Often times, when your moment comes, when the diploma is finally in your hands, you are three move ahead. Graduation is just a formality. Throwing your cap in the air is just a photograph for your parent’s mantel. This is simply a milestone that you have already passed.
Maybe you are headed to grad school in a few months. Maybe you have a new job, in a faraway city, beginning anew. Maybe you are headed back to undergrad for another degree. Maybe it’s as simple as heading back home, using the comforts of home to slowly get into your career.
Or, if you are like me, you have absolutely no idea what you are doing.
And that’s totally fine!
You see, when I first got my rejection letter from the one grad school I applied to, I was heartbroken. But not because I wanted to really go. It was because I didn’t have any elaborate plans for after graduation and I was afraid of the backlash I’d get from other people in response.
Looking back, I look at the experience as a blessing because if I had gone, it would have been a mistake. My experience writing my memoir taught me how important my writing is and that I need to remember to keep all parts of myself alive – no matter what. So, I decided to do the following things: a) Start working as much as I could stand and gather up money for whatever move I want (for I’d like to move out of Buffalo eventually), and b) Figure who I am, and what I want as a person to find out what I want out of my career as a writer/designer/artist/etc.
Now, in order to figure out who I am and what I wanted, I decided to create a list of wants and goals, which I think came somewhat from being rational, but also from the sage advice of Mama Gena. Thanks, gurl.
To keep my promise to myself to achieve these goals, I thought I’d share this with the internet, hoping for encouragement and to help anyone out there who needs help finding themselves, post grad or otherwise.
Here we go!
Taking a few minutes out of my day to clean up my bedroom, and doing the occasional all over clean up when necessary.
Growing up, I never really had a choice as far as whether my room could be messy or clean. My mom wasn’t too particular, but my mom’s then-boyfriend was very, very much into it having the whole house clean (even though he never personally cleaned anything because that’s women’s work, after all). He even tried to throw out my dolls in an effort to make sure that I kept my room clean. It worked for many years….until this past year, when my room went from semi-clean to there just being a layer of garbage everywhere. The floor. My desk. Every table in my room. Just garbage, dirty dishes, and laundry.
Now, I believe that a state of mind can totally be determined by the state of one’s bedroom. It usually is organized chaos, but had becoming a dirty disaster zone of hellish proportions, which spoke to the fact that I was an anxiety-ridden, horribly depressed individual who was barely functioning.
Thankfully, after writing my memoir piece, I felt a gigantic weight lifted from my mind, body, and soul. My anxiety and depression no longer controls me, and so I made my promise to myself to never give up writing again and to always give myself the love I deserve (and then some). With that in mind, I not only gutted out and organized my room, but I even redesigned so it felt more welcoming and comfortable to be in. I hope to find room for a circle chair someday, but this room is rather pleasant as is!
Bringing back the exercise I have always loved/wanted to do
These would be: yoga, dance, and martial arts.
These are exercises I have done over the course of my life, but have sort of been away from since I started college. Mama had me in front of a TV doing yoga moves from a kid’s yoga video when I was a toddler. She started me in ballet classes in 1st grade, and put me into a dojo in the 7th grade, where I learned the styles of ninjitsu, jujitsu, judo, and kendo (I also learned a little Japanese).
I started back to yoga Monday by joining in the 30 days of yoga challenge done by Yoga With Adriene. It felt so good to get back into the practice, and she made it so fun. Here’s hoping the first day is just as good as the rest of the 30 days! I also want to get back into belly dance from home, and maybe try getting back to hip hop through a local class. And a salsa class possibly because hey why not.
Spending money on things I need/want
I have always been very frugal with my money, even as a kid. I always made my birthday money last. I go to the dollar store to get sponges and cleaning supplies. I usually go for the cheapest options for anything I want on Amazon. And I almost never would splurge on a ridiculous but cool item.
This was partly because Mama taught me how to be responsible with money, but also partly because I didn’t have a lot of money growing up. This habit grew into an anxiety so intense that I would beat myself up for spending money….on food.
Gradually, I have learned to enjoy spending money on my needs, and now my wants. I still remain practical with my splurges, but I feel so much happier, and much more fabulous! Now, I am moving up to making big purchases that are practical, but rather pricey. Those things are:
A new Android phone for my plan
A professional camera (for photography and video)
A scanner w/printer
My first tattoo/nose piercing
Doing things that intrigue me, but also terrify me
As I have GAD and social anxiety, there are quite a few things that scare me. Some things, I swallow and bear. Others….yeah, not so much. Those things I want to get past my fears to do are:
Singing, dancing, and any form of performance in front of people
Getting better at public speaking
Being more comfortable in social events (parties, clubs, functions, etc.)
Get even less terrified of making phone calls
Getting more comfortable with drinking alcohol
Parachuting out of a plane
Committing to things I want to do, and not backing down
I’m sure there is more, but I am sure they will be covered by the rest of my list.
Getting my violin fixed up and re-learning my skills
I found it while cleaning out my storage unit. I need to get my E string replaced, but otherwise it’s in good shape. I hope to re-learn and perhaps learn some cool songs to play for friends when the occasion call for it. Suggestions will of course be welcomed and appreciated.
Enjoying a day off
The last 3 years of college was like working 2-3 full time jobs, so a day off was rare. As work requires at least two days off a week for an employee, I make sure at least one is spent relaxing and doing errands, and another is spent on social activities.
Developing my cooking/baking skills
My recent love as an adult is cooking and baking. Mama did the cooking growing up (unless it was on a grill, which was for men obviously, so my mom’s then-boyfriend did the grilling), so all I knew how to do was ramen, mac n’cheese, and my family recipe for chili. Now I try to make homemade things I either find recipes for online OR stuff I come up with on the spot (leftovers can be repurposed in so many ways). I would love to continue that.
I am not really into diets or subtracting food from my life, but I am a supporter of adding good things. I want to find delicious alternatives to my favorite junk foods for when I want to treat my body well.
Books in my personal library that I need to finish or start reading
I have a lot of books. In fact, I might have more books than clothes. And there are definitely books I own that I started and never finished, or that I haven’t ever started. This includes my college books, some of which I don’t own at the moment, but would look to.
I’m going to start by finishing Pride and Prejudice, and then possibly starting Life of Pi. So pumped.
Talking to family and friends on the phone more often
I really need to get out of the habit of not calling my loved ones. It’s not cool.
Trying out “girly” things
I tended to prefer dressing in jeans and t-shirts for much of my youth. In some ways, I wanted to be a boy, but I also wanted to be a “good” feminist, which I interpreted as not allowing anything “girly” or feminine into my life.
Now, as I have grown, I have learned that gender is a social construct and you can do whatever makes you happy and you are still a feminist. That’s how I found my love of make-up and fashion, which brought me to my career as a designer.
I’ve slowly been trying new things I deemed feminine growing up that I now love, like exfoliating, getting my hair styled, and wearing thigh highs, and I want to keep it going. Try a facial. Maybe mani-pedi. An at-home teeth whitener. The possibilities are endless.
Adding men’s clothing/men’s styles into my style, and other fashion experiments
In that same breathe, I want to bring in men’s clothing into my style. I’ve always experimented with my style, from Old Navy to Hot Topic to thrift stores and beyond. I like to be a different person every day, and so now I want to be able to put on bow ties and men’s button downs. I have been wearing regular ties since middle school (Thanks, Avril), and I own a men’s flannel that I just love.
I also want to continue to explore my body through fashion. I have been showing more skin than I’m used to lately, and I am so enjoying it!
I want to continue on my fashion quest of experimenting and confusing the masses, while at the same time having them find me oddly sexy.
Working on my own, personal projects
I keep my eyes and ears open for opportunities, but thus far, nothing in my fields of interest has seduced me. And my head is full of unique and wonderful ideas. Life is too short to wait around to fulfill your dreams, so I will start working on them now! Here’s some vague ideas:
Belly dance performance
Well that is the end of my rambling lists of tasks and goals for my new life. Thus far, my work on this list has helped me figuring out so much, and has led to new things for me to try. I hope that continues for me, and I hope that this list will help someone find themselves when lost in this big, dark, confusing word.
RMS Titanic is my life obsession, and the movie has always been connected. Rose was my style inspiration, but Jack Dawson was my soul. “…I figure life’s a gift and I don’t intend on wasting it. You don’t know what hand you’re gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes at you. To make each day count.”
This list. This list is to help me make it count.
Will you make it count too?