My First College Class Experience

Yesterday, August 10th, was the last day of my first college class!

For reference I took an art appreciation class as a 5 week Summer course.

Many aspects of this class felt a lot like high school. It was a fairly small classroom with around 25 students, and we sat at those typical desks that have the chair attached to the desk. For some reason my teacher didn’t seem to understand the difference between an art class and an art appreciation class. Typically in an art appreciation class you would learn how to analyze art and learn a little bit of the history of different art movements.

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We did the octopus as a quick exercise in class, and although it’s a little messy I’m pretty happy with mine. (two octopus tentacles painted kind of messily in hues of blue)

But did we do that? Haha no. I really shouldn’t complain because I got three hours for doing very little work, but at times it was frustrating. The majority of the class we painted. We painted a seed pod, an octopus, a collage we made out of magazine clippings, and the final painting was a group project where we each painted a piece of a collage. The other project we had was making a sculpture out of polymer clay and a plastic animal. We also had to visit an art gallery and an art museum.

As for my professor, there’s one thing I can say that I think explains his overall demeanor and teaching style pretty well. Last week we watched a documentary about yarn, riveting right? I always arrive to class about ten minutes early since I have a perpetual fear of being late. Since I was there early he was still setting things up. I’m not sure if he realized this or not but he was projecting his computer screen onto the wall. I was looking around the room when I noticed he was googling, “What is the definition of a medium in art?” It took every once of self-control I have to not audibly laugh. He never lectured or really gave directions, and all he would do is show us pictures of things and tell us to paint them. I kept waiting for the “lesson day” but  it never came. I didn’t really learn anything (expect that painting is really hard), but I also didn’t have to do much work so I’ll count it as a win.

I’m super proud of myself because I made it to every single class. 4 days a week for 5 weeks, 20 classes total. To a healthy person this wouldn’t be a big deal, but I haven’t been able to go even a whole week straight to class in five years. Of course it helped that it was only a few hours a day and I had no other commitments, but I would have never imagined even five months ago that I would be able to do this.

Things with chronic illness can change in the blink of an eye. I’ve been out of a flare for a while now, so realistically I know one is going to rear its ugly head soon, but being able to succeed in this class gives me hope for the Fall. I’m looking forward to being in school full time again.

It won’t always be this easy, but having something productive to do feels fulfilling!

Living in the Moment

Living in the moment is something I often have trouble with.

Life these past five years has not gone as I planned by any means. I feel like I’m always looking to the future when “I feel better” or “feel happier” thinking life will better then. Instead of trying to enjoy this chapter in my life, I’m always looking ahead.

I started college this summer at my local community college, and it’s been hard to enjoy it. I can’t help but think about how I “should have” graduated high school and “should have” gone to a four year university right away. Those things just aren’t going to happen for me, and I know I need to get over it. I’m guilty of judging people who’ve gone to community college in the past. Always assuming they screwed around in high school and so they couldn’t go anywhere else. Now looking back I realize how prejudiced and rude that was, but I still push those stereotypes on myself.

I’m grateful that my health is in a place that let’s me be able to start college full time in the fall. I should enjoy this time I have feeling well, since I never know when I’ll flare again. Honestly I’m afraid of my next flare. As the fall school year becomes closer and closer, I’m scared I’ll flare right when classes start. I really want to go to school full time this year, and I want to be successful. Instead of enjoying feeling well, I’m often worried and thinking about all of that what-ifs.

Sometimes I just need to take a deep breath and remind myself of all the wonderful things in my life. Sure, there’s gapping holes that I’ve desperately wanted to fill for years, but I have so many amazing things in my life going on too. Even in these times when I’m feeling better I can’t help but feel the exhaustion of my past. I’m only seventeen, but living seventeen more years sounds horrendous. My life is supposed to be “just beginning,” but it already feels so long.

I want to live in the moment.  I want to enjoy the now.

It’s just a lot harder than I expected it to be.

 

First Day of College

Yesterday was my first day of my first  college class.

Even though I’ve taken all the steps to get here, it doesn’t feel real at all. I’m seventeen and going to college, and it feels weird.

Not a whole lot is going to change. It’s community college, so the work shouldn’t be that difficult, and I’m still living at home. I left high school back in November of 2016, so its been a while since I’ve been to school. The only fear I really have is getting really sick again and having to leave, other than that I’m not too nervous. It’s been five and half years since I’ve been able to go to school full time. That means I was twelve last time I went to school consistently, so it’s been quite a long time.

 

The first day of class went pretty smoothly. I’m taking Art appreciation, since I need an art credit. We aren’t using a textbook and we won’t have a final exam, which was pretty surprising to me. I had to go to Micheal’s after class though and get a bunch of painting supplies because, as a surprise to me, we’re painting. I thought we would be appreciating art, not creating it. I have lots of good artistic ideas (well, good ideas to me at least) but actually executing them well isn’t my thing. I’m sure he won’t grade too hard on how it looks since this is a beginners class though.

Today I have a meeting to finalize setting up disability services with my college. I’m pretty proud of myself for doing everything I needed to do to set this up, and applying for college in general all by myself. The only thing my parents did is fax papers to the college from their  work, since we don’t have a fax machine at home. This will be the first time I’l have to advocate for my health all by myself, which gives me some anxiety. I usually do most of the talking, but my mom’s usually there to fill in the areas I’ve forgotten. Gotta love brain fog!

Things feel like they’re going in a good direction for once. I just hope it stays that way.

What’s new with you? Do you have any Summer plans?

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

Life Update: June

I feel like it’s been a while since I updated ya’ll on my personal life!

Overall things are going pretty well. Health wise I was feeling really good for a while, but now I’m just feeling okay. I’m having more headaches than I was, and my stomach is acting up, but overall I’m still doing better than normal. I had an appointment with an endocrinologist which was a waste of time, but other than that I haven’t seen any other doctors. I’m probably going to find a new gastroenterologist since that seems to be my main problem currently, and the one I was seeing said he couldn’t do anything more for me back in the fall of 2016. Ultimately I probably need to go to Mayo Clinic, but we haven’t started to try and apply since I’ve been out of a flare for a while. Having a few good months during spring/summer isn’t abnormal for me though, and it usually ends with intense pain and a hospitalization in the Fall. Yipee!

I got my GED in May and this past week I was admitted to my local community college. Yesterday I took the TSI, and luckily I don’t have to do any remedial courses, so that’s nice. I also visited with an academic advisor and started the process of getting disability services. Things are looking up as far as that goes!

The one major thing I need to do now is get my driver’s license. I have an appointment for June 28th, and I’m terrified. I took the driving test once and it didn’t go well. The woman who administered the test and angry when she got in my car and snapped at me repeatedly, then she failed me. Honestly I know I made some mistakes and shouldn’t have gotten a perfect score, but failing seemed a little ridiculous. That was almost a year and a half ago so it’s time to try again. She really got in my head and made me scared to drive, but I’m trying to be positive and confident because I know I can do it.

It may sound silly to some people who have gone through the process of getting a license, but it’s been incredibly stressful for me. I’m comfortable with driving now, the only problem is the dreaded parallel parking. Ironically that’s the part I passed the first time. I know some states don’t do the parallel parking, but my parents told me moving across the country wasn’t an option, so I guess for now I’ll just keep practicing. There’s a lot riding on this since I can’t to go college if I can’t drive, but I have faith that I’ll pass (or at least I’m trying to pretend I do :)).

I helped my sister move out of her college apartment, look for a new apartment by her new job, and then into her new apartment. She had her graduation ceremony mid-May and we threw her a family party at the air-bnb we rented. It was really nice, but I’m sad that she’s now living four hours away from us, and won’t be forced to see us for a month over Holiday break. She’s very family oriented so I know she’ll visit and we’ll visit her, but I also know it won’t be as often as it used to be.

That’s pretty much it as far as my life’s concerned. How are you doing? Do you have any fun Summer plans?

 

 

Being on Your Own Timeline

In the U.S. and especially in the suburbs there’s a pattern to life that your assumed to follow.

Graduate high school, go straight away to a University, graduate college in four years, get your first job, get married, have kids, etc.

I was raised to believe this is the only way to be successful in life, but after having my life interrupted by chronic illness and having to pave a different path for myself I’ve learned just how wrong that is. Everyone does things at their own pace; some people aren’t mature enough to go to college straight out of high school or can’t financially make ends meet so they have to work before going to school. For other people college just isn’t the right choice for them, or they choose to go back to school later in life.

While I am definitely pro-education and believe, given the opportunity, you should obtain as much education as possible, I can see that there are situations that can make that difficult or near impossible. You don’t have to have life figured out at 22, or even your own life figured out.

While there’s always going to be a lot of external pressure to follow a certain timeline, only you can know what’s best for yourself. Right now it’s best for me to be out of high school while I pursue my GED and get my health on track, to other people the decisions I’ve made may not be what they think is right, but I don’t believe you can speak to experiences you haven’t had.

Every time I meet someone new there’s always a million questions about school and extra curricular’s. I don’t feel the need to tell my sob story to everyone I meet so I often tell them the town I live in and let them make their own assumptions. Occasionally I’ll tell people the things I used to do when I was in school without mentioning I don’t go there anymore, but that’s normally when I’m uncomfortable with all the questions and feel like I’m being judged.

It’s crazy how narrow minded people can be. I try to put myself in other peoples shoes and examine situations from all aspects the best that I can. There isn’t one correct way to live life and I think this plan we’ve created as a society and seem to believe everyone should follow to a T can be really detrimental. You’re not a failure if your life doesn’t look like the majority of your peers, friends, or family members. You also don’t have to have the same dreams and goals as everyone around you.

Be yourself and do things on your own timeline!

Alyssa