This weekend, I moved into my first post-grad apartment. I’m overwhelmingly happy with it, but it also makes me feel like I’m in college again.
I am definitely not in college again.
I did not, by any means, have a “normal” college experience. I spent my high school years taking AP classes and stacking my schedule with extracurriculars and work experience, refusing to become one of those kids that had graduated from my high school and stayed in the near vicinity. I didn’t even acknowledge options besides moving away to a big four-year school and then moving away from Michigan for good. That was the plan.
When I moved to East Lansing, I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t given myself any time or space to do what I really needed to do for the transition, and it was just too soon. I spent a month questioning myself, my feelings, my actions, and my options, finally giving myself a chance to do something “abnormal”–that is, come home and reevaluate. Once again, I worried that if I went home, I’d never leave and get stuck and never truly find my way.
I still look back on my time at NMC with fondness. I truly had the time of my life there. I was able to take it slow and to figure out where I needed to be. Moreover, I gave myself a chance to do what I wanted, rather than what I thought was the “right” choice. I got a spectacular two-year education for pennies on the dollar, taking out zero student loans and achieving dean’s list status for five consecutive semesters. I even chose to take classes over both summer semesters because I never wanted to stop learning.
Because of my success at NMC, I was able to transfer to the University of Michigan. While I worried about potentially breaking down again, I decided that this time was different and it finally felt right. Moving into a house in Ann Arbor was the best thing that I could have done at that point in my life, and becoming a Wolverine is something that I will forever be proud of. My junior year of college was fraught with ups and downs, as it should have been. But I had never been happier or felt more free. I was finally away from home and exactly where I needed to be.
I always knew I wanted to make studying abroad a reality, so I did in the summer of my junior year. Going to Dublin was another life-changing experience. The study part, while never neglected, was definitely only part of my life abroad. Traveling, meeting new people, and seeing new things allowed me to truly come into my own and gave me the peace of mind and strength I needed to tackle senior year. Without Dubz, I wouldn’t be who I am now.
I decided to apply for grad school during the fall of senior year. Back in Ann Arbor, I was living life to its fullest and didn’t want to see it end. I knew I wasn’t finished learning and wanted to do something worthwhile with post-grad life. I applied to five masters in social work programs and hoped for the best. While I waited for responses that winter, I was able to continue writing, editing, and exploring the possibilities that my degree could offer after graduation. When I received my acceptance to New York University, I was overwhelmed both with worry and excitement. Ignoring my doubt, I made the commitment to move to the City and pursue an MSW.
The spring of senior year led me to decide to move home, once again, before my trek to the East Coast. I decided that I deserved one last summer in my beloved Northern Michigan. This time, I knew I had an exit strategy so I wasn’t so worried about not leaving.
But, as my time at home grew, so too did my love for the area. Having lived away from Traverse City for two years gave me a fresh perspective and a newfound appreciation for my hometown. All of a sudden, I felt lucky to have the chance to be back here. After much deliberation, I decided that spending thousands of dollars on a degree that I may not actually want to use was a silly idea. Instead, I would pursue options in writing and marketing, using my Bachelors for what it was worth before going through more education. I deferred from NYU with the hopes that I could land a full-time position somewhere in Traverse City.
During the summer, I took an unpaid internship because “I didn’t want to work,” and immediately was buried in it. I worked harder this summer than I have in a long time. I met some incredible people and learned some fantastic things, both about myself and about what I want to do with my life. At the same time, I realized that I didn’t really KNOW what I wanted to do with my life and, further, figured that it doesn’t quite matter just yet. I am young and I do have time.
After the internship, I struggled. I wanted “real life,” but I wanted it on my terms. I hoped for a professional position but with the flexibility of part-time. In short, I wanted to make a commitment to something that wasn’t necessarily solidified. I also didn’t really know what I wanted.
I took the job at the winery for a filler, and fell in love with it. The people, the work, the tips, were all a great way to make money and to take my mind off of what I “should” be doing. I was still confused as to what I wanted to do, and felt stuck a lot of the time. But, I decided to live in the moment and to take everything one step at a time. I knew that something would eventually work out.
Meanwhile, I had applied for an AmeriCorps position that I was incredibly passionate about. I interviewed, waited, and was awarded the position. I am so thankful for it, because I know it is exactly what I should be doing at this point in my life. It is full-time, but still not quite “professional.” It is the perfect interim between college and “real life.”
Then, the newspaper internship fell into my lap. Now, I’m able to write and to talk to people and to drive around Leelanau County as much as possible, and I have no complaints. It is an incredible position with some awesome opportunities for growth. I love it for what it’s worth. It’s the perfect way to spend the fall.
So, with my job situation completely lined up, I was finally comfortable making a commitment to an apartment. I found a roommate, looked at about a million places, and finally settled on our quirky basement apartment in Old Town. It’s perfect in every way.
And I’m finally on my own again. Most of me is so excited and totally content. I feel like I am exactly where I want and need to be in this moment. I moved home and got onto my feet and I am perfectly happy being here. No complaints, no regrets.
I do miss a lot of things, but I am starting to feel comfortable with the way things change. Progression is unavoidable so, instead, one must roll with it. I’m finally able to do with with ease, and I’m proud that I have so little to worry about.