a breakfast serial

One bite-sized story every morning to uplift, motivate, or provoke thought.

Archive for University of Wisconsin

Theme: The Real World

< by Jill >

My first week at the University of Wisconsin-Madison was a whirlwind of free pizza and phone numbers attached to first names. I met so many Kellys, Ashleys, and Emilys that my list of contacts bloomed from five to 150. To boot, I ate free meals three times a day with my best friend Mitra, who joined me in making a buffet out of student organization fairs. We ate pizza with the Advertising Club, stacked cherries atop sundaes with the Assembly of International Students (AIS), and gorged on potstickers with the Asian American Student Union (AASU).

By contrast, I acquired zero contacts and ate zero free pizzas during my first week in the real world. I spent my days in a furnace-hot church basement — no air-conditioning, no windows — with group of middle-aged black women who had years of teaching experience and quiet mistrust for the sweaty, red-faced blonde in the corner. We returned to this space daily, learning school policies and procedures as our school underwent reconstruction. I spent my nights wandering from room to room in my apartment, looping like a broken wind-up toy.

The real world wasn’t what I expected. In seven days, I learned that I had to take charge of things that, in college, required no effort — making friends, having internet, and acquiring food, for instance. In truth, I learned more in that first week of the real world than I did during four years of college. Some lessons don’t belong in books, anyway.

Today, more than five years later, the real world’s still kicking my butt. The lessons never stop. Here’s one: I can’t manage a blog, go to yoga school, plan a wedding, start a company, train for a marathon, have friendships, get a full-night’s sleep, and maintain a full-time job all at once. So, from now until September, I’ve chosen to lighten my load with one small step: I’m going to post content five days a week instead of six. So I hope to see you Monday–Friday, for better content from a more balanced, rested Jill.