Reflections on my first year as an alumna
My university experience took place at a small Christian liberal arts college near Chicago. My four years there were filled with wonderful experiences and many many fast-paced days, especially my senior year.
Recently, as friends have posted their 2016 graduation pictures, I’ve reflected on my first year as an alumna. Two questions I’ve thought about are: “what have you been up to since you graduated?” and “what have you learned?”
Variety describes this year well. I’ve done lot of things, and most of those projects and experiences are far from what I had imagined possible back in college [which feels soo long ago].
All throughout my college years, I had an image of working super hard in an entry level position right out of school. But, after graduation my body was physically and emotionally affected by stress and lack of sleep. I had worn myself out by overcommitting to a ton of activities I really enjoyed in my community.
Rather than continuing to apply for jobs, I decided in the weeks following graduation to take a path of less resistance, at least until I regained energy. I went back to a job I had the previous summer in Norway. I worked some and I traveled some with my best friends; I made money and I spent it.
When the work season was over in October and I still hadn’t gotten the jobs I had hoped for, I traveled back to the US to visit friends and family. My trip was a pivotal moment for me. Up until that point I was always subconsciously stressed about “figuring out my life” and worried that I was failing everyone’s expectations. After the trip and many long conversations, I gave myself permission to take a quasi “gap year” to explore interests I had put to the wayside to focus on academics.
That is when I started this blog, I picked up an old project of creating a portrait of Norway’s food, nature and culture, and I started making ceramics again. I took tests to prove I can write Norwegian and got a Norwegian driver’s license, which is a lengthy process. And, I traveled to England, Venice, Chicago, Arizona, Cambodia, Taiwan, Norway, and now Sri Lanka, which has been a huge privilege. At times it has been a very quiet, solitary year, other times it has been a very adventurous year.
In college people often said “you’re so put together, you’ll go places in life.” After graduation, I felt I was in no way living up to that image. This year, I’ve learned an invaluable lesson to not live the life others expect of me, to not worry what they think. In the process I’ve become more at peace with myself with who I am, and what I love to do. I’m not currently climbing the career ladder or making the big bucks, but I wouldn’t trade this year of experiences for anything.
Those of you who just graduated, you’re off to new adventures, and those will be different from mine. Just like everyone has a different college experience, everyone has wildly different post-college experiences. If you’ve got your life figured out already, congratulations!! If you’re feeling lost, stick with it, your life unfolds with time, and even if you don’t feel it now, it’s an exciting journey!
(just a few of my favorite beach pictures from the last weeks in Sri Lanka)