A year ago, I graduated college, and I moved to a completely different city. In a completely different state. Where I knew no one.
And, Boston is a magical place filled with opportunity, all four seasons, some of the most picturesque apple orchards you can find. I mean, there’s even a place here called Wonderland.
But, there’s something different about moving to somewhere permanently… something that I didn’t feel when I interned in Texas or Seattle.
It took a while to sink in, that this wasn’t a temporary thing. I’m not going back to Penn State after 8 weeks to start my new classes and continue on for my degree. I didn’t feel the “what clubs am I going to get into this semester” or “do I want to TA” or “what’s my target internship for next summer” in August. For the first six months, I felt like I was just kind of floating–in a cycle of trying to do my best at work, making friends, getting into grad school, and recovering from all of those things on the weekends. There was no apparent end in sight–no end of the semester, no spring break, no internship start date, nothing to look forward to.
Perhaps other people were, but I don’t think I was prepared for what ending being a full time student meant. When I was in school, the prize at the end was financial stability and a career you enjoy, which was really alluring. And, once I reached the finish line, I felt like I didn’t know what my purpose was anymore. It’s like, as a kid, your life was school. And, once you don’t go anymore, it feels like a piece of your identity is lost.
I’d describe myself as almost nomadic to a fault–I love to explore and move to different places. I take so much pride in saying that I’ve lived all over the country, even if it was only for a few months at a time. And so, I think that suppressing those things that I really enjoy, moving around and school, made 2019 especially challenging.
I don’t know if other people feel this way. But, if you do, I want to provide you with some advice if you feel like you’re floating, too.
1. Establish new goals
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m super goal-oriented. Once I accomplished the goal I’d been dreaming about for the past 4 years–graduating college–I didn’t really have anymore goals lined up. Brainstorming new things to accomplish gave me a lot of comfort, because it made me realize that I could dream as big as I want to, and I have a whole new era of years to conquer with the best resources I’ve had to date.
2. Find something, anything, that’s familiar
Honestly, this is probably a big part in why I went back to school. I really missed feeling like a was working towards a concrete, personal milestone–a degree (and aside from that, cell biology is soooooo cool!). I think this is important to incorporate into your life, whether it’s going to Chik-fil-a, because you always went there in between class, or joining a local soccer team, because you were athletic when you were growing up. When I pursued something familiar, I felt a little less lost–college was something I’d done before, I liked how completing classes made me feel, and I knew what my outcome would be.
3. Acknowledge that this is a big step, and don’t make yourself feel like you’re childish for being scared
You’re not a baby for being apprehensive about this new stage in your life–you’re being a human, and that’s called cortisol. Give yourself a break, and for as long as you need to, celebrate everything you’re doing right–paying your bills on time, getting a semi-regulated laundry schedule, making sure there’s at least something in your fridge you can eat. You don’t wake up and have everything figured out–it’s these little things that pile up into a mountain that you cover in a blanket labeled “I have my life together.” That’s what I think, anyways.
4. Start a new hobby to root yourself to this moment in time
This is a more recent production, but it’s been really helpful in seeing steps of life in a new manner. Starting a new hobby to celebrate your current situation could help you, because it establishes a positive connotation in your mind about right now. Say I move away from Boston in 5 years–I can look back and think, “oh yeah!! That’s when I first started investing” or “ahhh, Boston, where I started learning how to grill shrimp in such a way that they don’t taste like rubbery dog toys” (still working on the whole shrimp thing, in case you were wondering). Essentially, you’re making positive memories with your situation, so if you keep on investing or cooking shrimp for the rest of your life, you develop fond memories of your old stomping grounds.
It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged, but this was on my mind, and I hoped it’d be helpful to someone.