And In the End, The Love You Take, Is Equal To The Love You Make

Ah, February 14th – truly one of the most manic, bipolar days of the year.  It seems that every year, as we inch closer to the second week of February, the world becomes split into two distinct, rival camps – the ridiculously over-the-top, scream-it-from-the-rooftops-that-I-am-in LOVE couples and the cold cynics who hate any display of warmth, affection, good manners, or kindness on any day even nearing the 14th.

When it comes to my views on Valentine’s Day, I agree with The Oatmeal – the worst part is not all the reminders that you are alone and unloved (because you aren’t!  I love you, readers!) but the people who feel the need to shout their distaste for love in your face and remind you incessantly that they hate Valentine’s Day.

I get it – for many people, it’s not fun to be reminded that you be missing something in your life that you want or need, but to be honest, I think it’s nice to have a day out of the year where we can be reminded of the power of love.  I like to embrace the universal feeling of love – the kind of love that not only comes from a romantic relationship (or at least the pleasing euphoria of lust) but the love that is borne out of kindness, consideration, and respect for others.

I spend a fair amount of time on this blog complaining – and while I know that I have an amazing circle of family and friends to help me through what is turning out to be a pretty insane decade of my life, I’m not always as vocal or appreciative of how much love I have in my life and how lucky I feel to be surrounded by such a loving group of people.  In that spirit, here are a list of things I love on this Valentine’s Day:

  • I love my mother for coming into town quarterly to help me shut down bars and go shopping for ridiculous fragrances
  • I love my father for email bombing me with on-line petitions and sneaking in the occasional “women’s issue” email because he “knows it’s important to me”
  • I love my baby sister, for always making me laugh both intentionally (parental imitations, mocking me, wordplay) and unintentionally (tipsy tweeting)
  • I love my friends, for indulging in my 1,000 word emails, usually sent in multiple throughout the day, and generally responding with advice like “let him put it in you” or “it’s not too late to run away to the circus”
  • I love that, even in 20 degree weather and with less than a few hours notice, I can get together a fairly impressive trivia team
  • I love my co-workers, especially the ones who keep candy trays on their desks and never even raise an eyebrow if I make a half-dozen visits during the day
  • I love the guy at the Metro Station, who hands out the WaPo Express and never fails to compliment my smile or my outfit or my manners, and manages to always boost my spirits without being creepy
  • I love the doctors I work for, who dedicate every minute of the day to caring for others, to putting their needs second always to the needs of the patients, and for still managing to be friendly and warm to the staff
  • I love how nice people in the District can actually be, especially if you flash them a smile
  • I love that I have a little corner of the Internet to write and muse and complain and be silly and that you guys actually come here and read it and write me and make me feel less alone

Sure, there are things I would probably love to be able to list (I’d love having no financial woes, I’d love to help make my friend’s troubles disappear, I’d love to be able to tell my heart exactly what to feel) but all things considered, there is a lot of love in my world – and hopefully in yours!

Happy Valentine’s/Anna Howard Shaw Day!

Post-script:  Speaking of love, I love love love our fearless post-collegiate for this week!  Be sure to check back in the next day or two for our in-depth interview – it’s going to be a great one!

Music Monday: Free Energy

It’s the start of a new week and for me, the start of yet another job search and another new chapter.  While I find myself more optimistic than I imagined I would be (thanks to good friends, great family, and the occasional PBR), it never hurts to have a little psych up music to get you going!

C’mon Let’s Dance by Free Energy

Free Energy
has been one of my favorite bands of 2010, populating many a playlist throughout the summer.  I particularly love this track because it has a retro vibe in the chorus that’s perfect for singing along but it’s also beach-y mellow enough that you can rock out to it while still crafting the perfect cover letter.

Have a great suggestion for Music Monday?  Drop us an email at postcollegiateblog [at] gmail [dot] com or leave us a comment!

Friday Frivolity

Hello readers!

I know I have not been as diligent about posting, with my recent foray into temporary employment.  However, I am offically back starting on Monday!  So, please check back for a full week of posts next week and of course, keep sending your emails, tweets, stories, and more – I love reading them and love sharing them!

Since it’s the Friday of what has been a fairly rough week for me, I’ll leave you with something that has really made me feel better this week.   It’s one of my favorite singers, Janelle Monae, with a beautiful cover of Charlie Chaplin’s Smile.

Have a great weekend!

Why Planning Is Overrated

Quick post today – there was a great article in the Washington Post about Candy Crowley, veteran CNN reporter and fellow R-MWC alumna, which I highly recommend reading and which featured a great piece of advice for young people:

But she should’ve known not to over-think it. That’s the one piece of advice she always offers young people: ‘Don’t plan too hard, because something much better might be out there.’ Crowley didn’t plot out any of what her career has become. Which is not to say that she didn’t have a plan. She did: As she graduated from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in 1970, ‘I was wildly in love with this guy,’ she says. ‘I thought I would marry him, move to California, have five kids, iron his shirts and write the Great American Novel.’

This, of course, is not what happened.  Crowley ends up talking about a string of freelance jobs and opportunities she pursues – including taking off six years to be a stay at home mom – before rocking it at CNN.

The entire article is good but I definitely draw comfort knowing that smart, funny, and ambitious people like Candy Crowley end up in incredible jobs simply by ambling about for a decade or two!

Music Monday: The Bangles

Every Monday or so, I’ll share a music suggestion from a reader.  Send us the songs that inspire you, get you motivated, help you get through the day, or put a smile on your face.  You can leave it in the comments, tweet it, or email us at postcollegiateblog [at] gmail [dotcom]

We’re going classic this week, my dear friends.  As this is my first day of temping and my return to a more structured work life – so long, day drinking! – I wanted to celebrate with a song that I almost performed at my elementary school talent show when I was in 3rd grade.  [I chickened out but practiced for weeks.]

Manic Monday by The Bangles

Nothing makes me feel better about Mondays, being working class, or life than a tune from The Bangles and Manic Monday has always hit that spot just right for me.  I don’t know if I’ve ever dreamed of kissing Valentino by a crystal blue Italian stream but I’ve definitely missed the bus, had no idea what to wear to work, and let a boy talk me into staying up way to late on a work night – a salient detail of the song which I thankfully did not grasp when playing the cassette tape non-stop in 1992.

So, here’s to remembering the things you loved when you were young; breezy pop music that makes you want to dance; knowing that everyone else shares your aversion to a honest day’s work; and your own personal fun-day!

Profiles in Post-Collegiate Courage: Mary Robbins

Calling courageous post-collegiates! For the next few weeks, we’ll be featuring interviews with interesting post-collegiates who will be sharing some of their experiences and offer some advice.   Want to nominate someone to be featured (including yourself)?  Email postcollegiateblog [at] gmail [dotcom]

So many of us dream about taking time after college to see the world.  What makes Mary Robbins so incredible is not only has she done that, but she was able to turn a life-changing event into the catalyst for a purpose-driven exploration of the globe.  Mary was nice enough to share some of her experiences with us and talk about how her post-collegiate life has taken her around the world and back.

For those who don’t have the incredible good fortune to know you, what’s your story?

Born and raised in North Carolina.  Hopped from Greensboro to Raleigh when I was 14 to start high school and so my mom could continue work at UNC-Chapel Hill.  Super amazing experience growing up with a great, supportive big brother (who served as my father figure) and my mom, who is/was the strongest person I know.  I wouldn’t be where I am today without Rick, my mom and my amazing supportive groups of friends (especially r-mwc fam).

When you first graduated from R-MWC, what was the initial life plan?

The plan after graduating from r-mwc was to move to nyc with my fellow alumnae Jessica Ware and Meg Stensrud and get a desk job and enjoy city life.  I really did love NYC back then.

Of course, that’s not exactly what happened.  Can you share some of your experiences since graduating in 2006?

Ready?  After taking care of personal issues, I spent 10 months in California (working on the side of a mountain and learning how to knit and play the banjo), 5 months in Atlanta (working for Paste music magazine), 2 months in Ecuador (working at a halfway house for disadvantaged youth in city center Quito), 11 months in Spain (teaching English in Granada under a scholarship from the government) and now enrolled in Graduate Program in International Affairs at The New School in Greenwich Village, New York City studying international development in Latin America.

I am currently in Rio de Janeiro working on independent human rights based media projects in the favelas.  My project is in Cidade de Deus and we have a curriculum-based on Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) as outlined by the UN and other types of pedagogy while teaching the kids how to use photography and flip cameras.  Super complicated to explain… but you can get an idea here:

I am also working for MSF Rio (Doctors without Borders) in their office in downtown.  I began interning for MSF spring semester and was lucky enough to carry on my experience down here.  Amazing office, amazing people, amazing work.  MSF is exactly where I want to be after I graduate from school in the spring of 2011.

Mary at Machu Picchu, Peru in 2008

I really just followed my whims over the last couple of years.  It wasn’t until I got to Ecuador that I knew I had to do something different.  History was fun to study in college… but would I really be making a difference if I went and got a PhD?  I see it as this – there is no way the world should be like this.  There’s no way kids should be dying of hunger, gangs, and HIV.  But they are .. every freakin day.  Colonialism, capitalism and neoliberalism have spread throughout the developing world, and I think its OUR responsibility to work with them to get these countries back on track.  We are the reason they are where they are today.  And it’s not fair.  And it’s not right.  And I know I will not live to see all the changes I wish to see… but if I can make even the smallest difference, I wont die dissatisfied with the way I lived my life.

You have already been so many places and done so many things since college.  What is something you have really wanted to do but haven’t had a chance to yet?

I have been fortunate enough to live on a three separate continents…and follow my whims.  So I would say… I have done everything I have wanted to do.  The one thing I wish I had done is apply for a Fulbright.  But that is still in the cards 🙂

What has been the greatest challenge for you since graduating?

Without a doubt, the biggest challenge was losing my mom 6 months after graduating from Macon in Feb of 2006.  She was my world, stronghold, greatest supporter.. my life.  Everything I did, I did for her.  So after she was gone… I had to figure out what to do.  If I wasn’t doing it for her… who was I doing it for?  Without all the types of support she gave full heartedly for 22 years, I had a long transition period.  It definitely was a flat tire in life.  I had to pull over for a year and re-adjust.  Get used to standing alone.  Life is really hard when you don’t have a home base.  But I am stronger for it, I think… I hope.  I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of my family, friends from NC and friends from r-mwc (who had the biggest showing at my mom’s service, no joke).  I  received so many letters from so many people up in lburg… it was crazy.  I am super lucky to have that family.

And I can say, over the last few months down here in Rio,  doing things I love and respect in what I believe to the second most amazing city in the world (next to NYC, of course) – I am the happiest I have been since 2006.  And that… that is an amazing feeling.

Crazy, random happenstance is becoming a running theme on this blog.  Is there an example of that in your post-college life that stands out?

I guess it would be my application to the New School.  Going into grad school I wasn’t that great of a candidate because I had hopped around a lot – never stayed in a place longer than a year but I was still smart and ready to get back to learning.  By the grace of God, I got into the New School which I randomly found while looking for schools in New York (I knew I wanted to be in NYC).  I got a scholarship and so far it has been the most life-changing thing to happen to me.  R-MWC helped me become who I am today but New School is a whole new kind of academic challenge and expectations are incredibly high.  I have taken on views I never thought possible.  So yea.. that one random application in the mix ended up being the best decision I ever made.

If you could go back to graduation day and give yourself some advice, what would you say?

Words of wisdom.  Do it your way.  But do it with patience.  And enjoy these few days in Virginia.. because these are the best friends and family you will ever, ever have.

Mary in Zaragoza, Spain, in 2009

Many thanks to Mary for sharing her incredible post-college stories!  She has worked with a few great organizations – please click the links and see what you can do to get involved!  You can follow Mary’s adventures by checking out her blog and Twitter.  As always, feel free to leave additional questions in the comments section!