Monday, February 11, 2013

Post-Graduation Confusion?

Don’t worry. I don’t have my life together either. Sometimes I don’t even think I’m a fully functional human being. Just now, in fact, I had to pause my writing mid-sentence because I felt something in my eye—a speck of dust, a rogue eyelash, perhaps.


I got up to inspect my eyeball in the mirror, leaning way too close to my own reflection in an attempt to identify the offending object, and you know what? Nothing was there. And it was infuriating.

Earlier this evening I had misplaced the book I am currently reading, and in my search for it, I honestly began by picking up my phone and getting ready to call it. That’s right. To call my book in order to locate it. And that isn’t even the worst of it, I’m afraid. My next thought, instead of—oh, I don’t know—“Hahaha! My book is not a phone!”, was “Crap. That won’t work. I left it on silent.” Oh, sweet, na├»ve, technology-surrounded Kiera. You didn’t leave your book on silent. It is a book. Books are always on silent.

But more infuriating than unidentified eye invaders and misplaced objects that don’t have a “PAGE!” function is the fog that’s crept over my future lately. It’s gotten so bad that I can’t see forward more than a week or two.* I know I’ll go to my part-time job for a couple of hours every day; I know that I’ll work out in the morning; I know that I’ll snack on dry cereal throughout the day because dry cereal is delicious and that I’ll be watching sitcoms just about any given week night because I’m a tv junkie. What I don’t know is where I’ll be working or living long-term. I could get a real job and move tomorrow… or that might not happen for another year. It’s horrible not knowing! I’ve been earnestly hunting for jobs for the past two months to no avail. I’ve been contacted by a few places and I’ve gone for a couple of interviews, but so far nothing has taken.

This has a way of making me feel purposeless. Stagnant. Stuck. Like I don’t have any control over my own life. But that’s not completely true. What I’ve come to realize over the past few weeks is this: I don’t have control over when I get a full-time, benefited job, but I do have control over what I’m doing from day-to-day; right now that has to be enough, and I have to make the most of it. Sitting around feeling sorry for myself is not the right option—when employers reject me for a position they are leaving me stuck, but that doesn’t mean I should prevent myself from moving forward in other ways.

Despite my current underemployment, here are the things I’ve kept myself "employed" in doing:
  • I’ve taken to seriously working on my current novel. I always say I want to be an author, and I participate in NaNoWriMo every year, but I rarely spend time on personal writing projects outside of November. I have now changed that, and so far I am pleased with the results.
  • I’ve become very dedicated to my workout schedule, exercising for thirty minutes in the morning six days a week, and I am feeling great. All of my clothes are fitting better, I have way more energy, and it gives me a sense of accomplishment.**
  • I’ve been spending a little bit of time every day on working on my French. I took French for several years in school, but I haven’t had a class since 2005, so I’m definitely rusty. I was skeptical at first, but I can see myself improving, which makes me kind of ecstatic. I keep picturing myself in Paris one day.***
  • I’ve focused on how to improve my spiritual life. I am an active member of the LDS church and always have been, but I believe no matter where I am spiritually, there is always room to be a better person and to be closer to the Lord. My prayers have become more personal, and my scripture study has become more focused. Instead of stressing over the things I don’t have (the aforementioned job, benefits, security, etc.), I try to remember all the things I have been blessed with—health, tons of people who care about me, parents who put up with me still living at home and eating their food, a solid sense of self, intelligence, talent, etc.
  • I’ve fallen in love with listening to podcasts; after I graduated the thing I missed the most was thought-provoking class discussions. I love learning new things (RAVENCLAW!) and trying to understand differing viewpoints. Educational podcasts have helped me continue to learn about topics I’d never seek out on my own and have provided me with so many fascinating people.***
I’m not saying that I’m giving up on the job hunt, or that these self-improvement projects are taking the place of applying for jobs and waiting for calls from interviewers—I’m definitely still doing all of that on a daily basis—but doing these other things keeps me occupied and productive while in this limbo. I’m making the most of the moment and reminding myself that I don’t have to wait until I have a career or my own house to be happy. I can be happy any time I choose to be, because happiness is a state of mind, not a destination.

*I’ve just realized this makes me sound like some kind of fortune-teller. I’m being figurative, people. I’m not saying it’s normal to literally be able to see one’s future. Geez. Give me a break.

**Sometimes I like to look back at middle school Kiera and imagine how shocked she would be to see me today. “Wait… you’re working up a sweat in spandex shorts… on purpose?!” she would say to me suspiciously, a curly fry dangling inches away from her mouth.

***SCENE: I am in line at a pastry shop, and I’m wearing a chic little outfit—mostly black, but with a pop of color in the accessories: bright red flats, a yellow watch. A young Parisian guy starts talking to me in rapid French, then waits for me to respond. Since I don’t understand everything he said, I turn to him and—in very slow French—say, “I’m sorry, could you repeat that more slowly? I don’t speak French very well, but I think you are very cute and would like to talk with you some more.” He stares at me, astounded, and tells me he never would have guessed I was a foreigner because I blend in so well. Then he compliments me on my accent and grammar, which he says do not sound harsh or out of practice. He pays for my food and we sit together outside. Fin.

****If you’ve never listened to podcasts and want to know where to start, I recommend This American Life, WNYC’s RadioLab, Stuff You Should Know, and Third Coast International (Resound).