me either by asking people’s opinions or by waiting so long that the decision would have been made for me. I had major freak outs when it came to making decisions about college. I remember being so overwhelmed about choosing a meal plan that I cried for a week straight. OVER A MEAL PLAN.

If you’re sensing that this issue didn’t get better in college, you are correct. Remember how I would be too overwhelmed to do homework? That happened. Except, since I didn’t have my mom to force me to go to school, I could just skip class. Sure, plenty of people skip class in college. Except instead of being hungover or playing video games or whatever normal college students do, skipping class made me even MORE stressed out. I would just stay in bed and cry. I couldn’t do anything else. I would be unable to do anything for a day or two and then I’d snap out of it and go back to normal. I didn’t think it was a big deal.

And then one day everything seemed to happen at once. I was having relationship issues. I had two major projects due. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I didn’t think I was good enough to be interested in anything when I grew up. I couldn’t leave my apartment. I didn’t do any chores around the apartment because I knew I could have used that time to do homework. Except I was too stressed to do homework. After the third day of not leaving the apartment and not going to classes, I realized that I didn’t know how to bounce back from this. I was going to be behind in my classes. I was going to get in trouble for missing work. The only way out I could see was to drop out of college. But I couldn’t do that, that would mean going back home to my parents and they would be so disappointed. I felt trapped. So I stayed trapped in my apartment.

My friends were worried about me. They reported me. I became one of those Student Alerts you hear about. I was forced to go to my college’s counseling center. Suddenly I was one of those disheveled girls with dirty hair walking in that everybody sees but pretends not to. I would like to say that after a trip or two the counseling center, everything was fine and dandy and I was going to my classes and doing my homework and doing regular life tasks, but that’s not what happened. Clearly my anxiety was a lifelong problem – it couldn’t be fixed in a day or two. Those first few times, I didn’t even want to go. I could have been using that time to do all that homework. But if I stayed home I wasn’t going to. (And if I stayed home, I was going to be dismissed from the college, so yeah, that kind of got me out of the apartment.)

Counseling wasn’t an easy road. I had regularly scheduled sessions and every so often when I started getting overwhelmed, I’d try to cancel, saying that I was too busy, but my counselor knew that’s when I was at my worst, and the next thing I knew, a professor or Residence Life person was marching me back into the center. Counselors don’t just give you answers and tell you how to live life without being an anxious person. And it’s not like the movies where I got to lie on the couch and tell her all about my life without interruption. I would tell her things and she would question me. She’d ask why I thought these things and why I wasn’t doing my work. She’d make me answer instead of saying “I don’t know”. She got me back on track for the rest of college.

I would love to say that I live an anxiety-free life now, but that’s not the truth. Every so often I feel that overwhelming feeling creeping up on me and I have to find a way to combat it. Most of the time, I win. I’ve had two days in the past year that I couldn’t leave the apartment or do anything because of life. But I was able to bounce right back. I’m also able to recognize when things are getting to be too much for me and set boundaries or say no. And most importantly, I’m able to ask myself the same hard questions my counselor used to ask me. And I’m able to answer them truthfully. It also helps that I read all these blogs written by other twenty-somethings and can see that I’m not the only person my age who has NO CLUE what they are doing.

This was a really hard entry for me to write. Really, there are only two people in my life that know how bad things got. And now here I am posting it on the internet for the whole world to see. But if this can help even just one other person feel “normal”, then it’s worth it.

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September Goal Updates

So clearly my goal for October should be that I PUBLISH OCTOBER’S POST IN OCTOBER. Anywho…on with the show!

Be More Organized

Something happened during September that made me puff up like a proud bird. One of PDFMU’s Super Important People saw my planner and all my notes and highlighting and was like “OMG you MUST teach me your system!!”. So I got to sit down and tell this Super Important Person all about how I make my to do lists and how I stay organized. Pretty neat, huh?

I also re-did the binders in my office. When I started working, I created all these awesome binders to help me keep track of my staff members and duty logs and all that other fun stuff. Well, part way through the year, I stopped using them. They weren’t working for me. During a rare minute of free time (meaning a meeting that a student didn’t show up for) I completely cleaned them out and put new tabs in them based on the things I keep track of. Much better.

Read More

Shortly after last month’s post, I marched down to the library with my Kindle and found out how I could read library books on it. Which means I’ve been reading more. I’ve tried to make it a routine to read before going to bed, but in honor of One Tree Hill’s 10th anniversary, I decided to re-watch the entire series, which unfortunately has been happening before bed. But really, I need to get my act together and watch TV while I’m cleaning and doing dishes and read while I’m in bed.

Schedule More Me Time

If you missed out on my return from the abyss, I’ll fill you in on the state of my me time: it doesn’t exist. I am doing work stuff outside of work hours and that’s not okay. I’m not the only one doing it, my whole office is and we’re all about to burn out. So what am I going to do differently for October? Well, I already have some time off scheduled for a big vacation. I even added a day on each end of the vacation itself for packing and unpacking. I’m also going to calm it down with the emails. If I don’t get around to it before I leave my office for the day, I’m not going to go home and do it that night. This is student affairs, urgent things come up all the time – even at night – so I’m sure a delayed email here or there won’t be the end of the world.

Keep In Touch

In September, I had the luxury of returning to my hometown TWICE. The second time, I left my laptop in my office so I COULDN’T do work from home. Granted, the second time I was also home less than twenty four hours. I got to catch up with a few of my home friends on both trips, which was nice.

Since Rachel lives closer, I’ve been chatting on the phone more with her. I might be visiting her on Sunday! Not sure yet though…I have gone back to her apartment one other time as well for a visit in which we celebrated the return of pumpkin EVERYTHING to the supermarkets.

Be A Grown Up

What are some grown up things I did in September? I bought a bridesmaid dress. I renewed my insurance. I willingly went to sleep and woke up early.

Actually, one thing that’s been making me feel more grown up is that I’ve missed ALL of Undergrad U’s events so far this semester. Like, I was never the type to return for EVERYLITTLETHING but I’ve missed some major ones for my sorority. Yes, this has happened before, but I’ve always felt terrible about it…not so much missing the event, but not being able to see my friends that were still students. Now, I look at sorority pictures and I’m like, “Wow, I know NOBODY.” Instead, I’ve been making plans to see sorority sisters at other events and other locations.

I know last month I was hoping for a more productive month…this month I’m hoping for a much calmer month!

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Disappearing Act

This semester has been hard. Between the added responsibilities at work and the seemingly infinite amount of start-of-school events, I’ve barely had any time for myself. It seems that I spend all day at work taking care of the sort of things that “just come up” meaning that when I get to leave work and go home, I have to spend my own time doing other things for work – responding to emails, planning ahead, etc. My laundry bag hasn’t been touched in weeks, my kitchen smells kind of funky, and my closet is empty because none of my clothes are on their hangers.

I actually had a lot of posts planned and (mostly) written. I’m not too sure what happened for the second half of September…I know I had a TBT post that I NEEDED to write and I just didn’t get around to it…so I guess I just stopped logging into WordPress? Real logical there, Author. The ironic part is that I wrote a whole post about some anxiety issues I’ve been struggling with…only to see that I never posted it!! (Which might be a good thing because then y’all might have thought I went off the deep end!)

So here’s my game plan: it’s October (yay) which means I am FINALLY eligible for a new phone. I’m going to go buy it tonight which means a good portion of my evening will be spent backing up the old one and setting up the new one. Which means I’ll have time to blog? Hopefully?? And as I mentioned earlier, I have some posts already written (and some wonderful post ideas) so I should be able to get this bad boy back on a normal schedule!

Sorry for the radio silence and I’m hoping to streamline my life a bit more in the coming days!

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