Hello, my lovely bloggers! ❤
Today’s date (June 12th, 2016) marks the one-year anniversary of my college graduation (for a recap of last year’s ceremonies, check it out here). Like many already or soon-to-be graduates of universities all over the country, I once walked in the ceremony– cap, gown, sash galore– shook the hand of the department head, and sat in the not-so-comfortable seats while listening to the one, two-hour speeches of the guest speakers who most likely were called not only because of their wealth and status in society, but also for their *generous* monetary contribution to the academic institution (think donations).
…yeah. I did all of that.
It is crazy to believe that it has only been a mere twelve months since I have graduated from higher education. For some of you who have been out of school for years, even decades, you might think that my one year of post-grad life is just a small blip in the rest of my adult life. Very true, it is…but the amount of things that I have done since being out of school has been nothing short of wonderful.
What did I do? I lived.
In other words, I learned independence, forced myself to get out of my comfort zone. After college, I worked. I also moved abroad to Europe to experience a culture, a society so similar but also so different from the United States and what I had been accustomed to my entire life. I traveled, making weekend getaways all over the continent- seeing, tasting, experiencing places I had never thought that I would have done at such a young age. At the tender age of twenty three, I have seen much more of the world than what most of my peers will see in a lifetime.
Call it a humble brag or not, but I am proud of what I’ve accomplished in this last year of post-college life. People might consider what I did a “gap year,” and I can see why they would call it that. For the longest time, I used to think that after undergraduate studies, it was an obligation to advance further in graduate studies, thus forking over more money for more education. I also used to think that it was best to segue from undergrad to grad school sans pause, and looked upon gap years with skepticism. However, it wasn’t until I, myself, decided to take the year for temporary work in another part of the world that I began to truly understand the value of “taking time off” for oneself. Nearing the end of the my final year of undergrad, I admit that I was slowly getting burnt-out from the schoolwork, club activities, and other commitments to the campus; if I were to continue straight into more schooling after that, I probably would’ve been completely shot (and really hating myself for doing so).
A year later, and I am once again at the crossroads: to more education or not? If you were to ask me back in September, heck, even November, I would have said with a resounding yes that I would like to pursue graduate school. Specifically, I wanted to get a MFA (Master’s in Fine Arts) in Creative Writing- Poetry, and was even asking around for recommendation letters from my professors. However, that never materialized, as I got wrapped up with work, travel, and overall disillusionment of my abilities as a poet and the competitive nature of such programs; I felt that, while I enjoyed writing poetry, they were not “strong enough” to be considered for a MFA degree. Seriously, you have to be cream of the crop in order to get into these workshops.
You might say that I should’ve applied anyway, despite the competition and second thoughts. True, but what held me back was the cost (those programs don’t come cheap) and the practicality of it all (can my passion in poetry translate over to a stable occupation in the future?). Yes, I believe that finding a job that one is passionate about is good, for contentment in one’s life. However, there comes a catch: while you might find something that you’re good in (whether the pay is solid or not) really incredible, that initial joy slowly sinks into reality once you realize that you have a rent to cover, bills to pay, and other nasty things that we, as full-fledged adults, are obliged to do. That passion you have for your work (whether in the arts, politics, sciences, etc) no longer becomes something novel, fresh, innovative…it becomes a chore, like cleaning the house or taking out the trash.
That said, I imagined if I had to do poetry as a living for the rest of my life. Not a bad idea at all, but the pressure to publish collections, meet deadlines, and attend public conferences can really cramp your style, especially when it comes to finding material to write about. As much as I would like to say it isn’t, writing poetry for a living is not a sustainable way to live, unless you become the next James Merrill. 😛
…I’m getting off-track. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that this past year has made me really reconsider what I want in my life after college: graduate school, workforce, perhaps both? After receiving my diploma, I thought that just entering the workforce, without additional schooling, was an attractive path to take- earn money, save money. Unfortunately, when looking at potential jobs in France and the U.S. towards the end of my teaching stint abroad, I realized many require a minimum of a Master’s degree- in this day and age, a Bachelor’s just won’t cut it. That is why I am strongly considering getting a Master’s, just for the sake of getting more job offers in the future. Still figuring it out, but as of right now I am leaning towards a TESOL degree (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), especially having returned from an enriching year abroad in France.
Any case, for the sake of making this post way too long as it already is, a lot has happened in this past year after finishing college: I am still in no way certain about what my twenties will bring me (or rather, what I’ll bring to my twenties), but I do hope to have it figured out in the next couple of years! Thanks for reading up to this point.
…one last note: for all of you soon-to-be graduates out there, I wish you the best in all of your celebrations and careers in the years to come. 🙂
— The Finicky Cynic
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