It’s been a little over a month since I graduated from Mills, and I wasn’t ready for the big adjustment. I don’t think anyone can be ready for it. I especially wasn’t ready to blog about it. Right now, it just feels like summer vacation and that I’ll go back to school in August. And that’s obviously not the case. So, I intend to write more about post-grad life not to encompass the many specific aspect of it, but rather, to process what I’m experiencing. Hopefully you also get some validation for what you’re feeling as a new college graduate, and if you’re going to graduate from college in the next year or two, hopefully you can start envisioning what you want your post-grad experience to look like. And no, I will not cover personal topics that I’m not comfortable sharing with others. I acknowledge that being in this part of my life comes with numerous challenges, but I also have the time and space to reflect on it, and I’m privileged to be in that position.
I was in school for 15+ years of my life, and it’s weird not to think in school years as a measurement of time. My last year of college was a combination of my junior and senior year. Quite honestly, it didn’t prepare me for the emotional and logistical parts of post-grad life. I don’t regret graduating early, but I wish I did put more careful consideration into my future. Sure, I applied to a few internships during my last semester but didn’t intentionally start searching for jobs until I came home. And I vetoed applying to grad school this past fall until I had a stronger foundation of what that looks like for me.
I had this idea that “no worries, I’ll tackle all my goals after I finish the school year.” Which is pretty valid because I was taking 18 max credits, writing my thesis, and giving space for my professional and extra-curricular activities this past semester. And, of course, May 20th rolls around, which was the first day I was officially back at home, and I felt an incredible sense of pressure because of my self-imposed goals. Here are some of them:
1.) Apply to jobs and get an internship or full-time job
2.) Write a first draft of “The Dream Chasers Society” by August 30th
3.) Figure out what kind of grad program suits my aspirations
The first 2.5 weeks of my summer was Ramadan, and it was definitely hard for me to be intentional about tackling my goals. At the same time, I didn’t have my own space to reconnect with myself at that time, and I was feeling a sense of displacement with my friendships, connections with people, and community. I tried my best to start moving the stagnancy I was feeling. I’ll make sure to go in depth about these topics in future posts:
WRITING – Starting a writing journal was really helpful because I figured out where I was at with my thesis-turned-novel and what kind of things I needed to grapple with before writing every day. If you know me, self-motivated writing is incredibly hard for me. I stare at a blank Microsoft Word doc, write some lines of a scene, and immediately switch to researching because it’s so much more passive. Fortunately, I read a lot of good books and started listening to the 88 Cups of Tea podcast again this month, and that allowed me to study aspects of craft and plot. It’s hard to write a multi-layered story that captures the nuances of what I want it to be. *shrugs*
JOBS – I applied to a wonderful nonprofit org in Oakland and had a phone interview with them in early June. Unfortunately, they proceeded with other candidates, but it gave me a sense of what areas of my resume are good and what I need to work on. I started revamping my resume, polishing my LinkedIn, and making accounts with websites like Indeed and ZipRecruiter. I’ve been interested in administrative work, higher ed, nonprofits, publishing, editing/writing, and keeping an open mind about opportunities I come across.
GRAD SCHOOL – Oh my goodness, I feel like I have a new thought about grad school every day. I read The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani, and it was wonderful to read a fictional YA perspective on Partition. After that, I looked up the 1947 Partition Archive and thought about what kinds of experiences I need to get me to grad school. Right now, literature, postcolonial studies, ethnic studies, women’s studies, and public policy are the main frameworks/fields that give me energy. I feel like Partition is something that drew me from wanting to be a high school teacher to becoming a professor. A main research concept I’m looking into is the function of silence in the 1947 Partition, its generational impact, and how diasporic South Asian people view and understand Partition, especially women.
MENTAL HEALTH – This past month, I managed to journal and allow myself to sit with my sadness and confusion, while simultaneously feeling proud and excited for what’s to come. It was really nice to be able to articulate how I was feeling to my close friends and family members when I was ready. It’s hard to grapple with my internal feelings, external issues, family dynamics, and all that without feeling a sense of stagnancy. I started the process to get a therapist referred out from Kaiser, and my sister was right; that process is long, and it’s important to start right away. I finally got a therapist and my first appointment is next week!
PHYSICAL HEALTH – I realized how much I needed to take care of my body before tackling my goals. My body went through some changes in college, so I made sure to get all my doctors’ appointments done right after Ramadan to see how I’m doing. I started going on walks, eating more regularly, and drinking more water, too. Establishing a routine early on was really important. I was scared to slip into habits that aren’t conducive to me, which is really easy to do at home. After Ramadan, I started waking up between 7 – 8:30 AM and sleeping before 11:30 PM. That keeps me grounded and gave me a shell of a routine. Also, my face is going through the 5 stages of grief and back, ugh. Acne is a struggle, and I affirm you if you’ve had many ups and downs with your skin–even when you feel like you’re doing the right thing.
During my first month at home, it felt like everything and nothing happened at the same time. There is so much I want to say, but this is kind of a (long) catch-up of my thoughts and feelings from this past month. I feel like I haven’t made a strong dent in my goals, and I also know that I’m still taking time to be myself after such a busy year. After all, this is just life now. I’m continuing to be flexible and taking things at my own pace. –S.A.
“The most important places on a map are the places we haven’t been yet.”– ZEYN JOUKHADAR