Me as a fuckin’ bus…
Over a year ago when I was still writing for Xpress Magazine, I wrote an article entitled, “I Got the Post-Grad Blues.”It was focused on individuals who graduated college and went through the motions of post-grad life. All of them felt lost and felt the pressures of finding a job in their field. All of them were depressed, had unrealistic expectations of what post-grad life would be like, and described post-grad as a very low-point in their life after a very high high, that being graduation.
I wanted to write this back then because it was close to graduation season. I knew a lot of people were excited about graduating and finally “starting” their life. But I knew that people must go through a rough transition period after graduation, and decided to interview people who went through it. It seemed like everyone was so hyped and focused about graduation DAY, but I wanted to know the stories after the long awaited graduation day. My goal as a writer is to always to be as transparent and real as possible, and I figured a lot of people struggle with post-grad depression, and wondered why it’s not really talked about. I wanted to make it a topic of conversation, to let graduates know that what they’re going through is normal, and the sadness and confusion will eventually pass. I shared the post-grad blues stories of a few graduates, so now, it’s time to share mine.
At the time, I had 1 semester left of school. I was pretty salty that I wasn’t going to be graduating with most of my friends, and that I’d be done in December, having to wait 5 more months after that until I walk the stage. But really, I was writing this for myself, to mentally prepare myself for post-grad depression because I know how I am. I have a hard time transitioning into new situations. I tend to dwell and overthink everything, so I wanted to get these interviews to help others prepare for potential post-grad depression, but also prepare myself.
Annnnnd, like I suspected, it didn’t work. And to be completely honest, I knew it wasn’t going to work, just because I know how I am.
When I wrote “I Got the Post-Grad Blues,” for Xpress Magazine, I was already mentally preparing myself for the major changes I was about to face in the next 8-ish months. After I wrote the story, I felt more content about graduating, knowing that I’d be facing some ups and downs, but nothing I didn’t already expect. Writing this story also made me feel a little better that I had more time to milk as a student. The interviews I had with graduates varied, one felt so depressed about post-grad life that she felt suicidal, while another had a job lined up right after graduation day, but felt unfulfilled. That’s when I realized that people go through their post-grad blues differently. What one person may see as something minor could be major to the next.
I was done with my undergrad in December 2018. I was so relieved after sending in my last finals online. Finally after 5.5 years of college, I was done! And just in time for Christmas. I also got 2 weeks off of work for the preschool’s winter break, so I was out of school AND out of work (temporarily). Those 2 weeks were all I looked forward to the last couple weeks of school. I was dragging myself to the finish line, and it really felt like the longest last few weeks of my life. Everything was slow and dragged out. I was in the library forcing myself to focus on papers and articles for hours. Once I edited my last final and turned it in, I went straight to the bookstore at around 10 pm and bought a “SFSU Alumni” crewneck. This was the moment I was waiting for, the sigh of relief of finally being done with my undergrad!
For the first couple of weeks, especially since I was getting a paid 2 week vacation from work, I was living the life. My cousins and I took our very first “cousins trip” to SoCal to celebrate my nephews birthday. We were 22 1/2 (my cousin was pregnant lol) cousins deep at Great Wolf Lodge, and that wasn’t even all of us. This was the break I was waiting for.
Post-grad really didn’t hit me until January, when everyone started going back to school. At first, I thought it was so cool how I no longer had to worry about anything related to school – assignments, registration, waking up for classes, making deadlines. I decided early on about my plan.
Since I graduated at a weird time and not the usual Spring semester, I decided that I was going to make 2019 my rest year. And in 2019 I planned to work full-time at the preschool I work at to save money, write consistently every week starting January (oops…), buy the camera off my friend (since I used it all semester for a Photo Journalism class and knew how to work it already) so I could start making content for my blog, possibly buy a new laptop with my tax return money, and try to start doing freelance writing.
In my mind, when would I ever get the free time to write about what I want before writing for someone else? When else will I have the time to work on passion projects and do little documentaries while still living at home saving money? And it all made sense in my head. The preschool I work at has a lot of paid holidays, and I really felt like I didn’t get to enjoy my last spring break, summer break, Thanksgiving break, and all the holidays in between because I was too stressed off of school. My favorite time of the year is Christmas time, and I didn’t get to do shit because I was stuck in the library finishing finals. That played a big factor into why I decided to take this year off as my “passion projects” year, because I would get paid holiday and still have that “school-ish” holiday routine. I wanted a break before I start adulting and never get a paid 2 week holiday again. I was supposed to be chillin’. I had this all planned out months prior to December. Just stick with the plan, right?
WRONG. How foolish am I to think that MARINELLE CABILLO would go with the “set plan” that I had mentally prepared myself for. The foolery!
By February the post-grad blues crept up on me oh so slowly. I would say it hit the hardest the beginning of April until the end of June, where I was at my peak losing my mind. But anyways, it came on slowly. At first, I could tell that I was getting a little antsy. I blamed it on the fact that I increased my hours at work and wasn’t used to not being at school anymore.
I lagged on being consistent with my blog because I was too scared to start. I kept putting it off. I started doubting my 1 year plan. In my head I was trying to convince myself, “…what about a 2 year break so you really save money?…” As the weeks passed, fear of the future got the best of me.
“… what if I just work for the preschool full-time, work my way up, and just do writing on the side?”
And I considered this longer than I should’ve.
I was scared to start my life. It was almost an identity crisis… who was I without school? Out of the 24 years of my life, I considered myself a student for almost 20 of them. Not being a student also meant I had no excuse. My excuse for not having my shit together financially, career wise, etc., would always be “well because I’m still in school.”
Without school, it meant I was an adult. Reality hit hard. I was panicking over the thought that I somehow have to get my life together. I saw graduation as the finish line, but didn’t plan for the full on marathon that awaited.
For weeks I debated if I even wanted to make writing and journalism my fulltime career, or if I was going to stick to my last minute idea of staying a preschool teacher and freelancing on the side. For the record, no shade to preschool teachers at all. Early Childhood Education was actually my major before I switched to journalism. I switched out because I worked at a gym daycare and realized, damn, I don’t have the patience for this… in the long term atleast. I always knew my passion was writing, but was too scared to pursue it.
After that little set back, I realized the longer I wait to start my journalism career, the longer it’ll take me to get to where I want to be. I had to stick to my original plan. 1 year off to work on passion projects, and start looking for writing jobs around October/November 2019. I was cutting myself short, not even trying to apply for jobs yet. I’m so terrified of where a job will take me, location wise, career wise, etc. But it trips me out that I really considered not using the degree I just spent years trying to complete, because I was too scared. I would’ve taken the easy way out.
That’s honestly one of my fears in life – to not chase after my dreams and settle, and 35 years from now, have a midlife crisis over the fact that I didn’t take chances in my prime.
In April I spoke at a Women Gender Studies Conference in Fresno. I applied because a teacher suggested we all enter for extra credit in the class. During our 1 on 1 meeting she told me she strongly suggests that I should apply. So I did. And a month or so later I got an email saying that so many people applied that they had to get back to us if we were selected or not. A few weeks after that, I got an email saying I was chosen. I was so happy. I felt like this was my moment of truth as a writer, especially since it was about the Body Positive Movement and Feminism, topics that I am very passionate about. I prepared for the event to the point where I stressed myself out so much that I was thinking of bailing. Literally the only thing stopping me was the fact that I had already paid for the Airbnb. I was so focused on this event because I really needed it. I was in such a frenzy in my mind, doubting myself and my abilities, I needed this W.
I anticipated the conference and graduation day. But it made me depressed and anxious thinking of what would happen after these 2 events were over. I hit another “and then what?” These were the 2 days I spent all year looking forward to. I worried that I would hit post-grad blues even harder after the events passed.
The conference went by and I really stressed for nothing, because it went perfectly fine. I was so glad I went through with it, because I would definately beat myself up about it if I didn’t. I started dreading graduation day because I knew that was the only other thing I was looking forward to.
Graduation day came, and it was honestly one of the best days in my life. Not even tryna be hella dramatic either. But it was a really good day, surrounded by friends and family who knew the struggles I had to go through, and just seeing how proud it made my parents made me ecstatic. I somehow managed to put my a million thoughts aside and just enjoy the day.
But after that high wore off, I was left in the same position of dwelling on what to do with my life. I was frustrated that I mentally prepared myself for this, telling myself that I know how hard its gonna be, but what I have as leverage is the fact that I interviewed a lot of people and kind of knew what to expect. But even though I knew what to expect, I still fell into the post-grad depression trap. I was annoyed with myself. How did I put so much thought into my “plan” to have me doubt it? What was supposed to be a chill relaxing year off working on growth and passion turned out to be such a stressful year. I went into 2019 saying I’m gonna make 2019 my bitch and get it together.
Instead, my life was in shambles. Who are you? What do you want in life? It seemed like I was transforming into a new person since I couldn’t identify as a student anymore. It took a toll on how I acted because it was always in the back of my mind.
I can’t count how many times Christian asked me if I was okay, and I’d just break down crying, falling apart into his arms. Sometimes I would vent about my troubles, but sometimes I would just silent cry, knowing that only I could really find the solution for all of this. Stress cries are the worse, especially when you don’t know the cause or solution to all your troubles. Other times, I would find myself picking fights over small things. Either I was crying, angry, or distant. I’m an overthinker for sure.
I wouldn’t compare myself to my peers, because if the interviews taught me anything, it was to not compare my successes with anyone else’s. But I would see people who graduated, who were posting their next big job, big move, big life update, and I would be genuinely happy for them. I thought about all the things we post about, and how nobody would guess by my posts that I’m going through it. I got quieter on social media, trying to get my head out of the gutter.
For the record, I’m still sticking to my 1 year off, search for jobs at the end of the year plan. I decided that even though this year wasn’t how I planned it, it wasn’t too late to start some of the things I had anticipated. I started posting consistently in July. 6 months later than I expected, but I never go with the plan, even if I, myself, planned it.
I’m more content with post-grad life, but from February – end of June, it really messed with my head. I also wouldn’t say that I’m over my post-grad depression either. My future and my next move is always in the back of my head, but not as intense as before. I found a little peace when I made up my mind to stick to my 1 year plan and stay on the path to making writing my career. I’m too young to settle. And I’ll be damned if 30-ish years from now I’m beating myself up over what could’ve been. Post-grad blues comes in waves. And I already know I’m gonna go through it again when I start job searching.
This definitely needs to be talked about more. Post-grad depression is real, and it’s really hard and confusing. I’m using my anxiety about the future as motivation. But some days it’s really hard to feel motivated when you don’t exactly know what direction you’re going with your life. Especially with my 26th birthday coming in less than 2 years, LAAWDDDD, I FEEL THE FIRE AS I THINK ABOUT HOW I’M GONNA GET THE BOOT OFF OF MY PARENTS’ INSURANCE 😩😱
TO BE CONTINUED FOR SURE 😂…..