Column by Julie Mansmann

Julie Mansmann
Julie Mansmann

When the people around you ask why you are still here on a daily basis, it can get a little unnerving.

No, I have no proof that the general population hates me other than my  paranoid “rationalizations” that no one could stand being around a humorless control freak who twitches on a regular basis. These people are asking me this off-putting question because, actually, I  wasn’t going to be here in New Paltz for the next few months.

I should be a “real” person right now, crying about my unemployment and figuring out how I should pay back my student loans. I should be at home on Long Island, wondering how much longer I could actually stand living in a suburban wasteland that has nothing to offer 20-something-year-olds. I should have bills.

I was supposed to be a December graduate.

I shouldn’t be so whiny about the whole thing, I know. I am getting my degree perfectly on time in four full years over the course of eight neat semesters. My spring semester schedule isn’t hefty, and I had no problems finishing my degree and the general education curriculum.

But being the ever-regretful being that I am, I can’t help but feel that I really shouldn’t still be here. I am the one who chose my May graduation date, and I can’t help but think that I might have chosen wrong.

Last semester, I decided to take on an internship in business, outside of my journalistic areas of interest, for the sake of networking for future jobs that would allow me to live somewhere other than my mother’s basement. I learned a whole lot about corporate America, and that I shouldn’t abandon my newspaper dreams so quickly. I loved the people I worked with and I gained a lot of useful advertising knowledge, so it was well worth my time.

Taking on this internship meant I had to be working in Manhattan three days a week. Simple subtraction would indicate that I had only left two days for classes. I also happen to be completely insane and chose to maintain my position as editor-in-chief of this fine publication, too. Those last three classes I needed to get my diploma in December didn’t all fit in between commuting, caffeine-induced newspaper production and sorting through ad sales data.

That’s why I am still here.

If I wasn’t still here, I could have applied for a reporting job at a local newspaper I interned for last summer — a job that the man who would have been my boss was highly recommending me for to his editor. If I wasn’t still here, I could have applied for an advertising job at my last internship where, by the way, all departments sponsor Friday drinking in the office from the company “beer cart.” If I wasn’t still here, I would have saved a whole bunch of money in tuition dollars.

Should have, could have, would have…I wish my brain would stop sometimes. Instead, I should be thinking about all that I am gaining by still being here.

For the next four months, I don’t have to worry about bills. I get to learn from an award-winning journalist who is teaching a class here for one semester only. I also got to enroll in classes I wanted to take that don’t fall into my major plan. I still see some of the best friends I have ever had every week, because we haven’t moved away to other cities or states yet. And last but certainly not least, I will continue to write, read and laugh with the wonderful Editorial board of The New Paltz Oracle as I contribute to 11 more issues.

A lot of things could have been if I didn’t make the choices I made last fall. But I had so many experiences that were worthwhile, and I am going to have more here in New Paltz this spring. Yes, the seemingly missed job opportunities  gone by still hurt to think about. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be.

I am trying to have faith that everything is going to be OK. Yeah, I said it: faith.

In the words of Rachel Freeman: who even am I anymore?