Monday, May 25, 2009

Life After Graduation

Tonight I was watching CNN and noticed an ad for their upcoming special on life after graduation. Interested, I decided to google “life after graduation” and see what advice the tangled world web could offer to a confused post-graduation twenty-something like myself. What key advice did google retrieve?

A blog on the first 30 days after college graduation said this: “You have a lot on your plate, from searching for a job to figuring out your living arrangements to plotting your finances. With all of these variables, this can be an incredibly confusing time.” Thank you for fishing out the most obvious response master google. But could google offer me any advice on how to sacrifice my sanity amid this thirty-day crisis? Google’s response was this: “Remember, however, that you’ve achieved a lot and reached the point where you can finally live life on your own terms.” Well at least I still have my keen ability to bullshit, a skill I honed successfully throughout my pursuit of an undergraduate degree in useless theories on real life. With that I can at least feign sanity until the whole situation blows over.

I did return to the job search again this morning, not much else to do on a cloudy memorial day. But my search was quickly interrupted by Internet disconnect when my roommate decided to use the house phone to make a call. For the past few months, none of us have bothered to call the phone company to fix the fact that our Internet and phone line can’t be used at the same time. Today, I was just glad it gave me a good excuse to find some other way to occupy my time.

I headed down to the kitchen to put together meal numero uno for the day. I first thought of making spaghetti, but then decided to get a little more ambitious. I make this black bean stew that everybody really loves and today I noticed that I had all the fresh ingredients to make it from scratch. Giddy at the thought of spending the next hour or so cleaning, dicing, peeling and spicing, I dove into the project whole-heartedly. I roasted corn, peeled carrots, and chopped onions all morning to my heart’s content. I’m still amazed at how sharply my attitude towards cooking has shifted in the past few years. I used to despise it. Maybe I saw cooking as a fulfillment of some debilitating female stereotype. But now, politics aside, I find it so relaxing. It’s a fun little project to create something really tasty and original. Plus, I find most prepared food I buy either too bland, or shamelessly flavored with too much salt. Finding my own savory blend of spices has turned cooking into a fun little adventure.

After finishing up with my bean stew prep work and getting the mixture on the oven to simmer, I decided to tend to my new vegetable garden on the balcony. I just planted spinach and cucumber seeds and bought tomato and jalapeño plants from the nursery yesterday. I’ve got quite the little botanical oasis started on my perch. I’m pretty excited about the garden, because as soon as the fun of gardening has paid off, I’ll be able to cook with the crop. I love how the two hobbies complement each other.

Life after graduation is still in the beginning stage of course, but I believe I’m in the midst of the hardest part of the transition. My drive to accomplish tasks each day has lost the majority of its momentum. I’m staggering to complete anything and dragging along from one day to the next. I woke up at one in the afternoon today thinking it was still nine in the morning. I unknowingly slept half the day away when only a month ago I was never able to sleep past eight in the morning.

The hardest part of all of it is the vast amount of options that lay before me. I realize now that I never considered life without the structure that school provides. The concept totally blindsided me. I’m looking out at a vast gray area of competing options. If I think too much about the future, I’ll never get anywhere in the interim, if focus too much on the now, I may lose sight of my long-term goals. I feel the heavy weight of adulthood responsibility lowering down on top of me. My childhood vigor and curiosity have escaped my recollection.

I don’t really expect anyone to read about my struggle and see it as unique or intriguing. I suppose it’s more just to spell out my struggle in a more tangible way. I think getting over the hump involves a great deal of self-exploration and re-connecting with one’s old hobbies. But also I think one can find serenity by connecting with others in the same stage of life, reaching out to each other even if only to help occupy the time on the more fruitless days; when you find someone else to join in your struggle, at least you can distribute some of the weight.

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