I don’t think my college experience was typical. Freshman year, I got permission to live in a room by myself, so I missed out on having the roomate experience my first year and received a lot of questions about why I was able to have a room alone. At this point, I didn’t really feel like explaining my situation to everybody, so I just usually told people it was by chance or that I had a health reason. I resided in the all girls dorm and met a good cluster of friends there and things were going great. This happened to be the year my parents got divorced as well, so I was dealing with a little bit of emotion there, but overall, it didn’t affect me too much.
My sophomore year, I roomed with a friend I met my freshman year. This is also the year I started dating Joe. To say this year was full of turmoil is probably an understatement. My roomate and I had our set of problems and I spent a lot of time back home living with Mom and commuting to school, even though I paid for room and board. I lost a lot of my friends this year due to the roomate issue, but thank goodness I found Joe and a set of friends outside of school to keep me somewhat sane. I also worked at Coldwell Banker on the weekends and Quig’s as a waitress on Fridays.
Junior year, I chose to live at school, but I did not have a roomate. I met another friend that year that I hung out with a lot and we were inseparable for a couple of years thereafter. I had my bunny, Punkin, in my dorm room for company. Joe was still my main squeeze and I would go back and forth to UIC in Chicago to visit him, since we no longer worked at the same place. I think it may have been this year that I had a hospital stay and my lung function had reached a new lower baseline that I couldn’t seem to get back up. However, things seemed to be looking up. One more year until graduation and I could rid myself of the toxic social atmosphere!
Senior year, I lived at home since I was taking half the amount of classes and writing a Senior Thesis. This worked out well and I could not wait to graduate and be DONE with school. I wanted to join the real world so badly! A lot of this year was spent at Barnes and Noble finding the motivation to write about the Flat Tax. I was granted honors for my Thesis, inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, graduated Magna Cum Laude, and was inducted into both the Economics and Spanish Honors Societies. Graduation day was so fulfilling!
Before we started our lives in the working world, Joe and I took a vacation to Fort Lauderdale. We were pretty starved for cash, so we tried to make do very cheaply on this vacation. I will say that we learned a really good lesson about vacation planning and having enough money to actually participate in activities once you get to your destination. This is one mistake we won’t make again. =)
I found my first job at eLoyalty soon after and then was soon recruited by Hewitt Associates. I started as a Quality Assurance Analyst and worked in Northbrook. I started on a huge client pension implementation. Immediately I was thrown into working upwards of 60 hours a week. I cried almost every day for a couple of months because it was so awful. I honestly do not know how I survived and came out a winner on the other side. I do give a lot of credit to the wonderful friends I met there.
I was so stressed out. For a while, Joe and I were having a difficult time because I was so stressed from work, he was trying to find his place in the workforce, and we were learning how to fit together in this new environment. I sincerely believe that this stress in my life caused my Cystic Fibrosis to progress faster. After 2 years, I was able to get off of that awful implementation, but the damage was done. My lung function was going down, I started needing hospital stays about every year. So, the journey into the next 6 years of my life begins – being an adult living with CF and feeling it take over within the last 2.
All said and done, I feel lucky with all the experiences I’ve had - it makes me who I am – strong-willed, tenacious, fiery, caring, loving, honest, understanding, wise, and silly. I mostly would not change them – except I would not have worked so much and I would have kept exercising! But, why dwell on the past? I am looking towards my future…….and it’s looking bright.