Tidbits & Tales from That First Year After College: A Collection of Essays
Tidbits & Tales from That First Year After College: A Collection of Essays. That’s the title of the first e-book That First Year is publishing today. This e-book is the product of a lot of sweat and tears, and by that I just mean a lot of writing and rewrites and even more rewrites (so, yes, sweat and tears) from 11 contributors offering their biggest lessons from that first year after college.
And here’s the thing: This e-book is only $5. That’s like, one 12 oz. mocha from a locally-owned coffee shop located in a refurbished old home. You can do without one 12 oz. mocha from a locally-owned coffee shop located in a refurbished old home to have in your possession 11 essays that speak on post-grad experiences we all can relate to, right? (Right.) You can purchase the e-book here and support all the fantastic writers who put their hearts into these stories.
Reading these essays, I had to constrain myself on more than one occasion from shouting a chorus of “amens!” and slamming my fists into the desk like an impassioned preacher. Seriously, these writers hit on so many post-grad life truths and in such a vulnerably honest way that I want to hug each person who contributed to this essay collection. It’s one thing to read a classic author like F. Scott Fitzgerald and melt all over the words on the page, it’s another thing to want to fangirl hard over your own peers’ writing. And in this collection’s case, I’m fangirling over my fellow writers, contemplating whether I should ask for autographs now so I can have them on hand when these lovely contributors go one to do really, really cool things. Confession: I even cried reading some of these essays.
If you’re ready to write off my above claims as hyperbole, allow me to offer some of my favorite snippets from each essay below in an effort to convince you of the gold found in this collection.
“But here’s something you might not hear. Something I wish every college graduate was told when they see campus in their rearview mirror. You, the one who lives at home, the unemployed, the lonely and afraid, the chaotic and crazed, the brokenhearted and the dreamer, the uncertain and the overworked. Yes, you. You will feel the need to prove yourself in every possible way. You'll want to show the world that you're worth something, and you'll use benchmarks like a cushy job or passport stamps or a sparkly engagement ring to rate your success.” - Kristen Jones
“The struggle of self-confidence might not make itself apparent, because my behavior points directly to a self-assured woman. I tend to openly and loudly speak my mind. A source of that pride is the two long lines of strong women from which I hail. My mother’s mother is rumored to have been a few minutes into the car ride of a first date when her gentleman caller announced that he wanted to join the Marine Corps. Noble declaration, except he pronounced the ‘p’ in ‘Corps,’ which everyone knows is silent. Without skipping a beat, she immediately instructed him to please take her home. And so he did. If she isn’t a self-assured, confident woman, I don’t know who is.” - Laurel Dicus
“Having a part-time job in college and going to classes is still way different than having a full-time job, mostly because you can use your college status as a safety net. The first year out is an extreme adjustment and often a brutal one. So sometimes you just need to remind yourself that being an adult with real responsibilities is hard and pat yourself on the back just for remembering to pay your electric bill.” - Meredith Galyon
“Being both young and female adds a few extra obstacles. I need to look professional, but I have to be careful of how nice I look. As I mentioned before, some guys seem clueless as to how to give a compliment. There’s a big difference between ‘you look nice’ and ‘you look gooood.’ One is a compliment; the other is an insinuation.” - Katie Bursley
“I am not able to offer a reasonable explanation for such a decision; I can only say that I drove to California because I didn’t have another plan. I was craving something that I didn’t know how to identify, a craving I now know to call aliveness. The first day in the car on my way out west something started to resurrect within me, something I had been attempting to suffocate in an effort to be a real adult in a post-grad world. My sense of adventure was being reawakened, and my joy screamed loud against the desert scenery that rubbed up against I-40 in New Mexico and Arizona.” - Chelsey Satterlee
“A higher education degree is just a piece of really expensive paper. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t define you. You may think it does, but it doesn’t. I wasn’t taking my own advice at the time. I was letting that stupid piece of paper written in fancy typography control my life. That flimsy piece of paper which I can rip right down the middle so effortlessly was holding so much power over my happiness for so long.” - Annalise Kraus
“My mistakes with others are not something I see as a live-and-learn opportunity for growth but rather as evidence of my fraudulence as a human being, as though that one work email I sent to the team with incomplete information screams of my incapability to do anything right. I once had to put my name on the board in kindergarten for talking in class. I believe that was my first experience with heartbreak.” - Ally Willis (weird to quote myself?)
“Crossing the graduation stage is the largest sigh of relief, yet surge of fear I have ever encountered. On one hand, you feel that you have accomplished all you have set out to do, but on the flip side is the fact that you don’t yet have a full-time job, you’re renting your first apartment, student loan payments are creeping up, and this is just the beginning of your burdens.” - Quinn Graden
“I am a wanderer and a storyteller. But there are some things that I cannot rationalize into a three-act tale. There are some stories that I cannot even tell myself and stories that I cannot relive from beginning to end. I can only stand to remember them in pieces. I carry them with me, stuffed deep, deep down. I take them out once a year or so; I try to revise them so that they are not so sharp, not so strong, but I cannot change them. They refuse to be weakened. They are like tea that has been steeped for far too long. Bitter, cooled down and very hard to swallow.” - Rachel Mallison
“One of the hardest things for me during this first year after graduation was not only no longer being able to define myself as an undergrad, but no longer being able to define myself at all. I was so used to measuring increments of time by school years, because it seemed to set such concrete phases of our lives into place: those cringe-worthy middle school picture days, those football games in high school you only went to in hopes he would notice you there, those college years when we did whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, simply because we wanted to. When I look back on it all, I don’t remember the years, really. I just remember who I was during them. And it was so daunting that summer after graduation to accept that now, without the simplicity of identifying myself this way, there was only me.” - Alyssa Votto
“Too often we find ourselves on the edge of the decision-making process, only to overthink it and back away. We’ll boil it down to bad timing or uncertainty, but the truth is, it’s impossible to know what could make us happy (or miserable) unless we take some risks and try some shit out. Because if we don’t go somewhere, we’re stagnant. If we keep holding off until we’re entirely convinced something is the right move, we’ll never make any moves.” - Lane Sasser
Have I convinced you yet of this essay collection’s brilliance? (I hope so.) Here it is, yours for the taking (for a mere $5, that is). Join us as we navigate in essay form the transitional trenches of That First Year after college.