Category Archives: Postgrad blues

things i want to say in my grad school essays but can’t, because cliché

And we can’t have that, can we.

Constructing a personal statement for a graduate school application is so much more of a task than it seems. It’s crazy to think that as a teenager, those 500 words of insight into the minimal life experience I did have (‘being captain of the varsity waterpolo team taught me how to be such a good leader!!’) was enough to get me into Davis. Now, I’m tasked with crafting a reflection on the last six years of my ‘adult’ life into an expository essay that will convince the admissions people that I’m more qualified than all the others to write about the world.

I want to go to school to learn how to write professionally for a living and for fuck’s sake, I can’t even write 750 words about myself.

Among things I’ve written and then deleted because I can’t re-read them without cringing:

I’m very proud of the simple things I have accomplished thus far, and am confident that they have all led me to further my education in journalism. What does this even mean.

I’ve always been involved in a wide variety of activities. Said every middle-class seventeen-year-old-former-Girl-Scout in the National Charity League that wants to get into an Ivy.

Trying to plan for my future in the six months leading up to graduation from UC Davis made me more anxious than I can ever remember being. Because everyone wants to hear about my first world problems.

This is the story of how one moment of panic and angst manifested itself into a year of growth, humility, and contentedness… Everyone knows what the central thesis of Eat, Pray, Love is and has no desire to read that book again.

I’ve gravitated towards the field of journalism since my high school years. As I have towards shopping, boys, bagels, booze… GARBAGE GARBAGE GARBAGE

Having hardly any formal training in the field has allowed me to find my own voice. And I’m sure everyone appreciates the never-ending wall of unstructured word vomit as a result.

I’ve managed to let all the second guessing get in my own way, again! It’s a paralyzing feeling to think that after all this that come March, when all the admission decisions get mailed out, all the effort could all amount to nothing. I’d feel really stupid about being in an incessant bad mood for a month. I’d feel like I was letting down everyone who supported me, tolerated me, wrote me recommendation letters.

There’s a UC Berkeley advertisement above the escalator at the Embarcadero BART station that I see every day on my way home from work. It goes “YOUR DREAM JOB IS SOMEONE ELSE’S DREAM JOB, WHAT WILL GIVE YOU AN EDGE?” As if that jarring message is necessary on either end of my commute. It took me at least a couple of weeks to see it and not react by tweaking out about how I was spending my time.

The thought of not being good enough is pretty devastating. But isn’t this what we learn time and time again, that only putting yourself out there, as vulnerable as it might make us feel, is the only way to move forward? How many jobs have we interviewed for, people have we pursued, ideas have we pitched, that didn’t ultimately come through for us?

With these thoughts in mind, I somehow I managed to crank out final drafts I was semi-satisfied with and submit them on time. Thankfully, this round of applications is over and I can cease the internal philosophical debate over whether chasing down fate or letting fate happen to me is the better way to go. One of the many mental crises that plague millennials. How difficult is this life.

To further epitomize my generation, I bought a ticket to Europe when the due dates were a week away so that I could just bounce after submitting. The subsequent two weeks away were glorious. Pictures to come.

And if nothing else, it’s crazy what a simple font change and a giant pot of Earl Grey can do for your productivity.

LC

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let me give you some reasons to go abroad after college.

Thinking more and more each day how much I miss Copenhagen. I mean, circumstances were certainly different. Having a low-stakes year abroad to fuck around in Denmark and do clichéd shit like discover myself and binge drink was obviously going to be a lot more fun than living at home in the same town I hit puberty in and having to explain to everyone why I am not doing time licking obligatory ass at a startup in the financial district like everyone else my age.

I have suddenly come to this alarming realization that I haven’t spoken to any truly inspirational individuals in a very long time. I’m probably not looking in the right places, but there it is. Last year, I was hit with an overwhelming amount of people and things and projects and I was just like YES, PLEASE INVOLVE ME, I want to help you do this so hard, I’m surrounded by all this entrepreneurial spirit and creativity and WOW, everyone is so humble about how fantastic and fucking smart they are, and the hardest thing to do was to just FOCUS on where to funnel all that energy to help create something wonderful and now the challenge I face every day is resisting the temptation to knock over all the shit at my job and quit on the spot in some brilliant rebellion-inspiring spectacle.

This is an overreaction to life in the service industry and I will probably be put in my place immediately by somebody reading this but I don’t even care.

The point is that I am again recognizing the value of taking a year to figure out what is important, what makes you tick, and what you need to be happy. Figure it out early in the most extreme of circumstances so that when things are getting weird you can blow the whistle on your own life and chase down those things that made you feel good when you were so far out of your comfort zone. I would not trade my year in Denmark for anything. Go somewhere strange and live there for a little. You will cry a bit and it will be fucking hard. Maybe nothing will work out and things might suck. But expats are a certain breed of people created by these situations- you will be open to anything and everything. It is this stage where you become a sponge for ideas and everything that crosses your path is an opportunity.

I never wrote about my time in Denmark after the fact. I even stopped writing about anything at all come April because I was so distracted that I didn’t have any energy left to sit there with zero friends (i.e. all posts dated before April) and write about all the wonderful things that were going on, something I highly regret now because very little of the amazing stuff is preserved in writing.

I guess I needed to come down from the high of kicking it in Copenhagen to fully appreciate how very very nice it was.

 

——

 

Well. I wrote this back in February and just found it recently on my computer. I’m thankful I can say that I am nowhere near this level of frustration anymore. But for the sake of putting real, and (maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here) valuable blog content, I chose to post it unedited.

Pretty much immediately after writing this post I started planning a trip to New York to check out journalism schools and explore some opportunities at various media outlets. New York City was where I wanted to go immediately after college to pursue a career in writing. It was also where one of my professors told me (verbatim) all my dreams would go to die. Go to Copenhagen, he said, it’ll be so much easier. You’re not ready for New York.

I don’t keep in contact with this professor anymore, and I haven’t since I had this conversation with him at a café exactly two years ago. Creating a life for myself in Denmark was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I’d do it again (okay I’d maybe aim for a place with more sunlight… but that’s irrelevant). For the first handful of months I was living abroad I was depressed. I was too busy pining for Davis, home to all 100 of my best friends (#frat) who I saw every day, my gigantic house I paid a measly $400 per month for, with all of three bars down the street and perpetual blistering heat. I was confused because for four years I felt I’d been working toward something and then I had it… and suddenly, after facing the San Francisco job market of endless recruiting, tech, and sales jobs I felt like I had nothing at all. What did a diploma mean if all people wanted me to do was something else? No, I cannot deal in the headhunting industry. I want more. But my teacher told me I was doomed to fail in New York. I was left with little to no confidence… and then, Josie gave me the perfect out. Moving to Copenhagen meant a clean slate. Zero expectations, undiscovered opportunities.

Moving with my head in that sort of place meant I had some things to work through. But I packed to return to California roughly over a year later feeling so immensely proud, and so incredibly lucky. The Danes are a magnificent people. From the friends that I made there, I learned how to be humble. I learned how to slow down and enjoy the little things. How to balance my work and play. How to entertain and be a good guest. How to live simply. How to harness creativity. How to seriously chill the fuck out. How to be okay. When I think back to this time I feel rich in a way that has nothing to do with money.

I’m in the early stages of planning a move to New York next fall. Because, New York, I am ready for you. I’ve been thinking about you for years and if Copenhagen has taught me anything, it’s that I can handle it. I’ll probably have to learn how to code. But I’ve learned not to doubt things the way I used to.

And you shouldn’t, either. Is there somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, a place you think you could thrive? It’s waiting.

 

LC

 

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