Categories
Getting Personal

Post-Graduation Feels: Lessons in Adulthood

Timehop has quickly entered the running for my favorite app. Every morning, I read the Skimm, check my inbox, and open up the yellow dinosaur to see what it was I did in the past 10 years on this same date. Most of the time, I’ll see a picture of my dog (obviously a great sign), some college shenanigans, and a Facebook status from the days of “Ashley Glatz is…”

This time of year, however, I see the constant reminder that I graduated from the University of Missouri’s award-winning Journalism school, a semester early, and with honors. The Missouri Method lives in newsrooms across the country, while I sit in my less-than-expected sales role. It’s a rude reminder that my hopes and dreams of becoming the next Erin Andrews or leading the charge for Disney’s global advertising remain just that, dreams.

From the moment I turned 13, I jumped at the opportunity to write for the school paper. In high school, I was promoted to Sports Editor, then Layout Editor. I didn’t even apply for another college – I knew I was going to be a Tiger, and thanks to my high ACT scores, I was placed into the program as a freshman. When I first stepped foot on campus in the summer of 2005 for journalism camp, I knew I found my home. Two summers later, I went to campus for Summer Welcome, where I first heard Profession Cyndi Frisby introduce the idea of “Strategic Communications” – a subsection of the program that taught students about the world of public relations and advertising. As someone who watched the Super Bowl for the ads only, I felt this was my best shot in the successful career I was imagining.

The next 3.5 years were some of my best. You can read that later.

After graduation, I took the first job I was offered – an associate media planner role at an agricultural agency in the city. My first day of work saw 2.5 inches of snow, along with my first “I can’t come in” email thanks to my beloved Mitsubishi Eclipse. Overall, I lasted 6 months. Sorry Professor Frisby – media planning was not for me.

The next three years saw a variety of industry-adjacent jobs, with a focus on social media. I landed a job at the top PR firm in St. Louis, a company that was proactively shoved down my throat during my last three semesters of my program, and gave me the best experience I could ask for over the last three years.

Here again, life happened, and we moved across the country. More on that at a later time. (Seriously. I need to write something about it. It was kind of a big deal).

Looking back now, I’m not sure I would have changed anything, but I would have enjoyed the following pieces of advice:

  1. Adulthood is hard. I don’t know if I thought it would be easy, but when I stepped off the stage at graduation I definitely didn’t think it’d be like this. There are amazing things and horrible things that merge together for a crazy intersection of tears, laughs and growth. Appreciate it, but don’t expect it to be simple.
  2. There is no perfect job. Someone once told me “your job will never fill you up,” and I wish they told me sooner. What matters most is your family, your health, your friends, your hobbies. Not your 9-to-5.
  3. Introduce yourself to alumni. Coming home from the grocery store the other night, I saw a car drive by with a familiar looking license plate cover. I got uncomfortably close to the car to realize it indeed said “Missouri Tigers,” before deciding against honking and screaming M-I-Z across the way. However, it brought me great joy to know that 1,315 miles away from Columbia, MO, there was another person who knew the words to Old Missouri. Plus, without it, I’m not sure I would have been hired at two of my previous jobs. The Mizzou Mafia runs strong.
  4. Lean on each other. I’m a firm believer in the quarter-life crisis, and I’m not the only one. This is why happy hours and brunches and text messages were invented – to be able to communicate with others living similar but different lives. Utilize them.
  5. Don’t stop dreaming big. Why do we stop asking “what do you want to be when you grow up?” At 28, I’m still not entirely sure I know the answer. I know what I’m passionate about – I’m just not sure what path will lead me there. Luckily, I’ve got another 37 years until retirement to figure it out.

Cheers to the class of 2017, and an extra *clink* for those who came before them.

Categories
Getting Personal

The Five Year Plan

If you could go back to 2007 and ask me where I’d be in five years, I’d be talking so fast you’d never fully understand, but you’d know I was excited about my future. I was going to be graduated from the best journalism school in the nation, writing copy for brands like Budweiser and the St. Louis Cardinals at a huge, beautiful office in St. Louis for big bucks. I’d be living the life in my loft apartment in Kirkwood, walking my dog every day and having an endless among of time to spend with my friends and family.

Now, here I am, five years later, nearly crying at how wrong my predictions were. Yes, I did graduate from Mizzou’s prestigious school of journalism. I have a job. I live in an apartment, and I do walk my dog a few times a week. But it’s not my dream loft or dream job, and i’m too wore out to see friends by nightfall. The friends that I’ve kept, that is. But is it really a disappointment, or just the reality of my generation?

Have I short changed myself? Have I let fear get in the way of my dreams? Or was I wishful thinking from the start?

Who knows. What I know, is that I’m not the person I set out to be. Not implying I’m a negative version of my once hopeful self, but I don’t see myself living up to the potential I set out for when I walked across the stage at my high school graduation. I feel as though I’ve become one of many – the dreary, post-grads just trying to get by, still relying on mom and dad and anyone else willing to lend a helping hand, a shoulder to lean on or a devoted ear to listen.

I look at my dad, who started as an installer at 18, and has worked his way up through a fortune 500 company with little to no college education, while I am struggling to show off my strengths and make my value known. Here I am, attempting to be “independent,” while my dad was responsible for himself and my mother at a younger age. Here I am, baffled by the thought that people my age are raising children and buying houses, while I’m struggling to find $10 to see the Hunger Games before pay day. These colleagues and friends are mature, responsible, and reliable. Where does that leave me?

Don’t be mistaken, I am extremely grateful for the life I live. My loved ones are healthy; I made it out of college without debt; I’m gainfully employed. I have friends and family who love me, a boyfriend always available for encouragement and a dog who curls up to me when I need it most, but I can’t help but think something is missing.

Who knows – maybe i’ll find my missing piece at the bottom of a glass of wine, the last bite of an ice cream cone, or even lying on a beach somewhere in the sun. but when I do, you’ll be the first to know.