We’re about to head into a new calendar year. The average temperature outside hovers around freezing most days, and Seattle saw snow for the first time in years. Trees are barren and the holidays are upon us—fall quarter is definitely behind us.
This time last year, I got off a plane in California and folded into my mother’s arms with tears in my eyes. I was tired. So, so tired. Balancing a full-time graduate course load, a res life assistantship, transitioning to a new place and hustling for internships and other professional opportunities ran me into the ground. And so I cried.
So many worries weighed heavily on my mind at this point in my graduate career. Listening and learning from those around me and beyond, I started stressing about the job search post-grad school. Yes, I was only a quarter into school. And yes, throughout my adult life, I’ve always had to be conscious of financial security and the next step. I didn’t have the luxury of accepting advice to worry about it later and to just take “time off” if the job search turns out to be a bust. This isn’t the world I come from. And so I began internally panicking, which contributed to my exhaustion.
Fast-forward one year. My worries are fewer and different, and I’m not so tired I could cry. Several changes led to this shift, and they weren’t easy. Three changes held the key to bringing myself up.
1. I let go of the idea that I needed to wait for graduation from my masters program to begin putting feelers out there for full-time professional opportunities.
2. I sought out guidance from trusted colleagues and friends who provided me support in ways I didn’t receive in certain areas of my life.
3. I gave myself a break (for once) in my life by taking a quarter off from classes to transition into a new job and to breathe.
As I type this out, everything feels so much easier said than done. All of these changes took work, support, community, time, energy, and resiliency. With all of this change, I’ve been reflecting on my decisions over the past six months and keep coming back to the same conclusion—I made the best choices for myself.
This isn’t to say these choices would work for anyone. But when I think about the person I was a year ago and the person I am now, I see two different people in two different states of well-being.
In other words, if given a do-over, I’d still choose the path to joy every time.