In Dedication to Fate

It just so happens that I’m writing this blog post in the middle of the night … again.

I’m actually still awake because Austin and I spent the evening celebrating our anniversary. We just got back home from seeing Rogue One (highly recommended, by the way).

It’s hard to believe we’ve only been together for two years. After everything we’ve been through, it feels like so much longer. But today is a huge accomplishment. If anyone ever tells you relationships are easy – they’re either lying or kidding themselves.

Relationships are anything but easy. They require hard work, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust (my way of saying luck).

But I’ll tell you another secret. When it’s right?

It’s always worth it.

I didn’t believe in fate until the night I met Austin. It was by complete random happenstance that we were brought together. And, in more ways than one, he saved my life that night and every night after. And I think, somewhere along the way, I saved him too.

I remember, when we first got together, we didn’t have many cheerleaders. Misrepresentation, jealousy, and fear blocked the way to acceptance. My parents and siblings came around first. Their endless love and support helped us grow.

Then came my best friend – who had to somehow accept my somewhat obnoxious relationship with her cousin. Her support helped me lower my walls.

Eventually, others came too. I know people say you can’t fall in love with someone you just met. They say you can’t make it work. They say you’d be insane to try. But, as two twenty-somethings who work hard to further our education, pay the bills, and continue to grow – we’ve always made it work. And we’ve done it together.

Around this time next year, we’ll be planning our wedding. And I can’t think of a better person to spend the rest of my life with.

When we first started dating, my best friend’s sister (Danielle) said something that really touched me. She said, “I think you two need each other.”

Those words have stuck with me ever since.

The other day, I was sitting in my bedroom, wondering why I never seem to feel “good enough” for myself. Why is the apartment never clean enough? Why am I never making enough money? Why am I never working hard enough at school? Why am I not a better cook? Why aren’t I skinnier? Why don’t I eat better? Why don’t I know how to apply makeup properly?

These are the questions that actually plague me at night.

And then, a few days ago, I turned off the lights and sat in almost total darkness (I say almost because Austin put up glowing stars in our bedroom as a Christmas present).

I looked at those stars. And I looked at all of the blessings I had around me. My nice, new king sized bed. My new clothes that my parents had been kind enough to buy. My new kitchen mixer. My blackout curtains.

And then I thought about my four little girls – my guinea pigs. And how I never have to wonder if we’ll be able to pay for their hay or their food or their bedding. I never have to worry about whether or not we’ll have gas money, or whether we’ll be able to put food on the table. I live in a fully furnished two bedroom apartment. Austin and I are able to have weekly date nights and still have leftover money at the end of the month.

And I realized that someone is watching out for me. Fate, a god, an angel. Whatever you want to call it. Someone saw me at my worst. Someone saw Austin at his worst. And that someone, that thing, guided us here instead.

Maybe part of it was my own doing. My own drive to work hard. But sitting in the dark, underneath plastic stars, I had a newfound respect for fate and how fortunate I am.

And I realized, if I’m good enough for that thing, then I’m good enough for myself.

And that is why, in light of our anniversary, I’ve dedicated this post to fate – however insane it sounds.

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It feels wrong to keep writing this post like normal – but there are things I want to share, and I don’t want to wait.

My followers have missed five months of my life. There are misadventures with school and work that I haven’t shared.

Obviously, I’ll have time for more details in later posts. But I’ll tell you what I can now.

My career has taken off. I can’t even begin to explain how grateful I am for the opportunities I’ve been given. I have three wonderful clients who have sustained me for the past several months – but I’m hoping to continue that growth in the new year.

Freelancing is associated with low income and constant stress. But I’ve found that it helps my anxiety by forcing me to cope with the unknown and make things happen for myself. My paychecks aren’t guaranteed. I can’t phone-it-in. I have to work hard every single day – and I don’t have anyone breathing down my neck.

That kind of pressure has pushed me to grow as a person, as a writer, and as an independent contractor. At the beginning of my education at MSU, I worried that I wouldn’t be taken seriously by my professors. But I’ve faced exactly the opposite. While other students are working part-time jobs, I’m gaining experience and connections that can push my career forward.

I’m hoping that advantage, paired with more on-campus experiences, will make the difference I need to feel less lonely and more “in the zone”.

School has been an adventure, to say the least. I barely survived last semester (in the spring of 2016). I was forced to commute two days per week. I was only able to enroll in one hybrid course. The rest were in-person. And, while I struggled with my anxiety, I also struggled to make it to the classroom.

I passed all of my classes. But I knew I could never do it again. Luckily, Austin was willing to pick up everything (including his education) and move to Lansing to eliminate the problem. In doing so, he stumbled on a program at LCC that he really loves – and we stumbled on an affordable housing area that we couldn’t imagine living without.

This semester, I decided to take all of my classes online. I wanted to have time to settle into my “required” income and into our new home. I wanted to focus on my relationship and on myself.

I took an advertising course that I really enjoyed. I took a media course that I enjoyed even more. In fact, it encouraged me to concentrate in Media Marketing for my major – and to take additional media courses.

I also took a introductory marketing course. That was an experience I’ll never repeat. I could spend an hour talking about that class and the frustrations that came with it – but I’ll just settle for saying I survived with a passing grade, and it took every ounce of my will to do it.

My last course was a journalism course with Professor Omar Sofradzija. It was the only online section offered, and I’d wriggled my way into the class at the last minute, promising the professor I wouldn’t miss a single deadline.

I didn’t miss a single deadline, either. I wrote three in-depth stories while taking that class, in addition to dozens of small pieces. I even job shadowed an incredible reporter at the Livingston County Press & Argus.

The experience forced me out of my shell and reminded me that I’m more than capable of being a reporter – even if that isn’t my chosen line of work. This degree is going to open a world of doors for me. And I’m glad to know I can take whatever path I choose for myself.

It also encouraged me to take my most important journalism classes in-person.

As I continue along this journey to “opening up”, I hope I can inspire a few of my followers to do the same.

My next post won’t be so serious. We’re going to talk about guinea pigs!

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Cassie

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On Finding Myself

Yeah … screw that.

It’s been five months since I’ve written a blog post on Misadventures.

It’s funny. My best posts always seem to be written in the middle of the night, when I find myself unable to sleep.

I’ll tell you something, readers. This has been a year of change. And, in all of that change, I think I managed to lose myself – just a little bit.

Okay, not a little bit. I lost myself a lot.

I’m going through a period of adjustment. When I came back from New York, I focused on healing. I focused on my relationship. I withdrew from the outside world. I was angry about the election, worried constantly about finances, and trying to figure out how to maintain a separate identity while co-habitating with the man I love.

Now, I’m going to focus on finding myself again. And I’d like to do it with my followers by my side.

You’ve always read my posts and supported me. During my inability to sleep, I read through some of my previous posts. And it dawned on me. These are my memories.

And I don’t want to look back and not have them anymore. I have this incredibly unique opportunity to look back on my adventures and see them fresh in my mind. There’s a record of the most important years of my life.

I can’t even begin to explain how grateful I am for that.

For the record, let me provide the important updates for the last six months. And I’ll add a few things I plan on writing about during the month of January.

First and foremost, I made it through another semester of school. For anyone who thought I wouldn’t be able to keep going after leaving NYU, I want to repeat that.

I made it through yet another semester of school. And I have never, not once, taken a break. And I am on track to graduate in the spring of 2018, just like everyone else who graduated high school with me. I said this would be a four year degree – and despite two different transfers and a million phone calls – it will be.

Next? The past six months have changed my career forever. I actually considered starting a freelancing blog – until I realized what I really missed was writing on Misadventures.

The point is, my freelancing career has taken off. I’m getting emails from people I’ve never met – offers for jobs I’ve never applied to. I’m building connections with incredible clients, some local and some not.

When we moved into our apartment this year, I wasn’t sure I would be able to rise to the occasion. But I’ve done that – and more. It wasn’t easy. But it’s been life changing, and it has opened so, so many doors. I have never felt more confident in the career I’ve chosen.

But freelancing can be lonely. It doesn’t involve a lot of activity. Taking online classes makes scheduling easier – especially when Austin and I share a 2016 Ford Fiesta and he commutes to work – but it hasn’t done much for my social life.

I miss having friends nearby. I miss going to seminars and joining clubs. I miss seeing other people. And, while Austin and I have explored the area (we even took a mini-vacation and stayed in Grand Rapids for a weekend), I want to become a member of this community.

It looks like we’ll be finding a local swing dance group. And I’ll be attending more seminars at school during the upcoming semester. We also have an indoor pool and workout space at our disposal – so we’ll be making use of that.

Still, even with all of those things, something is still missing. And I think, quite honestly, I’m missing the classroom experience. So, while I can avoid classrooms and professors and teenagers and take all of my courses online, I’m going to take my two hardest remaining courses in-person during my senior year – making this my last online semester.

I’m both relieved and terrified. But, after taking the most difficult journalism class thus far and excelling, I’m learning to take steps outside of my comfort zone again. I’m not going to lie. I missed it.

I still have to tell you about our guinea pigs. We just brought home our fourth little girl on Christmas Eve. Her name is Emma. She and Baby share a cage of their own, while Eevee and Bella (our two original pigs) live in a large rabbit hutch in our living room.

I’m sad to share that I lost my other dog. Finnegan lived with us for nearly three months before we finally made the difficult decision to put him down. But, like I promised Mitzi, I did it right this time. I was there – all the way until the end. And he didn’t suffer.

I don’t think I’ll be getting another dog for a while. Guinea pigs are a great apartment pet – and they are far more loving than I ever anticipated.

The apartment is great. We have nothing to complain about. We are currently looking (casually) at larger apartments and town homes in the area where we can raise a family (we want to build our own house farther down the line – which would be much easier if we could rent until then).

Don’t freak out. We have a lot of living and exploring to do before any babies come along. We still have a wedding to plan! But we’re always thinking about the future – and this is definitely the area for us. If anyone knows anything about Grand Ledge, I’ve love to hear it. I’ve heard wonderful things.

Christmas in our first apartment was beautiful. My relationship with Austin has only grown since we started living together. My love for my career and my resolve to graduate has only gotten stronger.

But it’s time to find myself again in all of that.  Who am I, underneath my relationship, my job, and my education? And what am I missing?

This isn’t about politics. This isn’t about my past. This is about my future.

I hope you’re ready for more misadventures.

I know I am.