in the time after college

The months immediately following my college graduation, I felt like I was floundering.

What am I supposed to do? Where am I supposed to go? Is my life supposed to be complete, fulfilled, satisfactory, now that I have this expensive, shiny piece of paper? Should I continue on – be applying for grad school, be getting a job that pays me $60,000 a year? Am I supposed to get my own health insurance now? What is the next year supposed to look like?

All of the blogs I stumbled across made no sense to me. There were webzines for collegiates, professional blogs for the working woman, mommy blogs for the parents, travel blogs for the international adventurer. But what was there for a twenty-something that didn’t have a focused enough passion for a masters, wasn’t settled into a career, had zero desire to get pregnant, and didn’t have the finances to get more stamps in my passport?

I felt at loss, floundering in a sea of others expectations. I reached out to some of my friends at a similar stage of life. Several of them took it upon themselves to write an entry or two on my behalf – “I am a lost soul!”

Now, reflecting on those terrified months, I still understand that fear. The transition from a university environment where, “I’m a poor broke college kid” to the next stage of adulthood (“I’m a poor broke college graduate”) is something they don’t really bother to prepare you for.

I’m now nearing two years of being out of school. Sometimes I think it won’t ever get easier. That I’ll always be slightly uncomfortable in the role of being responsible for my own well-being. That I’ll never quite get the hang of cooking healthy and balancing the work-life relationship. That I’ll always be fighting Imposter Syndrome – never feeling like I actually deserve to be in the position where I’ve been placed.

It’s especially hard again that I’m working a free-flying schedule, where if I take a day off, it is in the middle of the week. Sundays and evenings are back on the table. My phone constantly poised for when disaster strikes when I’m not there. My mind constantly racing, trying to figure out how to build procedures and adequately train. Sometimes I can’t shut it off – I was sipping a drink at a distant shop and chatting with the baristas. Within ten minutes, I was coaching them on how to steam their milk to give it a better consistency so the dreamer behind the bar could achieve latte art and compete in the next throwdown.

I’m slowly getting the hang of this adulting thing. I’m slowly acclimating to the feeling of my own skin. Sometimes I blink when I realize where I’m at, how far I’ve come. Sometimes I have to remind myself to breathe and to take time to escape into the mountains.

Sometimes, I look around and kind of like what I see. My life my not be any specific version of the American Dream, but I’m taking steps to discover what My Dream looks like. A shiny piece of paper didn’t necessarily give that to me, but it pushed me in the direction so I can find myself here and now.

over the mountains


One thought on “in the time after college

  1. Hey darling woman,

    Here’s something to think about. According Jean Piaget there are two times during development that occur all the time even as adults where we do our best learning. The first of these times is the time of equilibrium or Equilibration. This is where life seems to make complete sense. We have an exact plan for how things are going and how all the new things coming into our life seem to perfectly fit. Its when our lives fall into that time of the second period, Disequilibrium, that we do our best learning. It sounds to me like you no longer have a script for how life should go. It sounds like you’ve found the start of something wonderful and something new. Keep it up because you inspire those around you to do their best learning when things are a little uncomfortable and to reach outside of their comfort zones and into the stars.

    Worry is just wasted time. I know new things are nerve racking but those people you left in charge of your shop so you could go and have a few freaking moments to yourself will be fine. They’ll figure things out and if it’s really bad they’ll call. You’ve trained them well. As far as I can tell they’re wonderful amazing people who don’t want to let you down. Breathe you’ve earned all the success and dreams coming to you.


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