On your marks…

It’s been nearly two months.

It’s been nearly two months since I walked across the stage to a chorus of cheering and vuvuzelas (courtesy of Naif Bartlett), giggled at Dean Kurpius and promptly returned to the mini Prosecco bottle under my chair that I smuggled into Hearnes between my boobs.

It’s been nearly two months of waking up in my pink and paisley patterned walls of my room in my family home, always slightly confused that my bed is the same from my East Campus apartment.

Trying to figure out what light I am supposed to bear.

Trying to figure out what light I am supposed to bear, tbh. I don’t know if I am part of “the wise.”

For someone who uses the phrase “I’m crying” as often as I do, it takes unexpected timing and random things to actually make me shed tears. I didn’t cry during or after either of my graduation ceremonies (my makeup looked to good to do that, honestly). I didn’t cry when hugging the best friends I made and the ladies that lived with me for the crazy school year (we had our apartment pet dildo sign a travel journal and danced to One Direction’s “Drag Me Down” instead). I even held it (mostly) together when I drove home alone in my stuffed car when sad or overly reminiscent songs popped up on my mix CDs.

A T-shirt made me cry.

An oversized, disgusting neon Mizzou Student Health T-shirt that I was pulling out for my pajamas my first night home made me sob. Classic.

Pretty accurate description of me before gathering my Tiger's Lair troops on game days.

Pretty accurate description of me before gathering my Tiger’s Lair troops on game days.

I thought I had been adequately preparing myself for the big rip of the Band-Aid. I had been slowly becoming more and more “irrelevant” in the Mizzou world. I finished out my last season in charge of the football spirit section, Tiger’s Lair, and picked my new successor. I had already split from live-in ResLife duties, said goodbye to my favorite rickety hall, Jones, and was finishing up my duties of giving tours through Defoe-Graham (partially in an ankle brace). I welcomed the new class of Summer Welcome Leaders and did my crying about missing those times last summer. Except for being honored as a member of the 2016 class of Mizzou ’39, I was successfully starting to fade into the black and gold background. I thought that made me ready.

Shoutout to the legacy of ladies that make up one of my favorite traditions.

Shoutout to the Dobbs area and the legacy of ladies that make up one of my favorite traditions.

But, in actuality, that was my least favorite question to answer. I could easily converse with people that asked “What are you doing after you graduate?” and tell them how I wasn’t exactly sure but applying to this and that and had confidence that I would figure it out. I would always fumble when asked “Are you ready to graduate?” Of course, I was ready to leave the stress and schedule of classes and extracurriculars. I’ve always been slightly apprehensive of approaching change, but this was one I knew was coming and was too busy to even fully worry about it. So, instead of letting myself even contemplate that question more, I just ripped the Band-Aid off by leaving behind a lifestyle I was comfortable with less than 12 hours after receiving my diploma cover.

Although I would spend some days at home shaking and slightly holding my breath to try to stifle a panic attack or hopping on my bike to ride miles away from job applications, I don’t think I could’ve done it a different way. I’ve been trying to write this post for a couple weeks now, but there have been times where I couldn’t really grasp what all the different transitionary feelings meant. I wasn’t always sure what I was scared, excited, anxious or ready for. I just knew I felt different.

But, I’ve been lucky to have such a supportive family that let me come back home and gave me time to figure things out. I’ve been lucky to have friends who sent me job postings and wished me luck for interviews. I’ve been lucky to land a job only a couple months after graduating.

Looking at my little magazine children.

Looking lovingly at my little magazine children.

But, even when that landed in my lap I didn’t know exactly what to do with it. It’s a job, I should just want that, right? The people were cool and the company vibe seemed right, but it was different than what I thought people thought I should be doing and in a place I had only spent a maximum of a week in. Part of me didn’t think I deserved the offer and that I wouldn’t be good enough. It took two days of walking around Columbus, Ohio, and watching RuPaul’s Drag Race for me to really listen to my gut and accept the job.

Completing my education has taught me a lot more in the past couple months than probably my last month of college. Things don’t always have to be exactly what you imagined to be right. And I’ll always be kind of scared of change, but I know that in the end it will all work out. I didn’t work my butt off for four years to not feel like I deserve this. So, whether I am completely ready or not, I’m going to start this new race.

S to the Dub

I almost didn’t show up to the last info session (I made sure I sat all the way in the back).

I almost didn’t turn in my application.

I almost just said “F*** it” and wasn’t going to show up to my first (let alone, my second and third) interview.

But, third times the charm, right?

Right, even though I accidentally missed that charming call telling me that I was, indeed, a Summer Welcome Leader and that I needed to begin my journey tramping around the campus grounds to reveal the collective of humans now known as SWondoro.

Back when we barely knew each other at Venture Out.

Back when we barely knew each other at Venture Out.

I went into this attempt at what is know as one of the “most coveted positions at Mizzou” with, to put it nicely, a lot of sass. First time around, I was much like the overly eager, still very lost freshman that joined me for my first round interview this past January. I bounced back from not getting it fast because I knew I was a baby still. Second time around, I had been told that this time was for me, that I knew exactly what they wanted and I made myself that way. Everything was calculated, everything was mechanized, and everything was done after a second round interview, one round shorter than the year before. This past year, the third time, I had become hardened to the Mizzou-rah-rah exterior to the involvement hierarchy that I knowingly was a part of. So, I told them that in my interviews. I emphasized my feministic side and weirdness and how I didn’t play into what it took to be Mizzou famous. I quite literally bitched about the University. But, it worked.

The ladies being SWondorks at my second home, Faurot Field.

The ladies being SWondorks at my second home, Faurot Field.

Enough about me, because that isn’t why I wanted the job. The job is about the incoming Tigers and their families. The job is about me being my awkward, strangely old in comparison, Mizzou-loving self for students to feel comfortable around and learn from. It is about calming the fears and slowing the rotors of the helicopter parents and guests and reassuring them that yes, me, the tiny female in front of them in a khaki skort, felt safe on campus. It is about representing just one little corner of Mizzou but opening the doors to all the other ones, prompting them to take a peek and find their fit. It is also all about being the little cogs that complete the machine known as Summer Welcome, from the glamorous job of whipping a golf cart to the sometimes mind-numbing desk duties. But, we are the faces that they would see first, the faces that (cheesy, I know) welcomed them to Mizzou. It allowed me to continue to extend myself as a little black and gold resource with a nice dose of substance behind the gleam of the gold name tag.

The Children Went SWimming.

The Children Went SWimming.

The biggest perk of this job wasn’t the visibility, the room and board, or even the dancing, pizza and ice cream every night. It was the 33 people I got to work with everyday. Though I scoffed at the former Summer Welcome leaders coos about “meeting your best friends” through the training and Summer, they were sort of right. Sure, you bond better with some people over others because human differences and similarities and all that personality jazz, but these leaders truly became the dysfunctional family that I needed this summer. They elected me their “VeronMom” and they taught me a thing or two about how leaders come in all different forms. I promised myself I wouldn’t cry during all the sappy end of the summer videos, pictures, etc. and I didn’t. But, here I am, rereading 33 notes of encouragement and love while listening to the song that has been passed down throughout the years for SWithdrawal and crying when people say cute things in our GroupMe.

It’s been a week since our last Freshman Session and it’s been weird being outside of the Summer Welcome bubble, the one I knew I was stuck in all along. It’s hard to explain the hours, pace or environment of the job, though fellow leader Steven tried with a Snapchat story. Through the stupid arguments, annoying guests and uninterested students, there was still a lot of light in our days because of our mission, because of each other and because of our crazy schedule that shoved us into rooms, hallways and napping under tables together. I didn’t cry when I packed up my things from the ResHall room I had been living in since the end of May or when I gave hugs to people in the circle driveway. I didn’t cry then because I knew we weren’t ever saying goodbye to each other. What I am (and probably 33 others) struggling with is how I have to say goodbye to the experiences and opportunities of “Welcoming” that are only created in that bubble and the environment of 34 people interacting so deeply. But, none of us have to say goodbye to the impact that those experiences had on the people with served through the program, as well as each other.

As we all continue to chirp on our GroupMe, SnapChats and other social media outlets about the experiences we had over the past months, remember how lucky we were and what presence we hold on campus. I realized that even with me being slightly out of touch (#Classof2019 taught me a lot about Internet sensations, though), students looked up to me and my role meant a lot to them. Though I don’t know if I will ever completely feel as big as maybe they thought I was, that just pushes me to take those feelings, encouragement, goals, and missions with me for my final year at Mizzou. I can’t welcome thousands of people to a huge transition in their lives and not be able to welcome myself to move on and continue to grow and strive to be the best I can be. I challenge the rest of SWondoro (and my fellow Tigers and friends) to do what we do best–Strive.

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