[Image description: Allison’s bookcase in their new apartment. There are many books, journals, and writing supplies on the shelves.]
I just got home from my first day of onboarding at what will be my job for the next year of my life. I’m sitting in bed, in my room, drinking wine sans pants as I assume most twenty-two old women do after they get off work (bonus points for drinking out of my Class of 2017 wine glass). When I first started watching House of Cards, I was so entranced by the scenes of Zoe Barnes sitting on her floor, typing on her MacBook, which was propped on a stack of books. I seem to be better off than her. I do have a desk in my room, but I prefer my bed for now.
I’ve spent a lot of time since graduation thinking about what it means to be done with college and the fact that in many ways, I’ve ticked off the boxes I demanded that I complete, the ones that kept me up at night only three months ago. I have a job, I have a car, I live on my own (albeit with a roommate), and I have a degree. I’m fulfilled in many ways that I’ve come to realize that are more important than the aforementioned things, which is not to discredit the privilege that I clearly have in having those things…Clearly, my thoughts are jumbled. And it’s not just the two buck Chuck.
What I’m trying to articulate is that I’ve realized that so many of the things I aspired to in college are in fact, just things. However, I’m able to say that because I have said things. If I didn’t, I’d probably say otherwise (my self-confidence definitely took a blow living at home this summer, with no income…and I had to interrogate why). I’ve spent some time reflecting lately on how at times, I do things because they make sense, not because they’re what I want. This becomes especially dangerous when other people and their feelings are involved. I’ve even had that thought about my job. Did it make sense for me to move 700 miles away from everyone I care about for a job?
Tangentially related, when most people hear my job title, they usually seem impressed. No, I’m not making a lot of money, but it’s good work. Excellent foot-in-the-door work. Today, the woman in HR commented on the fact that my position was pretty competitive. I got to read through the manual they used to hire me, and still felt this small tinge of, “There’s probably someone better.” Then I realized I was the one sitting behind the desk. I found myself wondering if I got a 100% on the rubric, even though it doesn’t matter because presumably I had the highest score.
For the last three months, I’ve heard a lot of “congratulations!” “Good luck!” And I appreciate it. I’m extremely fortunate. I feel reluctant to talk to fellow recent grads, because I don’t want to imply comparison (in the same way you might compliment someone on their outfit, and they look down because they forgot what they were wearing, and then kindly tell you your outfit looks better than theirs).
This is one of the moments where I’m looking for something to be wrong, because I’m used to framing conversations in that way.
I’ve been yearning to feel productive and worth something again, so returning to work and having something to do during the day has been welcomed. But I guess my feeling is that if this hadn’t all happened the way it did, it would’ve been okay. In the short little while I’ve been off campus, I’ve been able to realize how unhealthy so much of college was. And that includes telling myself I needed to be in a relationship I knew wasn’t working, still wanting As in classes I hated, and feeling like I’d be failure if I didn’t graduate with a job.
We’ll see in a few months how I feel about this stage in my life. While 2017 has been all transitions all day, I finally feel the least bit settled, both in my jobs and in my relationships. I’ll be sure to write a blog post as soon as it hits me I’m pretty much alone here.