A few days ago I got a reminder of a status on social media that I wrote when I arrived at college for the first time. It brought me back to ten years ago when I first arrived to my college campus as a student. I had a unique experience in that I already had been to the campus multiple times growing up and my parents had attended, my grandfather had attended, and my grandmother had taught there. The journey to college wasn’t necessarily easy. I was homeschooled and used a distance learning school to earn my high school diploma. I was a senior in high school at age 15 but the bane of my existence was high school algebra and I wrestled with it until I finally finished. Needless to say, I’ve only taken one math class since high school algebra and I don’t see myself taking another one in the foreseeable future. I finished high school about 6 weeks after my 17th birthday and I took a year off to take some classes and work before I went to college. I didn’t know what to expect 10 years ago when I started college. I was worried about how I was going to afford it and if I would be able to afford it for all 4 years. My parents had informed me from a young age that they wouldn’t pay for college so I understood that I would have to figure it out without their financial assistance. The bonus was that I had a scholarship that covered about half of my tuition. I didn’t know what to expect once I went to college and in the spirit of true preparation I brought WAY too much stuff. I quickly realized that the 8 storage containers that I brought from home would be way too much for the half of the dorm room I shared. I remember waiting in line at registration and hoping and praying that I could get in. After a small scare and an ok from the director of admissions I was in. The next three and a half years were filled with challenges and acclimation to a more traditional educational environment. One of my goals was to finish in less than 4 years and i was able to accomplish that. I actually had to study for tests and finals week meant that I pulled a few overnighters to finish a paper or put the finishing touches on a project. I focused on the books and attended every class on time. I knew that I was there because I wanted to be and the effort that I put into my education reflected that fact. I honestly can’t believe that ten years has passed by but I can honestly say that I am a totally different person than I was back then. I’ve learned a lot since then and I plan to learn and grow more in the next ten years.
A few days ago I shared an article on social media about the ways the social work is failing. While it was very thought provoking, the author also talked about ways to remedy the problem. As someone who has worked in the field for almost 7 years, the looks on people’s faces when I tell them that I’m a social worker can be quite comical. Unfortunately there’s still a prevalent belief that all social workers do is take kids away from their parents. Social work is one of the only professions I know where you can have a masters degree, two years of supervised experience, a clinical license AND make $17 an hour. That number isn’t arbitrary. It’s actually what I made when I first relocated to my original state of residence. The fact is that we are often overworked and not fairly compensated for our services. Burnout rates are at an all time high because we can’t even afford to take time off and it’s sometimes a struggle to pay bills and make student loan payments out of the pittance we’re given. Don’t get me wrong, you can make a decent living as a social worker but it will probably entail working more than one job, working in an administrative capacity, or being an entrepreneur of sorts. With mental illness continuing to be a growing concern, I wish that the growing demand for mental health providers like social workers translated into an increase in compensation—like it has for nurses. Something definitely needs to change and maybe the change that is needed is that of a union. While I don’t have all the answers, I believe that this topic deserves more discussion and also subsequent advocacy.
Earlier today I told someone that I would blog about my experience with Speed Dating. So far I’ve tried it out twice. Once was in Colorado where I was one of the youngest and the only person of color at the event. It was cool but I didn’t make any connections. My more recent attempt came around a Valentine’s day event that focused on young professionals. I got off work and rushed downtown where the event was being held. I was somewhat nervous going by myself but had decided that this would be my social event for the week in my intentional effort to get out there more instead of being at home all the time. So I got into the venue and it was pretty chill. There was a panel discussion scheduled before the speed dating and it hadn’t started yet so everyone was mingling and/or looking as lost as me because they were alone too. So in true introvert fashion I ordered a drink and found a quiet space to people-watch. I don’t know how it happened but soon I found myself chatting with a guy standing next to me. He seemed pretty cool and he also had a pretty decent government job (bonus points). We chatted through the panel and then split up for the actual speed dating event. The speed dating process was fun but very abbreviated. I met an eye doctor, several lawyers, a personal trainer, teacher, and financial analyst among others. I liked the fact that everyone was around my age. Speed dating ended and the guy and I started chatting again. We seemed to be vibing pretty well. He left for a second to catch up with one of his work colleagues that had come to the event. While he was gone one of the bar’s waiters came up to me to inform me that it appeared that the guy was feeling me. I was admonished to not miss out on my blessing. The funny thing was that the waiter was convinced that this guy was “the one” and that I would regret it if I didn’t make some type of move on him. On paper the guy sounded pretty good. Worked in IT, planning to get a masters, had a pre-teen kid that lived out of state, etc. We exchanged numbers and he graciously offered to walk me to my car which I appreciated because there were all kinds of characters (literally) lurking around. A few days later he texted me and asked me if I wanted to “hang out” over the weekend. I suggested going to lunch and he agreed. Great plan. The only thing was that this was all done over text message and it took him a minimum of 6 hours to reply to any text message from me. I tried to be understanding as we were both working professionals and he was also working full time nights in addition to his day job. I told him that he could pick the restaurant and he picked one that was about 5 minutes away from his house. This was fine but it also meant that I had to make the twenty-something mile drive down to his area of the city. I got to the place on time and let him know that I was there. He said he was “right around the corner.” Twenty minutes later he pulls into the parking lot. I was pretty annoyed at this point considering that I was the one who had driven the farthest and he (self admittedly) had nothing to do at home but was still late. We order the food (he paid) and went to find a place to sit. During this whole time dude stays on his phone returning text messages. It was bordering on obnoxious but he was still able to carry on a conversation without it being too bad. Observing the effort that he was putting into returning my text message I figured that the writing was on the wall. He gave the typical guy speech of “I’m ready for something serious but I’m not in a hurry.” But then he immediately jumped to asking when he could come over to hang out. He said that his place wouldn’t work because it was under renovation. Thankfully I caught the “coming over and hanging out” clue because it’s literally code for “I only want one thing.” I was admittedly a bit disappointed because he actually seemed cool and I gave vague answers on the timeline of him coming over to the house. I mentioned the delay in responses to text messages and he blew it off saying that he was busy at work most of the time and couldn’t read them. But he promised he would do better. The next week came and it became obvious he wasn’t serious as it was taking him days to return texts. I figured that it was better to cut my losses and told him that coming over was off the table for the foreseeable future until I had more evidence that there was a potential for something serious. I never heard from him again. Crisis averted.
I don’t rant very often. I make an intentional effort to not do my ranting on social media because I’ve seen personally how things posted in the heat of the moment can impact your future. Lately I’ve been doing some reminiscing. I wrote yesterday about the month of May and how it always makes me think. I’ve gone on some great trips and have some good staycations in the month of May. But that’s not what my post is about. I decided to once again try my hand at online dating because if I end up old and alone and I want to at least know that I tried. I’m hoping that it will be some small consolation to me in some way. Now that I’m a little more seasoned in the game (because it is a game), I can say that my optimism is still present but skepticism still reigns supreme. It’s literally the equivalent of going through a landfill in hopes of finding something (or someone) that you can dust off, take home, and live with. With this method you’re guaranteed to find some duds or shiny tokens that look like the real thing but aren’t. It’s annoying, frustrating, and hopeless at times. I’ve posted some of my dating stories and while they are hilarious, they all actually happened. I have to say that the most frustrating thing is getting ghosted. For those who aren’t aware of the concept, it means that someone just decides to stop returning messages and calls for no apparent reason and moves on with their life without you and without warning. You meet someone and realize that you have a lot in common with them. You make plans to meet up and then they completely flake without any explanation. This current dating culture absolutely sucks. There’s really no other way to categorize it. Funny how everyone wants to be different than the last person you met but without any knowledge of what the last person did, they do the EXACT same thing. Communication is a lost art. Ugh.
I’m the type of person who likes to have something to look forward to. I keep a countdown app in my phone to remind me of important things that are coming up. It makes the time pass quicker and helps with motivation. Yesterday I got back to the States after spending almost two weeks on a cruise in Europe. It was something that I’ve wanted to do for the longest and I even turned down a job in order to have the time free. The trip taught me so much as I had the opportunity to eat some real food and experience a small taste of how people live in other parts of the world. It was amazing to see sights that I had only seen in books or online. I had the opportunity to see Michaelangelos’ sculpture “The David” in person and it was absolutely breathtaking. I had pizza in Rome and Gelato in Florence and tasted part of a cannoli in Messina. One thing I love about traveling is that there’s always something to look forward to. Each day is markedly different than the last. There’s absolutely nothing like it. My worldview has definitely been expanded once again and I can’t wait for the next adventure.
Now that I’m a working adult, it’s rare that I’ll binge watch an entire season of a show in two sittings but that’s what happened with Insecure. My social media accounts have been flooded with reactions from the show so I wanted to watch for myself and see what the hype was all about. Oh my goodness. The show is amazing. Definitely not kid friendly but a great show. The main character “Issa” has a lot going on. She’s balancing a relationship, a best friend, and a job at a local non-profit. As the season progresses, we see Issa try to make sense of her world. Her boyfriend isn’t always emotionally available and she questions the relationship when an old flame reappears in her life. Meanwhile, Issa also has a best friend who is a successful professional but has really bad luck with men. By the time the season ends, Issa’s boyfriend has gotten a new job, she has made a horrible mistake and her friend is still single. One thing that I can appreciate is that the show isn’t super complicated. The season finale wasn’t what I expected but it definitely brought to light the fact that there are consequences for actions although two wrongs don’t make a right. Issa made a mistake and regretted it but discovered that some things aren’t easily fixed with a contrite apology. Her boyfriend was a good guy who got his life together a little too late but was absolutely caught off guard when the truth came out and acted out accordingly. There aren’t hundreds of characters to remember but the nuances are so reflective of real life and the experience of a lot of minority millennials. I’m glad the show has been renewed for a second season.
It’s no surprise that traveling is one of my favorite things to do. I’ve traveled with friends and alone and I’ve discovered that there are certain advantages to both. One thing that I enjoy when I’m in an unfamiliar place is exploring or intentionally getting lost. No, I don’t go to some remote place out in nature and decide to hike. It’s usually either on foot or by car in some heavily populated area. While I’m in the States I’ll turn off my GPS and just drive for a bit making random turns and looking around. Getting back to more familiar sights is usually as easy as turning back on my GPS. However, there have been a few occasions where there was a malfunction of sorts and I had to wander around until I found my way back. I have to say that I have the most fun exploring in foreign cities. There’s something to be said about putting your map away and walking through streets and little walkways with other people who don’t speak your language. You don’t have the luxury of asking for directions and you get to be a silent observer as you watch people going about their daily tasks. It’s a totally different world. The best part about intentionally (or unintentionally) getting lost is that you have to figure out how to get back. At this point I tend to dig out my map and figure out the best route back to more familiar surroundings. Because as nice as it is to be lost and explore, there’s still no place like home aka the hotel.