Flashback Friday — 4 Years After Graduation

Four years ago today, I graduated from UC Santa Barbara with BA’s in Global Studies and French.

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I’ve been out of college for just as long as I was in it. That’s a strange feeling.

I didn’t really know what laid ahead for me on June 13th, 2010. I have always had a lot of interests…maybe too many. I like to dabble in a little bit of everything…but never a whole lot of one thing. We had 3 months left on the lease on our apartment in Isla Vista, so my roommates and I stayed and worked on campus for the summer, soaking up every minute of the Isla Vista “college life” that we could. Blissfully unaware of what we (or at least I) would do when the summer ended.

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I returned to Lyon, France (where I studied abroad) from August till September for a job at the UC office, and desperately looked for ways to stay there.

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But I had to return eventually. I flew back to LAX, met my dad, picked up all my packed belongings from our apartment in Santa Barbara, and drove six miserable hours back to Sacramento to move home to my parents’ house.

What followed were honestly four of the most confusing, miserable months of my life. With no direction about what kind of job my experience as a French speaking campus tour guide could land me, I aimlessly applied for everything and anything. The one bright spot in that time was a quick trip to New York City for “job hunting”. It was a bright point because I got to spend Halloween with my best friend. But I only landed one interview, for an unpaid internship at a nonprofit I wasn’t passionate about.

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For some reason, the introduction of the new year changed things. At the dawn of 2011, I had just started exercising and running — I did Jillian Michaels On Demand workout videos some mornings, and others I’d run an 1.8 mile route that took me 20 minutes (not including a 2-3 minute water break) each time. I watched Food Network all day long, downloaded a calorie counting app, and learned how to cook healthy food.

Maybe it was the confidence that endorphins (not to mention the 10 lb weight loss) give you that also got me to kick my job search into high gear. I finally tackled my fear of cold calling and called pretty much every single democratic lawmaker’s office at the State Capitol to see if they were offering internships.

I landed a spot at my State Senator’s office, joined the dodgeball league 6 months later, got my first boyfriend, and the rest is history.

one perk of my internship – a private tour of the cupola (the tower at the tippy top of the State Capitol!)

Every year around this time, I think about my graduation day and the dreams that 21 year old Katie had: She wanted to work on Capitol Hill. She wanted to move to San Francisco. She wanted to make her mark with an international nonprofit in the Big Apple.

And I’m not gonna lie. Every year, my initial thought is, “That Katie would be so disappointed.”

But here’s the thing, friends: You are in charge of your own destiny. It was silly of me to believe that my dreams would be handed to me on a silver platter. It’s not always gonna be easy. It’s seriously true that when life hands you lemons, you’ve just gotta make lemonade.

Graduate college in the worst economy your generation has ever seen? Get whatever internship you can, and soak up every lesson and opportunity you get there. Have to move home with your parents? Learn to appreciate their generosity, and realize how lucky you are for their support. (BUT- move out the first chance you get. Living 20 minutes away is just far enough, but close enough to do laundry every once in a while ;) )

I’m not where I wanted to be when I graduated college. I can accept that.

But I’ve also accomplished things I never thought I would:

  • I joined a social sports league only knowing one other person in the league, and now the people I’ve met there comprise 75% of my friends in Sacramento
  • That league led me to my first serious boyfriend, who I dated for nearly 2 years. We had our ups and downs, but I will always cherish our time together (ummm, we BREWED BEER!!) and the lessons I learned from our relationship.
  • I live in Midtown with a wonderful roommate, 2-3 blocks away from some of my favorite bars in town (or maybe they’re my favorites because they’re only 2 blocks away…hmmm)
  • I ran a FREAKING half marathon!
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13.1 miles is nothing to bat an eyelash at!

This is not to say I haven’t made plenty of mistakes along the way. But I have learned from them and am better off now. What doesn’t kill ya, right?

My graduation day is also a bittersweet (mostly sweet :) ) memory for me, because my grandparents came to Santa Barbara to celebrate with me.

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It was my Papa’s 84th birthday on my graduation day. I was so caught up in my own stuff that I didn’t even remember to say happy birthday to him until after the ceremony was over and we were heading out. He passed away two years later, almost 2 years ago now, and that weekend remains one of my favorite memories with him. Regardless of the tumultuous times that came afterward, my graduation was a special day for me.

Thanks for indulging in my little trip down memory lane. I still have more Blend recaps comin your way. I was just feelin particularly reminiscent today!

Have a fantastic weekend!

What did you think you’d be doing when you graduated college?

What is your one piece of advice for the grads of the Class of 2014?

7 thoughts on “Flashback Friday — 4 Years After Graduation

  1. Love this post Katie, you really are such an inspirational person :) So glad I’ve met you! Et il faut vraiment qu’on commence à parler plus ma langue ensemble! Je ne vais accepter que des commentaires en français venant de toi sur mon blog ;)

  2. Oh gosh, what a great post! I’m not doing anything even close to what I wanted to do when I graduated – I actually got the job I wanted, and it just wasn’t for me. I’ve realized I didn’t know really know myself back then. I’ve learned so much more about myself since then, and I’m happy with how far I’ve come. I moved back in with my parents after graduating (for more than a year!) and while I pretty much hated it, I’m so grateful for the opportunity to save money which made it possible for me to move out when I finally got the job and needed to move. My advice for this year’s graduates would be to take things as they come – it’s very unlikely that things will go exactly the way you think/want, but THAT’S OKAY.

    • Exactly!! And I’m glad you brought up that you actually DID get the job you wanted but realized it wasn’t for you. The confusing thing about graduating, especially for me, was that it’s hard to translate coursework –> real life experience, so I really didn’t have much of an idea of what kind of job I’d enjoy or even be qualified for. Thanks for your input Taryn! :)

  3. This was a great post :) I’ve been feeling so lost lately, not knowing what I want to do with my life or how I’m going to keep using this degree I got! I love your positivity about the things that happened that you never expected :) Have a good weekend!

  4. I think it’s also interesting to consider myself graduating high school and what I thought I would be doing at the end of college and then now a year (or more out). I knew I wanted to move to NYC and change everything. I wanted to establish my confidence and identity and am very sure I made the right choice. Freshman year Kaitlin would NOT have done that :) It’s amazing what we learn about ourselves over time, through good and bad times, and through others. I love following along! Congrats and can’t wait to see what’s next! I really want to join one of our sports leagues out here.

  5. This is always a strange time of year, thinking about how long ago it was that we graduated and how different things felt then. I’m not where I thought I’d be either (um, Salt Lake City?!), but I learned along the way that the things I thought I wanted didn’t necessarily make me happy. Cheers to learning as we go!

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