Here’s a quick debrief of my year:
2020 has been the most stressful and rewarding year of my life. After I graduated from undergrad in December of 2019, I did the “job hunt” thing that I felt obligated to do without much luck. I didn’t get the job I really wanted at a magazine company. However, I did get a job at a place that I only interviewed at because I felt desperate to find anything resembling a career; I didn’t take it — it turned out to be somewhat of a pyramid scheme. Then, I was accepted into a Master’s of Education program at DePaul University that I also declined because I really do not want to be a teacher. This cycle of me latching on to things that I thought I should be doing but then realizing I was unhappy with those decisions continued on for a few months. During this time I was working at J. Crew (a job I strongly dislike), was a bit depressed and dating someone who was insufferable.
A major silver lining for me was working on a documentary with Columbia College Chicago professor, Vanessa Wright. It gave me a new sense of direction and purpose, and a clear schedule for a few months. I met a (new) guy as well in March, which was nice and welcomed. Then, the ominous coronavirus I had been hearing about for a little while forced everyone inside, which led me to my mother’s house in Wisconsin. This was not personally bad for me — I enjoy my mom’s cooking and I’m pretty good at entertaining myself with puzzles and bike rides. The major downside (besides the obvious deadly virus) for me was not seeing the new guy I happened to like a lot, and the novelty of having an abundance of free time wore off.
In April I got the email telling me I was accepted into the Civic Media, MA program. I had something to look forward to for the next year. To fast forward a bit, I’m two weeks away from finishing my first semester of graduate school with Christmas just around the corner. It feels sweet, and odd to have accomplished 15 weeks of work without meeting any of my peers. Funny enough, my peers are what got me through a lot of the difficult/tiring/stressful weeks. In a course called Collaborative Development taught by Professor Jennifer Baker, the material consisted of mostly discussions and learning about emotional intelligence with practical use. Going from undergrad to grad school already had its own learning curve, but sitting in Zoom class talking about emotions and the best way to communicate as a team really caught me by surprise. Because of our readings and assignments, no one was competing to be heard or come off the “smartest”, a lot of the classes are used as a space to be present and hear everyone. We covered topics like trust, self-awareness, team building and how to give/receive criticism just to name a few things.
All of the things I named are skills that should be foundational for people, but I never explored any of those things in a classroom setting until I decided to pursue a Master’s degree. I know that application of emotional intelligence takes practice and constant reminders, but at least I can say I have 15 weeks of practice. If I can keep up with what Jennifer taught me and stay on a decent work and self-care schedule, 2021 is already looking easier.