It’s been a little over a year since I moved to Austin and wow almost a year since my last post on here. It’s been an educational year to say the least. Living by yourself, no roommates, you have a lot of time to think. Thinking itself is not a bad thing, but having a lot of time to myself has definitely led me to internalize and build scenarios in my head that haven’t even happened.
It’s weird being 1,000 miles away from family and friends and starting over. I constantly miss Florida and and just like wow I’m in a different freaking state.
No one talks about the existential crisises that hit when you leave college. I started this great book that my mom got for me, The Defining Decade, by a clinical psychologist that highlights the fears that twentysomethings often face and how this decade is often glamorized in movies (it also provides some great tips on how to make the most of this crucial time). You wonder if you’ll be living in the same place in the next few years, will I be stuck here, did I make the the right choice, and you miss the safety net that college provided you with. By your senior year you want to be out, not working on a bunch of different projects for different classes, and you want to strictly focus on your desired field of work. Then you graduate, and yes, everything does feel new and exciting. As time goes on, reality starts to set in. This is it.
I felt so excited to finally have my dream of living in the city and having writing as a career. I loved seeing my pieces published, wearing my cute professional outfits, and having downtown Austin close by. In between all the glitz and glam of trying to be cute writer girl in the city, I cried probably every other night during my first few months here (I still do, but a little less now).
Don’t get me wrong, I am so thankful I get to take on my passion of writing as a career, but always having friends at the drop of a hat during college was something special. I really do cherish any time I get to spend with friends and family more than ever. A full time job makes up 40 or more hours of your week. For me, I go to the gym right after work, then sometimes grocery store, then dinner, sometimes laundry. Then I have a couple hours to squeeze in an episode of Friends (guilty of watching the same shows over and over) and finish out the night with some reading to wind down.
I felt like a robot. Work, gym, 2 hours to tv or read sleep, repeat. I missed college and craved the fun and freedom that time brought (still do). After a lot of sad girl hours I realized ‘yes, this is it, but that’s okay.’ I felt stupid about being excited for little things like going to the grocery store, but it can be fun and exciting putting together your own meals and cooking whatever you want. A thankful heart is a happy heart, the more you see the small things and romanticize them, the more positive your outlook will be on life.
Recent graduate time can feel like a race against time, and you wonder if your timeline is “correct”. You always hear about this happening and now it’s here: everyone is getting engaged, married, promoted, buying houses, having kids, etc. “FOMO” or “fear of missing out” takes over too as you see people hanging out together in your college town or see people traveling to cool places or going to an event you wanted to attend. Everyone is living different places, with different goals and different opportunities at hand and that’s okay. This does not makes your triumphs and accomplishments any less significant. Someone is probably seeing your social media posts and thinking wow they’re working for that company or maybe they hate their job and wish they were able to follow their passion.
Social media really puts everyone’s news and information in your face at all times. Social media is a valuable tool for businesses and it can serve to connect people regardless of distance, but is is the driver of depression and you feel too stuck to get out of the passenger seat. Social media has allowed me to see fun photos from friends and family while I’m 1,000 miles away, but it more often leaves me feeling worse than before I opened the app. We mindlessly scroll to put things off, because we don’t want to think or feel our emotions. We hurt our own feelings all the time, over and over again. Using social media intentionally and focusing on content that brings you joy makes it a more positive experience. Trying to cut down on time and find another more mindful activity like reading, walking, or meditating (I am a big fan of the Headspace app, but there are plenty of other great mindfulness/meditation focused apps as well) helps you sleep better at night and not see the world as all doom and gloom and bad news. It’s important to be informed, but you only have so many hours in a day, and you cannot solve all the world’s problems on your own.
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge gym rat. I go to the gym 5-6 times a week. It has helped me equally if not more with my mental health as my physical health. At the end of a day at work my eyes and brain are tired. Going to the gym lets me feel fully present. I am so guilty of “stresslaxing” or doing what should be a relaxing, fun activity and feeling the need to work or do something “productive” at the same time. I am trying to be better and be fully present, as it leaves you feeling better knowing you fully experienced something rather than half paid attention and convinced yourself you had more important things to do. You remember and cherish the experience, not the task you convinced yourself needed to be done then and there. The gym kind of gives me no choice but to lift. My laptop isn’t there, the dishes are not in the sink, no dust to be dusted, just me my music and the weights. I am really trying to carry this fully present self I am in the gym to all aspects of my life, I know I will get there.
I see a lot of Instagram posts about the power of saying “no.” That one word is incredibly important in setting boundaries, especially as adults with full time jobs. There is power in saying no, but there is also great power in saying yes. I recently came across a podcast on Spotify that discussed the psychology of Improv Comedy and the principle of “yes…and.” I remembered this principle from my junior high and high school drama days. At one point the speakers discuss how the “yes…and” principle could be applied to every day life. By saying “yes” and taking in new ideas and not immediately shutting people and ideas out, we serve as excellent listeners and more empathetic people.
I want to end out this blog with a verse I wrote on my whiteboard and have needed especially during this period of my life.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own
Matthew 6:34 NIV
We have set day hours for a reason. We have endless possibilities within that time, but we cannot do it all. Show yourself the same compassion and kindness you show your friends and family. We are expected to be so many places these days, especially with phones and social media. Speak to yourself kindly, and don’t get too far ahead of yourself. You are doing fine.