Guys. This post isn’t about how ratchet my life is (what?!).
I signed up for umpteen recruiting events for work yesterday (like literally all that I could possibly go to, except on my birthday, because yeah I’m gonna be blackout). And I got SO HYPE to go back to Charlottesville! I was texting and emailing people I haven’t talked to in months, planning out my food schedule (which is now at approx 8 meals per day + bringing home Bodo’s for me and the roomies to stockpile), and dreaming about wineries (that I won’t be able to go to, because I’m there for work… wah).
Many of my peers spent the weeks leading up to graduation in a state of reflection, and I did some of that, but my time was very occupied with 40 hours of work a week. I was also pretty disillusioned with UVA at the time because I was so burnt out and ready to begin the next phase of my life. Now, I feel like I am in a space to adequately express how grateful I am for my four wonderful years at Mr. Jefferson’s University.
Alpha Kappa Psi
I remember the first AKPsi rush event that I attended was an information session in February 2012, my second semester of college. I had just declined to join a sorority, and was still searching for a core group to call my own, which I had determined was the key to thriving socially at the school. When I saw the chalking around grounds for “The University’s oldest co-ed professional business fraternity” (wow what a mouthful) I was intrigued. Scared that the only other people there would be Asian guys who were die-hard set on I-Banking, but intrigued. I figured one info session wouldn’t hurt.
So, not only did one info session not hurt, it changed my life so much for the better. It was not all Asian guys, although they were definitely representin’. The people were really cool! And the presenters, Will and Vivek, were hilarious. I instantly fell in love, but didn’t get my hopes up because I knew how competitive the process was (narrowing down the 100+ rushees to a 15 person pledge class).
The day I got my bid to AKPsi was probably one of the best days of my life, right up there with, idk, being born? And I could have never predicted in that moment how much I would gain over the next four years. I made my best friends both in my pledge class and in the brotherhood as a whole. I developed my professional skills and secured my first internship, which I adored and am infinitely thankful for, through an alumni brother. Through countless hour-long one-on-one meetings with every member of the fraternity, I honed a keen ability to talk to anyone, which has been a crucial element to my success on Tinder dates.
Then, there were leadership roles – VP of Professional Events, pledge dean (THE MOST VALUABLE THING I HAVE EVER DONE, I LOVE MY PLEDGE BABIES), and designated party girl/hostess. Now, I was not shy before I joined, but the transformation that I and others saw in myself over my time in the fraternity is truly shocking. I know that I will never lose touch with these lifelong friends, and not just because I need a plot to hang out at for Foxfield. Although that may have something to do with it.
Group Fitness / Personal Training
I have to give the credit for this one to my good friend Bexx, who I was on a hiking trip with the summer before I started college. Bexx was two years older, and she highly recommended a class called “Intro to Instructing Group Exercise” that was taught in the fall. My schedule for that fall was full to the brim, but that class stayed at the back of my mind, and I immediately searched for it when it was time to register for my Fall 2012 courses. The University Registrar gods blessed me with an early sign up time (for that semester and that semester only, ugh) so I somehow made it in, and embarked on a semester of waking up early on Tuesday/Thursday and walking 1.5 miles to the gym to have class.
I made great friends in class, but the true benefit of the class was the ability to become a certified fitness instructor at the end of the semester. I passed my audition with flying colors, and would spend the next 2.5 years teaching classes of all kinds: bootcamp, strength, kickboxing, yoga, and the occasional random sub or special themed class (90’s aerobics, anyone?).
Teaching isn’t easy, y’all. There were so many Sunday mornings (9 AM) where I had too much to drink the night before, or hadn’t gotten to bed until 4 am, but it was my job to be at the gym (still 1.5 miles away…) by 8:45 to prep for kickboxing. I sacrificed Thursday afternoon happy hours to teach my bootcamp class. And every damn time it was worth it. The best feeling in the world was having a participant come up to me after class and tell me how hard I pushed them, or how good they felt, or how much they looked forward to my class every week. Every one of my participants was like family!
There is no chance that I can write about things I miss and not mention Paradox! It was amazing how quickly a job that started as a way to a) fulfill my need to bake on a near-daily basis and b) fund my party-girl lifestyle turned into a home. Everyone who worked at Paradox was my best friend, and don’t even get me started on our customers. These were THE NICEST people in the world, always with a smile, a kind word, and a willingness to chat. On my worst days, I would pray that I got called into work, because I knew that would help me out whatever was bothering me out of my mind. When I was running around between the register, the dishwasher, and the ovens/baking counters, I didn’t have time to think about anything negative – I had to truly be present. It was a little bit like yoga, in that way.
Some people said I was crazy for spending my last year at school working so much, but it was really the best thing that I could have done. I need to be busy, and Paradox kept me busy in the best way. Not to mention all the friends I made by bringing them leftover baked goodies!
I love my job. It has enough structure that my dominant left brain is happy, enough room for creativity that I stay sane, and the best people in the world who impress and entertain me on a daily basis. My work-life balance is great, and I live in the greatest possible area that I can imagine. But that’s not to say that I don’t sometimes wish I could go back to being a first year and experience it all again! Charlottesville is the greatest city, and I am so thankful for the friends, experiences, and memories that I gained at UVA. I will cherish it all forever.