I stepped in sh*t, but I guess I’ll run

Sometimes I really wonder where I’ve derived a compulsivity to be so fiercely independent.

While my friends were planning spring break vacations to beaches and resorts in January, I was taking the time to think about my time (a common theme I’ve adapted this semester). Through that thinking, I came to the decision that I wasn’t really about beaches and bars for my senior spring break. I wanted to take on something new; I love doing things on my own. And then I got an email.

The Hussman School of Journalism and Media offers career treks that help place students with alumni in areas around the country with the opportunity to network and develop lasting connections. While most of these trips are booked in the fall semester, I was notified via the school listserver that there were some openings for their spring break trip to San Francisco. 

I wish I knew why I did, but I immediately filled out the form. My first trip to California took place last October when I roamed around Southern California trying to see where I would fit in as a wanna-be film publicist. I had always heard great things about the Bay Area. Sure it’s expensive, but for really great Asian cuisine, Ghirardelli chocolate, and a chance to see the location of planet Endor as seen in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi? Why not have an excuse to go?

I was in a Trader Joes examining bell peppers when I got notified that not only I had a spot on this trip if I wanted it, but that I also received additional funding to cover airfare and any other additional costs I might come across. By the time I had made it to the frozen food section I had called my parents, gotten their approval, and was drafting an email back to the school to let them know I was all-in. 

Within three days, my spring break travels went from non-existent to completely planned. Rather than just staying for the three days the school had scheduled to tour agencies and companies, I had extended my departure date and booked an Airbnb so I could meet with additional contacts that were in my dream professions as entertainment communicators. 

It was a win-win-win. A new place, *most* expenses paid, and I was going to have the opportunity to expand my network in an industry I am so itching to be apart of. 

Then came Corona. A beautiful and vengeful virus, she is. 

I don’t have to explain how this virus has turned almost every corner of our world upside down. The unknowns continue to remain as more and more cases are reported around the globe. People are dying, the rate of infection has baffled health professionals, and the toll it has taken on society has quickly disrupted world economics, travel, and politics. 

As this virus has made its way to the States, California is one of few locations seeing its impacts beginning to spread. With 54 cases reported and one death to date, Governor Newsom’s declaring a state of emergency prompted my university, among many others, to ban students and faculty to travel to California and other areas seeing breakouts in the virus. 

I was trying not to burn my tongue on sweet potato tots in Linda’s last night when I got a text from my brother saying “sorry sis,” prompting me to viciously read a fine-print email at almost 1 a.m. that kind of took the rug out from under me.   

Everything soon became a lose-lose-lose situation. I had no plans to travel for my last spring break in college, I wasn’t going to get a refund for my reservations, and I wasn’t going to get those opportunities to connect with those at Apple, Google, Pixar, and elsewhere. 

Don’t get me wrong, I totally get why these precautions are necessary. Doesn’t mean they don’t suck any less.  

I’m not writing about this roadblock to indicate that there’s some sort of silver lining to it – it’s too premature to say so – or to say that this happened for some greater reason that will benefit me – unless you count my “greater reason” having more hours to cuddle my Goldendoodle, Hannah, for the next 10 days. 

Why am I writing about this is to say that making plans is great, and we can put a lot of excitement into making and enacting them, but sometimes stuff just happens. As much as we want to be owed something or felt sorry for when things go awry, we end up learning about living with uncertainties and lost control. I’ve been told by those older than me, this is called adulting. 

As a senior two-months shy of graduation with no call-backs for interviews or job offers to date, I imagined this trip as a tiny something I could hold onto that assured me that I am headed in the right direction; that I’m doing everything I can to produce a result I’ve been working toward for my entire academic and pre-professional career. 

I’ve had to say to myself today, and will probably throughout the next few, in response to that thought: “it’s just a trip.”

I’ll refer to an extremely overhyped movie where a mentally-handicapped man runs across the country to get over his childhood sweetheart: 

Mr. Gump steps in sh*t, but what does he do?

*in Tom Hanks’ Gump voice* He just keeps run-nang. 

So I’m going to, too. 

Maybe this San Francisco trip was going to lead to something to help my future career, or maybe it wasn’t. The point is that since I was the one that carved that opportunity in the first place to mimic some sort of “security,” I will also be the one who creates the next thing to keep me moving in the direction I want. 

Stuff. “It happens.” 

But in closing: please just wash your hands, guys. 

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