All in Graduation

Seasons Never Last Forever

It seemed like everywhere I turned these past few months I heard that I was entering the strangest year of my life.

I heard the word miserable more than a few times, confusing and wonderful used in the same sentences. Now, on the other side of this first untethered month, I get it. There’s no end date on my job description, no promise I’ll return to what’s been normal for the past four years.

On Giving Yourself Permission to Rest

But I think it helps me to go through the events of the last couple of months and remind myself that it was a lot, that it was busy and stressful and took a toll emotionally as well as physically. To remind myself that it’s okay to be tired, even after two weeks of doing very little. To remind myself that there’s a process of recovery to take place now, after four years of studying are over and my identity is shifting away from "student" and into something new.

Post-Grad and Anxiety

“I am so anxious.”

Every May, thousands of graduates adopt this mantra as their go-to response to the incessant question pf “so, how are you?” As someone with a close familiarity with anxiety, I am hyper-aware of its sudden increase in use in daily conversations. This is the phrase I hear countless friends use, and very aptly so. We are anxious in every connotation of the word: we are excited, nervous, shaky, unsure, ready to get it over with, and ready to begin. We are all caught in the uncomfortable company of this ambiguous agitation, some struggling to get past it and others simply living in it for all it’s worth.

What I Might Have Told Her

I graduated one year ago.

I often wonder what would’ve happened if me, at this present time, sat down with me, one year ago, to have a conversation over a margarita. What would I have said? Would she have listened?

The Beginning, The Middle, The End

To the graduates: On the night before my college graduation, I had a terrible stomachache.

My best friends and I went for a ceremonial last scoop at our favorite ice cream place, a place where I should have had a loyalty card or something by that point, and I could barely take a bite. My insides were roiling (and I promise, it wasn't a hangover; by then I knew the difference). I just felt sick and shaky and any other night, it would have put me right to bed. 

For Everything There Is A Season

I have not listened to "Mr. Brightside" by the Killers since graduating college. 

My 2016 Boston College grads feel me on this. That song might be on every single playlist I made those four years. It was the party song. It's a great workout track. We'd bump it on car rides—out of state, to the local grocery store, it didn't matter. On my 22nd birthday, my best friends threw me a party, and I stood on a table while I and a roomful of humans shouted "I NEVERRRRRR" at top volume. I don't remember a time when I didn't know all the words (honestly, does anyone not know all the words?).

A Time to Reassess

There are things about myself I wish I could change. Not in a dramatic, self-hatred kind of way: largely, I’m pretty happy. But there are habits and tendencies that I wish I could just shake off. I wish I was more disciplined, stuck at things when they’re hard. I wish I trusted my voice more. I wish I was more compassionate, went out of my way more to love people. I wish I went outside more and watched Netflix less.

On Working with Porcelain: Facing the Year Ahead

On the morning of January 1st I wrote down in my journal: “The panic is beginning to set in.”

I love New Year’s Eve; I welcome the new year surrounded by some of my favourite people, the constants in my life. We drink wine and play silly games and laugh our way through midnight. But by January 1st, the familiar feeling arrives. It's like standing at the top of a steep cliff drop; calendar pages splay out tauntingly before me with big red circles, lines and crosses mapping out the things unknown, the things I'm frightened of.

Top 10 Most-Read Posts of 2016

One of the best parts about running That First Year is getting to read all of the stories y’all send to me and thinking “Wow, that gal or guy is one helluva writer!” I’m forever grateful to be given this opportunity to take care of this space, creating community through stories shared of That First Year after college and beyond.

Below is a list of 10 posts that received the most reads this year. Give these posts a read as we bring this year to a close.

Some Birthday Words and a Gift

This weekend, That First Year celebrates two years of existence, which also means I’ve now been out of college for two years. I feel like I should have some sort of grasp on this “adulthood” thing, but despite what idealistic-dreamy-girl-college-me thought, I still have no real idea of what I’m doing with my life. They don’t really tell you in college that you never actually “figure life out,” do they? Turns out life isn’t a problem to be solved or a puzzle to be figured out after all, it’s just a string of days—good ones and bad ones and meh ones—to be lived in wild abundance. These two years have definitely been a lesson in this.

I Tend to Come Apart on Trains

I tend to come apart on trains.

There's something about the liminal space of them; that in-between, not quite anywhere feeling that nourishes my reflective (and overdramatic) side. Throw in a sunset or a rainstorm, or any kind of weather that feeds my ability to wander the full spectrum of my emotions; add my headphones and a Starbucks Christmas takeaway cup, and you've got the recipe for a dreamy, introverted girl's fall-apart-on-a-train kind of situation.

Fried Chicken and a Breakdown

I, on the other hand, have no one. I like to tell everyone I’m happy, but I’m really just pretending. Sure, I’m grateful for a million things, including my job. I love work. Work keeps my mind busy, and so I’m always there. I’m there on off days; I’m there even when my boss says, “Go home.” I wait around. Biding my time. Fighting the loneliness. I distract myself from dawn to dusk. I wake up, I work. I sleep. Exhaustion is my liquor. Exhaustion keeps me from feeling too much, from missing anyone too much.

"I'm Just A Girl": Introducing The Creative Exchange

You know those moments where you can just tell that someone is talking about their passion, because their face is brighter and their voice more animated and their words come easily? That’s how it is talking to Lane about her art, and nothing makes this “FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS!” heart of mine happier than seeing a friend so passionately pursue what makes her come alive.

Welcome to the launch of The Creative Exchange featuring artwork and products created exclusively for That First Year by our fellow peers.

On Being a Student When You Don't Really Want to Anymore

This title fit perfectly across the top line of my notebook's page, left to right, when writing the first draft of this piece. If only the content fit as snugly across the length of my mind. It's strange to no longer associate with the label that has identified you for almost your entire life but have no option but to see it through. I've never not been a student, but I'm beginning to tire of it.

On Asking for Help

On a Friday afternoon on a sticky day in August—summer break for teenagers—in a two-story bookstore in the biggest shopping mall in the largest city in Canada. That’s where I finally did it; something I had been thinking about doing for weeks but was only now at the point where I felt I really had to.