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May 5, 2007

A Star With Your Name On It

(Just a little warning, this entry is incredibly long, so if you are short on time, just read the first two paragraphs and then the last one. That makes my point without giving you all the personal details about myself that you might find tedious.)

In light of Dr. Jerzís inspirational speech earlier today in class, I decided that I post a little reflection in response for my wildcard entry because I want those of you out there who are inherently like the wonderful people that he spoke about to benefit from a little wisdom that I have gained as a result of my experiences this semester. (I love you Karissa and Amanda Ė you are both truly very inspiring and I only wish I had been able to know you longer before it was your time to leave the HillÖyou will both be missed sorely.)

I have always been a believer in going after what you want and in the idea that if you want it bad enough and you work hard enough, you can achieve anything. I still believe in that philosophy as much as I always have and I love that Dr. Jerz shares this philosophy with me. I am so grateful that he has always made sure his students know that he believes in us just as much as he expects us to believe in ourselves. So, believe in yourself and go after your goals. No one can achieve them but you. Get involved, find something that will help you achieve your goals that you will love and dive right in. Extend yourself beyond your comfort zone because that is the only way you will grow. But, please remember this: make sure your goals are really what you want before you pour your heart and soul into achieving them. Nothing hurts more than reaching and reaching, stretching yourself way beyond your limits, only to come close and find that the star you were reaching for doesnít have your name on it. It was really meant for someone else; someone you thought you were, someone you naively expected yourself to be. But, what you expected of yourself didnít really make any sense, and you were too stubborn to admit it; so eager to prove to the world you could do what so many others couldnít, even if it meant you had to become something you hate.

I took 19 credits this semester: Our beloved EL 150 Intro to Lit (it conflicted with my STW class last year) and three other 300 level lit classes, one education course, the one credit practicum at Greensburg Central Catholic High School that goes with it, and Oral Communications. I fought tooth and nail at the end of last semester and the beginning of this semester to get my education course, ED 222 (English in Secondary Education) as an independent study because it was offered at the exact same time as EL 312 Literary Criticism, 6-8:30 Thursday nights. Both are only offered during spring odd semesters and I was determined to finish both my degree and my teaching certificate requirements in time to student teach by spring 2009.

It was a goal that I told myself I had to achieve, no matter what. I just didnít want to take that extra semester to student teach like most students in the program do. Why was it so important to me? I really have no idea anymore. It doesnít make any sense to me now. But for nearly two years I was convinced that I had to do it. Maybe just because so many people told me it couldnít be done, maybe because I thought everyone would think I was something great if I did it in four years. But, really, the only one telling me that I had to do it wasÖme. There is no prize for being done early, no one is going to be more likely to hire me over someone who took that extra semester, my degree and certificate would be worth the same regardless of when I got it, there isnít even a lame special gold sticker that I get to wear. In fact, there really arenít even any drawbacks to taking an extra semester to student teach aside from perhaps financially, but even that really doesnít matter in the grand scheme of things. (Trust me, there are ways of making it work Ė I have gotten so many rewards for my hard work through scholarships Ė almost more than I can count. Donít ever let something like money stand in the way of your dreamsÖthere is money out there and so many students donít take advantage of it. You have to look around for it sometimes, but it really is out there.) Finishing in four years was a goal that I thought I wanted, but when it really came down to it, it isnít what I wanted at all.

I have spent this last semester trying to do all of the things that would help me reach my goal, including spending those Friday nights in my room doing homework until 3AM. But, it didnít stop there. I would also spend all Saturday night in my room doing homework, and all Sunday. I have slept very little, talked to friends very little, and been happy very little. I have a constant feeling of dread to the point where I feel sick to my stomach no matter how hard I worked, how much time spent devoted to studies, I always felt like I was drowning in my workload. I was kicking with all my might for just one breath of air so I could make it through another day. I also had commitments related to many outside activities: the layout for the Setonian, fundraising for the education club, my job as an RA Ė all things I could normally handle without a problem. But, not with the workload I was carrying. In fact, even if all of those things had been eliminated I still know that I wouldnít have had much free time.

I made time for those things because they are important to me, just as much as my studies are, in fact. I know they help me grow and better myself in ways that my schoolwork canít and I just need that kind of Ė almost spiritual I would call it Ė stimulation. It gets me through. It might seem to some people that it just adds stress, but really that stuff is my therapy. Honestly. What I feel when I know I am doing something important, whether it is producing another amazing issue of the Setonian, or learning how to use a power saw while helping others who are much less fortunate than myself, is incredible. That feeling is why I am alive. But, this semester I feel like the intensity of that feeling gets masked by this constant nauseating feeling telling me that if I am not in class, I should be working on homework. Any time I did anything fun, spent any time with friends, planned a floor program, my brain was gnawing on itself and my stomach was turning in knots as I thought of all the work that awaited me. That constant guilt ruined a lot of things that should have been fun or enjoyable.

I also had an intense surge of hatred, and that is a strong word for me to use seriously, for anyone who said they were going to the mall, to a movie, to Wal-mart, to see a friendís recital. I felt this serious, though fleeting, hatred every time my roommates would sit around and talk, or sing, or be goofy while I was busy reading and blogging and writing papers. And it was constant. There was never a single night this semester in which I could come back to my room, often as late as 11PM, after being at a meeting or in the library or even class and just get ready for bed and go to sleep. I always had work to do until the wee hours of the morning. There is not even a difference between day and night to me except the amount of natural light that shines in my room. I would come back and my roommates would be hanging out, having a good time, and I wanted to join in so badly. But, I rarely did. Otherwise there was the guilt. But, when I didnít there was the hatred. How dare they not have any homework to do? How dare they be allowed to have a good time when I am stuck here doing assignment after assignment, the load never ceasing, no time to breathe? How dare they be so happy and carefree when I am miserable? But, who gave me all that work? I canít blame my professors. I canít blame my major. I canít blame my friends or family. It was all me. I expected too much. I forgot that I am still only human, and there are only so many hours in a day. I am not superwoman. I can do anything I set my mind to, I still know that. But, I need to be careful what I set my mind to, because something the effort is not worth the results.

Everyone I know tells me how much they believe in me and I want to thank each an every one of you for doing so, it means so much to me. Iím not sure why they think I am something special. I have always been good at fooling people into thinking I am smart, but Iím nothing exceptional. I am not in any way brilliant. But, I work hard. That is truly how I got here, sheer hard work and the support of great people who love and care about me. I donít regret for a minute being a hard-worker, and I wouldnít want to be someone who just does what they have to in order to get by. But, I am tired of hating the people who do things that way and do it well.

A part of me feels like I am letting down everyone who believes in me, they all keep saying ďLorin, you can do itĒ thinking that will make me feel better. Really, that is what hurts most of all, because I think that if I donít everyone will be disappointed. I feel like everyone is so used to me succeeding that I am not allowed to fail. But, maybe I need to fail, just this once, so I can remember that I am just a person like everyone else. So that I can remember that being alive isnít worth it if you arenít living. And living isnít spending every moment thinking about how much work you should be doing, just waiting for things to get better. Besides, don't they say "failure isn't failure, if a lesson from it's learned"? (Kent Blazy, Garth Brooks, "How You Ever Gonna Know").

I did not enjoy doing my work this semester because there was always so much of it and I was always worrying about the next assignment that I somehow had to find to time to do. I usually enjoy my work immensely. In fact, I am in love with my major. But, I will admit that I didnít love it this semester like I normally do. My work has suffered as a result. And I know that in the end, that is what hurt my true goal, that star out there that does have my name on it. That star is shining a little less brightly now as it is so much farther away, and it will take some time before it can shine as it did before. By striving for the wrong star, the one that meant finishing everything in four years, I made it more difficult to reach the star that really has my name on it.

So do work hard. Chase your dreams with all the passion and vigor you have to achieve them. You might as well be running on a treadmill, going nowhere, unless you get up and run cross-country after those dreams. And, yes, working hard does mean doing things that are not fun, that you donít want to do, things that you may not enjoy. But, it shouldnít mean working so hard that you canít enjoy the things that you are working for. So if you are at all like me and you constantly push yourself, trying for perfection, attempting to do things that in the end are not worth the effort you insist on putting in, remember this: take the time to get out a telescope (the strongest one you can find) and look really closely. Make sure that the star you are reaching for has your name on it, because knowing what you really want can be just as hard as the work you have to do to get it.

Posted by LorinSchumacher at May 5, 2007 2:14 AM


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