Adjusting to being a full time student after being out of the game for five years isn’t easy — especially now that I’m a full time student, with a full time job, who has no idea how much longer she’s going to be here.
Waking up every morning to an alarm clock telling me to be somewhere at a specific time was not part of my summer of leisure. I was single. I slept in. I got a tan. I hung out on sailboats and motorcycles during the day, then waited tables at a bowling alley in the evening. Now, I’m coordinating rides and plans, hogging the bathroom in the morning, dealing with class schedules and work commitments, and making sure to remember which books to buy and what’s due — usually before my requisite five cups of coffee.
While I was writing this column last week in the Abromson Center, an acquaintance walked by my table and asked me if I was working on my blog. He’s actually someone I met a year ago while I was working at a coffee shop. He approached me about rejecting him on a dating website, essentially, match.com-ing me in person. He is also a non-traditional student here at USM and also considers himself something of a writer. When we first met, I told him that I was interested in public radio, and considering a communication major. His response was that I should get a show on WMPG — as if I had never heard of it, or even considered the possibility, even though I’d been living in Portland for five years and was very familiar with the local scene.
“No,” I replied with a smug look, “I’m working on my column… for The Free Press.”
‘Ha!’, I thought. ‘Bet you wish you had a column’.
He then asked, with a confused look, how much time I had left here at USM. I could do nothing but stare blankly at him and shrug.
Truth is, I haven’t actually declared a major. I’m 26, barely a sophomore, and it always feels like there’s pressure to sound confident in my decision to go back to school, that I have a plan. As if I’ve spent all this time away from school figuring things out, when actually, I’ve just been having a really good time. I hate talking about the timeline of my education, and I go to great lengths to not talk about college in that context.
The worst is when someone asks point blank, “Amanda, What’s your major?” Instead of saying, communication, which will most likely be my major, or admitting I don’t know, I usually say that my intended major is “Not Sucking at Life. It’s a self-designed program. Why don’t I let you know how it works out?” This is an answer I’ve crafted for the sole purpose of not talking about my major.
Maybe I’m just insecure that I tell people I’m in school, and they expect me to be finishing a grad program. Then if I say “communication,” the response is usually, “Well, what are you going to DO with that?” Oh, it’s hard to say. I’ll probably work in a coffee shop for the rest of my life. That certainly involves a lot of communication, and with the job market what it is today, so many unemployed Ph.Ds out there, there’s actually no hope.
Maybe I’ll get lucky and find a sugar daddy and endure terrible wrinkly old guy bunny rabbit sex so I can see the world at my leisure. Maybe this column is going to be awesome and I’ll have a worthwhile body of work by the time I graduate. I’ve been writing a lot in this aforementioned blog, and the feedback has been positive. But out there, on the Internet, there‘s no editor, or deadline. Taking the initiative to be in class again and put my work in print is definitely a step in the right direction, major or no major.
Amanda Pleau is a sophomore communication student, she guesses. She blogs at Misadventures in Portland.