Post-Grad Diaries: Let's Do This Thing For Real

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I Did The Thing

When a big life event hits, you never quite know how to react. Even if it's one of the positive ones -- like graduating. Last Saturday, I walked across the stage at Cleveland State University's commencement. The finality of it all felt so weird. Especially because of the last two semesters have been so fast paced and absolutely exhausting. Feeling everything slow down, and come to a literal halt is definitely going to take some getting used to. 

I was pushing myself extremely hard for the last couple weeks. Even physically, my body is feeling weird. I still have two online classes to finish but thankfully they're literature courses for my Women's Studies major which will give me a good excuse to get some reading done, and both of those courses finish on June 29. On July 1st, I leave for Europe to visit my family in Lithuania and then my aunt in Brussels. I have a plan for the summer -- but still, I have this weird feeling around me of freedom, confusion, and excitement.

My dad named me after a battle. Fought between Alexander the Great and Prince Darius III of the Persians in 331 BC, the Battle of Arbela is recorded in the history books as being won “against overwhelming odds.” Despite a much smaller army and less resources, Alexander the Great won through smart tactics. My dad always reminded me this — what my name means — when I felt drained, frustrated or stressed. And after he passed, I still kept this reminder close whenever I felt like I wanted to give up. I hope my dad is somewhere in the trees and in the lake smiling at me and feeling proud. He lifted me up for so long and I now know I can go on by myself — and face the next battle ahead.

My dad named me after a battle. Fought between Alexander the Great and Prince Darius III of the Persians in 331 BC, the Battle of Arbela is recorded in the history books as being won “against overwhelming odds.” Despite a much smaller army and less resources, Alexander the Great won through smart tactics. My dad always reminded me this — what my name means — when I felt drained, frustrated or stressed. And after he passed, I still kept this reminder close whenever I felt like I wanted to give up. I hope my dad is somewhere in the trees and in the lake smiling at me and feeling proud. He lifted me up for so long and I now know I can go on by myself — and face the next battle ahead.

Overall, another feeling I'm having is immense gratitude. For the people around me who have helped me through the toughest years of my life so far. Going into my sophomore year (the year I argue is the year shit gets real in college) after my dad passed away 3 months before was difficult. I wasn't sure I would be able to make it through, find my calling, summon motivation. But I did. Maybe my dad was with me the whole time -- but he would also tell me to thank my friends around me. He taught me the value of friendship, so I found the people I wanted to my surround myself with and held them for dear life. And that was the best decision. I had not toxic relationships, no people that I thought were there for me and then betrayed me, nothing like that. Only love and support. I feel incredibly lucky for the friends I made in the journalism department -- the ones that I suffered with during late nights at the library and even later nights editing for deadlines. 


Staring Into The Void of Adulthood

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Every summer for the last how many years as I can remember, I always gave myself to goal to try and finish some "fun" reading since the school was over. Every summer, I didn't read as much as I wanted to before the next school quarter or semester was looming over me. I had the same thought as the summer of 2018 began, but then I realized it. I don't just have the summer to read all the books I want to read and write all the things I want to write -- I have, like, the rest of my life. The future is not only bright, but it's also limitless. There are no more neatly laid out steps anymore. This excites me, but also terrifies me deeply. My choices. Because all the choices I made 3-4 years ago -- enrolling at Cleveland State University, declaring my majors in Journalism and Women's Studies and joining my college magazine -- all of these choices have officially been followed through and finished. And everything can be quantified. Two degrees and a minor. Three years at a college magazine  two of which I was Editor in Chief during. 
 

Along with that, I also turned 23, within the same week. Which, still now doesn’t feel real. I never wanted to become that person who doesn’t make a fuss about my birthday as I get older (because honestly, we should all feel special and spoiled on one day of the year -- never feel bad about that) but I think I slowly am, at least in this point in my life. This year I kind of just let my birthday wash over me. And not just because there were graduation festivities happening as well. I was just overwhelmed, overstimulated, frankly — not having enough time to process everything around me. The last couple weeks I’ve been in an over-caffeinated spiral of late night studying, research and paper writing. And now it’s over. And I walked at commencement. I have two more online classes to go, but those aren’t nearly as distracting as my two capstones and 3 elective classes I was juggling this spring. The distractions are gone, the fog is clearing, all I see is the road ahead and all I can do is stare. I feel more free, obviously. And I’m 23. And I’m graduating. And yet, despite all the work I’ve put in to get here, I still have been waking up with a whispering voice in my head asking me: but are you doing enough?

And by this, I mean not only career-wise, although that is the biggest chunk. I also mean financially, emotionally, health wise and just general well being. But from a career point of view, I'm hyper aware that the career I've chosen is a hard one. It's going to knock me down, reject me and make me feel inadequate. That's why it feels good that I've reached a huge goal: finishing college, so that lifts me up a bit and makes me realize my own strength.

I don’t know where everything’s going to go from here exactly. I have some small plans, some big goals and quite a few things I’m looking forward to. I also have some doubts and insecurities that I know I'll have to battle along the way. It’s funny how we are taught the experience of college from a young age. Like it’s a save-all and the final frontier. Like everything will fall into place or at least you’ll have a clear plan on how to put things into place. But we all know secretly it's not, towards the end. Maybe it’s good that we go into it feeling that way, though. Maybe it’s good that we romanticize the experience of college classes, campus activities or our internships and other things that make up the college experience. Maybe this is where our drive is born, for what we ultimately want to do after we’re done. And maybe before we are thrust into the real world, we feel that romantic feeling as we walk the stage or finish our last class and remember -- this is why I did this, and this is why I will continue to do things. For this feeling. 

Now, the feeling can only be described by one thing: real. They say that college is is a trial period before the real thing begins, and I definitely agree. This was the time to mess up, go crazy and figure things out. Granted, I know we'll all be figuring things out throughout our lives, but this is the first stage of that: college. But I remember 4 years ago coming to CSU and feeling like a lost puppy. I remember looking at all my requirements for my degree when I first started and feeling like, this is going to take forever. 2018 didn't even feel like a real year. But now, it is. I've put in the work, the time, stress, tears and sweat – so let's do this thing for real.