Reviving my Post-Grad Spirit
After seventeen years of endlessly sitting in classrooms, this jump from college senior to young professional is less glamorous than it sounds.
People told me about the free time I would have, the languid summer afternoons spent job searching, the chaos of moving back with my family… but no one mentioned the hours spent staring at walls with tears in my eyes, the sense of having no life purpose, the futility of defining myself by my past accomplishments.
It’s not so much my joblessness that’s dragging me down – my chances of finding myself homeless or withering of starvation are slim to none, and I’m grateful to be part of that privileged demographic.
My greatest challenge has lied in the sweeping away of everything with which my identity was so intertwined. I feel like the washed-up high school football players who, at age 40, still insist upon re-living their glory days and defining their worth by their teenage athletic prowess. I don’t ever want to be the person that tells young people “Enjoy college, because the rest of life is downhill from there…”
We are glowing and radiant and pulsating souls that are perfect, whole, and complete. This society is so “doing”-oriented: from a young age, children are pressured to be the next Hillary Rodham Clintons, the next Babe Ruths, the next Britney Spears, implying that if they don’t manage to become “successful” their inner worth is somehow less than the person next to them.
In my time at college, I worked with my mentor from freshman year onwards to envision, pull together, and eventually launch a brand new farmers’ market in our neighborhood. The work I put into this endeavor was astounding, and when it became a physical reality in June 2011, I felt my ego tangibly creeping in.
Instead of the humility I had expressed in the prior years of planning, I took to heart the personal compliments of people who enjoyed the market. “You are amazing!” seemingly an innocuous and complimentary statement, was now inextricably linked with my ability to “do” something so major.
I changed my e-mail signature to include my title as Farmers’ Market Manager depending on what prestigious person I was contacting. I lived and breathed and had my being in my beloved farmers market and in my job working for the recycling program.
Instead of saying “Spirit manifested this through me” as I had before, now it became “I started this market.” Maybe part of this was due to my impending job search, the knowingness that I would soon have to “brand myself” – as if us job seekers were Barbie dolls! As if we weren’t amazing enough already!
On my last day of work, the realization set in that I lost more than just two part time jobs. Without my work, without this compass with which to define myself when meeting new people, my years of community development and environmental work now seem like a faraway fuzzy dream.
So after four years of being “the farmers’ market girl,” what do I have left? And more importantly, what happened to that radiant being inside of me that is fabulous no matter what? Where did I push her off to?
Ironically, I used to fantasize about the liberation that would occur when I could finally leave college. My passions gushed and my dreams shimmered: I wanted to become a writer, to sign up for as many alternative medicine and spirituality certifications as I could, to create some innovative nonprofit that would knock the breath out of everyone.
And here I am, age 22, supposedly ready to launch into the world, and I can’t even shape the words of whatever it is that I am supposed to do in this lifetime. I feel frozen.
On the bright side, I never would have known how much I neglected my vibrant inner spirit, the part that is separate from all of my accomplishments, if I hadn’t gone through this transition. For now I will rejoice in that new revelation and work moment to moment to take deep breaths and remember that glowing light at my core that can never be extinguished.
In her book Illuminated Prayers, Marianne Williamson includes this prayer that resonates with me deeply at this point in my life. I recite it and let it vibrate through my bones whenever I can:
May every aspect of my being
be converted to Truth.
May every cell fall into place
and serve a higher plan.
I no longer wish to be
who I was.
I wish to be more.
If anyone else is going through this transition or has successfully navigated it, please feel free to share in the comments!
Wishing you boundless inspiration forever,
10 thoughts on “Reviving my Post-Grad Spirit”
Yes, yes, yes, I am completely going through this right now, and it’s so hard. Frozen is exactly how I feel! Thanks for writing this.
I love your writing Kelsey 🙂 I love the way you can describe your feeling so clearly with words, it is truly a gift :). In your writing I see a reflection of my struggles. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find an answer yet, but I have gone through the phase of “fact gathering”. I have listened and searched for wisdom from many people who come from various walks of life and are at different stages in life, just to find one thing, we are facing the same problem. I realize nobody will be able to give us the best answer, since they are not the ones who will live with the consequences. “On the bright side, I never would have known how much I neglected my vibrant inner spirit, the part that is separate from all of my accomplishments, if I hadn’t gone through this transition.” <— I agree with you, when we exhausted all our options from outside, we start looking for strength from deep down in our soul. I think the answer lies within ourselves, just have to dig a bit deeper everyday, one day we will discover the true treasure :).
Thank you so much Thanh for your beautiful words and support! I cherish your guidance and insight when it comes to this strange process of growing up. You are so right – the more books I read, the more people I ask, the more experiences I have, the more I am seeing that no one seems to know the one perfect answer that will solve everything. Even our idols, mentors, and role models are sometimes fumbling in the dark, but I guess that just emphasizes the importance, that you mention, of looking for our strength inside.
I feel so blessed to share this life adventure with you! Hope to see you soon xx
Oh, Kels, I miss reading your stuff:)) you’re always one to find the bright side of things, which I really admire about you! Things will sort themselves out. Keep your chin up and your perspective in place! And you’re right. The closer we get to the “real” world, the more anxious we become to brand ourselves with our accomplishments and accolades. We could all use a little more recognition of the light within us that you seem to recognize so easily!
Your words: “I wanted to become a writer, to sign up for as many alternative medicine and spirituality certifications as I could, to create some innovative nonprofit that would knock the breath out of everyone.”
If these things are still your passion, then I am confident that you will pursue them. Just know that you are such a wonderful, spiritual person that you already take our breath away.
🙂 Thank you so much Tracy. I really appreciate your beautiful compliments and am lucky to have a large extended Spam family that has always been so supportive. It’s a crazy time of life but I am so blessed to have you as a role model. And in a few years if I have done none of those things… get on my case! 🙂
Thank you so much, Sarah! You are so positive about everything, and I miss seeing you around. I appreciate your kind words and will be sure to chat with you soon 🙂 Hope you are enjoying your summer