Graduation Station

There are three kinds of college graduates in todays higher education system. Those who went to school for money, those who went to school for a dead end, and those who went to school to become crazy.

If you went to school for money you are smart. You worked hard though college and landed a great position in your JCrew suite. Sure your job might not be the most enjoyable thing going, but you will have weekends off and paid vacation to travel the world with your earnings. You will trade your 6-year-old car in for a fuel efficient, adult-like SUV right out of college as your “First Big Girl/Boy Purchase,” and you will pose with a thumbs up next to it for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Vine. Your life will be lived in the comfort of your three bedroom two and a half bath home in the middle of the beautiful neighborhood of your choice. Most of these people end up in places like Houston or Dallas. I’m not sure why, it is just what I know. But all in all, I applaud you. You have chosen the way of survival that many are too blind to see. I also offer the advice to buy a really well suited chair with your first paycheck. 30 years of sitting at a desk can be hard on the back. Or wine. Wine always seemed to get my roommates through hard times, and Tuesday nights.

If you went to school for a dead end it is because you are in a creative field and you aren’t being creative. This might sound harsh, but I am only telling you what I know from experience. Being a broadcast journalist who copied AP writing into a 9 o’clock news cast is in no way being a journalist. I wont go as far as to say anyone can do that job, the only reason they kept me around as long as they did was because the actual producer could not, or would not do it. I still can’t decide if he was the most sluggish person I’ve ever encountered or the most brilliant. One time, an overheard conversation lead me to believe he faked an illness and went to Las Vegas for an entire week. The guy was hyperventilating at his desk and coughing up fake hack. If this is in fact true, I believe he is made of sheer brilliance and could find great fortune in teaching others his ways. Either way, my advice for you is to get out. Get out while you still can. Your life is way better than punching away at a computer screen for little to no money. And frankly, in most cases, they are lying to you. Your boss isn’t waiting for a job to open up to place your name on the slightly bigger cubical, one that faces the water jug and not the wall of cords. He likes that you do the work no one else will, and he is making sure you stick around.

Lastly, you went to college to become crazy. Well, really you have been crazy for a long time, and only now you are seeing that it could potentially pay off. You want to start your own business or change the world. You settle for an efficiency in the “hip” area of whatever large city suites the dream best. Others begin to seek pity on your lack of understanding that this is not a game, and you can no longer just play with your own rules. These people pick up the check and saunter off to their newly furnished high rise at the end of the night.

The thing no one tells you about life after college is that the real world is in many ways comparable to a play ground. You can chose who you hang out with, and which activities you take part in. You can be the popular girls who stand on the side and talk sly mess about others, or you can be that weirdo off by herself who is stacking dirt and sticks, while eating the occasional hand full of rocks. All fingers pointed at me on that one. But while everyone is going about their own fun that random kid, she is making things happen. sure it is a mess of dirt when she is little, but at some point in life it becomes more.

Fears Grand Finale

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Lately it seems the topic of every discussion has circled around the concept of fear. Fear of failing, fear of loving, fear of taking a chance. Much like everything else in my life it came at the perfect, and most frustrating, time.

We all fear. I fear my bank account every morning, and each flight I take as it enters cloud coverage. I fear my nephew being made fun of for a mental disability he didn’t chose, and fear what I will say to the first kid who makes him cry. I fear these things because I am human, as we all are.

Waiting to board my flight I watched Jim Carey’s 2014 commencement speech. I have  an unhealthy obsessed with graduation talks. Hearing his words reminded me just why I’ve spent many nights awake until the wee hours listening to J.K Rowling and Ellen Degeneres speak to universities I never attended.

He spoke of how his father could have been a great comedian, but instead he chose the safety net. He took a desk job, and when Carey was 12 his father lost that safe job and the family struggled to make ends meet.

There is struggle in every path, I get that. But the more I watch college graduates wide scale dreams turn into 40-hour-a-week gigs I can’t help but think something has to be done.

I am in no means someone who has broken this mold. I fear on a daily basis, and the only reason I don’t have a conventional job is because no one would hire me. But thank faith they didn’t. Thank faith that I work from home, or an airplane, and have time to write these thoughts down.

The truth is I talk a lot and never truly say what I feel. In grade school I wrote a novel and let two of my friends read it. Every Aquatic Science class I would bring them another chapter filled with a love story I could only wish would come true staring the boy I sat next to. Ever class they left asking for the next bundle of pages. From that point on I knew what my soul wanted. I knew my goal was to write. The only problem was I feared no one would want to read.

In the faith of breaking fear I’m here to say it: I want to write. I want to share my experience with others. And I want to speak. Speak to college students about breaking their own fears and living a life of love. Love for those around them, love for what they do, and love for their own being. To show them that losing a job offer only means they were not at the right place, and that their path is better than the things that don’t stick in their lives. That if you ask your dreams will come, maybe not in the manner you hope, but in the order in which you are meant to have them.

I want to live a life of love and not fear. I want to be 23 and embrace the fact that I don’t know everything, but I know enough to make a change. So here I am universe, all 5 foot 2 of me. I am crazy and irrelevant, but I believe in having the world at my fingertips and am ready to change it for the good.

YouTube Commencement

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For years I have had an abnormal obsession with watching commencement speech videos on YouTube. The way Ellen Degeneres addressed Tulane by saying they didn’t need to go to college was priceless. And J.K. Rowling’s words or wizarding wisdom to the Harvard graduates struck my heart like a binding spell.

It should come as no surprise that I also have an abnormal goal of giving a commencement speech at my own alma matter. As the graduates walked the stage for another time this past Saturday, I thought of the amazing journey they are about to embark on. And how old I felt.

The invitation to speak was clearly lost in the mail, so until next years arrives, I would like to say a few words to those of you popping that university comfort bubble:

“Hello class of 2014, might I say you did it! You fought the ultimate hangover and made it to your graduation. Sitting here you feel no different than you did yesterday. I know because I was in your shoes not that long ago.  But sitting here you are different, and things are about to change. You will move, you will leave friends, and gain things. Like the large stack of bills you father has been warming in his back pocket since his dress pants were fastened this morning.

Most of all, you will never be an undergrad again. Right now you are scared. Scared you will not find a job, or not find new friends. Scared that when you do find a job your life will be over, or that you won’t be able to afford that boat you always dreamed of. All of the sudden your childhood dream of becoming a singer or NBA star seems better than ever.  Thinking to yourself ‘If I leave right now I can get to the court and be straight ballin’ for walk on tryouts.’ You are clinging on to the people around you, and if you are anything like me spending many nights crying on the floor to your mom.

I’m here to tell you the words you absolutely can’t stand to hear: Everything is going to be okay.

It doesn’t feel like it will be, but this is your time. You are so young, and the world is at your finger tips. Most of you have been set up for success and hardly even know it. But you have to be brave about it. Don’t settle for a job in your “Kind-of” field because you fear nothing else will come. Don’t feel bad about living at home. If your parents offer, take it. Cry when things get tough, and beg for answers when you feel like your life is crashing down around you.

We come from a generation of go getters, we need to step up to the plate.

So take these last moments as an undergrad and be thankful for the wonderful memories you made. Remember the professors who let you turn in assignments late, the friends you sat up with talking all night. Think of the first time you had to call your parents for more money, and know there is little shame in asking again. The worst they can say is no. Don’t be afraid to mess up, don’t sweat the money. Be willing to live inside your means, and remember at the end of the day there is always tomorrow. Find your goals and stick to them, you might not be exactly what you want to be right away, but life will always find where you try to hide.

Congratulations class of 2014, you did it. The fun has just begun!”

*Obviously this is the shorter version. Everyone knows a real commencement speech isn’t great unless its 45 minutes long.

21 And All Figured Out

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The future beamed as my wobbly, stiletto dawning feet stomped across that graduation stage. A clear vision of me shaking Giuliana Rancic’s hand as she bid ENews a-due and I began my role as lead reporter to the stars unveiled. I knew exactly where my life was headed, and where I would end up, all at the mere age in which a I could legally toss a shot down my throat. I was 21 and all figured out.

Until I was no longer.  See, the thing with becoming the next face of broadcast journalism is that you have to get a job in broadcast journalism. With over 60 resumes and reels sent out, I perched up at my internship turned part time job with FOX34 in Lubbock, Texas waiting for good news. But email after email was left unanswered.

It made no sense. How could someone who tried so hard, took on so many internships, and put work before everything else in college not get a job? The thoughts turned into panic, and the panic into mental breakdowns consisting of nights crying on my un-vaccumed floor. My level of career focus was so high there was not even time to clean. And with such neglect to normal college activity, I could not even take to alcohol to soothe my fears as half a glass of anything left me out of commission for a minimum of three days. College had failed me in the two most important categories, careers and beers.

This is the thing about life, we are given these huge daunting signs, and chose to ignore them. We force ourselves down this path that we just KNOW is right. And, for the most part it is. For the most part your instincts, and either continually passing or failing classes in a major, direct you exactly where you’re meant to be. Though, I fell victim to the blame game. I told myself that the reason I wasn’t getting this dream job was due to lack of hard work, or lack of dedication. Even lack of enough clothes. It didn’t matter that my walk-in closet was packed, I blamed my failures on everything I could think of.

It wasn’t until I finally asked myself “why” that things fell into place. Because my why wasn’t actually to be a journalist. My why was to help people. I want to share stories, and bring light to others. I want to show graduates that they can chase a dream, and that hard work does pay off.  I have always told myself that I was meant to be something. It hadn’t occurred to me that being something came in more forms than being seen on TV.

At the mere age of 21 I packed my things and returned to my childhood desk to chase a dream unclear. In the year to follow I googled the definition of marketing, started my own company, learned lessons, moved out of my parents house, and began helping businesses grow. I don’t have a clue where this will all take me. I’m not sure I will still have a job tomorrow. I wish to write books and start talking to others about dreams. I strive every day to do bigger things and do better things. This is my start to being something, failures and all.

Always, Shelby