It was exactly one year ago this May that I graduated college. How is life for me now? Eh…you could say I think about my college life often. Living with my best friends on the beach for four years were some of the greatest times of my life. But college ended and I moved back into my parents’ house 3 hours away from where I went to school.
Living at home the past year, I learned more about myself than I did during my four years at school.
“Start looking for jobs now. I don’t want you to go through what I went through when I graduated college”, my boyfriend said to me during winter break of my senior year. I knew what he was telling me was solid advice but at the time I wasn’t motivated at all to start looking for jobs. To be honest, at that point I didn’t even care that much. My plan was to work at the gym I started working at the summer before my senior year. I thought working part time at the gym would be perfect for the summer. I could make some money, take advantage of the free gym membership, and still enjoy the summer season. Well guess what? I STILL work part time at the gym. Yep, it has been 11 straight months of working part time Monday through Friday at the front desk of New York Sports Clubs.
You might be wondering why I am still at the gym after all this time…sometimes I wonder that too, but I am going to be completely real with you. I look for a full time job almost every day. Now here is the hard thing about looking for a full time job – you kind of need to know what you want to do. Do I know what I want to do? NOPE. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in history, so everyone thinks I want to go into teaching but I’m not sure teaching is for me. I think I want to get into editing and writing? Maybe marketing or PR? Maybe communications or social media?
The one thing I do know is that I’m not exactly sure what I want to do so applying for full time jobs is a challenge because I don’t want to work 9-5 five days a week doing something I dread. It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I am a 23 year old college graduate who does not know what she wants to do. I felt a huge sense of societal pressure to find a full time job as soon as I graduated from college but that hasn’t worked out for me. I apply to jobs and some don’t respond at all. Others respond saying they aren’t interested. One even responded within hours after I submitted my application saying they wanted to set up a phone interview. That was almost a month ago and after sending a follow up email about the phone interview (about a week after the first email they sent me) I still haven’t heard back from them. My best advice about the job search is to stay positive, network with everyone and anyone, and don’t put as much pressure on yourself as I did.
Living with my parents is SO not the same as living with my best friends. But I can’t complain because it’s actually a pretty good deal. My parents don’t make me pay rent, I eat all their food, and they don’t care if my boyfriend sleeps over. The worst part about moving back home is that all of my best friends from college live in New Jersey so I am a good two to three hours away from them in Connecticut. Being far away doesn’t make randomly meeting up for lunch or happy hour a possibility at all. We all try to meet up for the weekend once in a while, but it is difficult to get everyone together. I am thankful for group texts and social media for letting us stay relatively updated on each other’s lives because lets be real, life gets busy and we don’t get to talk every day like we used to.
So it may have taken some time, but I have adjusted to living with my parents, being away from my best friends, and I finally accepted my job situation. But where does that leave me?
Am I happy with my life? Right now – sitting on my bed with my cat cuddled next to me – yes I am happy. But was I happy this past year after graduation? Hell no. There was a period of a few months were I felt extremely low. I felt lost, insecure, and unsatisfied (most of it having to do with my job…there was a time I felt embarrassed to still be working part time at a gym). These feelings transferred into my relationship with my parents and my boyfriend. I was unhappy with myself and I was taking it out on them. After working out my problems and accepting where I was in life my relationships improved. Then it was time to work on my relationship with myself because if I wasn’t truly happy with myself, I couldn’t be truly happy with anyone else (cliché, I know, but so true).
My uncle gave me a few meditation CDs and I started listening to them once in a while. Now I listen to them multiple times a week (I try to listen to one everyday but like I said before, life gets busy and sometimes you just don’t have time). Meditating everyday or just a few days a week has helped to alter my state of mind. Now I can easily shrug off little things that I would get so mad over in the past. Meditating has also helped me to be more rational and clear headed which have had a positive impact on all my relationships. Next, it was time for me to have a focus, and for my focus I chose crossfit. I always enjoyed working out and in the past year actually I got myself into the best shape of my life, but now it is time to become an athlete. I want to be better, stronger, and faster than I was yesterday. Giving myself a focus like crossfit makes me feel great because I am doing something purely for me.
Life after graduating college is hard. The past year has been difficult for me but I am finally finding my footing. I have learned being happy in the real world doesn’t mean having a high paying full time job like I thought it did. What I want for myself now is to have a rich life. I don’t mean rich in a monetary sense, but rich in a satisfying, balanced, full, and well-rounded way. I want enjoy my time with myself and others. I want feel fulfilled with myself and in my relationships. My life is still a work in progress, but unlike before, I feel present for the journey.