I’m Not Too Fond of my Life Right Now

I feel as though I’ve been stuck in the past a lot lately. This is quite odd for me, as I tend to have a general disconnect between the different eras in my life. As I near the end of my junior year of college though, it has increasingly made me look back on my final years of high school. I graduated high school in May of 2020, so there were a lot of changes and things that I missed out on that took my life down a completely different path than the one I used to imagine and as an underclassmen.

For one, I had to completely stop playing sports because of a head injury I acquired. I remember the last time I felt overwhelmingly disappointed in my life like I do now. If I wanted to, I could go back and find the exact entry in my journal. I still remember writing it while sitting on the hardwood floor of my dorm in front of the sink, scribbling furiously into my notebook. I had just finished photographing the men’s soccer conference championship where our team won 2-1. I remember writing, “I’m not supposed to be photographing these moments, other people are supposed to be photographing me having them.” It’s the natural progression of any serious athlete who is either forced to, or voluntarily, quits their sport. Throughout the first 18 years of my life everyone associated me with the word “athlete”- that’s who I was to everyone, because that’s what I was externally best at. When I run into old acquaintances or teammates, they don’t know exactly what to say to me since they can infer from my Instagram posts that I no longer play sports. They begin to realize as we stand face to face in a Target aisle that they actually do not know anything else about me. Even old teammates I used to spend five hours a day with. Even people who I considered to be some of my closest friends.

Just as hard as it is for others to realize that I am more than just an “athlete”, it was, and still is, hard for me to wrap my own head around it. I was fine with being known as the athlete by everyone I came into contact with, because sports were something I so thoroughly enjoyed. I have met incredible friends at university who recognize me as something more than an athlete, have lived in Madrid and traveled around Europe, photographed for professional sports teams and fashion events, and any job recruiter would assume I am perfect while looking at my resume. Despite it all, I still have the aching feeling that a field is the only place I feel completely at ease. I get anxious the night before photographing a big event unlike anything I ever experienced in my 18 years of competitive sports. I was comfortable and confident playing, and I have not found something else that equates. I eat too little portions to satisfy my measly diet because not even my appetite has caught up with this sedentary lifestyle. In the midst of a game or practice is still the only time I remember feeling completely connected to myself and in the moment. It’s said that it takes 66 days to form a new habit, but it’s been three years and my body is still habitually waiting to lace up my cleats and sweat it out on a turf field. This despite feeling like that period in my life is somewhat disconnected from me now. As if it was another lifetime of mine or simply something I watched in a movie. That girl who used to run from math class to the weight room to the locker room to the turf field, not getting home to study until 7:30 p.m., was not me, she was someone completely different.

Right in my initial few weeks of dealing with my unforeseen and immediate stop in sports was the exact time the COVID pandemic subjected us all to our houses. In the moment and in retrospect, the entire pandemic seems like something you would read in a history book and never imagine could happen to you. So right as I was struggling with the disconnectedness between a present self and the self that used to collect medals and trophies for athletics, I had also not wrapped my head around the idea that school was still going on, I wasn’t just on summer break. Of course I was doing all of my assignments on time and waking up to attend AP US History class over Zoom but it felt like the summer homework I would have to complete before school every year, not the actual school year. Then one day in May of 2020 I was sitting in the driveway doing Spanish homework and clicked Next Assignment to get a message saying I had completed all the assigned work. And that was it, I had graduated high school. I closed my computer and turned to my mom, “I just finished high school.” She gave me a high five. Naturally you can’t wrap your head around something like that. There was no cap and gown, no walking across the stage, and no heading out to my car after the last final of my high school career. Just a closed laptop sitting in a lawn chair in my front yard. Because of this, it almost seems as though high school still hasn’t ended. As if college is just a small side mission I’m taking and when I graduate college next year, I’ll go back to high school and finish it out (talk about a nightmare). I sometimes also feel as if I transferred schools, and all my old high school classmates are still there, finishing up without me.

The numerous major life changes I’ve had in the past four years seem to dice up my life into six month eras. I was one person when I played sports in high school, one person when I lived on the West Coast freshman year, one person at my home university sophomore year, one person at my summer internship, and another person when I was in Madrid. Now I am back at my home university, and I’m grieving the loss of the person I was abroad, while trying to reinvent myself since I basically feel as though I am starting over as a new person with each new era I enter. This while juggling the pressure of having friends and acquaintances who knew me when I was at my home university sophomore year and the expectations that I am that same person when really I don’t feel connected to her at all. It’s like the script of my life is no longer one tall stack of papers piled on top of each other. Instead, someone is taking a chunk of the script, placing it inside a new box that gets wrapped up neatly with a bow on the top, and placed off to the side. No longer part of my life, just a scene that I watched in first person. It seems as though this happening would propel me to live life more in the present, as I often feel like I don’t have a past to look back on. Like I am only the person that I am right now, and have no real and tangible past. Instead, it fills me with worries. While traveling through Europe I was enjoying my life and feeling like I was finally living again, but there was always the leering storm cloud reminding me that when I got back to the States and started at my home university again, this era of my life would, too, be wrapped in a box with one of those obnoxious red bows and set aside. I would no longer feel like the girl who was traveling Italy and France and working at a fashion magazine, and I would have to create my identity all over again from ground zero. That is exactly what happened. My entire trip to Europe felt like a fever dream in the same way my high school experience or time living in Arizona feels like a dream or movie I watched.

I suppose this is why life gets utterly exhausting sometimes, especially at the beginning of these new eras right after someone has tied the bow on the last one. I made good friends in Madrid and learned a lot, but when I got back to my home university and that life got put into a box, my friends from Madrid got trapped in there as well. It’s most apparent when I refer to them as my “Madrid friends” instead of simply my “friends”. It is incredibly depressing to be able to realize in the moment, or in retrospect, that these people who I shared a life with so intertwined for six months are now just foggy memories in my dissociated mind. I wonder if this will continue for every era of my life, and if one day Blakely and Madelyn will just be these compartmentalized versions of themselves as well.

I hoped that as my college years went on, this feeling of disconnectedness would start to fade out but instead it seems as though aftershocks from my own personal predicaments and those experienced by the whole world continue to rear their heads. Although we often say things have gone back to normal after the pandemic, they have only gone back in a surface level, visual capacity. You see larger groups of people gathered who are no longer six feet apart or wearing masks and my classes meet in person instead of on my computer in my childhood bedroom, but the general ideologies and practices of human beings as a whole have changed. Because I go to my classes and see everyone online shopping and we leave without saying a word to each other, then I go to the gym alone, and study in the library alone. I still see Yik Yak posts that say, “I miss college before COVID.” The whole pandemic has impacted the population in ways that even sociologists 20 years in the future won’t be able to adequately explain. People got so used to doing everything alone and only interacting with friends in an online capacity that this is how life is now lived. I remember hearing scientists and politicians saying we would have to adapt to “a new normal” but this way of living seems like it screams abnormal.

Online learning and the past few years of great advances in technology have also shined a light on the general inadequateness of university. I should not be able to teach myself a junior-level statistics class as a freshman sitting on the floor of my bedroom for four hours a week and get an A. Now back in person, it seems a majority of the college students have realized that they can do this- teach themselves the material from content on Youtube and our textbooks and research online and do it in a far more efficient manner than sitting in a classroom and hearing a professor read directly from chunky slides riddled with grammatical errors. During my econometrics course this semester we have been learning how to use Stata to analyze research, but all the professor does is put the textbook underneath the document camera and read it to us like it is a class reading exercise in second grade. Our midterm was coming up and nobody in the class knew how to use the program even though we had class every Tuesday and Thursday. One Saturday afternoon the weekend before the test, I spent five hours in the lab trying out different code while reading a blog post by an MIT economics professor about using the program and interpreting the results. I learned everything I needed to know that afternoon, and got a 95% on the midterm. I find that during classes, instead of taking notes on the ‘why’ and ‘how’ I am instead writing down key phrases and vocabulary to research myself later in the day. In this past semester especially, classes seem more like a liability than an asset, because I know that classes are just a block of time in which I cannot be doing my learning. Which, obviously, is extremely nonsensical.

I’ve always been taught that college is an incredible opportunity to learn and expand your horizons and show that you’re capable of doing a professional job after graduation. I suppose it makes me feel quite worried about my professional capabilities for my future if everything I was supposed to be learning in college can be taught in a Saturday afternoon through a blog post. With all the stress I’ve already been feeling with what jobs I want to go out for and all the networking I still need to do, these worries of inferiority are not too welcome. In a pulled back and logical way of thinking, it seems as though careers post graduation are more daunting as a junior than as a senior. It’s like when you’re in the doctor’s office waiting for a shot and you’re in the small room all alone and you start to think you might not make it out alive. Thoughts of Maybe anti-vaxxers have a point here race across your mind. Then the nurse comes in and the worries somewhat fade away, at least for me. Because it’s easy to run out of an empty room and hide, but now the nurse is in here and it’s game time- you have to prove that, of course you’re not scared, you’re 20 years old. Then they poke you with a microneedle, and it’s over and never as bad as you expected it to be. As a second semester junior in the metaphorical claustrophobic doctor’s office waiting for the shot I am being fielded questions by family members and advisors about what I want to do and what internships I will chase after this summer so that I’m in good standings for a full-time offer and I will pad my resume even more with classes and clubs and internships and awards… but senior year the nurse will walk in. The reality that I must find a job now will come crashing down on me, and I will apply for jobs and interview as the microneedle makes its way towards my bicep. Job searching is not a life or death situation, it is a task.

Every year I do this same thing with summer internships. October and November are waiting room hell, and then spring comes along and it happens. I always laugh after interviews, because they are so impressed with my education not knowing that I have taught everything to myself and anyone could do the same! I’ve been immensely struggling with the recent conclusion that classes seem largely pointless. I wonder why I’m paying thousands of dollars a semester just to watch Youtube tutorials for free, and I find it humorous that companies would hire me, but not someone without a college diploma who watched the same videos. I could use that money for so many other things, like traveling the world and experiencing new things that really teach me something about life. I’ve ranted to my dad numerous times about this feeling and told him that I couldn’t tell him a single thing I learned in my economics classes. That I memorize definitions, spit them out on the test, but have no idea how they apply to the real world. The only things I’ve learned were from studying Breaking into Wall Street guides, doing internships, and talking with my family about the current events.

He told me, “college is just something you have to get through to show that you can. To show employers that you’re dedicated to something and you can jump through their hoops. About 2% of what you learn in college will translate to a job, everything else you learn on site. I studied accounting for 4 years in college, but didn’t actually know how to do accounting for a business until I got hired and my boss taught me. You just have to stick it out.”

I suppose my major problem right now is that in a time where I feel disconnected to my past self, and oftentimes disconnected from my present self, I’m not too interested in spending my time walking mundanely from class to class just to show a future employer that I can jump through hoops like a show dog. 

As days go by, it is growing increasingly difficult to just “stick it out” because I do not feel at home in my own life. I am taking classes and learning things that other people have picked out for me and even in my art classes I am incredibly restricted. I am sick of living subconsciously and want to be the one driving the bus that is my own life.

Yours truly,



One response to “I’m Not Too Fond of my Life Right Now”

  1. […] feels like to interact with boys on dating apps, go to therapy, move abroad, miss your friends, be depressed, and it really doesn’t know what it’s like to bleed through your underwear and pants in […]


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