Lily’s College Lesbianage #15: Post Grad Limbo Is Where I Wanna Be

Autostraddle! Remember when I used to write a blog about college? You probably don’t because it was a long time ago and you’ve grown so much in the past two years…

But to refresh your memory, this was the blog I wrote. And then stopped writing. Because life happens and being 20 was weird and school was hard. And also, I was probably a little lazy. And definitely super procrastinate-y. A trait, might I add, that does not go away after graduating college (who knew?). Because despite my excitement for writing this article and despite the numerous article idea bullet points I have scattered across different notebooks and electronic devices, I still waited until the last minute to start writing this. Why did I think that painting my nails while watching Extreme Couponing (and then cutting coupons out of the newspaper because my new goal is to be on Extreme Couponing) every night of this week was a good idea??

But I am not here to make excuses. I’m here because I miss you all and now that my college experience is over, it might be a good time to fill you in on my last two years of school.

The Past Two Years: Highlights/Lowlights/Lights in General

Junior year:

I’m pretty sure that my junior year of college threw me off the Internet. I hardly checked my social media outlets, I never sent “happy birthday” Facebook comments, I stopped contributing to any website/blog/publication that I had ever written for before, I forgot to watch season three of Sister Wives, and I disregarded dozens of emails from my school about the overdue copy of Gargantua and Pantagruel that I owed a forever growing amount of money for.

My reasons for falling off the Internet during junior year were not exactly rare for a twenty year old college student—I had strep throat like every single day. But actually, it was out of control! I also started taking medication for anxiety, which totally helped my anxiety buuuut also made me fall asleep in Spanish class. Like a lot. It also didn’t help that I turned 21 and started going out a lot (a lot for me means I would sometimes go out twice in a weekend, maybe even once during the week, and I would have alcohol more than once a week, so basically I was out of control). But above all else, I met an amazing lady who I wanted to spend all of my time with. It was wonderful! We dressed up as Santana and Brittany from Glee for Halloween! It was so gay!

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Towards the end of junior year I slowly began to get back to the swing of the internet world: I swapped Sister Wives for Mob Wives (JK I totally watched them both, I mean can you imagine?), I used my school email and job-finding website to apply to summer internships, and ended up landing one at the digital department of the Dr. Oz Show.

That summer, I stopped taking the above mentioned anxiety medication because it started turning me into a zombie and I’d kind of rather be anxious than one of the bad guys on The Walking Dead (I’m assuming the zombies are the bad guys? I don’t know, I’ve seen one episode). I spent my internship researching diseases that I thought I had and buying supplements that I was convinced I needed. I still take a super overpriced fish oil supplement every day! I’m fairly certain it makes me immune to all diseases and also turns me into a superhero.

With my newfound superhero powers of not being sick every day, I managed to start my senior year in a very positive light. My last year of college was a mixed bag of everything. So many emotions! So many wonderful things! So many not so wonderful things! It started off on the wonderful side when I found out that I was hired to be a production intern at The Colbert Report. Everything about that internship was spectacular and I still feel like it was one of the coolest things I have ever done ever. The internship was quite time consuming and because I still had to take a full course load at Barnard and work my campus job, my GPA ended up dropping to an all-time low that semester.

But a lowered GPA was a small price to pay for everything I learned and everyone I met—I mean I got to watch Mavis Staples, Jeff Tweedy, and Sean Lennon sing “Happy Christmas” live, at least 10 times. Like it was my actual job to watch the spawn of John Lennon and Yoko Ono sing their Christmas song. And because I was on greenroom duty that day, I got to hang out with all of them! I mean in my head I was hanging out with them, in reality I was bringing them room-temperature water and trying not to blurt out “Do you know who your parents are?” to Sean Lennon. Obviously he knows who his parents are but I really just wanted to keep reminding him.

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But as my internship ended and the realities of the last semester of college began to hit, things started to fall into the “not so wonderful” category. I had no idea just how absolutely terrified of graduating I would be. I was as prepared as any college student could be. I worked as a student career counselor throughout college, made good grades, and landed great internships. I knew how to get a job. I showed people how to do it every single day. But I was too scared to even apply.

I saw two different types of senior students emerge as graduation approached. One type could not wait to graduate; they were completely over college and ready to start their “real” lives. The other type was like me: scared shitless. There was so much about college that I wanted to do over, so many things I should have actually learned instead of cramming into my head for an hour, and so much free toilet paper that I needed to steal before moving onto a life where I would have to go to the store to buy toilet paper. There were student events I should have gone to, groups I should have joined, and untapped skills that should have been tapped. I never took African dance. Maybe African dance was my calling but like a dummy I decided to take yoga instead (bad choice, I am NOT flexible), and because of that decision I never had the chance to see my talent blossom. These were the thoughts keeping me up at night.

As my fear of graduation and entering the “real world” grew larger, I did what any sensible human would do and panicked, quickly running away from many of the things that had made me happy. The first thing I ran away from was my girlfriend. And by ran away, I mean turned into a complete asshole and broke up with her. Why is this the reaction that humans have? Obviously running away will make things worse but for some reason our brains suspend reality and think ,”Yes, run from what makes you happy—that is the key to happiness”. It’s as if the message of every Nicholas Sparks-type movie becomes completely irrelevant. I saw The Notebook, I should have known better.

Instead of feeling better after the break up, like my dumb brain told me I would, I was still terrified of The Future. All of the sudden any drive I had ever had to be a successful career woman went out the window. Probably because I never wanted to be a “successful career woman” in the first place. I wanted to be a “successful empress of everything I find enjoyable in life including but not limited to making people laugh, television, and watching professional figure skating”. Oh and I also wanted to be known for creating “fantasy figure skating” which is like fantasy football but better. Also I don’t truly know what fantasy football is but I am pretty sure it is not what I picture in my head every time I hear the term Fantasy Football (in my head it is a bunch of miniature football players wearing their outfits/uniforms flying around in the air with little wings because they are fairies, which is how the whole fantasy thing fits in).

My campus job was to help my fellow students find jobs and internships but by the second semester of my senior year, counseling other students became torture. Every person I counseled became another conversation about what I planned to do after graduation. And every conversation ended with the other person telling me “aww don’t worry, you’ll find something”. I always nodded and smiled and thanked them for their encouragement but all I wanted to do was scream “IT’S NOT ABOUT THAT! I DON’T WANT TO FIND SOMETHING!”. It wasn’t about finding a job. I wasn’t even applying to jobs. It was about wanting more time. Just a little more time before I had to start figuring out my life. Unfortunately all of that stress started eating away at the one thing that had kept me going since I decided I would become a Spice Girl in the first grade: my drive to become empress of everything.

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40 Comments

  1. Thumb up 4

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    I’m going to read this a minute but I just have to say….LILY’S BACK?!
    Lily is back!!! I’ve been waiting for the follow up. I’m quite happy. And I hope this article is a positive one because posting before reading has the potential to make me look like an ass.

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    “I do have to keep reminding myself that it is OK to take some time off. That I do not have to start my “career” right this second. That as long as I am lucky enough to provide food, water, and shelter for myself, I will be ok.”
    My whole life is a lie

    jk but I’m a graduating senior in five months and ready to graduate but convinced I won’t get a Real Job heyooo

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    Lily, this is fantastic. It’s cool reading your words again! But it’s scary how much i identify with this. I mean scary in a comforting way. I was/am so very much in the same boat. The scared shitless boat. The needing more time boat. The convincing myself summer would be enough time and then freaking out when the leaves started changing boat. Why did we think this summer would be enough time?! Why did I drive around campus on my last night blasting Closer by Tegan and Sara and crying when everyone else was so excited to leave?

    And then feeling weird when people would try to talk to me about why I hadn’t yet found employment by having the “oh it’s hard out there for you folks who are about to graduate, isn’t it? poor millennials, tough market,” because the truth was that I was guilty of not even applying for things. I was too busy lying on the couch thinking about applying for things. or grad school. or if i would have to choose between queer work or film/tv work. or could i do both. or let’s watch some Archer and not think about it for a bit. or OH GOD NO MONEY, TIME TO THINK ABOUT EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE BUT REALLY DO NOTHING ABOUT IT.

    Yeah, so I’m just super glad to have read this right now.
    We totally still have time for empires. good to remember.

  4. Thumb up 4

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    Sometimes (okay, all the time) I wish I had taken some time off from being so career focused after college instead of going straight to grad school (and by straight to grad school I mean I took exactly three weeks off. It was so not enough time)…

  5. Thumb up 2

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    Its so nice to read your writing again, I missed it. I’m just starting college and this made me feel better, cause everyone else seems to have it together but I don’t really know what I’m doing. I don’t really need to yet, but sometimes I feel like I should.

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    oh lily, i’m crying. i’ve never met you in person but i feel like we have some similar storylines going on in our lives. i actually just left new york and a “secure job” and all that stuff after going to school in the city and then staying for two years. now i am finally taking the time off that i wanted and i’m going to…go do something. i don’t know. an adventure. i miss new york a lot but it was time for me to try new things. that’s the point, right? just try new things while we can, and while we are able to afford it (and i mean that in a lot of ways). this was such a great read because it sort of gave me a peek into what my life could have looked like if i stayed (i thought about quitting my job but staying in new york and becoming a nanny, something i have a lot of experience with from my college part-time nannying days!) and the cool thing is, i think i would have been okay if i’d done that, too. we’re all okay. i spent a lot of time being scared about making mistakes post-grad and choosing the wrong choices but three years later the good news is i don’t think there are many “wrong choices” that aren’t fixable.

    oh, and i fucking loved this paragraph:

    “I was under the impression that I could have everything figured out by the end of the summer. Three months was all I needed to get back on track. Three months seems like such a long time! But oh my god three months is no time at all! Remember when five minutes used to feel like an eternity? What happened to that? I want that back.”

    YES EXACTLY.

    anyway i loved this whole thing and am so glad you are thriving. say hi to nyc for me. <3

  7. Thumb up 0

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    Ah I’m lost and I haven’t even gotten out of college yet. It’s so nice to know other people are in the same boat and going through the same stuff and feeling the same, or pretty close, feelings. This is why Autostraddle is pretty awesome.

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    So relevant…I’m graduating this May and this was a great reminder that I don’t have to have the perfect answer to “What are you doing after graduation?”.
    My irrational optimism is keeping me excited for graduation instead of scared- I’m somehow convinced that I will get a job in a city I like and find a place to live and everything will be great…we’ll see 6 months from now how true that is.

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    Man oh man this was nice to read as my second last semester of my first degree is wrapping up. After doing 4 out of 6-7ish years(soo…close..) I really want to take a break but also want to keep going and it’s just nice to know that other people want to stop and think about stuff too :)

  10. Thumb up 0

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    This post made me smile, thank you. I think many of us are in similar spots after graduating, even after a few years, but not everyone is going to be so lucky to work for Colbert(seriously that is amazing).

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    Oh, Lily, this felt so good to read. Especially the part about your desire to be empress of everything being the motivating factor in your life and now that that is on hold possibly forever not knowing what to do. It is so nice to know I’m not alone with that feeling.

    I graduated grad school in May and have been feeling worthless and taking myself much too seriously ever since. It is so, so refreshing to read your words about where you are at right now being ok, being where you need to be. I’m going to try to channel you next time I start feeling sad and lost.

    Thanks for posting this!!

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    Another Lily trying to figure her freaking life out! I did the college thing for a while and switched to cosmetology school. Now I’ve graduated that and applied for my license, but I don’t want to keep living where I live! I want to move across the country. Catch: I have to work here to save up enough to move there. And I’ve been anxious about the concept of looking for a job here, because I don’t want to put down roots and get stuck! Mid 20s is the time of unbridled anxiety and supreme uncertainty. I might try some coloring.

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    I just turned 21 this August and I’m already having my quarter life crisis. I’m so afraid that I’m going to be a big failure and I’ll be homeless forever and never find a wife and that I’ll be unhappy forever. No one tells you about this part of growing up

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    Oh man this is so relate-able I graduated this year and then I moved back home because i was so scared of fending for myself and now and even more scared that i might end up living the rest of my life in this horrific town in a dead end job and life is fucking scary man. I was defiantly not ready to leave college like on bit.

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    I’m graduating in May and freaking the fuck out about it, this was really nice to read. Every once in a while I need a reminder that if things aren’t picture perfect the second I walk away from my campus with a diploma in hand that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m doomed to a miserable life of failure.

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    Lily! I totally understand you being terrified during your last semester of college. I was terrified and emotional, because I didn’t know what to do after college and I knew I’d miss the support system and the comfort and openmindedness of my university. My last day of college, I started crying after my last class with my favorite professor, who I was really close to, and we hugged and my classmates looked at me like I was crazy and said that I should be happy to graduate. But graduating is scary when you have no plans lined up for after!
    I ultimately decided to teach English in Spain for 2 years and NOW that I’m back, I miss the comfort of academia and I’m applying to grad school.

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      Stupid iPhone, i wasn’t finished with my comment. I wanted to say that everything is going to be fine, I promise. I’ve gone through this too. Just keep yourself busy with your interests and it’ll all fall into place, your future will write itself with the choices you make in the present. :)

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    Wow, so timely for me (and apparently all the commenters above!). I graduated in the spring, thought I’d have moved to California by September and finished my grad school apps (for next fall) by say, October… I am still living in my parents house, working the customer service job I worked during college, just finished my apps in a rush last week, and have only vague ideas of my new plans to look for a full-time job.

    And it’s taken me a long time to become at peace with that… but I am feeling pretty great right now. I can relax, enjoy the holidays, be glad that I’m able to live at home so easily, that I even have any job, that I have such an awesome girlfriend, that I have great health and years and years of life I can spend doing lots of different jobs and careers. That’s wonderful.

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    wow, i mean i remember reading the first college lesbianage from lily and it doesn’t feel like four years?? and now /i’m/ a freshman in college and it just feels crazy, but oddly reassuring that it seems like the future exists. also that whole bit about writing your feelings down and subway and feeling like the only person feeling less than great, idk it is just majorly comforting to relate to something like that.

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    I can’t express how desperately I need to read this today. Thanks for writing. I’m going to go try to get the chained dragon that lives in my chest to keep it the shit down about how many people in elementary school told her she was special, because some of us have Netflix to watch and a service job that starts at 6am.

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    Ugh, these post grad limbo feels, I know them well. When I graduated a year and a half ago I was in the same terrified, anchorless space. I took the summer off and then got what was supposed to be a short term service job. A year later and I’m still a badass barista and so good with that. It’s so comforting to see others who didn’t decided to immediately start their Career who are happy with that decision.

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