Thursday, March 28, 2013

My Worst Fear

In the March issue of Our State is a story about a man who, while working in the office, accidentally spilled coffee on his desk. His immediate reaction was to automatically hit "control+Z" on his keyboard (the shortcut for "undo"). In that moment, he suddenly realized his life had become so artificial that his subconscious wasn't distinguishing between the real world and the digital world. 

This is my worst fear.

I crave authenticity in every aspect of my life. That's why entering the journalism field is scary to me. It's a digital future. We're progressively living more and more in front of lit-up screens. You can't be successful in this world without spending significant amounts of time with your computer and phone. 

I want my life to be dynamic, engaging, fulfilling, challenging, and genuine. Those words don't seem to describe life on a desktop. I just don't see interaction online as authentic. Emails and instant messaging... those things should be supplements to the "real thing" of face-to-face encounters.

I know I've been harping on this the past few days, but these thoughts are haunting me and I don't know what to do about it.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Self vs. Society?

So far, college has been about figuring out what I want. What degree to pursue, what clubs to join, what positions to seek. Who I want as friends, what kind of person I want to be, what kind of job I want to have.

Every day teaches me about myself. I constantly seek new experiences, knowing that's the best way for me to grow. Two years ago I chose to live on South Campus with other freshmen (despite the longer walk to campus) because I value community. Every semester I take a diverse combination of classes because I am trying to figure out what I'm most interested in and what I'm best at. I regularly evaluate the time I spend on extracurriculars, wanting to be absolutely certain that I'm doing what I love and making meaningful contributions to causes I'm passionate about. I sometimes have to stifle my compulsion to apply for everything, because I know there's a balance between quality and quantity when it comes to seizing opportunity.

Despite all these efforts to, as Thoreau put it, "live deep and suck out all the marrow of life," I often struggle with a sense of desperate anxiety over finding a satisfying career path. My magazine internship, for example, reminds me every week that although I would really enjoy working for a publication like this (working for this publication, especially) I would still wither a little bit every day that I spent sitting in front of a computer.

My internship at Crescent City Farmers Market in New Orleans last summer taught me how much I love being outdoors on a regular basis and showed me that I'm good with customer service (diplomacy skills learned by growing up with four similar-aged siblings). So I sought an internship this summer that was hands-on and out-of-office. I found one that I'm thrilled about, but is it a realistic long-term job?

I want to contribute to society as much as I can, and I don't think that's accomplished by spending my winter break backpacking through Central America (by the way, Dad, I won't be home for Christmas this year). Why is it so hard to reconcile my personal, selfish desires (frolic outdoors! explore the world!) with my sense of social responsibility (save the orphans! cure AIDS!)?

If anyone has a solution, don't hesitate to share. I'm turning 20 in a few days; maybe this is my quarter-life crisis.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

On the Sedentary Lifestyle

Today I discovered the Latin Workout station on Pandora just before I started on a run. I think it was the highlight of my day. I haven't run in ages because the weather has been so bad, so the gorgeous day + Latin pop + long run made me very happy.

Especially compared to the rest of the day, which was spent at my magazine internship in Greensboro. Don't get me wrong, I love my internship. My supervisor is great and I enjoy the assignments she gives me. But I've realized that sitting inside all day will be the death of me. I can tolerate it well enough for once a week, but I truly cannot imagine being confined to a cubicle for 45 hours a week. Even for 40 hours a week or 30 hours a week. I need to be outside; I wilt if I'm inside too long.

What career can I pursue that won't be a waste of my college education, will engage me intellectually, AND won't limit me to days of 68°F fluorescent lighting? Supposedly in journalism I can do "field work," but I'm starting to fear my time will be spent sitting inside on the phone rather than going places to meet people face-to-face. Although, that is one thing I like about journalism: its value of direct human communication. The Daily Tar Heel policy is adamant that in-person interviews are best, phone interviews are acceptable, and email interviews should be avoided.

Today's professional world is artificial in so many ways. I hope that I can find a career that gives me authentic human interaction and real movement and diversity.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

I'm famous, yall!

Yesterday the UNC TV show Carolina Week ran a piece about me! Check it out:
The part about me starts at 3:48 and is just over a minute long.

Monday, March 4, 2013

How Not to Make a Friend

This is a story of how I almost threw up on a girl that hates me.

After waking up from a nap seven minutes before I needed to be on a bus to UNC, I realized I had left my wallet in my car— a 10-minute walk away. The bus leaves every hour on weekends, so it would not be okay to miss this one. As my wallet contains my bus pass and my money, I desperately tried to think who I could beg for the $2.50 fare.

I madly dashed from my room and down the halls of my dorm, banging on doors of friends who weren't home. Two panicked minutes later I sprinted back down the way I had come, clutching a borrowed bus pass.

As I screeched around another corner, a neon-colored bulletin board on the wall suddenly brought me to a sliding halt. It was a landmark I used to find my friend Brenna's room. And Brenna lived farther away than the friend from whom I had borrowed the bus pass. I was lost in my own dorm.

I groaned and then started running again, gaining speed down the long hallway as I reoriented myself in the maze that is Few Residence Hall.

Back in my room with only seconds to spare, I dumped my laptop into my backpack, slinging it over my shoulder as I leapt over my startled roommate and ran down the hall again. Down the stairs, out the door, across the quad, to the bus— just in time. I slumped in my seat, gasping for breath.

"Hi," said a girl sitting across from me.

This girl hates me. I have no idea why. We met at an orientation program freshman year and barely spoke then, but our mutual friends have told me she hates me. I have no tolerance for petty drama so I have never bothered to investigate, but I generally try to be extra friendly around her to make up for her rumored dislike of me.

"Hi," I said, smiling.

She looked back to her phone.

As my breathing slowed and the bus pulled away from the curb, I realized with dread that I felt deeply nauseated. I had woken up feeling a little sick this morning (thus the afternoon nap). The laps around my dorm had made the nausea much, much worse. I groaned and closed my eyes, trying to focus on something else. Every lurch of the bus was matched by a lurch of my stomach.

After a few minutes of this internal misery, I was distracted by the girl across the aisle whispering my name. She leaned toward me, holding out her phone for me to read something on the screen.

I turned and leaned back toward her. I have no idea what she said next because just then a wave of nausea overwhelmed me and I jumped up with both hands clamped over my mouth, the classic "I'm gonna be sick" move.

She recoiled, horrified as I leapt away.

I was vaguely headed in the direction of a trash can propped at the front of the bus, but luckily I didn't have to go that far. I sat down hard on a chair near the trash can and focused on breathing slowly and evenly.

The girl was still watching me, the horrified expression frozen on her face.

"Sorry," I mumbled. "Carsick."

If she had somehow overcome her rumored aversion to me and had had just then been reaching out in friendship, wanting to start fresh and start building a lasting relationship, I had doubtlessly permanently reversed said decision.

I guess you can't miss what you never had...