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