Tag Archive: post-grad life

Thoughts on Next Steps

Whenever a chapter of your life is coming to an end the people in your life seem to become obsessed with what you’re planning to do next. What are you doing? When are you doing it? Where are you going? What’s your five year plan?? When are you getting a boyfriend and getting married and having kids??? Where are you going to retire???? When I graduated last year this was all I heard. Okay, to be fair, no one actually asked me where I was going to retire but my whole summer was spent awkwardly side-stepping questions about my future that I wasn’t ready to answer yet. Friends, family, co-workers, professors, literally everyone I knew needed to know right-this-very-second what I was going to do next. I mean seriously people, hold the phone. I just graduated ten seconds ago can we take some time to let that sink in before planning my retirement party?

Honestly, I hated talking to people after I graduated. It was exhausting. I spent so much time and energy making vague statements about possible opportunities that I was basically making up just to get them to shut up and laughing off my unemployment/not-in-my-field employment to people I shouldn’t have had to justify my life to. Because I shouldn’t have had to justify my life to anyone. Everyone’s post-grad journey is different and there’s no one right way to do it but everyone around me was making me feel like I was doing it wrong.

Everyone was so concerned with what I was doing, or not doing, but no one, not one single person, asked me how I felt. No one cared that an incredibly important and formative part of my life was suddenly over. No one cared that I was riddled with anxiety about the future and that their barrage of questions was leaving me in tears on a daily basis. No one gave a damn that I had landed a sweet gig as a baker (pun completely intended) at an awesome, local, female-driven company because it wasn’t a “theatre job.” I couldn’t even be excited about the things I was doing because I spent so much time worrying about the things I wasn’t doing. And while it wouldn’t have changed my employment status or my theatrical prospects, if even one person had asked me how I felt, I might have felt a little less alone and a little less pressured to be everything everyone was expecting me to be. If one person had taken “I don’t know” as the cry for comfort that it was instead of being derisive about my arts degree, maybe I could have saved a few tears and avoided a few late-night anxiety attacks.

In a world that values material success over emotional success, graduating, or moving on from any chapter of life, is a quiet, very lonely hell. People are so caught up in the how, when and what of things that they forget there is a person behind the graduate; a person with feelings and hopes and dreams and doubts and a right to just do what they’re doing now and to not have to answer to the rest of the world for it. It’s hard to remember when you’re in the thick of it but you are allowed to do your own thing and you don’t have to justify your choices to anyone. Go forth and conquer, recent-graduate, even if conquering just means that you got out of bed and got dressed this morning.



It’s been one year since I moved home after graduating university. One year of not being a student. One year of living with my parents. One year of being in the same city I grew up in. One year of being apart from a lot of the most important people in my life. And I’m still not okay with it. I’ve been struggling with what to say for a couple of weeks and I’ve still come up short. I want to be able to write about how this past year has enlightened me and I’ve grown into a happy, go-getting graduate but in reality, when I looked back at what I wrote six months ago, it still felt pretty accurate. On paper, my life still sounds great. Actually, even better than it did six months ago but I’m still not satisfied and I’ve spent a lot of time being very frustrated by this and trying, desperately, to figure out why. And then when all of this year’s grads were posting their pictures I saw one with a quote that really resonated with me. It said:

“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place. Like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place because you’ll never be this way ever again.”

And then I understood, at least in part, why I’ve been longing so desperately to go back to the school days since the second I left. There are many reasons but that quote explains something I was never able to put my finger on until I read it. While the student version of myself was deeply flawed and probably not the “best” one, there are many things I liked about that person that stayed there and didn’t come home with me. Student-me was carefree (my friends would scoff at this but I’m talking in relative terms here!), adventurous, an occasional party animal completely ready to let loose and willing to bend the rules sometimes. She always had time for friends and never turned down a beer and a chat at the local bar. She occasionally turned down work in favour of sleep or a fun time with fun people but still worked when it was necessary and remained a reliable, go-to employee. Student-me was passionate and driven and creating constantly. She was fit. She had goals and aspirations and real plans to get there.

Post-grad me isn’t any of those things and when I take the time to look at myself instead of at my circumstance I’m even more unhappy with who I’ve become. I never see my friends because I’m always working. I miss things that are important to me because I put work above all else. I’m not creating, I’m not excited about my current or upcoming projects because I don’t have any. I never turn down work so I’m always short on sleep and lacking fun. I’ve completely thrown health and fitness out the window and try as I might to get back on track, I never try hard enough. My goals and post-grad plans have fallen by the wayside in favour of “surviving” right now. I’m always stressed; about work, about money; about completely fictional scenarios I create in my head and believe to be real. This is not the person I want to be but I feel stuck in this panicky rut of having to work all the time because I don’t make enough to work normal hours and still get by. (Completely and utterly false because living with one’s parents is very cheap.) I don’t know how to get out of this rut but at least now, I know that I’m in it.

Don’t get me wrong, the year hasn’t been all bad. Despite the overwhelming feelings of being trapped and standing still I have enjoyed parts of it and I have certainly learned some things. Here are a couple of them, lest it seem as though I’ve been completely useless for an entire 12 months:

  • Sometimes you have to put yourself in highly uncomfortable situations for a short time to reap the rewards in the long term. I was really good at this in the first couple of months and it led to some wonderful experiences and opportunities but in recent months I’ve fallen back into complacency and become the excuse maker I once was but it remains a very true lesson.
  • Work is not everything. Saying no is okay. No matter how much you love your job it is not worth sacrificing other things that are important to you or that excite you. Don’t take on so many shifts don’t stay late out of obligation, stand up for your time because it is just as valuable as anyone else’s. That’s not to say never take on extra work or never stay late when they need it but just remember that doing those things is a choice not a job requirement and you are allowed to say no. (A lesson I am aware of but do not heed often and must continue to remind myself of in Year 2.

I’m trying very hard to be positive because that is something that My First Year lacked a great deal. I’ve spent a lot of time living in the past, wishing things were the way they were before and being overwhelmed by my nostalgic emotions. I hope that I can find it in myself to take back the parts of the person I was at school that I liked and discover parts of this self that I like as well. I hope that I can work less and play more and I hope that I can start to strengthen the friendships I have here in town rather than longing for the ones that are out of reach for now. I hope I can spend time learning new things and going after the things I want out of life rather than sitting complacently by. Here’s to creating, here’s to growing and here’s to the start of Year 2!

Thoughts on Being Here Now

Be here now.

I first came across this saying in the 11th grade. My drama teacher, whom I was fairly close with, was getting it tattooed on her wrist in Sanskrit. (It remains, to this day, one of the coolest tattoos I’ve ever seen) The saying has been stuck in my head pretty much ever since. Like a song lyric that won’t go away but it’s a constant reminder of something that I am not very good at. I don’t live in the moment, I plan and schedule everything to the point where I plan when and for how long I need to sleep in three to four day increments to make sure I’m getting at least six hours a day. It’s completely outrageous and probably unnecessary but it’s the way I’ve always operated.

But over time I’ve come to realize it’s not just about living in the moment. It’s about accepting where you are at any given time. That’s not to say you shouldn’t dream or make plans for the future, those things are fine. But those things are only productive and positive if you’ve accepted where you are first. As I was laying down to a pre-planned nap today this saying popped into my head again and I think that’s because it’s extremely apropos to where I am in my life right now.

If you had looked around my room in university you would see things everywhere. Show posters, quotes, calendars, schedules, pictures of friends and family covered the walls. I lived in that room. If you looked around my room now you’d see only two things on the wall: my calendar (colour coded, of course) and one, single poster that I got for my birthday and didn’t put up for a month. I don’t live in this room, I’m staying in it. Which is sort of silly and very sad because this has been my bedroom for my entire life but ever since I came back to it I haven’t committed to being here now. I’ve been so focused on how unhappy I am with my current situation and so determined to get out of it that I’ve made my home feel transitional and temporary. In a way, it is. I don’t plan to live with my parents forever (and I’m sure they don’t plan to let me stay forever) but this is where I am right now. There’s no shame in it, there’s nothing wrong about where I am it’s just not where I want to be. But until I can accept where I am now, I’m never going to be able to take productive steps to change anything because I’ll just remain depressed and unmotivated.

Be here now might be easy for a lot of people but nothing about it is easy for me. I always want something else, something better than what I have. Part of that is determination and drive to accomplish the things I want to accomplish in my life but the other, darker part is that I have trouble seeing how good things right now. I have a lot of dreams but avoiding acceptance of where I am currently, is my way of protecting myself from failing at those dreams. The problem is, if I never even try, I’ve already failed. If I do try, yeah, I might fail but I might succeed and get exactly what I want and things I never even dreamed of in the first place. The road to anything begins with acceptance.



*I do not speak Sanskrit and this was found via Google, from what I understand this is a correct translation but it may not be

Here’s a quick rundown of the top 5 things I really don’t want to hear when you find out I have a degree in drama:


5. “That’s cool. I did acting in high school.”

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t think that’s awesome, cause I do. I always think it’s awesome when people are getting involved in theatre, or any arts for that matter, even if you only did it cause you thought it would be a bird course. But first of all, you don’t “do acting.” Please, people, grammar is still a thing. And also, I know you’re just trying to be relatable but I can relate to you on other levels where we have mutual knowledge. Theatre isn’t the only thing I know about. (Cause, you know, I went to an actual university so I learned about other things too.)

4. “So, like, how do you memorize all those lines? It seems so hard!”

I don’t know, I just do it. I don’t understand how you crunch numbers or make graphs and stuff but I also get that that’s your thing and you do it. Memorizing is my thing and I just do it. (And also it’s a seriously negligible part of my thing anyway.)

3. “You should do this cool thing I heard about called the Fringe.”

Please. Do you really think I graduated from theatre school and I don’t know what the Fringe is? Did you graduate from teacher’s college and not know what what a classroom is? No, I didn’t think so. And also, you don’t just “do” anything in the established theatre world. Yes, you can make your own work but if you want to participate in any existing theatre, festival, major company etc., there are processes you have to follow. I don’t make ignorant suggestions to you about how to get by in your industry, please don’t patronize me by thinking you know the inner workings of mine.

2. “And now you’re….????”

Am I working in my field? No. Did you graduate with your business degree and immediately become the CEO of a major corporation? No. Graduating from anything doesn’t guarantee you a job in your field. We’re all just trying to do our thing okay, so don’t judge me because you don’t think my degree is valid or something.

And the number 1 thing I really never want to hear you say when you find out what I got my degree in:

“Oh! That must have been so fun and easy!!”

Oh yeah, taking a full class load on top of rehearsing a minimum of 22 hours a week and also working in a theatre to get practical experience in my field? Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Writing academic* papers when your university doesn’t take your department seriously enough to subscribe to any actual resources? Piece of cake. Not only being marked on your artistic work (that you probably poured your heart, soul, blood and tears into) but also being publicly judged on it? No sweat off my back.

*Yes, academic. I went to university too and there are as many legitimate discussions to be had in my field as there are in yours.

I know you think that all I did in school was sit around in a circle and talk about my feelings or something but believe me, we didn’t have time for that kind of BS. When you’ve got monologues and scenes to prepare, a production opening in two weeks and two papers and a midterm the day after opening you don’t have time to think about your feelings let alone talk about them. My degree entailed just as much work as yours. Just because your work was different doesn’t make mine invalid.

If you’re actually interested in what I do, then by all means, I’d love to chat. But if you’re just going to say something insulting, just stop before you get there. “Oh cool!” is totally good enough.

Thoughts on Wandering

I recently graduated from university. Woah. I mean, it’s been a few months now but sometimes I still get stopped in my tracks (mentally and physically) trying to process that fact. After 18 years of school, give or take, this is the first September that I didn’t have a back-to-school to prepare for and look forward to. While so many of my friends were headed back to their apartments and their clubs and their lives I was staying still, in my parents’ house which feels a little less like home than it used to. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few weeks thinking about school and my friends that are still there and my friends from there that are scattered about the country. I miss them. I miss my apartment, my town, my school. I miss classes and I really, really miss the theatre. The pictures and videos that flood social media make me feel at once happy, to see familiar faces doing familiar things, and sad, that I’m not there to experience with them. But as the weeks have worn on, it’s died down from a roaring fire to a dull glow. And it’s been these last few weeks of work that have made me realize why.

I’d like to preface this realization by saying I love my job. I really do. I’m a baker and, no, it has nothing to do with my education but I have always baked as a hobby and now I get to do it everyday. I don’t particularly like mornings but because I enjoy my job, getting up at 3:30am to go to work doesn’t really phase me. But as I was getting to know my new co-workers the obvious icebreaker question was “How long have you been here.”

One girl said “A year and a half.”

And I thought, “Man, that’s a long time.”

Really, when you think about it, a year and a half at a job really makes you quite green; it’s not at all a long time. But to me, who has never had a full time job before, it seemed long. And then one day I was talking to my manager and I asked her how long she had been with the company.

And she said “Five years!”

And I thought, “Damn.”

I realized in that moment that the thought of going to the same job and doing the same thing and being with the same people everyday for five years, truth be told even a single year, is unbearable to me. Even in a job like mine, where it’s different everyday and I like what I do and I like the people I work with, the thought of being in the same place, doing the same thing this time next year terrifies me and makes me feel extremely trapped. And five years? Forget it! In all likelihood, I will, in fact, still be at the same job a year from now (and I’m okay with that) but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make me feel paralyzed to my very core.

There’s a line in a song that plays all the time while I drive that goes “I’m a wanderer and a wanderer I’ll always be.” I’ve always liked the line, it’s usually the only line from the song that gets stuck in my head but I never knew why until this experience at work. I guess it feels almost autobiographical, in a sense. I crave new things. When I’m in one place for too long, I get restless and depressed. The longest I’ve stayed in one place since I graduated high school is just over six months and that’s the way I, apparently, like it. It’s a huge part, too, of why I love theatre. It’s never permanent. No matter what, it’s over in six weeks. If it’s a horrible show, well, it’s over and people will forget about it. (Or they’ll remember how horrible it was but at least it’s over!) And if it’s brilliant? It’s still over in six weeks and everyone that was a part of it and everyone that saw it gets this unique feeling knowing they were apart of something special. Even if you go back to the same show or the same character at a different time it’s still a completely different experience than it was the first time. You get to live in different countries and eras for a short, intense period of time and then, you say goodbye and move on.

And to tie this all back to the beginning here, I think that’s why the dull ache has settled in. I’ve gotten really close to a lot of people and places over the years but in the end I’ve had to move on from all of them. And I don’t mean move on in the sense that they are out of sight, out of mind. I just mean that they are somewhere and I am somewhere else. They are still important parts of my life, and I’m lucky to live in the age of technology where I get to stay in contact with those people and see pictures of those places, but they are one part of my life and I live in another part. It’s just the way it is. And so even though I’m sad about not being at school anymore, I also know that I probably wouldn’t want to be there if I was because it was time to move on. It’s hard to picture the future and not know where I’ll be. In fact, it terrifies me almost as much, maybe even more, than picturing the future and seeing myself in the same place next year but there’s a reason I chose the field I did and that’s because given the choice, I’d rather choose the terrifying that’s exciting rather than the one that’s not. And honestly, I did not know this about myself a month ago but luckily, as the great J.R.R. Tolkien wisely reminds us, not all who wander are lost and not all that is over is past.