Saturday, September 26, 2009

Probing the recesses of Yitka's post-college psyche

So, I'm at the (temporary) end of a long, dark tunnel of stress, and thus am putting forth a more in-depth, content-driven blog entry about some of my thoughts and emotions beyond "Seattle, woohoo" and "Coffee, awesome."

Actually, I'm not really at the end of any tunnel, temporary or not, at all - not even close - but I'll pretend! It was a twelve-hour work day for me, so I'm in need of some journaling and detoxing! I'm enjoying Seyeon's chocolate brownies with homemade cream cheese frosting, and a giant glass of soymilk. It's 57 degrees out - total jacket weather, which felt *great* on the walk home from work; I've decided to quit being a lazy bum and driving my car all 1.8 miles to my job. No excuses anymore. The fact that I can walk to work, the gym, the public library, the grocery store, my new doctor's office, or any of 452348238 coffeeshops is awesome, and I am taking full advantage.

So. Life after college. It's surreal to continue following the Oberlin blogs, for whom I used to write, and know that academic life is carrying on for so many other people, but not for me - and for the first time in my life, no one really cares what I do to occupy my time all day long. I was out on an epic run yesterday and passed a whole group of high schoolers at Seward Park. They were apparently on a school field trip, and it was so strange to think that all of them had a confined area in the park they could go, and chaperones to answer to, and a deadline at which they'd have to board the bus again and go back to school. Meanwhile, I could just run...literally, run away.

When Natalie was in town and she and Lu and I got together, we discussed how strange it is that our entire lives up until this point have revolved around working toward another obvious stage - getting through middle school to get to high school, getting through high school to go to college, getting through college to get to graduation. And then what? There are no certainties anymore! Some hopes, perhaps - a lasting relationship, maybe grad school, a steady satisfying career, a family someday - but nothing in our futures is certain anymore. Things are a lot more up in the well as a lot more up to us, individually, than ever before.

There are enough stories out there of people hitting middle age and feeling that the time just passed them by. Regrets, often. I do not want to be one of those people. I was determined to hit the ground running out of college, and even though there were some hitches along the way (graduating in the worst year to be a college graduate in nearly a century, and with a financially impractical degree), I feel like I'm not doing too shabbily for being about 10 weeks into my new life in a new city: two delightful, rewarding jobs I'm passionate about, my name in print in an awesome magazine, being in the best shape of my life and plans to run the Seattle marathon in two months, the beginnings of some good new friendships, and plans to get an apartment with Alan in November.

I feel fortunate that my mind hasn't changed too much over the years. To illustrate this idea: the first computer password I ever created for myself, probably back in elementary school, was "author33" - because I wanted to be an author when I grew up, and because I thought 33 was the most magical number in the world. Miraculously, over a decade later, I still want to be an author, and anyone who's spent more than a few hours in my presence in recent years has probably heard me sing praises for the number 33. (If you haven't, please ask! I'd be delighted to elaborate for you!)

Anyway: the fact that I don't change my mind much certainly makes planning out my life at this point easier; instead of devoting huge amounts of energy to deliberating over what I want to do with myself, I get to concentrate my energies on crossing things off my existing life to-do list, one by one. Several years ago, at the very tail end of my blogging time with Xanga, I wrote a "Life Plan" entry, with the tagline, "The idealist in me needs some tangible dreams to hang on to this summer." It's cool to look back on that entry, written in the midst of a troubling, floundering time in my teenaged years, and see that in the time since, I've already accomplished six of the "tangible dreams" I wrote about that summer.

Again, as with the tale of my graduation cap (which, UPDATE (!!!) - was featured in the Oberlin's alumni magazine's current issue!), I kind of want to give my past self a high-five.

And, of course, there are new goals now: I want to be a recession success story! I want to move up with both/either of the fantastic companies for whom I now work. I want to start my own business. I want to climb Mount Rainier. I want to hike the Appalachian Trail. I want to head my own non-profit. I want to publish a work of nonfiction. I want to travel extensively in Africa. I want to learn how to design websites. I want to advance my photography skills. I want to grow my own food.

And there are revised ones, too: job at literary agency or publishing company? Meh...there are other career paths that interest me more. Dancing the funky chicken on my 75th wedding anniversary? Doubtful :) But I can live with all that. What matters to me now is just that I don't lose focus of the dreams I had going into college - the ones that propelled me through those four years, and to this city, and into the shoes I'm wearing today - the ones that whisk me away for hours of running along the shores of Lake Washington and carry me home through Seattle's winding, hilly streets at the end of a long day's work.


  1. Maybe you can add hiking the Pacific Crest trail to those goals too... ; )

    Reading this entry made me smile so many times I can't even count them. And over and over again, I thought these words in my head, "I'm SO excited we're becoming friends." You are amazing, and I can't wait to get to know you better!

  2. I remember that Xanga entry well :)

    And I totally sympathize with the "Life After College" syndrome. It's nice that I can feel like I can escape it for a while longer, but when it hits me sporadically, I feel totally confused about everything in life.

    On a brighter note, congrats on the new set of life goals!

  3. Yitka- it sounds like you are well on your way to achieving your goals and building a fufilling life. (I would love to read the book review that was published.) Striking a balance between work and play, personal and professional, contemplative self and social self,is a lifetime exercise, but it looks as though you are off to an excellent start! Good luck in all your pursuits! I know you will continue to make your family proud!

    Love you!
    Aunt Kathy

  4. Yitka, you are so amazing!!!!!!!!!!!! btw, drew's mom is training for the seattle marathon too, so maybe you can meet?!?!?! haha that would be so crazy! i love you girl soooo much. AHHHHH!!! way to be awesome :)
    looooooooove shari