Going Home

The Donald M. Wilson Reading Corner of the Princeton public library is a little lower than ground level. Facing the massive windows that let in  the cool, natural lighting of the fall day, I feel a sense of nostalgia for the place I’ve spent exactly 1 hour and 12 minutes in. This nook sits directly on the corner of Wiggins St. & Witherspoon St. surely named after important people I’ll never have the pleasure or displeasure of meeting. To my right, a cemetery with graves that have been there long before me and will remain long after and to my left, a cluster of large buildings with red brick that look like they belong more in Europe than in New Jersey. Scattered around my vision are trees holding onto their remaining leaves in shades of orange, yellow, and green. I’m wearing an orange shirt which makes me feel more apart of the landscape in some way.

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Sometimes I wonder if this feeling is more a sense of longing than nostalgia. It’s a place that doesn’t quite feel like home but there is something in the air that makes it feel like it could be. Like my soul has been lingering somewhere between the cobblestone alleyways, pine trees, and old buildings. Certain places just have that undeniable charm, like this place and my soul are vibrating at the same frequency.

Being charmed by a place is a beautiful thing. I felt this way when I went to Paris for the first time and when I started making friends in college. You’re overcome with a feeling that you are exactly where you are suppose to be. Since graduating and moving back home, my overwhelming feeling has been one of displacement. That’s why when I visited my college for Homecoming, I had a hard time emotionally preparing myself for going back to my “home.”

The fear was not so much whether things would be like I had left them but whether I could find the person I was before I left. I found her in China this summer briefly, but the grind I experience everyday of being back home and feeling displaced had put me back into this sense of loss.IMG_0579.JPG

I was anxious about how the weekend would go and how I would feel going back to the place I’d lived and grown for 4 years. I hadn’t had a genuine social interaction in months and a part of me wondered who I’d be when I would.

I quickly found some friends in the library on that rainy Friday who had also graduated. Sitting around a table we’d all probably spent time cramming for exams or gossiping at one point or another, we shared our mutual experiences of displacement, loss, and uncertainty for the future. Talking to them, I got this feeling that I was bridging the gap between who I was in this space for 4 years and who I was becoming since. Turns out, we are all stuck in a transition, one that is painful at times, certainly uncomfortable, but namely: terribly lonely.

That weekend we were all coming back to our launch pad as if we missed some crucial directions before we set off back in May. Everyone tells you how hard “the real world” in terms of financials can be, but no one ever tells you how fucking lonely it is.

Talking and spending time with my friends, visiting my old dorm, and seeing what everyone was getting into felt right and good, but it was only temporary relief from the reality of where we all were in our transition. That we would all be retreating back to where we found ourselves after graduation, only a little more driven to fight off this feeling of loneliness now knowing that our feelings were all very mutual.IMG_0461.JPG

Me going back for homecoming ended up being way less comforting then I had initially planned as it so blatantly pointed out how not at home I feel in my life. I cried on the way back feeling emotionally exhausted and confused as to where I needed to be going next. However, I had gained a helpful and very necessary reminder of who I am when I’m in my element.

I think all the throw pillows and Pinterest canvases have established that home is not a place, but a person. However, I’d like to think that home is really the place that vibrates at the same frequency you do. It’s how you don’t feel lonely when you’re in your favorite place alone or when you’re reading a good book or having a night of snacks & secrets between friends. That matched vibration is the exact opposite of feeling displaced and lonely.

And for a brief moment in a library I’ve never been in and will never be again, surrounded by books and leaves and movement, I found my vibration being matched. What I felt leaving homecoming was not knowing where I’d be finding my matched vibration next, but I understand now that it’s instinctual and if you let go, you’ll pull yourself there.

x

Lillie

How to Survive Your Freshman Year of Life

I remember Freshman orientation for High School and for College, and yet in the past few months, I seemed to have missed the orientation for life.

I was listening to one of my favorite Podcasts last week (Thick & Thin) and the host finally coined a term for this weird in between stage I (and many others) are experiencing as the freshman year of life.

We may not be carrying our lanyards around our necks (although I gracefully skipped that stage of college), but it feels like people can still spot us from a mile away. I’ve had so many instances since graduating where I’ve been condescended and talked down to, something I never felt the last few years in school.

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Senior: Thriving

I left college in the best possible way: thriving but ready for the next thing.

However, no one tells you how hard it is to leave your established community after 4 years of carefully building it. By the end of college, I served a role in the organizations I was involved in, I was known as a genuine and unapologetic person, I was fabulous, and I was making new friends till the very end.

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Freshman: Not Thriving

I sure as hell didn’t start out like that though.

I started college with a group of hall mates that dwindled as the years went on, I made questionable fashion and hair color choices, I couldn’t take a selfie to save my life, and I was really hesitant to be myself in fear of judgement.

Just like I was figuring it out 4 years ago, I’m doing the same now, just on a different, much larger campus.

My freshman year of life consists of a volunteer internship opportunity. I just happen to be volunteering for myself to pay off student loans and for a move to NYC in a year. Housing is provided (via my parents) and I haven’t made many friends yet. I sure as hell feel like a freshman.

Since we didn’t get handy dandy survival guides upon graduation, here are 5 Ways to Survive your Freshman Year of Life:

1 . Keep In touch with your Genuine Friends

It doesn’t matter if your friends went straight to grad school, volunteering, or full time jobs, they all left their support systems when they graduated too. Who are the ones you really want to stay in contact with, who you’re willing to make an effort for, and who’s willing to make an effort for you.

Text them just cause, send cards, set up friend dates, and let people know you’re there even if you’re not close. We all need that support right now.

2 . Learn to be ok with being Alone

Life is terribly lonely turns out, like never before in my life have I understood why relationships could be so great. But we can’t make our comfort contingent on someone else, so it’s time to be ok with yourself.

Finds things to do alone that bring you joy, write down all the things you love about yourself, make up positive self-affirming mantras. Knowing and being content with yourself makes a lot of other things easier.

3 . Get a Library card

Be gone the days of all nighters (except for my grad school babes I’m sorry and I luv u) but libraries can still serve a major role in our lives. To cut down on the spending of money we don’t have, use a library card for books, movies, music. Libraries often have free events and other perks like free language softwares. Save money and keep being an intellectual.

4 . Pick small goals and run with them

I see this time as an opportunity to improve and change my lifestyle since moving into a different kind of schedule. I want to run my blog, exercise more, eat healthy, read more, learn a language, find a side hustle, and on and on and on.

As if this new time isn’t already overwhelming, there’s no reason to make our lives more stressful than they need to be.

So instead of forcing this large to do list on myself say I pick a few things like: aim to drink 4 full bottles of water a day and read a book a month. All manageable and simple enough to implement into my life. Good behavior will encourage and inspire other good behaviors.

5 . Find your passion project

You’re reading mine, so I guess I’m doing something right. Our first year out isn’t always going to be our first choice of what we could be doing, so keep the faith and have something you do in your downtime that helps fulfill your joy and purpose.

I get that from my blog, maybe you could try other crafts, writing, exercise, slam poetry: whatever floats your boat. The idea is to always have something that can keep you going even when everything else is hard.

The first year of anything is filled with awkward moments, lessons learned, and questionable choices but it’s all necessary for us to keep growing into the the kick ass person we are. Stay strong babes and power through, we’ve been around the freshman block before and we can do it again.

x

Lillie

Living with Discontent

Today is the day I have everything figured out. At least, it was supposed to be.

It’s been 4 months since I’ve graduated college and this transitional stage has left me feeling like I belong nowhere and everywhere all at the same time.

What I’ve found is that everyone loves to give sage advice on your life when you’re having an existential crisis. It’s exhausting having everyone tell me, “You’re doing exactly what you need to be doing”, “You’ll be just fine, everything works out”, and ”Enjoy this time, you have the rest of your life to work.” Like Jesus Christ, I’m an intelligent kid and I’m well aware of these “truths,” but it doesn’t make me less content with my current status change from student to unemployed.

9BE87DF7-C9D3-4FE7-B52B-8E7975BD676B.JPEGDuring my summer of traveling, I thought I would have some grand epiphany on the Great Wall of China about my future career path, home, and lifestyle. I set myself up with a deadline that after my travels, I would know what my next steps where going to be.

Hence today, as I have just gotten back from my cross country road trip and, therefore, is the first day of the great unknown of what’s to come.

I’ve always been someone who stays busy and involved, knowing the general outline of my weeks, months, and years. College gave me the structure for my life and now that I am left with no structure or clear paths, this freedom can often feel more restricting than liberating.

Understand, however, that this crisis is not a panic and that my feelings are not stress as much as discontent.

I’m very uncomfortable right now.

And that is ok. Because I am also happy and have given myself time to experience the world, try new things, and live freely for the first time.

I initially thought I’d gain this perspective once I found my first full time job and moved to a new city. However, wanting to have my shit together is not an excuse to put my life on hold, making my happiness conditional.Processed with VSCO with q8 preset

These timelines we construct for ourselves are often fueled by other’s fears and expectations. What is sensible? What is practical? What the right move is for one is not always the right move for others. It is much easier to make a safe choice then revel in the discontent of the unknown, waiting. Don’t let these safe choices look more desirable than your actual happiness.

My next steps are something I think a lot about and that gives me a decent amount of anxiety, but I also know that actively pursuing things I enjoy and living my life authentically will lead me to the places I should be.

It’s a beautiful practice of patience and faith in your own intuition, but I am learning to just “be” in the discomfort, working with it and not against it.

x,

Lillie