Post-Grad Month 2: Recalibrating My Goals

AUGUST 1ST, 2019 | SUBJECT: Post-Grad Life / Month 2 Update

I’ve had some interesting experiences and reflective moments lately that I want to share for this 2-month update on my post-grad experience. At some point this summer, I started feeling bad that I haven’t been making tangible progress toward my goals, but I recently realized that I just need to recalibrate my expectations. I’ve been recognizing the importance of affirming myself and embracing the period of life I’m in. Right now, I get to focus on myself without having big responsibilities, and I won’t necessarily get the same kind of time and space to do that in the future. Thank you to my therapist for helping me realize that! Here are some updates:

AN UNEXPECTED OPPORTUNITY – What do you do when someone reaches out to you about a  program assistant position at Stanford on a Friday that requires you to move in by the weekend? After talking through the logistics with one of the coordinators of Great Books Summer Program, I said yes to the opportunity. I was up for a change in scenery and whatever that was to come for the next weeks, while definitely feeling the panic of “WHAT AM I DOING??” It felt like moving into college all over again—but being surrounded by middle and high schoolers this time. It’s amazing to see a program that centers the exploration of literature and creativity at a summer camp. I really enjoyed getting to know my coworkers. A majority of them are in the humanities/English field, and I appreciated how thoughtful, fun, and welcoming they were. I do acknowledge that GBSP does seem to have a Western focus to literature and has a more privileged demographic, so I was often assessing how I felt about the work I was doing. I did get to talk to and bond with three POC PhD students in the humanities, and it was refreshing to hear about their academic journeys. Right now, I’m considering how important it is for me to explore and take-on unexpected opportunities, and how much I grow from them. GBSP helped me through some of the stagnancy and pressure I was feeling as a post-graduate, and I’m grateful for the experiences I had and the friendships I cultivated.

GRAD SCHOOL – Slowly but surely, I’ve been able to figure out what kind of grad programs suit my interests. A research topic that I’ve been interested in is understanding the generational impact of silence on South Asian-American women, stemming from the 1947 Partition. I want to delve into how mental health is conceptualized, as well as the new literature being created about Partition by diasporic South Asian women. I’m excited to begin a digital content editorial internship with the 1947 Partition Archive in mid-August and grateful for the opportunity to learn from and contribute to this important organization. Right now, it feels like an ethnic studies-related program with a women’s studies, literature, and/or postcolonial studies lens seems to suit my interests. I’m continuing to think about ways to begin my research and create a plan to be ready to apply to grad school, hopefully, in the winter of 2020.

INTERNSHIPS – In the beginning of the summer, I tried to apply to more entry-level, full-time positions, but didn’t get many interview opportunities. I found that it’s worthwhile for me to be more intentional about applying to internships in the publishing industry and that has given me more confidence and motivation. I had a phone interview with Hachette Book Group for their Avalon Travel imprint, and I think it went well. I’m excited to explore opportunities that give me energy.

WRITING – My goal to finish a first draft of “The Dream Chasers Society” has been the most challenging area of my life right now. I’ve been trying my best to write every day. The difficulty I’m having stems from the fact that I want to rewrite the first 50 pages of the novel to incorporate more content related to the women of the Abbasid Dynasty and House of Wisdom. I feel like I’m holding onto the previous conceptions I had about this project rather than embracing new and exciting possibilities. I definitely talked to my therapist about my writer’s block, and we worked on understanding what is conducive to my writing. We discussed what it looks like to make my writing goal more manageable by focusing on weekly goals and allowing myself to be more experimental and imperfect with my writing. I’m continuing to get great ideas by talking to people and researching the Abbasid Dynasty, so that’s been a highlight. A part of me is frustrated especially because I don’t have any major responsibilities currently, so naturally, my writing should be my first priority. I feel like I’m becoming less frustrated and more content about writing. Blogging has definitely helped me have a creative outlet aside from my novel. In the process of working through my writer’s block, I’m learning a lot about myself and how my mind functions. –S.A.

“For the fire my people my people – the long years we’ve survived the long – years yet to come I see you map – my sky the light your lantern long – ahead & I follow I follow”

– FATIMAH ASGHAR

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