Things I’ve Picked Up from Hanging Out with / Being Facebook Friends with College Professors

I have a lot of teacher friends.  Not colleagues or coworkers – friends.  I hang out with them on weekends and watch Packers games with them.  Some are related to me, some by blood and others by marriage, so we share in family gatherings.  And, yeah, we’re Facebook friends.  Like anyone, they post about the joys and frustrations of their jobs occasionally (within reason – no name dropping or boss bashing).  And some of these friends teach at the college level.

This post is directed at my younger readers – the teens who are not yet in college and the young adults making their way through higher education now.  Kids, when I say I know what you need to do to get ready for college, it’s not just because I’ve been there before.  I may also be friends with your future professors.  They tell me things – things that probably should be common sense, but apparently isn’t since they’re dealing with this stuff on a daily basis.  So consider me your inside source on college professors and take this well-meaning advice, both for your sake and theirs. Keep reading!

It’s Not Just Me

I had a chance to catch up with a high school friend yesterday. What started as a few random texts and an accidental butt-dial turned into an hour-long conversation catching up on major life events and commiserating about the challenges of adult life. At one point she commented on how nice it was that, even though we haven’t talked in years, we could still be on the same page and vent about similar topics.  The mark of a true friendship, right?

(For instance, here’s one complaint we had in common: Unless she brings up the topic first, please don’t ever ask a married-but-childless woman if/when she’s planning on having kids. While the question seems innocent enough, the answer is often far too private and intimate for casual conversation.  It opens the door to personal, financial, and medical issues – all of which are emotionally charged topics.  After fielding that question for seven years myself, I more than understand my friend’s frustrations.  Dear world, unless we broach the topic first, please stop putting us through those awkward conversations!  OK, sidebar rant complete.)

After we finished comparing stories of uncomfortable conversations about family plans, the topic shifted to the working world. Keep reading!

Still Growing

Boxes1

This is what our “nursery” looked like for a long time. We’re slowly chipping away at it. (Photo credit: wikimedia commons).

Now that we’re settled in a more permanent place, I have the task of sorting through all those boxes that have been collecting in storage over the years.  The basic home-living type boxes were unpacked early and quickly.  Those were fun to open – discovering items I’d forgotten that we own, since we hadn’t used them in so many years.  I opened one box and discovered a set of bowls that I’d been missing ever since we moved to Boston.  We found Nerf guns, stuffed animals, camping supplies, renaissance faire costumes… all that we hadn’t used in years.  It was like Christmas!

Next we purchased some bookshelves off Craigslist and unpacked our many boxes of books.  There were less surprises in those boxes, but it was nice to once again be able to see what we own and arrange them on our shelves, instead of keeping it all in storage.

Keep reading!

Failure and Flexibility in Intentional Young Adulthood

A friend recently sent me a book recommendation with the comment that she thought of me when she read it because she knew I had “a passion for intentional adulthood.”  I don’t think I’ve ever used that exact term before, but it is a good description.  Growing up doesn’t just happen.  Careers, education, and success don’t accidentally appear in someone’s life – at some point people need to act, choose, and pursue the kind of lives they want.  Those words all imply intentionality.  Yes, opportunities come unexpectedly, and new interests surprise us sometimes, but only if we’re out living life instead of sitting back waiting for it to happen.

Passive education doesn’t even look realistic. (Image credit: Wikipedia)

For students, this means engaging in active learning and taking personal responsibility in their education and maturation.  For adults, this means pursuing a goal with purpose.  We can and should be intentional in our careers, communities, and families.  Make the decision to achieve something, and then take the steps necessary to make it happen.

However, the problem with intentional living is that we can’t do it in a vacuum.  We live among other people, and what they do impacts our lives, too.  What happens when life isn’t all smooth sailing?   Keep reading!

Practical Education

“Are you going to teach us how to do taxes?”

The question caught me off guard.  Taxes belong in a life-skills or applied mathematics course, not English.  However, I followed her logic and addressed her question.  We were talking about writing resumes (as part of their career research project), and in her mind she associated one adult life-skill with the other.

No, I’m not going to teach how to do taxes.  I don’t even do my own taxes.  I send all my W2’s and other paperwork off to an accountant who makes sense of all our relocating and student loans for me.  I said as much to my students, to which they responded, “What’s a W2?”

And therein lies the crux of their inquires.  They know they don’t even know the basics.  They know there’s a world of ambiguous “adult responsibilities” waiting for them down the road, and they know that traditional education leaves many of these responsibilities unaddressed.  Sure, we all had to figure it out and we did OK, but I get why they’re asking questions.  Adult life can be an intimidating prospect.

Keep reading!

Here’s to Growing Up

I have a 90 minute commute to my new job.  I plan to listen to several audiobooks over the semester, but I didn’t have anything with me this week, so I just had the radio and my own thoughts to keep me entertained.

Yesterday I introduced the career research project to my students.  I think it went well.  It was mainly technical stuff – due dates and specific requirements and all that jazz, but I’m hoping for a more detailed discussion about what careers they’ll choose to research soon.  It’s fun talking about that stuff with teenagers.  It’s fun helping them think about the rest of their lives.  I saw excitement in some students as we tossed a few ideas around.  One of my most squirrelly boys was eager to get started, asking me after class if he could go ahead and start interviewing people in the field he wanted to pursue, even though that part of the project isn’t due for another two months.  Another girl mentioned she was interested in two entirely different career fields, so she would have to choose which one she wanted to research.

As I drove home, I reflected on the various conversations of the day, proud to play a part in helping these teens begin the process of building their aspirations for the future.  And then I started listening to the local “mix” station on the radio.

Keep reading!

The Facebook Generation

I’m 28 years old, and Facebook belongs to my generation.

I joined Facebook as a college student, when it truly was ours and only ours.  All the youth growing up now constantly connected to the internet are following in our footsteps.  In high school, we chatted on AOL Instant Messenger late into the night.  In college we experimented with various online connections (Xanga, LiveJournal, NationStates), but when Facebook entered the scene, all those other options fell away.  Oh, they still exist, but none of us use them anymore.  We still use Facebook.

College Roommates Freshmen Year.  One of the first photos I posted to Facebook, when posting photos became possible.

College roommates in our younger years. One of the first photos I posted to Facebook, when posting photos became possible.

I remember hoping and waiting for my college to connect to Facebook.  That was the day when Facebook belonged to the colleges and universities.  That’s why I joined, actually.  As far as social networking went, Facebook offered more security and privacy than other websites like MySpace back then.  We had to sign up with our college-assigned e-mail account, and there was no such thing as a public profile.  Our college network plus our friends from other schools was as “public” as we could get.  I chose a more private option, limiting my profile to only my friends and blocking out the rest of my college network.   Continue reading

Confessions of a Constant Job-Hunter

I’ve been job hunting nonstop for four years.  With my nomadic life, whenever I found a job, I always knew it was only a matter of time before I’d have to pack up and leave.  I always wanted to be a step ahead, preparing for the next stop in my travels.  So even as I graded papers and planned lessons, I was always job-hunting, too.  Always.

It worked.

In every place I’ve lived (six states in five years), I’ve not only found work, but I’ve been blessed enough to stay in my chosen career field despite all my moving.  Teaching is not supposed to be an easily mobile profession, and yet I’ve done it.  Not all the jobs were ideal.  Some were stressful and out of my comfort zone.  Others were amazing and heartbreaking to leave.   Continue reading

They Grow Up So Fast! …or do they?

Escaping the Endless Adolescence: How We Can Help Our Teenagers Grow Up Before They Grow Old

My new read! (Image credit: bn.com)

I’ve been reading again, this time following the suggestion of one of my blog readers.  She mentioned a book entitled Escaping the Endless Adolescence by Joseph Allen and Claudia Worrell Allen, and I couldn’t ignore the similarities of the title to my blog name.  Obviously, I had to read it.  I checked out a copy from my digital library account, and I’m about halfway through it now.  I reached the transition point in the book, so I decided it’s a good time to stop and write a blog post about it.

You see, the first half of the book lays out the problem, the idea of the “Endless Adolescence,” and the second half will present the potential solutions.  Written by clinical psychologists who specialize in working with adolescents, this book’s target audience are the adults who work with teens (parents, teachers, etc.), but it emphatically takes the side of the teenager.   Continue reading

The Question Marks of Life

Despite the fact that I normally like to mull over my posts for a few days before I publish them, this post isn’t getting that treatment.  There isn’t time.   In 48 hours I should know where I’m living next year.  In 48 hours, for good or for bad, the anticipation will be over and a giant question mark will be removed from my life.   And it’s the anticipation that I want to write about.  The venturing into the unknown, the bend in the road, the moments right before the moments that direct the course of our lives.

We’ve all felt it.  In high school it was waiting for the drama director to post the cast list for the spring play.  It was the waiting for SAT scores and college acceptance letters.  It was the road trip to a university halfway across the country and the moment right before meeting new roommates.  It was the intense emotions in the weeks leading up to our wedding and marriage.  It was standing in my first classroom, looking over the yet-to-be-filled desks.  It is jumping every time the phone rings during a drawn-out job hunt.

It’s the intense heartbeat and the conscious effort to breathe normally, wondering how your life will change.  It’s watching first a calendar and then a clock, but not being sure if you want time to speed up or slow down.   Continue reading