Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Things I Have Accomplished Post-Graduation

Even though I'm not happy with life after graduation, I have plenty of accomplishments for which I can be proud of myself:

1. I floss every day.
2. I paid my bills and my taxes.
3. I run 15-30 miles per week.
4. I eat vegetables every day.
5. I drink my coffee black.
6. I call my grandparents.
7. I planned and executed a successful bachelorette weekend.
8. I am employed.
9. I sleep at least 8 hours every night.
10. I read books and The New York Times.

Celebrating the small achievements.

Monday, March 21, 2016


I subscribe to a daily email called A Word A Day, which sends me a new vocabulary word with a thoughtful quote each morning. On November 19, 2015, my word of the day was bathos.


(BAY-thas, -thos) 

noun: An abrupt descent from lofty or sublime to the commonplace; anticlimax.

From Greek bathos (depth). Earliest documented use: 1638.

I almost laughed when I read the definition. I recognize that I tend to express my feelings with dramatic language — but for someone who's not used to experiencing strong emotions, it feels appropriate. Despite how much I'd like for it to be an exaggeration, the word "bathos" encapsulates how I view the past year of my life. I know it's absurd for "real life" to make me so miserable, but I have yet to figure out how to overcome my resentment of the losses to which I've struggled to adjust since graduation.

I'm lucky that school was generally easy for me. When it was challenging, I enjoyed the challenge with confidence in my studying, writing and test-taking abilities. I was confident approaching teachers and professors to ask for help or extra credit when I needed it. I was continuously affirmed by my grades — and I enjoyed the entire process because I love learning and feeling accomplished. 

Graduation stole away that comfortable and rewarding academic structure. 

In school, making friends was easy for me. I met people constantly and crossed paths with most of them multiple times, automatically cementing "friendly acquaintance" status at the bare minimum. At UNC, it seemed that I had 50 or more mutual friends with each person I met, no matter how random the context. At Duke, I fell into a selective living group that made me feel welcome immediately and throughout my time time there. In Pamplona, I clicked with Brooke and Massi from day one. 

Graduation dissolved that convenient and serendipitous social structure. 

In school, I was lucky to find activities early on that I found fulfilling and fun. I worked at The Daily Tar Heel all four years of college, rose through the ranks of APPLES in three years, wrote for Rival for two years, and led the Robertson mentoring program for two years. I committed to those organizations because I believed in their missions and effects and because I knew I could contribute to them significantly. 

Graduation erased that engaging and varied schedule structure.

General society led me to believe that graduation would be an exciting launching point for my "real" life, a significant upgrade from whatever preparatory activities in which I had previously been engaged. That expectation is exactly what made the bathos hurt so particularly much: the abrupt descent from sublime to mundane that I actually experienced was largely unanticipated. I had pre-graduation fears, of course, but never expected life after college to be so much more intimidating, confusing, and exhausting than college ever was. I've never felt more lost and lonely than I have during these months since graduation. Without the academic, social, and activity/schedule structures of college, I'm desperately — and resignedly — treading water. Struggling to survive the anticlimactic reality of adulthood as I know it. 

I can only hope that one day I'll be able to recoup the same level of happiness that came so naturally to me in college.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Nashville (Goals)

And thus begins the next chapter.

I write this from the kitchen island in a beautiful house just south of Vanderbilt University. My tiny potted succulents line the kitchen windowsills, and my groceries are in the pantry and the fridge. It doesn't feel like home — far from it — but I've been in Nashville for a week now and finally feel ready to reflect on my arrival.

I'm staying with friends of my dad, an empty nester couple whom I've come to think of as my host parents. It's humbling to live under someone else's roof after having paid for my own apartments for the last three years, but I'm trying not to overthink it.

The first day of my fellowship with Edible Nashville was last Monday. It started with a three-hour "orientation" meeting with the editor Jill Melton, who founded and has led the magazine for the past year. I walked away a bit dazed, realizing I needed to independently set and diligently pursue my own goals for this fellowship. I felt much more excited about the opportunity as a whole after spending a couple of hours writing out a list of eight goals (with sub-goals) that I will use to guide my next four months.

On Monday I also started work at a local restaurant called Table 3. Training as a hostess did bruise my ego, but I continue to remind myself that I sought restaurant experience intentionally. I want to be the best hostess the restaurant has ever employed, and then I want to train as a server and maybe even a bartender. Having goals really is essential to my psychological wellbeing. It's why working at Crossover was so hard for me: I was working so hard with no idea of what I was working towards. It was like treading water in the middle of a stormy ocean. Or like sprinting on a treadmill. Doesn't matter how many calories I burn or how much muscle tone I build: I hate feeling like I'm spinning my wheels.

But here in Nashville, I have eight goals (with subgoals) for my magazine fellowship; a clear career progression (with a specific timeline) for my restaurant job; and I'm also training for a half-marathon, aiming to run it at a 8:30 pace.

Determined to survive adulthood.