I turned 24 on Tuesday.
My first instinct was to look at the people around me. The ones posting on social media.
They’d written books, were writing articles for magazines I still only dream will send me an acceptance letter one day. They’d started podcasts. Spent two years living in Asia. Found the loves of their lives. Wore diamond rings on the fourth finger of their left hands. Spoke at the United Nations. Worked in refugee camps around the world.
Since we’re more than halfway through the year (is anyone else startled by this?), I thought it would be good to take a look back at some of the posts shared here within this li’l Internet space.
Here are the Top 10 Most-Read Posts of 2017 (So Far). Enjoy a look back!
The first year of graduate school for me was incredible, amazing, life-changing, and HARD. Transitioning straight into grad school from my four years of undergrad, I approached grad school as an opportunity to grow and learn on a personal level, while also growing in the classroom. As my friends and former classmates were celebrating new jobs and new cities, I dove back into the books for a quick two more years.
Throughout my first year of graduate school, I learned a few things that will stay ingrained in me for many years to come.
I have been noticing another shift. A strange one, but somewhat welcomed. I am getting older and the thoughts I have and habits I have adopted have proven this to me. How many of these signs have you noticed in your lives?
We made a magazine, y'all.
Even so, I’ve been surprised at the feeling of worthlessness that has come alongside this period of quiet. The questions in my mind of, what am I contributing to anybody? Am I allowed to still be “resting” or is this really just laziness now? Is everyone around me wondering what I’m doing with my time? Am I paranoid to be thinking like this? If I’m secure in my identity and my decisions about how to spend my time, where has this fear of worthlessness come from?
When I went home every summer, being back with my parents and having a different set of expectations placed upon me made friction inevitable. Far away in the UK, I could deal with familial disagreements by ignoring text messages or putting off video calls, but back home I had to face them head on. This often resulted in arguments or unfriendly responses and ultimately, I was left dissatisfied with my relationship with my parents.
The main topic of conversation my senior year was, of course, how will we all stay friends? After graduation, we’d be going different directions. Live in different cities, have different jobs. We’d spent so long being just a few floors apart in the dorms, and we were worried.
It feels like I haven’t taken a breath since February. Five months since a job hunt began, since stress took over, since I spent every hour of every day trying to figure out where I wanted to live, what I wanted to do, trying and failing, and failing, and failing to make things work. To get hired. To try the freelance lifestyle. To cook meals with nutrients instead of trans fat and to get my body moving. To finish a passion project while my time was unrestricted.
I failed at so many things, and from the outside it looked like I was barely moving. But it felt like I’d never worked harder in my life.
By not making any decisions, I had made my decision. Life was happening all around me, it was happening to me, but I had no role in it. Weeks passed, and I decided I didn’t want to be a bystander in my own story. I wanted to do. I wanted to choose.
Do you write? Hi, me too, and many of That First Year’s readers moonlight (or daylight—power to those with the full-time writing gig!) as writers. So I thought it might be helpful to make a list of 6 things that have helped me in my writing endeavors.
Some of us create because it is what we want to do with our lives. Others create because it makes life a lot more interesting. Regardless, we are all creative creatures, whether that’s creating on a canvas, creating in the kitchen, or creating with a camera.
Fast forward seven years: I sit in an English classroom as a young, impressionable seventh grader, soaking up every word from my teacher. After years of devouring books, read alouds, scripts, and writing poetry on love (which I knew so much about) and stories of an adventurous squirrel (which entertained my entire family), I made another career choice: I would be a seventh grade English teacher.
Wild. That is the name of the book I brought with me to Norway this past week. A memoir by Cheryl Strayed that was made famous by a movie starring Reese Witherspoon a couple of years back. A story about a woman whose answer to her spiraling, drug-induced, sex-addicted life was a one hundred day hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. A hope for change and reconciliation with her own grief drove her deep into the wilderness of California and Oregon. The book is compelling because of Strayed’s boldness in baring even the darkest parts of her humanity, but I was drawn to it because she gracefully gave a voice to a part of my heart that I often feel the need to keep silent—the part of me that is disconnected and restless until I am reclaimed by my need to be wild.