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I’ve allowed myself to fall into this routine that is toxic to my personal productivity. And I’m the type of person who cannot be fully satisfied from just work, I need to see advancements in my personal life to feel a real sense of accomplishment. But lately, I’ve spent every free moment thinking of all the things I need to do and dreaming up all the things I want to do that I don’t leave myself enough time to actually do them.
“I’m going to therapy.” When that statement was first true for me, the sentence felt slippery, like I couldn’t quite wrap my hands around it, like trying to hold one of those weird liquid-filled sparkly gel blobs we played with as kids (really, what were those?). Or like trying to roll those Spanish “r”s or pronounce those deep-throated “e”s like the French do—it sounded unnatural when I tried to say it. So instead, I said “I’m going to see Sarah” or “I have an appointment” or, mostly, I just don’t say anything at all, keeping it tucked away in my I’d-rather-not-say collection.
Twenty-three has been the hardest year of my life, straight up. And I say that with zero melodrama and with the common sense that there will be years ahead that are worse and years ahead that are better. I know many of you can relate. Maybe this is just our early twenties, or maybe this is just life—this pendulum swinging between the dark and light, wandering and arriving, wondering and knowing, grief and joy.
As I said in my previous post—How to Travel on a Post-Grad Budget, Part 1—it is 180,000% possible to travel on a post-grad budget, and I will continue to defend this statement in a manner that is borderline aggressive.
Here are 4 more tips to help you save while traveling.
It is 180,000% possible to travel on a post-grad budget, and I will defend this statement in a manner that is borderline aggressive.
The world wasn’t meant to be admired from a stock desktop wallpaper; it was meant to be experienced. This is another statement that I will defend in a manner that is borderline aggressive.
But traveling isn’t always easy on entry-level wages. Here’s how to see the world without breaking the bank.
You should just drive across the country,” she said lightheartedly, and laughter ensued. Drive across the country, what an absurd idea. But then the joke got taken one step too far and all of a sudden we were plotting about who would pay my rent for a month and where I could stop to stay the night in Oklahoma and Arizona and California. Suddenly, I was calling my parents and asking if I would still be allowed to come home for Christmas if I made a rather (arguably) reckless decision and drove my tired, thirteen-year-old car across the country. (It took some negotiation but I am, indeed, still allowed to come home.) We sat in a coffee shop for an hour and hammered out the plan and concluded that there really wouldn’t be one, that sometimes you have to take a leap, whether or not it looks like a promising landing, and whether or not people are going to speculate about where your mind might have run off to.
Just as you can imagine, college graduation season is packed with all the emotions. You feel relief, excitement, stress and pride. The emotion most people don’t associate with graduation and what I didn’t expect to feel, though, is regret.
In all seriousness, though, I felt like I had transported right back to where I was my senior year, caught in the in-between of trying to hold on so tightly to those last few months of my life as a student, and looking so forward to venturing out of it. But it brought back that old familiar, restless feeling—the same feeling I had when I got back from London, and when I first moved here—of wanting so many things and trying to figure out a way to make them all coexist.
Between stressing for Walter White’s father-of-the-year-campaign and my ambiguous job future, the happy hours continued. I have the utmost appreciation for these friends that took me out of my own darkness and enjoyed a beer or two. We treasured our three dollar drinks, our pita and chips, our half off cocktails, our half off wines, our chances to escape the pressures of “do you have a job yet?” and the looming student loan emails. The bitter hops of a summer ale washed away our problems, reminding us that if Emily Blunt and John Krasinksi found each other, we too can find jobs and futures that welcome us wholeheartedly.
It’s okay that people leave—I think that’s something we rarely hear anymore. Our emphasis so often heads toward the dramatic. Big fights, long-distance forgetfulness, regrets and bitterness over something that used to fill you with so much sweetness. But then there are the people who just left, or maybe you left them. Your lives took you in two different directions and you drifted.
Removed from the college bubble and re-planted in a new life, the field is wiped clean again. I have to again make a real, conscious decision about where I fit in and how I stack up. There seem to be metrics in place for who’s “winning” post-grad—high-power job? committed relationship? best apartment? coolest city?—but there’s no prize. New York is enormous, and social media is a daily tidal wave, and there have been days when I feel so small.
One day ago I was in Long Lake, MN. My home for the past 22 years, the only home I've ever lived in, my safe haven.
Today I am on a plane.
I have realized there is a difference between dreaming your dreams and living them.
I have also realized how hard it is.
It’s been six months since I graduated from university and if I’m perfectly candid, it’s been a rough ride. People keep telling me that it’s okay to not know what you’re doing at this stage in life. “You’re so young, take time to figure it out!”
I have been told some variation of that statement hundreds of times since April. As reassuring as it is to hear, I haven’t felt content with what I’m doing since I was in school. I miss writing every day. I miss being challenged, studying, learning new things and that fly-by-the-seat-of-my pants adrenaline rush I get anytime I’m working under a strict deadline.
I will never forget the night leading up to graduation that I had lain in my apartment crying and texting my brother about not wanting to celebrate my accomplishment. I had been through interview after interview yet had nothing to show for it. I felt like a failure. My parents and I had both invested so much money in this dream of mine and here I was, two weeks from graduating college and only having a part time job paying barely over minimum wage to show for it.
On the greyest of days, my decision to take the comfy corporate job felt like a step back in the career I never had; a red mark on my shiny post-graduate résumé, previously filled with all things English major-y. And it was in the moments of restlessness that I couldn’t help but wonder… Did I sell out? Did I give up on my dreams too fast? Was I wasting my talents? My forty thousand dollar education?
Was it all for nothing?