You’ve Got a Friend in Journals

For my post this month, I decided to share with you guys an excerpt from my journal. No, this isn’t because I’ve been procrastinating writing something and I’m short on time. With finals season rapidly approaching and the academic year just about over, I’ve found myself running into a bit of academic difficulty. Of course, this is the HONORS blog, so I might just be making a fool out of myself in front of a bunch of straight A students who will read this and laugh at my ineptitude, but I feel that I ‘m not alone in this situation. College can be a stressful, daunting place, but I feel that if we share our experiences – both the good and the bad – we can find that we have more in common with each other after all.

“Monday, April 3rd, 2017 10:11 p.m.

I just failed my [managerial] accounting exam. I really just don’t have anything to say about it. I really don’t see how anyone could ever learn to live with such a burning, raging anger mixed with an utter hopelessness borne out of doing so poorly on a test. I literally worked myself up, it happened so quickly. We had 80 minutes to do 24 questions. I don’t remember the first 40 minutes, other than skipping the 2nd and 3rd questions, confidently reassuring myself that I would come back to them. Then it was the 40-minute mark all of a sudden, I think I was on like #9 or 10 and it just went downhill from there. I think, at the discouragement from not being able to figure out a few problems, my brain automatically skipped to the conclusion that I was going to fail (which obviously became a self-fulfilling prophecy) and then the mind conversations started and suddenly I was defending my honor in front of my mother and Aunt Fran, yelling at them that they don’t understand the pressure I’m under to please myself, let alone them, with good grades. Do they realize the extra weight of their expectations and everybody else’s that I have to prove and embody. It’s so hard to live up to these great expectations set for me over these past 19 almost 20 years and how I need to one day be able to bear the medical costs of my rapidly aging parents on day and what happens if I can’t do that… and by the time I realized what I was doing and cut off the train of thought, I was sitting there nearly about to burst into tears. I had to quickly calm myself down, like really quickly, only to find myself having to navigate what was all of a sudden an inconceivable obstacle course of accounting terms and formulas. I definitely had another mini distradown, which is my word for a distraction mixed with a breakdown. The contents of the second one elude me but it was definitely in response to just not being able to get a handle on what the heck was going on.

When I don’t know how to do something outside of a test, I either abandon it (because, and for reasons I don’t want to get into here, I was never really taught the virtue of perseverance and I was always able, growing up, to avoid my problems or at least create the illusion that there was no problem), or, if I can’t avoid it, like when I’m studying for a test, I look at the answer key immediately… or I just skip the problem. In the test I am obviously not allowed that luxury, and it quickly upsets me, as we have seen; and I have to busy myself justifying that upsetness to all who would question it and planning for the future in which I flunk out of the business school and asking myself, ‘Trevor, how the heck did you let this happen to yourself? You know you’re better than this, but you can’t even take an accounting exam properly so are you really even that great?’

I struggle with how to deal with this nagging inner demon, who takes advantage of my short attention span and bombards me with negative thinking and just a whole lot of noise when noise is exactly what I don’t need. I’m also really not used to this feeling because tests usually aren’t so difficult for me (except word problem tests which… wait… end the parenthesis for this)… do I just have this problem with word problem tests? Because I was about to say that this extreme difficulty and the accompanying mental anguish only really has ever happened with math tests, and this semester, those tests were the two accounting and two statistics midterms. Wait, so the fact that your weakest subject is math is not a stunning revelation. But is it specifically an issue with word problems? Because I can memorize and follow a formula great, but it you teach me a difficult math concept and flip it and twist it and turn it inside out into a critical thinking word problem? meep meep runaway road runner style.

So we need to start by stimulating the pressure of the test environment and build our testing muscles here. My hand’s tired and OCD wants me to end with this here.”

 

The entry was, for the most part, unedited, but I hope that my stream-of-consciousness writing is not to confusing for the readers. At the end of the entry, I had reached the end of the page, which is where that minor OCD kicked in. Also, please don’t be alarmed that I sometimes reference myself as “we.” I do not suffer from schizophrenia or multiple personality disorder, I just refer to myself in the plural so that when I reread my journal entries (or in this case, share them with other people) it accounts for the audience.

Speaking of journal entries, I really recommend that people get journals and write in them whenever they feel the need. They are like a friend that you can pour all your darkest secrets into and not fear them telling everyone. I’m also very scatterbrained, and it usually helps me get most or all of my thoughts onto a canvas, where I can go back and observe what’s happened to me over this crazy life. And, as you guys saw in the last paragraphs of the entry, it even helps me come to some sort of solution to my problems. Anyway, I hope that by sharing my experience of failure, that I’ve helped show people that it happens from time to time, and that it doesn’t just happen to them. Good luck on finals, everyone! I’ll be studying extra hard this time.

For those of us not going to Cancun

If you’re like me, you, for whatever reason, will not be jettisoning off to some exotic, beachfront location this Spring Break. I keenly look forward to scrolling through my Instagram, seeing photos of my peers sipping on various fruity ~virgin~ cocktails (probably), admiring how good their tan looks under that sepia filter. Even my two best friends from home are out for the week. One went to St. Louis for a conference, the other to Budapest, Hungary for a Penn State something or other…I don’t know the details. But hey, they’re exes, so I guess it’s good that they’re on opposite sides of the world.

If you’re from New Jersey, you might think you’re hometown is dull and unexciting. The observation doesn’t make it fact, but I’ve overheard many a conversation go something like this:

“Oh I’m from [Town in New Jersey], you’ve probably never heard of it, yeah it’s [explains what bigger towns Town is near].. yeah it’s pretty boring there’s nothing really to do. There’s a mall nearby but it’s meh.”

New Jersey can seem fairly mundane, especially when much of it looks like frozen wasteland in March when Miami Beach looks like, well, Miami Beach. But to be honest, what do you expect when you’re trapped in an ocean of suburb?! Now, I’m probably going to write about Urban Planning in later blog posts because it’s kind of my “thing”, but let this mini rant serve as a prelude. Like, can you name where in NJ this place is?

Bergen

Even if you do, you probably can’t even point out any recognizable landmarks other than the malls and the golf courses.

Luckily, New Jersey is cozily nestled between two cities which offer great respites of land from this sea of suburbia. New York offers a whole new world of things to do, and… I’ve.. never really explored Philly so I won’t pretend to know what to do there..but I’ve been told some good things! The things to do below are hopefully not too out of the way or intimidating. Most importantly, there might be a reason you didn’t spend all that money to go-a-partying down in Cabo. For me, it was because all that money didn’t exist, so these things will also be on the cheap or even free side. We all have different definitions of cheap and expensive, so I’ll try to keep these at the range of a typical run to Applebee’s for half-price-apps so, like, $10-$30. Also side note, even though Spring Break falls on America’s celebration of Irish heritage and national drinking holiday, none of these things explicitly include alcohol. Find those types of things yourself, my twentieth birthday is next month.

New York City

Met Museum

We must start off with a basic one, but there’s a reason it’s here. While it doesn’t have quite the elegance and grandeur as places like the Louvre, it still manages to provide a new and unique  experience every time you visit. Most importantly, it’s free (kind of, there’s a recommended donation of $25 but you can pay nothing if you wish). There’s thousands of objets d’art from all over the world on permanent exhibition, but there’s great exhibitions on display currently. There’s a particularly interesting one that centers around a Circus painting by the famous impressionist painter Seurat, though hopefully no clowns show up.

Queens Museum

This museum is a hike, all the way out in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, but totally worth it. The land the park occupies used to be what F. Scott Fitzgerald called the Valley of Ashes in The Great Gatsby, that ash dump between the Eggs and Manhattan. Robert Moses, parks commissioner for the city, turned it into a great park for the 1939 World’s Fair. The museum was the New York City pavilion at the fair and served as the seat of the United Nations General Assembly before it’s current headquarters were built from 1946-1950. It has since been renovated to hold some interesting exhibits. Its flagship attraction is an almost ten thousand square foot panorama of the city. Truly a sight to see, it was constructed for the 1965 World’s Fair. Fair-goers could take a ride around offering a “God’s eye view” of the city. It’s not quite an exact replica – since it’s refurbishing in 1992, new buildings are slowly. In a symbolic gesture, the Twin Towers still stand where they once did, even though they’re only some 18 inches tall.

Improv @ UCB

The Upright Citizens Brigade was started by a handful of comedians in Chicago in 1980. Since then, the improv troupe has been offering classes at its four locations around the country. It is responsible for such big names as Aziz Ansari, Adam McKay, Aubrey Plaza, and Amy Poehler, who helped found the Brigade. There are two locations in New York, and while the classes require a good amount of time and money, their shows are for the most part under $10 and a good stop for some laughs.

UCB Chelsea307 W. 26th St, New York, NY 10001

UCB East Village153 East 3rd St, New York, NY 10009

Smorgasburg

There are countless places to find food in New York. Sometimes, people will have the great idea of putting a bunch of restaurants into one, big food destination. It would seem there are also countless such places in the city as well. There’s the classic Chelsea Market, two Eataly’s (for those looking for Italian food), a Le District (for French food), and many more. My personal favorite is Smorgasburg, which is essentially a gathering of the best of New York’s food truck cuisine. During the winter, Smorgasburg sets up at 1 Hanson Place in Brooklyn, but come April 1st, it moves to East River State Park in Williamsburg on Saturdays and Prospect Park on Sundays. Going on Saturday offers a gorgeous view of the Manhattan skyline and some of the best food I’ve ever had.

Noodle Palaces

For those of you who are looking for a nice sit down dinner, or you’re too scared to venture into Brooklyn, the best way to go is downtown Manhattan, specifically Chinatown. Whereas meals just about everywhere else come paired with the typically exorbitant prices for food, some Chinese restaurants downtown are sometimes cheaper than the average New Brunswick meal. I personally suggest two places: Noodle Village & Great NY Noodletown, both within two blocks from each other. Both have a very cozy feeling and are good for going in groups, where dumplings can be shared and spicy food can be endured together.

Noodle Village: 13 Mott Street, New York, NY

Great NY Noodletown: 28 Bowery, New York, NY

 

No matter what you decide to do this spring break, I hope you have a good one!

 

BTW that picture above is of Bergen County, specifically the boroughs of Paramus, River Edge, and New Milford and others.