Closing a chapter

The last weekend of summer is upon us. On September 1, Boston will make the “great migration.” Homes will appear to have regurgitated their furniture onto the streets as inhabitants play musical chairs and move to new apartments in the city. At the same time, all the students will come pouring back and clog the city’s arteries with their moving trucks and unnecessary amounts of dorm “necessities.”

This is the first September of my life that I will not return to school. I graduated last December, and still cannot believe that chapter of my life is over. Watching all the students come come marching (or grumbling) back to academic obligations makes me realize how much I miss school.

Photo of the Baldwin School

Let’s be real, I knew I’d miss school the minute my final class period ended. Being handed my diploma was like sticking a knife through my day planner. I’ve always loved school, from beginning to end and everything in between.

Since I went to a Catholic grade school, “back to school” never entailed shopping for clothes, but it did mean decorating and wrapping my textbooks in brown paper bags, and, of course, purchasing a new set of Gel pens. High school meant pouring over my reading lists for the upcoming year, and reading half of them before the term even began. My high school years were filled with dance parties in the hallway, dress up days, scavenger hunts, ugly blazers, Slip ‘n Slides on the soccer field, ringing gongs, and a plethora of other fun and bizarre traditions that can only be understood if you attended an all girls high school.

Baldwin Gates decorated

At the same time, high school was serious business –sleepless nights, endless term papers, day-long exam periods, and so many “well-rounded” extra-curriculars that we all graduated as perfect spheres. I was a well-oiled machine by the time I reached college, arriving early to every class, perched on the edge of my seat during lectures, fueling my excitement with cup after cup of coffee.

As much as I loved school, and continue to miss it now, graduating has given me the opportunity to do all sorts of things I wasn’t able to do before. For one, this blog. Two, starting to make a significant dent in my bucket list. A few successes from this summer include:

Writing 

I’ve been published!

Global Business Hub

Reading

I set out to read ten books this summer. Although this is a slight diversion from my original list, I will have completed a total of ten by the end of this weekend.

Girl With a Pearl Earring

We Live in WaterTinkersAnd the Mountains Echoes

TransAtlantic

AmericanahThis Is How You Lose HerThe Thing Around Your Neck

The Virgins

Hygiene and the Assassin

Discovering

Photo of kayaking on Charles RiverPhoto of NantucketPhoto of NYCPhoto Philly "LOVE"Photo of railroad tracks

And simply enjoying

Photo of hammockPoolsidePhoto cherry tomatoesMiacomet Beach

It’s been a beautiful summer, and I’m planning on making Labor Day the best weekend of summer yet. But each season brings new opportunities and possibilities. School or not, I’m ready to fall in love with my favorite season all over again.

On setting goals

Lists

Photo of lists

I live by lists. To do, to read, to cook, to buy, to pay, to try, to learn, to visit, to revisit … I have lists on my phone, my computer, my calendar, my notebook, my blog; Post-It’d up on the wall, scribbled on spare scraps of paper, and inked onto the back of my hand. You would think that such a commitment to time management would make me hyper-organized, but really I’m just out of breath. I’m constantly wrapped up in lists, planning for something, but often feel like I’m racing to catch up to my own schedule.

These lists as a whole translate into cyclical checkpoints: small, near-reaching goals that are “ticked” as quickly as they are written. Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about goals as the big picture: Long-term, short-term, personal, professional… The privilege of being young and having so many options is liberating. The burden, however, is being young and completely disillusioned by time.

I want to believe that I have all the time in the world, to go and grow and fail and fix. How is it possible to have so much time and so little to waste? It’s a constant ebb and flow of abundance and thirst. The more I have, the more I want. But it doesn’t work that way.

Setting Goals

The Internet is lush with information on setting goals. Blog posts reveal the facts and figures, while Pinterest boards inspire users to pin their way to organized perfection. I found tips on setting goals for health and fitness, for financial planning, for professional development, and for 20-somethings specifically.

I’m definitely an advocate for setting goals, and believe they are something that should be reevaluated more than once a year. But I was relieved when I came across this article on the Huffington Post claiming that setting goals can do more harm that good. Stephanie Zamora writes that you should only have 2-3 priorities in your life at a time, or else you’ll end up feeling overwhelmed by exhaustion and disappointment.

At first I thought, “Great, now I need another list for priorities…” But the lesson here is to step back and decide what is truly important, and focus your time and energy doing those things. I had some trouble choosing only three, but I think these most accurately reflect the things that I want and love, in this moment. In no particular order:

Writing

Photo of notebook

This has recently become a joy for me. Although I majored in writing in college, I always approached it from the business standpoint: marketing, publicity, sales… I never thought that I would pursue writing in the creative sense, and actually enjoy doing it. This is a goal where I would like to focus more attention.

Objectives: Get better at curating material and develop a more concrete editorial calendar for this blog.

Travel

Photo Vally of Phocis

This, on the other hand, has been a lifetime love affair. There are few things I enjoy more than packing a bag and hitting the road, whether it is to discover a new place or return to my roots. It is thrilling to meet new people and indulge in new experiences, as it is a distinct pleasure to reconnect with familiar faces and places. Travel is an opportunity I hope to take advantage of for the rest of my life.

Objectives: Just keep going.

Health

Photo of yoga mat

How can any of us do anything without our health? My health is necessary to fulfill the aforementioned and any future goals in my life, and should be a priority. Also, there is something so fulfilling about being able to open a really tough jar. Early on, my lack of hand-eye coordination seriously hampered the development of any actual athletic ability. But I do enjoy a variety of physical activities, like running and yoga.

Objectives: Pay equal attention to mental health; Take the time to relax and unwind.

To live life by time’s watch is constricting; what is truly liberating is the ability fall into step with life as it comes. I don’t think that I’ll be able to relinquish my dependence on lists completely (I mean, I still need a list of top ten places to travel, right?). But I’m glad I’ve whittled away enough to put a few not-so-important objectives on the back burner. I’ll make a note to reevaluate in six months, but I’ll be okay if I lose it somewhere between the lines.

My gradual graduation

Photo of graduation caps

Courtesy of Betterment.com

This Sunday, I am going to GRADUATE. Actually, I graduated months ago, in December. But my college doesn’t hold a ceremony for fall graduates, so I’m walking with the rest of the 2013 class this weekend.

I feel like I’ve been in a kind of limbo ever since I “officially” finished school. Last semester, I attended my final class periods and handed in my final projects. Soon after, my status in the college database updated to “Former Student.” A month later, I received my diploma in the mail.

Throwback:

Packed and ready for Freshman year

Photo of packed car

Now, I’m finally walking, and I can’t say I’m all that excited. People keep telling me this is “a big deal.” Administrators have bombarded my cobweb of a school email, regarding my “huge achievement,” for weeks. Even in my final semester, during which I went part-time, I felt like I already had one foot out the door. And the other, tapping timidly at the future ahead.

What do I have to complain about? Absolutely nothing. Graduating early meant scoring a job in my industry, as well as saving a couple thousands of dollars in student loans and tuition costs. And honestly, I never knew I could have so much free time until I graduated (hence, this blog). I guess the distance between graduating and formally commencing makes me feel somewhat removed from the ordeal.

But I’m going to turn this post around. I am closing a chapter to my life that has been filled with discovery, laughter, and unmatchable friendships. So here are a few highlights from my college years, pulled from a colorful and limitless list:

I lived in a castle in Europe for three months.

Photo of the castle

I was published in a student literary journal.

Photo of The Black Swan

I spent spring break of my sophomore year in Athens, Greece.

Photo of Athens

In my first month of college, I made the cover of the school newspaper.

For being quarantined with Swine Flu.

Photo of swine flu

Courtesy of The Berkeley Beacon

Freshman year, I went to the Common for a picnic and homework.

And found myself in a haze of smoke.

Photo of the Common

Hemp Fest 2009

The BPD were kind enough to make an appearance at my 21st birthday party.

Photo of captain & fancy glass

I not-so-secretly stalked the more attractive members of my school’s alumnus.

Photo of Denis Leary

Last summer, I shared a 5-bedroom apartment with 7 roommates and a cat.

Photo of apartment

The cat escaped unscathed. (More later on my relationship with animals).

Photo of cat

I learned how to cook, and how to love to cook.

Photo of soup

I cyber-stalked and finally met Patriot’s tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Photo of Rob Gronkowski

I worked at a bookstore or a library (or both) the entire time I was in college.

Photo of bookshelves

I made the best friends, better than any I could have ever asked for.

Photo of the esplanade

Just like every portion of life, or every week, or every day for that matter, college was a series of struggles and successes. But what stands out to me the most is not a single challenge I faced or a trial I overcame, but the people who were there to shape those experiences. For me, college is not a dusty yearbook on the shelf or a piece of paper on the wall, but a living, breathing phenomenon that I will continue to take from, learn from, and carry with me for the rest of my life.

So thank you to all who were there for the journey. College is over, but we’ve got a lifetime to go.

Goals for summer and beyond

Photo of kayaking on Charles River

Dreaming of summer

This will be my first summer in Boston where I’m no longer in school, and I can’t believe how much time I have on my hands. I feel like I’m at a good point in my life to share some of my thoughts, my writing, and the things I love. I hope you’ll join me as I learn my way through my twenties, reading between the lines.

I’ve compiled a list of things I would like to try/do/see this summer –both in and out of Boston. These objectives are certainly not limited to this list, nor do I have to check off every empty box. This is more of a flexible list of hopefully achievable goals.

Summer 2013 bucket list:

  • Write something everyday. Even if it’s just a thought or a Tweet
  • Post to this blog at least once per week
  • Go kayaking on the Charles River AGAIN (photo from last summer above)
  • Spend as much time as possible with my amazing friends
  • Reconnect with old friends
  • Go to a wine tasting
  • Discover some awesome new restaurants and bars
  • Wander through outdoor markets on the weekends
  • Soak up some culture at local museums, parks, festivals…
  • Take my cooking to a new level and try some new recipes (like learn to make ice cream)
  • Find the best ice cream in the city if/when I fail at making my own
  • Find a few beautiful new places to run
  • Read. Lots of articles, blogs, and at least 10 books
  • Do outdoor yoga
  • Grow my indoor garden with potted plants and herbs (and keep them alive…)
  • Take a class: An art class, computer workshop, or even a webinar on finance management
  • Discover some new bookstores (preferably indie and perfectly charming)
  • Walk everywhere and spend as much time outdoors as possible
  • Get completely lost visiting a place I’ve never been before
  • Have several deep and meaningful conversations with the people I love
  • Do some traveling: Already booked to visit my family twice this summer
  • Take a few moments each day to bask in perfect happiness

I definitely hope to carry many of these goals and habits over into the fall: Write regularly, cook creatively, discover curiously, and spend quality time with friends and family —to name a few. But for now, I’ve got my sights set on summer.