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Dear Welcome Weekend Me

Hello there, you adorable, naive, lanyard-wearing freshman. It’s been a while. Almost four years, in fact. You’ve just met your new roomie, Jess, and sent Mom and Dad packing without them seeing how scared you really are. And you should be scared; overwhelmed with anticipation too, but scared all the same.

All of your studio supplies are packed into your Stanley toolbox that you modified with red and white polka-dot duck tape and sitting on the seat of your rolling chair, waiting to be brought to the top floor of Taylor on Monday. In a few months, though, you’ll be selling most of it to your classmates. You’ll realize architecture is not your home, and it’s going to scare the shit out of you at first. You’ll tell people that you want to switch your major to English, and you’ll doubt yourself even more every time you see the skepticism in their eyes. Don’t let them scare you too much. While some might consider it a stupid move, it’s the move you need to make. Trust me.

Remember the sorority carnival you went to on Saturday? And how that Drew girl from Sigma was the only one to actually come up and talk to you? In a little over a month, you’ll get a bid from Sigma, and it will seem like the happiest day of your life. Enjoy every moment you spend with those women because those memories are irreplaceable. Spend as much time as possible with that goofy Lexi girl you meet during recruitment. That’s your Big right there. And she’ll stand by you 1000% for the next four years, even if she can’t always be around or thinks that you’re making stupid decisions. That blonde girl with a haircut like yours? Stick with her. Lauren is one of the good ones. And the super short girl they keep shoving to the front of the picture and the girl with the goofy bangs? You might not talk to them that day, but a lot of senior year will be spent with Jess, Jess, Kara, (she won’t be around for a few more weeks) and a lot of wine. These women will change you more than you know. You probably wouldn’t recognize me if we were to meet.

Don’t be afraid of all of the changes that will happen. You’ll make friends who you think will be by your side for the rest of the life, but they’ll choose to walk away. THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT. Don’t let that voice in your head tell you that you’re the one who screwed it up. It just wasn’t meant to be. They were there when you needed them to be, but eventually it will be better to move on. You’ll decide after three years to walk away from Sigma, and, as much as people will try to convince you otherwise, it’s the best choice for you.

Over the next four years, there will be moments of the purest happiness and moments of devastating heartbreak. It might not feel like it at the time, but you’ll heal every time someone hurts you, and you’ll grow. God knows, you’ll grow into the woman writing you this letter. I’m still far from perfect and nowhere near done growing, but we’re getting there.

Drink in every moment of the next four years, beautiful. And before you know it, you’ll be sitting here writing this letter, cap and gown in your closet, laying awake in bed because you just can’t wait for this afternoon. It’s been quite a ride, love, and I can’t wait for it to begin for you.

See you in four years ❤

Graduation Day Me

Five Days Later

Well guys, I did it. I got the job. And moved to Philly. And let me tell you, there were moments leading up to this when I couldn’t breathe because I was so scared of all of this. But you know what? It’s looking like the best decision I ever made. 

My first night here before I started work, I had that “What the hell have I done” feeling. I moved eight hours away from my village to a HUGE city after applying and accepting a job on a whim. The day I applied here, it was just one of five applications I was filling out just for the sake of knowing I was actively trying to find a job. I didn’t consider at the time that it might actually work out and that I’d end up here. Sunday I was homesick and terrified, and I spent most of the night studying bus maps to make sure I made it to work on time the next day. 

That map studying? Yeah, it didn’t help. I was late for my first day of work. Talk about insanely embarrassing. My feet hurt from walking from the stop beyond where I needed to be all the way to the store, my hair was one ginormous ball of frizz, and I felt like I was breathing in water it was so humid. I couldn’t believe how awful it was all turning out after only a few hours. 

And then I walked in the store. 

As soon as they saw me, my boss yelled, “IT’S FINALLY ELLEN DAY!!!!!” and I can’t remember a time when I felt more welcomed. It was only a few hours before I was a part of the jokes and had been taken to “the best Chinese restaurant in the city.” And I had my right hand woman telling me that my favorite movie was in her top three. And I spent an hour in my boss’s office talking to him and the other manager, and the most serious question they asked me was “If you were on death row, what would your last meal be?” And when I couldn’t come up with an answer, they told me I would have to eventually provide one. 

That first day, the feeling in my chest was one that I was slightly familiar with. It was the same one from welcome weekend, when I looked up the library after walking almost all the way around campus and saw the sign that said “You Belong Here.” This time was so much more subtle. It was running around like crazy with everyone else because the VP was showing up the next day. It was agreeing that ordering odd numbers of things is the worst just because. It was my boss telling me at the end of the day that he had a present for me and handing me a Phillies hat, because what better welcome is there?

This entire process has been one of the craziest, most exhausting things I have ever done. But after only five days, I can tell. It will be the most rewarding. 

Dear Leasing Companies…

Hello, my dear friends. It’s me. The girl who has been calling you and leaving messages several times a day for the past week and hasn’t gotten a call back yet. I have a bit of advice that you all might want to consider:

1. ANSWER YOUR PHONES. I understand that this is a busy time of year for you all, with students moving in and out and whatnot, but it will be impossible for you to fill your units if you don’t actually pick up the phone. 

2. RESPOND TO MESSAGES. Again, I understand you are busy, but telling people in your voicemail message that you will return their call quickly and then not doing so is the height of unprofessionalism. All you are doing is showing your potential tenants that you are unlikely to respond if they approach you with maintenance issues or something similar. 

3. MAINTAIN YOUR WEBSITES. The number of times that I’ve had someone actually answer the phone to tell me that the unit listed on the company’s website (not even a third party site like Craigslist or apartments.com) is no longer available is beyond frustrating. If you have someone’s name on a lease and a move in date set, DELETE THE LISTING. 

This relocation process is a complete pain, and unprofessional and disorganized companies only make it worse. There are those companies I would like to commend, though:

1. The agent who offered to let me move in a few days earlier than the start of the lease. Thank you, sir. One of the most stressful things at the moment is that approaching day when I will have to vacate my current apartment, and your offer was very refreshing. 

2. The woman who, after showing me one unit, arranged for me to see two others I didn’t have an appointment for. Yes, this was you doing your best to sell your apartments, but it was wonderful to get a chance to see more options. 

3. The guy who I’ve called the past three days. After having someone take my contact information many times and never hearing from them again, I am beyond grateful that you’ve been patient and updated me on where my name is on the leasing agent’s list of messages. Thank you for giving me a timeline on when he will return my call. You da real MVP, Robert. 

Currently have to be out of this apartment in eight days without another place to live lined up, but IT’S FINE. I will do this. And I will have a place to live. And my Philly adventure will begin soon. Hopefully. 

A Response to the Time Article “Why Colleges Should Get Rid of Fraternities for Good”

For the original article to which I am responding, please visit http://time.com/4784875/fraternities-timothy-piazza/.

Dear Ms. Wade: I have never been more disappointed by an article in a publication that I admire as much as Time. It appears you have taken part in the ongoing demonization of Greek life that media is so fond of, without considering the positive impact it has had on the world as well. 

According to numbers collected by the North-American Interfraternity Conference for the 2013-2014 academic year (because more recent data has not been published by a reputable source), undergraduate fraternity men participated in 3.8 million service hours for their communities, raised $20.3 million for philanthropic causes, and as a group earned a GPA higher than the national men’s average. Yes, Tim Piazza’s death was an unspeakable tragedy and should never have happened, but your poorly researched, angry, biased opinion of Greek life as a whole has been created based on an anomaly. The shock on the faces of students when you advocate on campus for the abolition of Greek life is not “a testament to the power fraternity men still yield.” It is shock that a woman as well-educated as you has allowed her opinion of a community to be formed based on isolated incidents, rather than by looking at the entire picture. 

Yes, deaths from hazing should not happen. Ever. Hazing itself should not happen. Ever. That does not mean that an entire culture should be destroyed when the men of undergraduate fraternities, admittedly between these parties you seem so terrified of, are doing their best to contribute to a better world for the people of today and tomorrow. I encourage you to meet with these men the next time you are on a college campus to see that not all of them are the “menacing, young, rich men” that you have done your best to paint them as.

Job hunting, amiright?

Well, only four days after graduation and holy moly is this job search thing stressful. Like, what’s a reasonable salary to ask for? What the heck qualifies benefits as “good”? Will I be moving at the end of this month or next? Where will I be moving, more importantly… This all is insane. A brief update on my current options:

A) Full-time supervisor at a bookstore in Louisiana. Pros: it’s in the department of the store that I love, the store is super cute, potential for advancement, it would be an adventure. Cons: 16+ hour drive from here, it’s the Deep South, it’s not publishing.

B) Assistant store manager in Pittsburgh. Pros: close to my friends still in Ohio, potential for advancement, higher up management. Cons: smaller school, it’s not publishing. 

C) Editorial assistant with a imprint owned by Highlights of children’s books, northeastern Pennsylvania. Pros: PUBLISHING, KIDS AND YOUNG ADULT, NOT IN NEW YORK CITY. Cons: Literally just kind of throwing my application at them. 

No one warns us how terrifying this whole process is in school. For me, I know it’s not personal if I don’t get a call or I get turned down, but it always feels that way. Not sure I was prepared for this when we got closer to graduation. Stay tuned to see this list grow/change and eventually find out my decision!