The most important lesson I learned after college
Recently, I’ve been learning how to be a human.
I know, being human sounds so obvious — like, in a way, we don’t have to learn to be human, we just kind of are born that way — but there are so many responsibilities that come with being human, that I have often contemplated becoming a cat. (I am clearly going about this growing up thing in a bit of an odd direction.) Maybe you’re already thinking this girl is crazy, and you’re probably at least half-right, but maybe we could use a few life lessons from cats, and maybe being a little crazy can be a little good. Bare with me here.
All of this self-realization business started last December when a major life event happened: I graduated from college. It’s something most people in my generation work for literally their entire lives: we’re taught from a young age that everything is prep for college. The books we read, the tests we studied for, the advanced placement classes we sweat over; heck, even learning cursive was prep for college, and if there were ever a bigger lie that I was told, it’s “your teachers will fail you if you don’t write in cursive.” (News flash: the only time you’ll automatically be failed is if you cheat, or if you literally never show up to class. Otherwise, you’ll pretty much manage some form of passing grade.)
By all means, graduating college should be a really exciting for me, and by all means, it really is exciting. I worked really hard to accomplish what I did in college, plus I’m the first one in my immediate family (mom, dad, sister) to get their bachelors. In a way, I’m blazing new trails, and it’s really great because now I’m helping my sister get on her way, too. However, and I can speak for a lot of recent graduates here in saying so, most people’s immediate reaction to graduating college (if they aren’t pursuing their masters, and as much as I would love to, I can’t afford to at this time) is a confused, terrifying, “Well, now what?”
And for me, like, a major identity crisis.
Maybe it’s the fact that I watch a lot of movies and read a lot of books, so I tend to characterize people in the same way I might with fiction. Maybe it’s the fact that, like I mentioned above, my generation is born and bred to at least try to go to college. But all I know is, once I was out of college, I felt like a little part of me was lost. When family members at parties asked what I was doing with my life — and bless their souls, I know this question is merely them taking an interest in my life — it sent me into a minor mental tailspin. (Even though my family would be proud if I was a bartender forever, as long as I was doing a good job.) I’ve always been very ambitious, so there always used to be some project or club I was conquering in school: I’ve always had something to answer this question with, because I’ve always been a student, and now with that no longer being a part of my identity, all I really wanted to answer with was tears.
The first six months A.C. (After College) were rough. I have never faced quite as much rejection in one period of time in my life: rejection from film festivals, rejection from entry-level jobs in the television industry, rejection from writing jobs, rejection from boys, and rejection from friends. I’ve been rejected before, and I’m an aspiring writer (screenwriter, too, like a dime a dozen in the LA area, I’m aware), so there’s no doubt I’m going to see rejection many more times in the near and distant future. I knew that it was coming, but knowing and really understanding are often times very different things, so I’ve learned.
After spending many teary nights with a little bit too much wine singing “When Will My Life Begin” from Tangled with wide eyes like Rapunzel, things did start to get easier. There will always be a certain sting to rejection, sure, but it’s not the end of the world, nor is it the end of my journey as a writer, certainly. That’s the thing about being human: we’re on a journey — a sort of extended road trip, if you will — with lots of pit stops along the way. And, sure, sometimes your tires might pop, and yeah, you might get lost every now and again.
Isn’t that when you have the craziest adventures and learn the most about yourself, though?
In my almost 24 years here on Earth, being nothing but human (and maybe just a little bit cat; guys, I really like naps), I’ve learned to enjoy the journey. I’m certainly going to feel so much more pain, but I’m also going to stay out too late with friends, and spend more time in bed reading and eating. I’ll probably drink more than I should in the near future, and get rejected so much more. I’ll probably write a few more things that just aren’t good. I’m going to get mad and yell; I’ll cry, and be simply heartbroken. There will always be a flip side. I’ll see new places. I’ll get new jobs. I’ll meet new friends. I’ll read new books that will change my life. I’ll see new movies, and re-watch a few that make me happy (is seeing Guardians of the Galaxy in theaters for the fourth time too many? I won’t know until I try). I’ll fall in love again. I’ll write stuff that’s great, and maybe people will take notice. Heck, I’ll probably get to go to Disneyland this week.
Life isn’t easy, but if you let it take you for a ride, it sure can be a lot of fun. If you surround yourself with the right people, it’s a lot more fun. That’s where I’m the luckiest, for sure. I may not be a character in a comedy movie: I’m human and I’m flawed, and my flaws aren’t always funny punch lines or cute character quirks, and they might just be downright annoying sometimes. But somehow, I still have amazing friends and family by my side supporting me through this whole journey, and because of that, I’m ready to see what the rest of my life, simply being human, both strong and flawed as I may be, has in store for me.
Alexandra “Meowlexandra” Grace is a reader, writer, and sass master extraordinare! On a day to day basis, you can find Alexandra reading, drinking tea, catching up on her extensive TV schedule, or sending excessive snapchats of her dog Kevin’s misadventures. Alexandra hopes to eventually create her own sitcom and create joy and laughter everywhere. For more shenanigans, you can follow her blog here!