Friday, February 24, 2012

The F-Word We All Love and Hate

QOTD: What are your long-term goals, and how do you stay focused on them?

No, I'm not talking about that f-word. There's another one I'm talking about, and lately this little f-word has gotten my heart pumping, the thoughts in my mind racing and my palms sweating. (It's still not that one, you guys.)

The f-word I'm talking about is future

As we think about the future, it's easy to love when we know what it entails. We may not know where we will be in 10 years (alert: hallmark interview question), but if we're on what  seems to be the right pathway and love what we're doing, then the future seems a bit more promising. But when we have absolutely no idea what our future holds, a fear develops inside of us. It's frightening, not knowing what's going to happen or if things will be okay. And what's scariest of all is thinking that the things you are doing now are a waste of time and won't help you get to the next step toward your goals. 

There is a myth that you get used to college after the first few months... and, surely, by the middle of your sophomore year you're a pro at this whole college scene. You know the sneakiest shortcuts for getting to class quickly, which days of the week Sitar is open at the dining hall and which bathroom stalls to avoid (i.e. bottom of Tar Heels know what I'm talking about). You know what the dealio is. You get used to the independence, the resources, the expectations. 

But the truth is, you never do. Maybe it's just me, but college life is constantly unpredictable. You never know what's thrown at you, no matter what year you are. I'm a sophomore, but sometimes I still feel like a freshman and don't have any idea what's going on in class, in Congress, in life. Only sometimes, though. 

I was making small talk with one of the girls in my psychology class today, and we both agreed: We all have our freshman days. And that's okay, because the best part about being a freshman is that you get to learn things you never knew, and you grow. 

College isn't like high school. During the first 18 years of most of our lives, the plan was laid out for us. Learn the ABC's. Attend grade school and then get through those crazy middle school years. Live through childhood and stumble into adolescence. Experience high school. Sign up for AP classes because your mom told you to, go to prom, take the SAT and apply for college. Get into college. Graduate. 

And then...and then what? Once you get into college, there's not really a plan you follow along with everyone else. Sure, you've got your advisers and your parents and your friends to refer to for guidance, but essentially you are on your own. What you make of yourself is up to you, and that responsibility is terrifying. There are hundreds of majors, minors and classes--the possibilities are endless. The number of research opportunities and extracurricular activities available is mind-blowing, so much that sometimes we lose sight of our interests and our goals that we just 'grab and take.' In that way, it's easy to lose focus about what really matters to us. 

There's pressure to be well-rounded and unique at the same time. There's the need to find something you personally love to do, but will also fulfill society's definition of 'successful.' Then comes the other f-word that we hate (we don't love it, you know), which is failure. And I'm not going to even talk about this one because it tends to send shivers down one's spine. And causes breakdowns. 

The truth is, this whole week I have felt a little lost. I prioritized which extracurricular activities are most important to me, and figured out what internships I want to focus on for the summer. I discovered that I actually like statistics and research, and I have no freaking clue what to do with this information. Ultimately, I am deciding what I want to do with the rest of my college career and how my decisions will be time-efficient and beneficial for my future. 

Basically, I'm striving for perfection - and I am failing. Since the beginning of August 2010, I have flirted with pre-medical studies, pharmacy school, biology, psychology, journalism, creative writing, journalism and finally both journalism and psychology. (I know, I'm such a player.) But now, the question is: What do I want to do with those majors? What fields do I want to concentrate within the area of journalism (Electronic media or Reporting? Design?), and what will my focus be in psychology (Child Development or Abnormal Psychology? Clinical therapy or research?). I don't even want to start thinking about graduate school (or if I will be going at all). 

I know I will make a lot of mistakes between now and the end of senior year. There will be peer pressure and other students in my fields of study who look like they know exactly what they're doing. But I am beginning to realize that the key to success does not depend on comparison, but personal efficacy. If I believe in my passions and my ability to pursue them, whatever they may be, then I am already halfway there. 

College is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, much like your first love or the publication of your first book. You never really get to experience that mixed rush of euphoria and confusion and excitement and fear all at once after it's over. Whether you're a freshman in college or smack in the middle of law school or a newbie in the corporate world, embrace the line of possibilities...all the better if you can't see the end of that line.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Meeting Author Chad Harbach: "The Art of Fielding"

QOTD: What's your favorite way to organize your desk?

This past Friday, award-winning author Chad Harbach came to UNC-Chapel Hill and held a discussion called "The Art of Publishing." The New York Times named Harbach's 'baseball book,' The Art of Fielding, one of the top novels of 2011. After attending the discussion and listening to Harbach talk about his career and the writing process for his book, I had the privilege of meeting Harbach himself at his own book signing! 

He said that he does his best to develop characters based on just as they are and not how they should be be perceived. 

"I try not to color the reader's perspective of the character or focus on if the reader likes or dislikes the character," Harbach said. "I try to stay out of that relationship." 

The novel, The Art of Fielding, took Harbach nearly 10 years to write and is only his first book, there have been some outstanding reviews by many highly-acclaimed authors and organizations. I can't wait to start reading! He even signed it for me! :D

At "The Art of Publishing," I also got to meet literary agent Chris Parris-Lamb, who works for Gernert Company in New York. At one point, Parris-Lamb talked about the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional publishing. 

"The world is getting noisier," Parris-Lamb said during the discussion. Traditional publishing is necessary for a writer to get that name out there and gain an audience. 

On the other hand, he said self-publishing allows for more freedom in that "you don't need someone to tell you 'yes,'" or give approval. 

"I like to think that all writers think their work has intrinsic value," Parris-Lamb said. "If they believe they're a failure if nobody likes what they wrote, then they're writing for the wrong reason."*

More information about Chris Parris-Lamb and Chad Harbach can be found here.

*All quotes reported by Wendy Lu.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's: Making the Best Out of a Hallmark Holiday

QOTD: What are your thoughts on V-Day? Is this a special time for everyone to tell their loved ones how much they care, or is Valentine's just another Hallmark holiday?

Happy Valentine's Day! <3 Bought myself a pretty paper rose :)

You can be sure that love was in the air today--all over campus. Students of all types of organizations were selling merchandise in the Pit: Purple-dyed carnations, candy, pink-and-red hearts, paper roses, chocolate-covered strawberries, the works. And it seemed as though there were more couples than usual holding hands and cuddling together. I even spotted one couple behind the dining hall, nuzzling against each other with their noses touching. I forgot to say "AWWW!" as I passed by. Oops...then again, they probably wouldn't have wanted me to interrupt. 

I have the biggest urge to make an "LOLOL FOREVER ALONE" joke right now but I shall refrain. Honestly, Valentine's Day really isn't that bad. I mean, if we're going to have holidays about loving our mommies and daddies and loving our presidents and loving no school presents (that's what Christmas is all about, right?), then it totally makes sense to have a holiday dedicated to love in general. And it really can be fun. It can be as fun as you make it.  

Besides, who says Valentine's is just for couples to enjoy? I bought a red paper rose this morning from one of those merchandise booths at the Pit, and you can bet I got it for myself! My mood instantly skyrocketed after that. Having the independence, the will and the money to treat myself to a small gift was so much more awesome than anxiously expecting someone else to do that for me, and I him. The thing is, before you can learn to love someone else you gotta' learn how to love yourself first. I also bought one of my great friends a pink rose, which made her really happy -- and made my day even better! 

After classes, I spent my afternoon tutoring adorable elementary and middle school-aged kids at an after-school program. We provided them with snacks (yes, candy too), a duo step show and art supplies to make Valentines for the local children's hospital. As cliche as it sounds, spending my time helping others is, I think, the most special part of this holiday for me. 

Best of all, throughout the day I have received really sweet messages from my awesome sister and friends. I am really too lucky to have these people in my life. And here I am now, letting myself enjoy a crunchy-delicious apple with Nutella before I finish off the night with a free-writing session and the latest episode of GleeOn Valentine's Day, what could be better?


Monday, February 13, 2012

The Pizza Model: Guest Blogging at Literary Jam & Toast

QOTD: What's your favorite type of pizza? Note your choice of special toppings, type of cheese and the thickness of crust. ;) 

Happy Monday, everyone! Today, I'm guest blogging over at Literary Jam & Toast ,a blog by Miss Mia Hayson on writing and zombies and glitter, about The Pizza Model. What is The Pizza Model, you ask? You'll have to visit to find out! 

Come join in on the fun and let's talk about PIZZA! I mean, who doesn't love pizza? :) 

Special thanks to Mia Hayson for having me as a fellow guest blogger. Follow her for your daily dose of writing tips, cool stories and laughter!


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Happy Bliggity Birthday: The Best of the Blog Year 2

QOTD: What is your favorite type of sinful cake, the cake that you only eat when you feel really wicked? (Mine is red velvet! Mm...yummy)

Happy Sunday, everybody! It is a very grey day here in North Carolina, but I am in a spirited mood and am so excited to say that it's TRA's Blog Birthday/Anniversary! Can't believe I've kept up this blog for two years already...I guess when you're having fun and loving what you write about, time flies. 

I've been sifting through this past year's blog posts and thought I'd share with you TRA's Top 10 highlights. 

Your Ultimate Journaling Guide Part #1 and Part #2

As promised, I have finally launched a new feature of the TRA blog site. Ladies and gentlemen, introducing: Double Check Editing Services! This is a sort of thank you to all of my friends, family members and blog friends for the constant support and encouragement I've received throughout the years. It is also a part of my commitment to helping others find their own writing style and literary success. Enjoy! 

Here's to another year full of blogfests, literary frenzies and adventures! Happy Birthday, TRA blog! 

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