Post-Grad Month 4 & 5: Leaning into inexperience

Settling into a new routine can be disorienting, but I’m also slowing down in a way that’s necessary for me. I recently finished my internship with the 1947 Partition Archive, and I love interning at Avalon Travel so far. Taking my own advice on fluid routines, I’ve been figuring out what’s best for me, especially now that I have more free time to write. Also, I finally changed the layout of my website and format of my blog so individual posts can be shared. I’m happy with the direction it’s going in!

A NEW REALIZATION – I realized something that has helped to calm some of the anxiety I’ve been feeling about this stage of my life. Throughout high school and college, I directed my creative energy toward leadership development. Writing was never really at the forefront of my life, even when I was a Creative Writing major at Mills. I loved working on people-driven things during undergrad: building Muslim Student Alliance club, creating events for SAMEAPI Heritage Month, being a Resident Assistant. These roles had tangible experiences attached to them. Now that my post-grad goals are centered around my writing and career-building, there’s so much more of an internal focus. It’s going to take time and patience to write and become in tune with my voice. Also, the lack of encouragement that society generally gives to creative/artistic pursuits is real. There’s this strange contrast with society recognizing that storytelling is important to understanding humanity without nurturing and investing in it on a larger-scale.

INEXPERIENCE – I’ve been thinking a lot about being young and inexperienced and how that impacts my creativity. We all have to start somewhere, and successful people don’t have some sort of magic formula (unless they have generational wealth and privilege lol). Persistence and reframing my mindset can allow tangible goals come to life in the long-term. What I mean by reframing is that sometimes I get stuck in the process of writing my novel or working on my career and don’t know what to do from there. Like, I thought I figured out my writer’s block, only to find out that it’s still there. Sometimes the solution comes from asking for help and being specific about my needs/challenges, and sometimes it’s unexpected opportunities that nudge me in a new direction. Recently, at the South Asian Radical History Walking tour I went on in Berkeley, I met writers and activists who were great to network with. It reminds me that opportunities are there if I’m active and open. This is, in no means, an expansive look at reaching success, but something I’ve been reflecting on lately.

I unexpectedly titled this blog post “Leaning into Inexperience” to remind myself that I’m still learning and growing. I need to be dedicated to my creative projects; regardless if there’s a tangible outcome, there are stepping stones along the way. This speaks to the realization that I mentioned earlier. I was struck by Write-minded podcast’s discussion of pressure placed on writers to get big book deals while they’re in their early/mid-20’s. At the same time, the publishing industry is volatile; you never know whether an interesting novel will be well-received/marketable or doesn’t have the right timing. The main thing I took away from this is to actively work on my craft in different ways: writing stories, blogging, editing, listening to podcasts, reading craft books and good fiction, talking to people about their creative pursuits. These are all sources of inspiration and nourishment that focus on growth, rather than success.

COMMUTING – I commute to Berkeley 3 times a week with a combination of Caltrain and BART. Lately, I’ve been incubating ideas, reading, and listening to podcasts during my commute. I’ve grown used to the route, but I’m still adjusting to the exhaustion and people fatigue that I feel when I come home. I was feeling especially introverted last week, and my dad was like, “Are you okay??” I’ve been coping with this by doing some deep breathing, stretching, having important items with me (water, snacks, charger, a book, etc.), getting enough rest, drinking lots of tea, and forming “in case of emergency” plans. These steps have definitely made me more comfortable with my commute. It’s been especially helpful when experiencing several long delays on Caltrain and BART this week (not fun!). Leave me a comment on what helps your commute!

WRITING – My post-grad section on writing tends to be the longest, but here’s the briefest update: I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month (Nov. 2019) for the first time! I’m excited to make writing at the forefront of my priorities each day. I’ve been logging my #NaNoWriMo2019 planning and progress on a Twitter thread!

Be kind to yourself! –S.A.

“When you’re following your inner voice, doors tend to eventually open for you, even if they mostly slam at first.”


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