yesterday officially marked one year since graduating from college, and it’s a crazy pill to try and swallow. a lot can happen in a year, especially a year that stretches you as a person and challenges you to be outside your comfort zone. there are times I miss being a student and being able to feel independent without having to accept full responsibility – so there’s something about this first year right out of college when you feel like you’re squandering because you feel like you’re at the bottom of the totem pole, trying to figure this adulting thing out. and while it’s been intimidating at times, I’ve discovered strengths + independence I never realized I had.
let me start by being transparent and say that the first two months after graduation were a little rough. I lost my first job after a month and a half (and had my heart broken within that same week!!!! cool right?) I still had my tutoring job with the athletics department at the university, but I was working there less than 10 hours a week. my first job following graduation was a little chaotic. it was a blessing since I was struggling with getting interviews prior to graduation, so at least I was employed – and I was thankful for that. but, after a month and a half I wound up back at square one. truthfully, though, it was a blessing in disguise because I felt discouraged with where I was. I felt overworked and overqualified, and I was scared of getting stuck working on the side of health + wellness that I never envisioned myself doing long term.
I am not slamming my previous employer. my discontentment started to show and that was wrong of me – wearing my heart on my sleeve is something I’ve needed to work on for as long as I can remember, and this lesson gave me a swift kick in the butt. but working in the fitness industry is a 7 day a week job. it’s long hours and there’s not much hope of getting long holidays and much needed days off. not only that, but I was working sales – perhaps a good tool to have in the long run, but not my ideal 40-hour a week job. the opportunity was there for me to train to become a coach, but I never saw myself doing that either. I’ve always wanted to be hands on with individuals and get to talk to them on deeper levels to get to the root of their wellness needs. but again: I was blessed to be employed, to have an income, and to keep the roof over my head.
luckily, God was watching the over me (like always) because He brought opportunities to me before I had lost my job in the first place – I was only unemployed for 2 weeks before starting my 8-5 job with the university, which is where I truly saw myself working after graduation. needless to say, I’m happy with where I ended up, even if getting here was a little messy. so, that’s a brief insight into the situations that have jump-started my post-grad life – FUN, right? lol. but, now I want to talk about some of the specific lessons I feel like I’ve learned.
if there’s anything I’ve learned, is that you do have to be selfish when it comes to your life + your future. I don’t mean that in the sense that you should trample over others or feel entitled to get somewhere, but remaining in environments or relationships that you know are holding you back and aren’t allowing you to advance to where you want to be are toxic. I feel like that sounds so mean, and that’s not at all how I’m trying to make it sound lol but this phase of life is where I’ve done the most growing because I have had to transition out of the mindset of “I have everything figured out” to an “lol just kidding, I really don’t know anything” mindset. again, that’s really not supposed to sound discouraging, but when you don’t have the fallbacks you have as a college student (i.e. having time to figure it out, I have so-n-so to fix it for me, etc) it forces you to realize weaknesses and do something about them.
and I found out the hard way that romantic relationships are hard to maintain at this phase. probably not for everyone, but for those of you that might be like me and realize you have a lot of growing + self-care to do, it’s hard to nurture yourself and a new relationship simultaneously. what I found was that I was becoming too dependent on someone else’s future success that I was putting my own future success on the back burner – which is obviously a very dangerous mindset to have when nothing in life is set in stone… and unfortunately it’s a thought process I am incredibly susceptible to. so, I made some tough decisions for the sake of bettering myself before I can fathom bringing someone else into my life.
additionally, I’ve had to learn how to roll with the punches. aka, I’ve had to learn to take life one lease at a time lol. I have people ask me all the time what I plan on doing to advance more in my field or where I’m going to live year after year. and I frankly just don’t know. all I know is that right now, I feel like I belong in Oklahoma and feel happy with where I am and the life I have made for myself here. of course, I miss my family and the familiarity that I have back home in Dallas, but I try not to make too many plans for too far in advance. I feel like God has shown me time and time again that any time I try and map out my life, that He has a way of showing me that another path is better for me – and I really try not to be in the business of getting my hopes up, or the hopes of others.
ultimately, I feel like this time following graduation has been about proving to myself that I am strong + that I am capable. even if no one else feels the need for me to prove anything to them, I feel the need to prove it to myself that I can accomplish whatever it is that I set my mind to – and that if plan a doesn’t work, you move onto plan b. right now, in this time of being a single young professional, I’m living my life for myself, but most importantly, for God. He is the one who has laid the passions on my heart that I firmly believe will better His kingdom – and frankly, I’ve come to not care if anyone finds my methods + goals as unconventional, because I’ve learned that as long as I feel happy and fulfilled in my endeavors to pursue what He’s called me to, then that’s all that matters.
so to my college graduate readers (or anyone who is about to be) – know that this is a beautiful phase that you’re about to enter in which you’re going to learn so much about yourself that you didn’t before. it’s an adjustment, and there are going to be moments of fear and uncertainty, but this is where you finally have the freedom to make your life yours. be flexible, be brave, be bold. find things that will stretch you past your comfort zones because it’s when you come out of your shell that you start to discover strengths you had all along. be kind, but know when to put yourself first – this is your life, and it’s happening now. take control and know that there’s nothing wrong with following your own path to happiness. there will be people who disagree with you, you might have moments of doubt, but so many times it’s when we take the chances that scare us that we thrive + grow.
photography by megan ross