The Post-Graduation Blues

Time is a strange thing. In college, I used to compare time against itself by identifying 6-week spurts of time. It was the same amount of time during which it took to complete Penn State’s LEAP program, a mentoring program for incoming freshmen. I was a part of it for three summers: first, as a wide-eyed freshman, then as a mentor helping 24 young students navigate collegiate life. forget me not

Six weeks is not a long time, but those summers spent with LEAP felt like an eternity — I was making new friends, learning how to live away from my parents, and exploring a new university and town. Each day was packed with fun and new experiences. Now, I look at the past six weeks and can’t help but feel a bit sad.

Sure, I’ve done wonderful things. I wrote an ebook, which should soon be published (and will hopefully give people an understanding of feminism, a conversation I find important). At work, I provided clients with blog posts and thought leadership. I hiked in the woods, spent time with my boyfriend, kept up with the news, ate a lot of fruit and ran five days a week.

But time is relative — it’s a made up concept, and each phase of my life makes it feel different. Post-academia, I feel that I’m no longer growing and expanding and pushing myself. All I’m doing is surviving —  trying to earn enough money to make rent and pay the Internet bill, keep the fridge full, maybe on a rare occasion, spend a few hours at a restaurant or bar.

I’ll be 22 in exactly one month. I know I’m not old by any means, but I, too am having the post-collegiate doubts that befall many a Millennial. Once filled with idealism and dreams of a bright, fulfilling future, I’ve gotten a taste of the real world’s mundanity and routine, our actions programmed by those who came before us in a soul-crushing dance: 9-5, 9-5, 9-5, work, sleep, eat, work, sleep, eat, work, sleep eat sleepworkeatsleepwork

Too often the same words come into my brain, Is this all there is? and You should be happy. Why aren’t you happy?

I was always one of those heavily-involved nerds who really loved school. School offered a sense of community, endless knowledge, clubs and organizations to fill the vacant hours. But now, it’s all on me. My hand no longer being held by the paradigms of the educational institutions, I have only myself to fill the hours.

It’s lonely. It’s debilitating. I’m not sure where to find fulfillment, now. Is the answer in career? Nature? Exercise? Entrepreneurship? Meditation? All day I turn ideas over in my head and no solutions come. I read about the problems in the world and lament my own inactivity. Before I had clubs, networks of like-minded  people who were up for a rally to protest the two-party system or creating a donation drive for the women’s center.

How do adults find their communities? How do they constantly create new networks without institutions behind them? I have a lot that I’m thankful for, but my days still feel empty. Time moves slowly, now. Adulthood feels like butter spread too thin on too much bread (okay, I might have stolen that metaphor from Bilbo Baggins. But still.)

The present, once ripe and glistening with potential, has turned into the dried out, fond but unreachable past. The future comes at me slowly with a full gaping mouth and metal teeth. A vast whirlpool of despair and I’m drowning in it.