So it finally happened. I'm a college graduate.
Yes, I'm aware that I disappeared for a year and a half from blogging after returning to the U.S. and for that I apologize. 2016 was a pretty tough year for me - some unexpected things happened - but I'll go into more detail about that in another post.
As of December 10, a little over 2 months ago, I'm no longer a college student (even though I still identify as one). I'm still residing in the same cute beach town that has my heart, and I snagged a job at an educational daycare center that just recently opened. I'm in this weird life transition now, where I'm getting used to being exhausted from working full-time, no longer going to the college campus I spent years at, and juggling new responsibilities I've never had before. IT'S WEIRD.
The majority of my friends are still in college so they can't relate. Don't get me wrong: it's a sigh of relief being finished with school, no longer having dreaded research papers and test scores looming over me, and studying until my eyes glaze over like donuts. But that wasn't all college was... Gone are the endless coffee shop afternoon study dates with old roommates. I'll no longer be attending the free Saturday night movies on campus, crammed into a theater, watching the latest drama on a crappy big screen. I already miss the group fitness classes at the campus rec center, where I would sweat or stretch alongside other students. I reminisce on having friends in town to spontaneously call up and go on nighttime cook-out runs with, walk around the loop with, watch low-budget horror films with, and do hot yoga together.
Now I go to coffee shops alone to read novels for fun -- when did I ever have time for that during college?! Now I watch movies from the comfort of my grandma couch at home, while my roommates study for upcoming tests upstairs. Now I attend group fitness classes by myself at a local gym, surrounded by herds of perky moms and determined middle-aged women. Now a very large handful of my college friends, who I would see and talk to on a daily basis, rarely keep in touch since they graduated and moved away. I wasn't prepared for this shift in my social life I suppose.
I think what's strangest of all is how routinely predictable and unexciting daily life is now. Wake up, go to work, come home in the evening, eat dinner and watch Netflix, go to sleep, wake up, go to work, come home in the evening, eat dinner and watch Netflix, go to sleep, wake up, and on and on it goes. I used to not know who I would see throughout my day, what I would do after class (maybe go to the beach? hammock at the park? find some treasures at a thrift store?), where I would go out to lunch, what weekly campus events were going on that I'd like to attend, etc. I thrived off the excitement of a fun and productive day being out and about, keeping myself busy. In the past, I'd always tell myself that I wouldn't become one of those boring, typical adults who work a 9-5 job, come home to cook and clean, and then watch some T.V. before hitting the bed. Needless to say, that is exactly what my life mirrors these days, except my work day is from 10:30 to 6:30. (I know obviously I have to work full-time to pay my wonderful bills, but every day is literally a copy cat of the day before it).
What a waste of a lovely life! I'm 23 years young, with no husband or kids or house mortgage, so why am I already living and feeling identical to a tired, burnt out soccer mom? I'm convinced fresh post-grad life does not have to be like this. Adventure IS out there. I don't have to be on a college campus or all the way over in Europe to find it.
And so, in the fashion of what I do best, I refuse to settle.
I want to make the most of this extraordinary world and carpe the freakin diem out of life. With my embarrassingly small salary (welcome to the world of education!), I plan to start saving up so that I can travel again -- within the U.S. and to other countries as well. My level of wanderlust is at an all-time high, so who knows, maybe I'll start planning something for this upcoming summer. I also intend to continue devoting my time to glorifying and following Jesus, and am happy to say that I've been super open about my faith at work. I believe we can be vessels for God to work through wherever we are, and share His love with whoever we meet. He placed me in this daycare center, during this season of my life, for a reason and I'm excited to discover how He uses me for His good. I've already been reaching out to a co-worker, who excitedly accepted my invitation to join me at church tomorrow. Prayers that the Spirit stirs in her heart and mind.
I'm fighting back this somewhat-unsatisfactory post-grad life by continuing to indulge in the things that bring me joy. I will continue basking in the rays of sunshine at the beach - even if this means only on a crowded Saturday. I will continue my Pilates and yoga practice - even if this means waking up earlier than I'd like to. I will continue to keep in touch with my friends that are slipping away - even if this simply means an occasional Snapchat or text.
I will continue to explore mountains, oceans, and the best pool tables downtown. Just because my situations in life are changing, it doesn't mean that I have to change. I encourage you to ALWAYS seek purpose and joy, stay adventurous, and remain true to yourself. Don't settle for a lifestyle that doesn't reflect your soul.