I graduated! Hooray?

It’s been a week since graduating from Kenyon, but honestly my brain still feels like a hamster caught in its little running wheel. WhaAaaAaat is happening? The finality of coming home still hasn’t hit, which might be due to the fact that I still have half a car to unload (oops) or that I’m leaving for Peru in three days.

Wait, what? This just happened!

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Thanks Mom and Dad!

Let’s back up. I really did do my best to try to find a “real” adult job after graduation–I sent out applications to entry-level positions and paid internships, and convinced myself that I wanted every single one of them. From advertising in Chicago to selling timeshares in Tennessee, to hotel operations in New Jersey, event coordinating in Massachusetts, and more, I applied wholeheartedly. I spent hours on resumes, cover letters, and personal statements, trying to strike that perfect intro sentence or concluding paragraph that would make the reader say “Yes!” out loud.

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I think this is what my applications looked like to employers. Source.

I received a couple polite, automated rejections, but mostly it was radio silence that told me that I’d dead-ended. Something weird happened, though. When talking with friends and family, I had to actively work to be disappointed that I hadn’t heard back from anywhere. It’s not that the prospect of graduating and going home to lie on the couch watching Property Brothers and The Voice for the rest of my life didn’t terrify me–it did. But I started to realize that part of the reason I wasn’t disappointed about not getting any of the jobs I’d applied for was because I hadn’t really, truly, wanted any of them in the first place.

So I backed off, let the dust settle. I focused on my senior project for my creative writing emphasis, realized I hated the idea, scrapped it, and started from ground zero (are you starting to see a pattern yet?).

Things started to look up. I had a lightbulb-moment during a free-writing session, and my new idea took off with me scrambling to record the story as my characters walked and talked and breathed life into the little town they were from. One night, I stopped working and purposefully opened the Google browser to look for writing jobs. I found an editorial internship that offered experience in a writing field I’d only dabbled in but could directly apply my English major to. Most tellingly, I was more excited about the prospect of this position (unpaid, mind you), than I had been about any of the others.

I didn’t hear back.

Not for a painfully long time, that is. I eventually heard back and was offered the position (!!!) but in that interim I had another burst of clarity: I was going to GRADUATE in a few weeks. I could DO THINGS after graduation, things that took time and energy, game changing things that I didn’t have as a student-athlete in college.

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But I wouldn’t trade these moments for anything. Photo by Chris Hunt.

I’ve always loved to travel. I spent the spring of my junior year in Wellington, New Zealand, and came home with two resolutions: that I would go back, and that I’d take the time, when I had it, to travel meaningfully. When, oh when, will I ever have more time to take that time than after graduation?

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The Wellington waterfront at night

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The first and possibly only city to ever steal my heart. TBD.

I applied to volunteer as a lead teacher to Helping Overcome Obstacles Peru (HOOP), an organization I’ve had my eye on since stumbling across it my sophomore year of college (more on HOOP later). Suddenly, things began to click into place. I heard back about my editorial internship application and arranged to move to Charlottesville later this year to begin work with Ivy Publications. I booked my plane ticket to Arequipa, finished a draft of my creative project, and now have plans to expand the work into a novella and venture out into the realm of self-publishing by the end of this year.

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Like a thesis, but with more *characters* (get it?!)

I have a vision, a goal, and, most importantly, a confidence that I didn’t have when I was trying to merge into adulthood the traditional way. Not for lack of trying, but I keep coming back to writing. It’s what I love to do, what I’m good at, and, most importantly, what feels right.

That’s where this blog comes in. I want my friends, family, and people I’ve never met to see where this road takes me. Maybe I’ll dead-end again, but maybe I won’t. Maybe the key to avoiding dead ends is recognizing when you’re heading down one.

 

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