adulthood, lifestyle, youth

How to Be a Toys-R-Us Kid

Sitting in my apartment next to my sleepy German Shepard, I can’t help but wonder when I became an adult. Being in my mid twenties, married and in grad school all add up to something. Paying rent, cooking my own meals and having deep literary conversations with scholars who wear glasses add up to something too. Why can’t I shake the urge to eat Frosted Flakes in my jammies and watch Spongebob? Why do I get a little sad when I have to decide between having a Snickers Bar or a salad for dinner? When did I grow up?

Baffled, I drove to my older sister’s house and posed this very question. Over a glass of wine and a plate of cheddar, she wrinkled her nose: a sign that she was even more stumped than I was. Does being an adult happen once you buy your first house? Or do you feel like an adult once you have kids?

Over the phone, my seventy something year old grandmother and I continued the investigation. Her life has been rich with children, grandchildren, and a couple great grand kids. Some of her friends have long since moved away or passed on. Yet her answer was, “I dunno. I still feel sixteen, at least in my mind.” Perhaps you’re reading this and shaking your head. Maybe you’ve even discovered the secret to being an adult (which is probably to drink prune juice or something silly like that). In any case, I have compiled 3 tips for staying young in your mind, which is really all that matters.

1. Laugh (a lot): One thing that babies and kids do a lot is laugh, giggle, smile, and chuckle. Do what the babies do: laugh at yourself, at other people, and at silly sounds. This will release serotonin, which will make you feel good.

2. Avoid saying “I’m too old for that”: For my sixteen-year-old grandma, you’re as old as you feel. Constantly reinforcing the idea that you’re too old for something will cut out a lot of fun stuff like roller coasters, carousels, Chuck E. Cheese’s, amusement parks, Haunted Houses, Trick or Treating, the list goes on.

3. Get Messy: If I’ve learned anything from children it’s that they are really messy. Try doing something messy like finger painting, playing in the rain, or jumping into a pile of leaves. Adults work so hard to be neat and clean. Getting messy only helps release your inner kid.

After living a quarter century, I’m proud to say that I will probably not be an adult for another ten years. Maybe going to my twenty-year high school reunion will transform me. For now, I’m going to have some ice cream for lunch.

  Do you have any tips for being a kid? Leave a comment and let’s hear it.

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academia, discrimination, stress, Uncategorized

Grad School is Hard

The day I walked into the Cathedral of Learning for the first time I had no idea what I was in for. No one told me that graduate school was this hard. Waking up after half an hour of sleep, studying for months on end for my Comprehensive Examinations, teaching hundreds of Spanish I and Spanish II students, attending professional conferences, reading dozens of books, the list goes on. Did I mention how little you get paid? Did I also mention you’re probably not going to finish all of the work you need to? Lesson 1 about grad school, if you’re a perfectionist you’re going to cry a lot. Lesson 2 about grad school, grad school is NOT like college; it’s really hard and it only gets harder with each coming year. Lesson 3 about grad school, we don’t talk about grad school.

The third lesson is actually the most relevant for this blog. No one talks about how horrible grad school is. No one stopped me on my way to my first class to warn me. I’m sure no one warned you either. Well, now you’re stuck in school, with loans and have a dozen papers to grade. Take a minute and tell me about it. This is one of your first and only free therapy writing sessions.

I’ve been asking friends what they wish someone had warned them about when they first got to grad school. So far, my husband (who quit) wishes someone warned him about the culture shock. In his physics program, there were 50% Southeast Asians, which was obviously very different from his Southeast rural PA upbringing. I, personally, wish someone warned me about the racial discrimination. No one told me that as an Canadian woman of Jamaican descent, people would get lost among the hyphens and just lump me in with a typical “African American” woman, whatever that means. I constantly have to defend myself, which is something distinct, new and unsettling for me. Hopefully it gets better, but I doubt it. The shock still hasn’t worn off and I don’t think it ever will. The one stability that I have in grad school is that it is constantly a challenge, constantly stressful and therefore an accepted part of my crappy student life.

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