A Thought On: Graduating College

I've been out of school for almost two years now. Some days, it really does seem like yesterday that I was laying on the floor in the hallway outside my classroom, trying not to have a panic attack about a critique happening that day. (It went fine.) Most of the time, it feels like I've been out of school for yeaaaars. And when I say yeaaaars I mean like 10 years. Almost like it never happened. Time is weird. It just is.

(L-R) My dear friend Katie brought me to our graduation! // Oh look. On the floor. The panic mentioned above. // A group of us towards the end of college. Such a great time!

(L-R) My dear friend Katie brought me to our graduation! // Oh look. On the floor. The panic mentioned above. // A group of us towards the end of college. Such a great time!

There are a few things I wish I had known in my last semester of college, and I'm going to tell my former self that in a minute, but first I want to give a bit of a backstory. College took me 6 years to finish. 1 year at a private Christian school, 1.5 years at a community college to finish an Associate of Arts degree (my credits were messed up so it should have only been 1 year), 1 semester at NIU, 1 semester at a Leadership Institute in Colorado, and then 2.5 more years at NIU once I moved home. WHEW. It's a lot I know. I was due to have a 7th year of school, but some of us only had six classes left and the sequence of them was supposed to be spread over 4 semesters. No. Just no. So somehow they worked it out to put all those classes in just 2 semesters for us, and we were able to graduate a year early. Party! But with that, came a lot of stress, sleepless nights, anxiety, fear, and self-doubt. I love the design program at NIU. I seriously think it was the best education I could have received for what I wanted to do. It was also really hard, and took a lot of time. On top of having a very full course load, I was working at Starbucks–which meant a lot of free coffee and a lot of days working at 4:30am. Pair that with night classes and you have a very messed up sleep schedule. I think I've blocked out most of that last semester from my memory. I know this is just a super jumbled paragraph, but college for me was super jumbled. I lived at home, worked really hard, got good grades, and somehow managed to stay involved at church. That was the year I learned how to be organized. I began to have little patience for people who weren't doing their homework. (Come on guys. College is expensive. Why are you there if you aren't going to work hard? Especially if you aren't working a job during school. Like, what are you even doing with your time?) That's just a rant I've needed to get out for a few years now. ANYWAY. Things I wish I knew.

  1. You will get a job. Even though you go back to Starbucks for a couple months after your internship ends, you will get a job.
  2. Not only will you get a job, but you will have 3 jobs in the 2 years after you graduate, and few additional job offers you turn down.
  3. Freelancing is actually fun! Even if you have a terrible client. You can charge them more. They might actually pay you that additional amount. (And if they email you asking to do another project, you can say no, for sanity purposes.)
  4. You will escape working in advertising, after you have an internship in advertising. (Not that advertising is bad, I just didn't see myself there long-term.)
  5. You will eventually learn about working with pantone colors, print guidelines, and mailing requirements–none of which were taught to you in school. (Did I just majorly miss something in school? Thank goodness for google and patient printers.)
  6. You are basically getting paid to do homework. Such a fun switch from paying to work. (This is how I viewed school towards the end...terrible I know.)
  7. You might actually be good at what you do, and your bosses might actually like you. (This is the self-doubt I was talking about earlier. More often in school, we hear the things we need to change, improve on, or fix. None of those things are bad, I was just worried I would never ever ever get a job in design.)
  8. You will love collaborating with others, learning to work on a team with copywriters, developers, and art directors. (Such a change from doing everything yourself in school!)
  9. Nothing can really prepare you for life after graduating from design classes. Every experience is different, and a lot of it has to do with your work ethic, organizational skills, and attitude.
  10. You will still enjoy learning. You will still love design. You always want to learn more, do better work, and enjoy the process.

I'm not writing this to brag or give myself a pat on the back. I'm writing this to remind myself, and maybe even you, that sometimes things don't happen how we think they will. There isn't this magical combination of steps that will add up to a perfect outcome. I really believe if you work hard at things, there will probably be a good outcome at some point. I'm not saying play basketball for 20 hours a day and you'll make it big time playing basketball. I'm saying, take a look at what you like to do–what you're good at. Make goals, work hard towards them, and be willing to give it all a little bit of time.

Adventure: Starved Rock State Park

This adventure was the recharge I needed. Starved Rock is gorgeous during any season, but nothing has taken my breath away there the way frozen waterfalls did this past Sunday. I was so giddy the whole drive there, and even during the first part of our hike. You guys. Winter is a beautiful season. The shades of blue, green, and grey. Everything is peaceful.

The paths were completely covered with snow and ice, except a few stairs here and there. We've decided we should probably invest in better hiking shoes for me, and possibly even clamp on ice shoes for the both of us! The hike to this next canyon...was...interesting. I'll leave it at that. The river was also almost completely frozen. Aaron thought the wind blowing across the vastness sounded like a dragon trapped under the icy surface. Correction from Aaron, "But it wasn’t the sound of wind over the ice that made that sound: it was the ice cracking and reverberating in itself as the temperature changed." I wish we would have had more time to gaze at this view, but darkness was approaching quickly.

Such beauty in creation.

Adventure Preview

Over the weekend, Aaron and I ventured to Starved Rock State Park. Starved Rock has a huge spot in our hearts. We starting dating there, got engaged there, and had our engagement photos done there. We have been wanting to visit in the winter since we started dating, and it finally worked out! Here is just a preview of our day, as I'll blog more photos tomorrow.

Adventure Preview // Starved Rock State Park

Writing Prompt

"There’s no longer breathing room in our lives. We can’t wait in line, watch a sunset, or even use the bathroom without taking out our tiny devices to fill an imaginary void. When these small gaps are constantly filled, we close the room our creativity needs to flourish." 

Death to the Stock and Medium collaborated to bring images and writing prompts together. I've enjoyed the process, and wanted to pass it along.

Writing Prompt // Paul Jarvis // Death to the Stock // Briana Kapper

How do you give yourself the space necessary to create?

Earlier this week, I mentioned how I enjoy my spot on the blue couch in our living room. Although it is a spot of comfort, where many thoughts are spurred on, it isn't where I feel most creative. My job is to be creative and solve problems all day, so creativity in my free time has become tricky. Graphic design involves a lot of face time with a computer screen, so I find taking a step back is the best.

Writing Prompt // Paul Jarvis // Death to the Stock // Briana Kapper

Here are some ways I've found helpful for finding the space necessary to create–guess what? None of it involves technology. 

  • Aaron and I enjoy being outside. There is something so invigorating about fresh air, moody skies, and nature. Even though it takes me forever to build up the courage to face the cold, it's always worth it. Even dancing in the rain is thrilling.
  • We visited Nashville for our honeymoon and found ourselves talking so much about art, people, community, and faith on our drive home. Getting out of your daily routine is great for creativity.
  • Exercise. Exercise gives me the space necessary to create. It helps to remove stress, it focuses my mind on something else, and my body feels refreshed and motivated to work on a project.
  • Cleaning. Having a clean workspace when I'm overwhelmed kind of makes me forget everything and I can really focus on what I'm doing.
  • I love cooking. I like making somewhat complicated meals, learning to time things so everything is done at the same time. Cooking is creative. It makes wheels turn, I get to eat delicious food, and then I'm ready for whatever is next.
  • Sometimes I just doodle or sketch. Especially if I'm having a hard time with concepts. Even if I'm just processing things in life, I find it helpful to write out my thoughts and prayers. Paper. Always use paper.
  • If all else fails, coffee with a friend is always a real treat. I'm focused on someone else and enjoying coffee. For some reason that's a magical combination and I leave feeling inspired.
Writing Prompt // Paul Jarvis // Death to the Stock // Briana Kapper

How do you give yourself the space necessary to create?

All images, the quote, and the writing prompt were found here.


The Quiet Place

I enjoy silence. I really am an introvert.

My favorite spot in the apartment is the blue couch. It is kind of a disgusting couch, but I love it despite its unattractiveness. I'm honestly just thankful to have a couch.

The Quiet Place

This is where I sit and do a multitude of random tasks. Budgeting, thinking, reading, designing, freelancing, writing, being quiet. My favorite time of day is mid-afternoon on this couch. I sit in the silent apartment, the only sound being cars driving by. It feels like the only time I can really think clearly. I write lists about dreams, goals, to-dos…and I'm just quiet.

I think everyone needs to be okay with quiet. Just being alone with your thoughts. You learn a lot about yourself there. Your fears and dreams really make an appearance in the quiet. It really is a beautiful place.

I challenge you to take 15 minutes this week of just being quiet. Enjoy.