Thoughts on Life, 3 months Post-Grad

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So I’ve been done with school for about three months now. Its been quite an interesting experience, one that no one ever really talked to me about and yet I wish someone had.

There have been some great upsides. First, I have discovered that I am a natural morning person. Well, once I actually get out of bed and based on whether I actually slept well last night. I wake up and feel alive and in tune with the world. If I walk/exercise/yoga after getting up, this amplifies the feeling.

In fact, being able to have time to walk and move and exercise during my day has been great. In school, I normally walked about 3 miles a day. Now, between my commute to work and my side-job of walking dogs I find that I am actually moving about five miles a day (though sometimes this number gets as high as 13 miles when I walk a lot of dogs on the weekend). And it makes me feel great. Like really great and I kind of kick myself for not moving more when I was in school. I probably would have been a lot less stressed.

I’ve been able to consume books, particularly audiobooks, at a rapid rate. I’ve also had time to actually keep on top of current events and news of the day. I’ve been able to keep up and read my writing/book websites.

I’m significantly less stressed, my R.A. has been incredibly manageable and most of my aches and flares have been food related.

I’ve been able to learn about myself and who I physically am.

But there are also a lot of things that have been difficult.

Graduating means moving away from your support network and your people, often to a new city or place and a new job. It’s a lot of new. As someone who likes the comfort of routine and stability, its been really hard. Cities mean a lot of people, but it also can be incredibly hard to connect with people. It can be really easy to feel and be lonely.

And while there is no longer the time commitment of classes and homework, work takes up 1/3 of the time in your day, not including commute time and the time needed to get ready for the day. In the end, I have probably about 3-4 hours once I get home before its time for me to go to bed and start over. This leaves not a whole lot of time for me and socialization and my side-job. In some ways, I feel like I have even less time than I did when I was taking a full course load and working. It feels like I am slowly becoming my work and my work is becoming me.

And on the topic of work, I also feel completely disoriented in terms of what I want to do with my life. There are infinitely more options out there than I could have ever dreamed of, and I wish I had been more proactive in trying to experience them during my time in undergrad through internships. It’s caused me to reassess my skills and interests. I know that I still want to go to grad school and that I would still like to teach college someday.

The quarter-life crisis is, in fact, a thing whether you want to believe it or not. I mean it does logically make sense that after almost 20 years in a routine of school that an abrupt change and thrust into the actual working world would cause someone to question everything they think, know, and want. Our lives up until this point have been so defined by the light at the end of the educational tunnel that once we get there, what is there to hold onto and orient us?

This is not to mention the brutal banality of the unpaid internship and ungratifying entry-level grunt work. You may think it sounds whiny, but there is a serious disrespect and exploitation of interns and low-level workers. Its a lot of discouraging experiences and frustrations that make me wonder “is this how it is going to be for the rest of my life”? A lot of the issues that I have had personally in the past couple of months have boiled down to issues of communication, project/personnel management, and respect. It’s been difficult to actually do anything about these issues because I am a low-level intern and I am at a VERY hierarchy-based organization. But it’s been very eye-opening in terms of what I am going to be looking for moving forward.

Also, being post-grad has made me hate money. A lot. Part of this is a bit of resentment at the fact I am an unpaid intern. Thankfully my parents have been generous in helping me to offset some of my housing costs to be able to take this internship. But even with that, I’m broke as hell. I have just enough money in my checking account to pay this month’s housing costs (I’m simply waiting for the check to be cashed) and $12 for my dinner on Saturday. I have to have a side-job in order to afford groceries and to save for my last month of housing costs. It’s stressful. I love my side job (walking dogs) but at the same time resent the fact I have to be chained to this side job jumping on any and every walk request so I’m making enough money. It’s stressful and its hard not to find yourself fixating on it. Not to mention when my student loan payments start coming due in 3 months, according to my exit counseling I should be making $40,000 a year (without any other cost of living expenses) so that my loans aren’t a burden. How is one not supposed to scream? And if you’re one of the people moving to a new city for a new job into a new apartment…the costs add up. It makes a lot of sense why people are so obsessed with how much their jobs are going to pay them because economic stability and quality of life hinge on it.

Then there’s grad school. I still have no idea if I am going, if I am going to be able to afford to go, and where I’d go. It’s difficult because this is also the time when I should be applying for jobs. It’s just another layer of complexity that adds on stress. And if I don’t get in, what do I apply for next year? As all of the possibilities of the world yawn open before me, how am I going to be able to narrow down my likes and options into a program that I can get into?

I just wish that it was normal to talk about the transition from college to the rest of your life. It’s a huge step and I was so not mentally or emotionally prepared for any of it. I’ve been able to find other friends to whom I can talk to but even so right now I am going it alone. It’s allowed me to learn a lot about myself but at the same time its been hard to work through all of it. I just wish as a culture we would stop making things seem ‘easier’ than they are so that we could just be honest and help each other. It would make everything so much easier

 

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The Midway Point

I just realized today that I haven’t written a single post since I have gotten to college. I guess time really has gotten the better of me, in this case. A lot has happened so I guess I will start at the beginning with what I can recall.

The first weeks of school went swimmingly. Of course there were the moments of insecurity, doubt, and sadness that surface when I thrust myself into new places and situations. But I powered through, mainly because once tuition is paid there is no backing out. I really missed my dogs, that has probably been the hardest thing about living away from home for me. I miss their snuggles and being able to curl up with them whenever I need a breather or some love.

Unfortunately, a few weeks into the semester one of our dogs, Zoey, got very sick. Her diagnosis: 3rd degree heart block. The next step would have been to see a doggy cardiologist and then surgery to get a pacemaker. But my parents, seeing the x-rays and her pulse and EKG knew that this was something already far progressed. That’s I think one of the good things about having parents who know medicine, they know when medicine comes short and it comes to enjoying the remaining quality of life. So in the end Zoe was allowed to live out the rest of her natural life. Both T. and I came home from college and got to be with her on her last day. It was hard to see her suffer, it was hard to know this is it. She died at 12:07am on October 4, 2 months and 2 days shy of her 11th birthday. Some days live in infamy in our lives, now I have two. 

I am doing much better now, grief is a steady companion but not overbearing. Its little things, like her popping up in a dream, or tomatoes (For those of you who didn’t know, Zoey had a habit of eating our mother’s tomatoes. Like all of them, no Tomatoes were harvested this summer. They’d be almost ripe and we’d go to get them the next day and they would be gone. In hindsight she probably did this to keep her blood pressure up, as tomatoes, their leaves, and stems, contain a chemical that ups the blood pressure in dogs).

There is still Ginger to be snuggled and loved, and maybe another little sister for her coming soon.

College kicked my butt at first. Being in Costa Rica let me slide in terms of my academic/intellectual thinking, but I have finally got into the swing of it. I am making friends, learning how to not stress about everything, and growing up. I’ve gotten to do some cool stuff and experience things I wouldn’t have anywhere else. I ended up switching out of my History in the News class into A History of American Sexuality class. I have to say, I love it. I really love my majors, even though planning them out causes me a great deal of anxiety at times. Seriously, I had a week long stress fest over the fact that I am not going to be able to finish in 2 years. I could do it in 2.5, but I am applying to do a semester away at a satellite location and get a super good internship down while still doing classes and not having to worry about how expensive they are. Really though, it is upsetting how bad the internship situation has gotten. It is absurd, to say the least.

But anyways, planning for the future is a lot less stressful now. I have my classes laid out for the next semester, and the game plan is set. But as always is bound to change like 5 more ways by Sunday. Here is to taking it one day at a time, mainly because there is always a ridiculous amount of reading to do.

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Zoey’s last stroll around the yard

One Month Home

So I have been home about a month now, actually a month to the date. I am happy to be home in my own bed, with my dogs, and with my family. But sometimes I miss Costa Rica. It is definitely a place that I will be going back to one day, without a doubt.

Even though my adventures abroad have ended I have decided to continue to blog and update occasionally. How often is occasionally? I have no idea. So try to bear with me.

It was kind of a surprise to actually understand everyone around me, and also the amount of green. Having lived mostly in the city seeing our backyard surprised me, in a good way. And much to my surprise I kinda do miss having Gallo Pinto, especially with cilantro. Not to mention Juice everyday all day. But needless to say, I haven’t really gone through the reverse culture shock as badly as I went through my initial culture shock. Part of me still can’t believe that I just studied abroad for four months.

After who knows how many job applications I managed to secure two jobs. One, didn’t work out but with a job offer that I received yesterday I am able to leave it and move onto one that is a better match for me. I think it is always important to consider the environment and people you are going to be working with. If you cannot laugh and jive, than you’ll be miserable. And life is to short to be miserable. Of course, sometimes we have to take those unhappy circumstances for reasons. Unfortunately our world is still driven by money which means bills to pay and buying necessities. For me? College. I hope that future generations have the opportunity for affordable higher education without the burden of financial stress and crippling debt.

I am getting super excited about college. I have done almost everything I need to do, and orientation is coming up. I am however stressing about classes because for whatever reason, as a transfer student, I am incapable of picking my own classes and figuring out what I should take. But I guess it shows they care, which is more than I can say about where I am coming from. I will be taking a full load, or as close to it as I can get. My desire to double major and specialize while good and ambitious means a tight and full schedule. But to be honest, I kinda like it that way. Hopefully I will be able to make it into the life guarding class with any luck. Which means a lot of swimming this summer but it will be good for me.

I will be working hard this summer, but I do intend to make time for myself and self development. And of course preparing for a new start at a new college, and everything fun that goes with that. Hopefully I will have time for some adventures with friends and family, and I will somehow acclimate to air conditioning.

Puttering Along

Its hard to believe that is has already been 3 months practically. In 6 weeks and one day I am going to be on a plane home. Yes, I am counting down. I have learned a lot here in Costa Rica and I have had a wonderful experience but it is time. I am ready to come home. Studying abroad has been wonderful, but at the same time a challenge, especially doing so in a developing nation.

Someone once commented to me how much healthier they eat in Costa Rica. I politely disagree. My stomach has been nothing but a confusing series of knots and I look forward to less fried things. They were okay for a while, but in the past week or so, my body has begun to tell me though my stomach “please, no more fried things”. I also really miss my milk. Yes they have milk in Costa Rica, but it isn’t milk. It tastes different and leaves a funny taste in your mouth.

I am exhausted. I physically cannot seem to get enough sleep. I have taken a nap in the afternoon 4 days so far this week. And they usually range from 40 minutes to 3 hours. And my hands specifically my fingers have been achy. I cannot tell if it is from the not so great food (eating crappy has made them hurt before), or if I am simply dis too much writing holding my pencil last week when I had my two tests.

I am however, excited to say that I will be spending Holy Week alone. I am volunteering on an Organic farm and then I am going to hike in Corvocado for a day, specifically my birthday if all goes well.

I think I might have to repeat Intermediate 1, not so much because I’m unable of passing the class but I don’t know if I could handle learning more grammar while sacrificing learning vocab and working on communication/speaking and writing skills. I would rather understand and practice then rush on and get in over my head.

This weekend I am going to Curu to see bio luminescence in the water. I am excited to see what that looks like. I am also excited to spend the weekend with some of my friends before they return home, their three months up.

While I am not feeling on top of the world, I am not feeling crushed by the weight of it. I am simply walking along, one step at a time, slowly and steadily, taking the time when possible to enjoy the little beauties along the way.

Time to think about packing…

My mom dragged up the suitcase for me to start throwing things in (and subsequently taking half of them out). I’m already having a minor existential crisis about what shoes to bring(besides my birks), and as for all the other clothes…its a work in process. I though it would be easy throw in a few tshirts, that sweatshirt bing bang boom done. But it really isn’t. And I haven’t even seriously started packing. What to bring? What to leave? It’s going to be difficult.

It still hasn’t completely sunk in that I am going. I mean I have had the realization “Hey I’m going!” but not the “I Am going. For Four Months. Time for an Adventure” realization yet. I am looking forward to it but worry about feeling homesick, especially missing Ginger and Zoey. Also, I am sad that I am going to go 4 months without satiating my Star Trek Binge in all likelihood, but we will have to see about that. It will be good to take a break, but that doesn’t mean I won’t miss it.

There are so many things and people I want to see before I go that it seems almost unreal, like time is condensing and speeding by without me even noticing it.