First weekend back

Westchester County, NY

It’s been a week now since I came back from my trip to Sweden, and I already feel like I miss it. It went by way too quickly, partly because it was actually only a short amount of time (6 full days), but mostly because the week was absolutely packed and filled to the brim with seeing people, doing fun things, and just enjoying being home. (I will write a post about the trip soon, as well as one about my friends’ visit earlier in June!) But being able to spend the weekend in New York at my grandparents’ place definitely alleviated some of that back-to-work-after-vacation dread.

On Friday, after spending a few hours in the morning at work, I drove up to New York and stopped to have lunch with my boyfriend on the way. As always when I visit my grandparents’, the weekend was wonderful and spent relaxing, cooking and eating great food, and having a fun time with family and friends.

One of my absolute favorite things is going for a run or brisk walk around the lake in the morning, when the heat isn’t yet too overwhelming, and the community is just starting to wake up. It’s something I do very rarely as I usually only have time to work out in the afternoons after work, but starting the day off with some alone time and exercise really puts me in a balanced state of mind for the rest of the day. Maybe “balanced” is the wrong word, but more at peace? Grounded? Even listening to music or a podcast (love listening to Swedish podcasts, it makes me feel like I’m at home!) and getting some exercise makes me so relaxed for the rest of the day.

I’m starting to feel a little anxious about my research project for the summer. It’s baffling that it’s July already (where did the first third of summer go?!), and I know my to-do list is still heavy and filled with stuff that I really should get done before school starts again in September — even things that are unrelated to my research.

How did I think I would have so much time to work over the summer, when I now find myself struggling to find time to even feel fully relaxed or do the social/fun things I want to do? Shouldn’t there be enough time in a normal week to go to work, exercise, rest, be social, AND work on my academic projects? Or did I just entirely overestimate how much time I would have (time during which I feel enough energy to work, at least) over the summer, not taking into account the fact that I almost have a full time job? I’m pretty sure I tend to overestimate those kinds of things, to be fair.

I think I just need to sit down and make an actual plan for the remaining weeks of the summer, and most of all start making use of the time I have at home after work on weekdays. And I need to be honest with myself; no expectations, routines, or due dates that I know I won’t keep. Although coming home from work at about 5PM and doing nothing for the rest of the night besides watch TV shows isn’t really the key to productivity, that’s still an important part of relaxing, too. I think I probably need at least some of that to have enough energy come fall.

I worry that this is going to be what the rest of my life will look like if I do decide to have an academic career; always feeling like there’s work I could be (and SHOULD be) doing outside of my scheduled hours, and never feeling like anything is enough. After all, if your work is basically doing research and writing, it’s not something you can leave at the office door at the end of the day. It comes home with you. Particularly over the summer, when there’s hardly any structure at all and you’re constantly feeling like you could be writing, instead of doing whatever else you might be doing. How do you even begin to balance that?

As far as I can tell, most accomplished academics are still trying to figure that out. So maybe it’s ok if I haven’t yet, either.

4 Months Post-Grad

This morning when I woke up and grabbed my phone off my bedside table (as we millennials do), I got a bit of a shock when today’s date caught my eye. September 20th? Already?!

September 20th means it’s been a total of 4 months since I graduated from college. And I have no idea where all that time went. I suppose it must’ve somehow flown by as I was spending time doing absolutely nothing this summer. And, as if this shocking realization isn’t enough, I have also been receiving heaps of emails from the college inviting me to my class’ first Homecoming Weekend at the end of this week, which is just baffling to me. I have several feelings about this that I’d like to air:

  1. Since when did it become OK to spring the fact that we are all of a sudden “alumni” on us, a mere 4 months after graduation, and invite us to Homecoming? We still have post-traumatic stress from senior year. I feel re-traumatized.
  2. Wouldn’t Homecoming this soon after graduation basically just feel like “going back to school”? How are you even supposed to distinguish between the people who are still in college and the people who just graduated? We all look the same! We’re still the same age, and could still basically be them!
  3. Isn’t the point of graduating that you don’t have to see all the people you dislike from your class on campus anymore?  I think the only people who actually go back for Homecoming are a) people who didn’t dislike anyone on campus (seems impossible) or b) people who have gotten old enough that they’ve forgotten who they disliked and for what reasons. Which brings me to:
  4. Homecoming Weekend is for adults who are 20, 30, 40, 50, etc. years out of college, who are reuniting with their class to reminisce about their college years and to judge each others’ successes to figure out who “won” in life and who didn’t. Which is all very nice. Homecoming Weekend should NOT, however, be for recent college graduates who are so unable to cope with the reality of being out in the “adult” world only after a few months that they’ll go to any lengths to feel like they’re still in college (including traveling back to the middle of nowhere-Pennsylvania and attend Homecoming Weekend celebrations).

Perhaps I’m being a little overly judgmental about this whole thing (I mean I definitely am), but I’m mostly just shocked at the sheer amount of time that’s gone by since we graduated. In a way, it feels like it happened so recently; at the same time, however, I feel like I am in a completely different place now than I was 4 months ago. When I graduated, I had no idea of what life would be like for me in this moment that I’m in right now — having completed my first three weeks of grad school. I was just looking forward to a summer of relaxing and figuring out my life before embarking on this next journey (and by journey I mean enslavement to academia). Looking back on it though, I definitely do not regret wanting to take my time over the summer to relax, spend time with the people I care about, and not really do much of anything. I think I would feel a lot more tired and stressed now, even this early in the semester, if I had spent the summer working and not had that time to just be a recent college graduate.

Thinking about all of this made me want to go back and look through my pictures from graduation weekend. I can’t even begin to express what an amazing time it was: having my whole family there all together, celebrating and constantly having a laugh, and seeing the look of pride on everyones’ faces — all of these people who I so greatly admire — when I got my diploma. It was the best weekend ever.