Four Years in the Real World

Facebook On This Day and Snapchat memories have a way of reminding us of both painful and happy times of our lives. I don’t think too much about anniversaries, but when a photo from years ago pops up, I’ve found it’s good practice to reflect on how things in my life have changed.

Last week a photo from my final day in Astoria showed up on my Facebook memories and I was taken back to the time of my postgraduate internship. In the photo I’m smiling wide while posing with a paper filled with my front page bylines. In reality, there was actually a lot of fear and anxiety behind that mustached smile.

Photo by Danny Miller

I lived in Astoria for the summer while working at the newspaper. I drove there two days after graduating college with my clothes, a laptop, and my since deceased pet lizard all packed in my truck. I was still hungover from celebrating.

Leaving Ashland was hard because I left my community that helped me grow through my final years of college. It was a new chapter which wouldn’t have the funny familiarities I had taken for granted – friends stopping by in the middle of their run to use my bathroom or sharing dino nuggets with a professor at happy hour. 

Journal Entry July 22, 2016: “A coworker told me today that college is like sitting on the beach, building a castle for four years. Intricate and just the way you like it. Then a wave comes and wipes it out. You’re sitting on the beach with nothing but a stupid lump in front of you and sand in your crotch. Also, the beach is telling you to pay rent.”

Ashland featuring arm

At the end of my internship, I blasted out of Astoria angry and scared because even though I knew that I was driving down I-5, I had no idea where in life I’d go. My senior year had wrapped up with a near perfect ending. The school newspaper had survived, my track and field team had won the conference championship, and I was headed to a paid journalism internship(!) …but then what? I felt that I had had all my fun and that I was about to be thrown into the real world unprepared.

How wrong I had been.

As the years go by and more memories show up on my social media anniversary reminders, I can’t help but laugh at how boring I thought the future would be. 

My articles for the Paradise Post, beautiful scenery in Costa Rica, and painful writing about the Camp Fire are just some lines of an index to how much more shit (great and terrible) that the world had in store for me. The dramatic graduate driving home wasn’t wrong about having more to learn, but there would be no shortages of opportunities to do so.

Photo by Max Daly

It’s weird that sometimes we are the only ones who see ourselves in a rut. But it’s normal to look back longingly on a happy time and wish that we could still be there. Just as I know now that there is more life to live tomorrow, I know to take the successes with the failures and grow from both.

I’ve been up. I’ve been down. I believe that the lessons I’ve been taught in the four years (!) since graduating are worth more than another degree. Though a Masters really wouldn’t hurt.

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