My Post-Grad Experience: Abandoning the safety net of love

For months, I’ve been struggling to write a blog post about what I’ve learned since I graduated from college (15 months ago—I still can’t believe it). I came up with a draft about how I felt stagnant for months, worked in retail for half a year, and interned at a local newspaper (but didn’t get any experience with hard news; even if I did cover hard news, I live in a small college town where the most exciting event is the Farmer’s Market—but hey, the white peaches and freshly-popped kettle corn are amazing).

I realized I couldn’t produce any meaningful writing because I hadn’t really suffered or taken any risks—I didn’t get a low-paying entry-level job in my field, move out on my own and struggle to pay rent in a tiny apartment in San Francisco with 5 roommates, or spend a year teaching English in Thailand (all of which are paths that people I know took after graduating). I also hadn’t progressed much either. I didn’t even bother to apply to graduate school (let alone establish connections with my professors or try hard enough to get straight A’s) or apply to any jobs at all for months.

I settled into the uncertainty of post-grad life that had stressed me out all of senior year, but I got too comfortable. I lived in an upper middle class suburb with my parents, I lifted weights three times a week in our home gym, I binge-watched way too many new shows (I’m ashamed to admit I spent two weeks doing nothing but watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians), and my only friends were my kid siblings and my cats. It felt like college never happened at all. I looked through my old photos obsessively and posted them on Instagram, not ready to move on from the past (the #tbt sadness is real). I missed the freedom to be out at 2am without having to answer to anyone (but to be honest, I spent most of college in my room watching Netflix), I missed being able to hike alone to the beach, I missed having friends I could watch scary movies or dance in clubs with, I missed walking around campus and feeling like I belonged when I ran into people I knew. I missed going to meetings and having discourse and educational presentations about social justice issues, and believing that the non-profit organizing I did mattered. I missed having the drive and pain to write raw pieces about self-love and heartbreak for my blog. I missed having an identity outside of who I was when I was back home with my family.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m incredibly grateful for my parents for taking me back in after I graduated and allowing me the time to figure out my own path. I’m especially grateful for how much they supported my decision to quit my part-time job in retail to focus on writing a self-help e-book. I know I’m very privileged, and the fact that my biggest problem is that my life is too comfortable has held me back from writing anything at all. I almost feel as though I don’t deserve to share my voice because my lack of struggle makes me boring and whiny.

Maybe I’m a masochist, but I’ve always believed that pain creates the most meaningful art (my late grandfather, the artist Jose Babauta thought this too). I started Lovescrewed post-heartbreak and my most powerful pieces were about jealousy, breakups, and an abusive relationship. But since I got into a healthy long-term relationship (damn you Nate for making me so happy!) and moved back in with my parents, I’ve been fortunate enough not to have any hardships to write about, besides my long distance relationship (which isn’t that bad either—we only live an hour-long plane ride away and visit each other every couple weeks).

About a month ago, I decided to apply for a job at the newspaper on Guam where my great-grandfather, grandmother, and dad all have worked. Guam has always been like a security blanket for me—I know that if I absolutely can’t find work or can’t afford to live in California, I can always come back home and look for a job. My worst case scenario is to return to a beautiful tropical island where all my childhood friends, extended family, and goddaughter live, and I can get paid to write (yeah, my life sucks). After a few interviews and my first time negotiating salary (I’m a big girl now!), I landed my first adult job, as a fourth-generation legacy at the newspaper that brought my family to the island in the first place. My heart swells just thinking about spending time with my baby first cousins, living at my grandma’s house where her backyard is literally a waterfall, reconnecting with all my friends from growing up, and most importantly eating at Jamaican Grill and Capricciosa (the list of foods I want to eat on Guam is much longer than the ones of people I want to see and activities).

Despite all the awesome positives of moving back to the motherland, I’ve been staying up past 3am and sleeping in almost till noon—as I always do when I’m depressed or going through a big life change. Taking this reporter job and living in paradise for a while seems like a no-brainer, but all I can think about is saying goodbye to my four parents, my younger sisters and brothers, and my boyfriend of two and a half years. I know my family will be here when I come back (not knowing exactly when I’ll return makes me feel even more anxious) but I’ve never gone so far away from them for so long. It hurts just thinking that I could possibly lose a whole year of my little sister and brother’s lives, and they’ve already lost their baby voices and are catching up to me in shoe sizes. And it scares the shit out of me thinking that I could risk ruining a happy relationship with the love of my life for a job I don’t even know if I’ll enjoy yet.

The fear of change and loss is so crippling to me that when I first got my job offer to stay for a year, my first instinct was to say no and to just take my safer path and become a teacher. I could probably be happy getting my master’s degree, living in Southern California, and teaching middle school, but my dad asked me: which option excites you more? Undoubtedly, the idea of working in journalism and getting out of my comfort zone (admittedly, into another comfort zone, but without the safety of my immediate family with me) is more exciting to me. Settling into my backup plan, albeit a great one, feels like I’m lying to myself about what I really want. I told him that I felt selfish for choosing a job halfway around the world, especially while I’m in a relationship, but he told me that it hurts to feel like I’m not choosing my partner, but it would be even worse not to choose myself.

I don’t know if this job will make me happy. I don’t know if I’ll love living back on Guam as much as I’ve romanticized it in my head after being away for the past six years. I don’t know if my relationship will stay just as solid while we’re 17 time zones apart. But I do know that if I stay comfortable, if I let my parents take care of me forever, if I don’t take a chance on myself and do what scares me (but ultimately excites me), I won’t get back the drive to write like I had before. I’m afraid of losing the safety net of my parents and the security in my romantic relationship, but I’m even more terrified of how much of myself I’ve lost since college—the pieces of my individuality that keep me staring at old photos of myself from when I knew who I was—and how much more of myself I could lose if I don’t take action by pushing myself to grow more. Things could go wrong, but for the first time in over a year, I’m betting on myself.

Why Getting into a Long Distance Relationship is the Worst Thing You Can Do in Your Teens

This post is an excerpt from a self-help e-book I’m writing about long distance relationships.

The reason I started blogging in the first place was because I felt like I had gone through so much in my own relationships, so I wanted to put advice out to everyone that I wish I could have given my past self. And if I could borrow the DeLorean from Back to the Future to save young Chloe from making the biggest mistakes of her life, I’d go back to my senior year of high school and then my freshman year of college to urge her not to get into two separate long distance relationships (why didn’t she learn from her mistakes the first time?!).

The big sister personality in me makes me want to save everyone I possibly can from the kind of heartbreak I went through when I was a teenager, because the bad things that happen to you as a teen can stick with you and haunt the rest of your future relationships (if you let them). I wrote this chapter specifically to let any teen readers who might be considering long distance know how difficult it is—and more importantly, to try to tell you why I think it’s a terrible idea, even if you go into your LDR with the best intentions and are madly in love with your girlfriend or boyfriend.

I’m going to get very real with you and tell you that you’re almost guaranteed to break up if you get into a long distance relationship in your teens, and more often than not, young people’s LDRs end up bitterly.

As a teen, you’re probably more insecure now than you will be when you’re an adult—not being very confident in yourself is less than ideal for a relationship, and is even worse for a relationship when you’re far apart. Although girls nowadays seem way more put together than my friends and I were in high school (I barely knew how to put on eyeliner, let alone how to contour my face or put on false eyelashes, and we had no filters besides generic websites like PhotoBucket!), teenage years are often filled with a lot of insecurities about looks and self-worth in general. Even if you’re using MAC, your foundation right now isn’t going to be great (a little makeup humor for you!). At this point, both of you probably haven’t really tried dating anyone else yet either, and I’m sorry to say it, but this could make you or your partner more likely to cheat. If your partner cheats on you, it’s probably not because you weren’t good enough for them, but that they haven’t tried being with anyone else besides you yet (or they still want to try dating everyone they can).

This could go both ways too, where you feel like you want to hook up with other people around you, or you start crushing on someone new, because it’s natural to want to try new things when you’re young. Instead of hating yourself for wanting to explore or potentially hating your partner for fooling around behind your back, it might be a better idea to just let each other go so you both have the freedom to do what you want, especially since you won’t be able to see each other anyway—and what’s the point of being in a relationship when you’re young if you can’t do the basics together like going to the movies, going on dates, or just hanging out (not to mention satisfying the urges of your ~raging hormones~).

When I was in LDRs when I was 17, then 18-19, my then-boyfriends hadn’t dated (and just as importantly, hadn’t had sex with) anyone else before me, so they ended up talking to a lot of different girls behind my back while we were dating. While I was an ocean away from them in California, they felt free to flirt with girls through Facebook messaging and one of them went on dates with other girls while we were still in a LDR (he even sexted someone else).

Five years later, I don’t have any hard feelings toward them because, although nobody should be excused for being a huge asshole to the person they’re dating, I know we were only 17 and didn’t know better. My ex was too immature to grow some cojones and tell me he wanted to see other people, and I was so naive that I thought I could be with my first love for the rest of my life.

In my ex’s defense, it’s difficult to commit to one person when you haven’t even seen for yourself what else is out there—especially when you’re only 16 years old and haven’t made out with more than one person in your life. Even though he shouldn’t have had a bunch of side baes behind my back (that slang didn’t even exist at the time; I’m old), I now understand why he would want to date around when we couldn’t see each other.

You can definitely be in love with someone while they’re around you and have a meaningful relationship, but it’s hard to keep it going when you’re both going through so much in your own lives apart from each other. When you’re young, it’s even harder to keep your connection strong when you’re separated because you’ll be growing and changing so much (especially if you’re going to college).

A lot of teens (my younger self included) get into LDRs going from their senior year of high school to college because it’s so hard to say goodbye, and if you’re in love, you want to keep this good thing going for as long as you possibly can. It’s important to follow your heart and do what feels right to you, but your heart will thank you later if you don’t drag out your relationship with someone because you’re too afraid to make a clean break or too naive to think you’ll still be with someone you chose when you were 17 when you’re in your late 20s.

What you want when you’re 18 (in life, but in this case in a partner) isn’t going to be the same as what you want when you’re 22, or 26, or 30. Before you really commit (please please please for the love of god, do not get married) remember that you are young and will definitely change, and your tastes will change. Think about your taste in music when you were 14, or even 16. It’s not the same as your taste in music at 18, right? Unless you’re still into Green Day and My Chemical Romance, or other variations of the middle-school-punk genre. If your taste in something as important as music changes drastically in a few years, imagine how much your taste in romantic partners will change (this will likely change even more and is way more important).

Bonding over things like going to raves together (contrary to popular belief, couples who rave together do not necessarily stay together), or both being obsessed with The Office, or flirting in Trig for the whole school year won’t be reasons for you to stick together for the years to come. And 22-year-old you will want to kick 18-year-old present-day you’s ass for wasting time on someone who won’t be worth months pining over each other in a LDR, once you’re graduating from college and looking back on everything you wish you could re-do about your glory days (geez Chloe, tell us how you really feel!).

Also, you might want to ask yourself why you want to get into this serious of a commitment now when there’s so much to see and explore while you’re young. I know how annoying it is when older people tell you this (I hated how condescending it was when family members talked to me about relationships while I was in high school or early college, and how it made me feel like my feelings didn’t matter), but it’s true—you really do have the rest of your life to settle down and be monogamous if that’s what you want, so why start so young when you haven’t even figured out what you want for yourself yet?

Right now, you can save yourself the trouble of getting cheated on, or ruining someone’s life (not to sound melodramatic), or wasting the most fun time of your life worrying about your long distance boyfriend or girlfriend; just let this relationship go peacefully. If it turns out that you’re both single at some other point in your lives and live in the same area, then that’s awesome and you can give it another shot! But right now, as someone who has been in two messy LDRs in her teens, I can tell you that the best thing for both of you is to just live your lives separately and enjoy yourselves while you’re young—trust me when I say that you have plenty of time for grown-up relationships, cheesy declarations of love on Instagram, and all the serious commitment you could ever want in the future. What you won’t have in the future is the chance to do whatever the hell you want whenever you want, and live out your bildungsroman as your own person, without being tied down.

I’m sure I sound like a broken record and probably pretty cynical too, but I promise you I don’t hate love! And even if I don’t know you, I care about your happiness and personal growth very much. I don’t have many regrets in life, and I know if I went back and made better decisions, I might not have grown into the person I am today, but I do think that I could have avoided a lot of emotional stress, tension with my family (arguing about how serious my LDR had become while I was only 19), and trust issues I have now because I had bad experiences with long distance while I was younger. I also think I could have enjoyed myself more in college (and when I moved from Guam to California in high school) without having to worry about my basically virtual boyfriend. The worst part about long distance is that if you let it, it can make you live more for someone you’ll rarely ever see, and neglect the people who are actually around you, and all the awesome things about where you are in the present. Long distance usually only works out and is bearable if you’re able to come back to each other at least semi-regularly and know that you’re going to live near each other eventually, but when you’re in high school or college and one of you moves away, you don’t have the luxury of knowing when you’ll finally be together again (and might not have the freedom or money to visit each other enough).

You might be thinking, “oh, she just went through two crappy relationships and my boyfriend/girlfriend and I aren’t like that!” Even if you two are cuter together than Alexis Ren and Jay Alvarrez, the strain and stress that comes with a LDR can drastically change your relationship. Your dynamic will be totally different when you go from seeing each other every day at school to having to rely on Skype dates (while getting cut off every few minutes through the spotty Wi-Fi connection in the dorms) and texts to keep you together. Everyone thinks they’re going to be the exception to the rule, but it’s really hard for any couple to still feel close to each other when they’re separated for weeks or months at a time.

I know how heartbreaking and terrifying it can be to say goodbye to someone you love so much (and I don’t think you ever love again as intensely as you do when you’re a teenager, so it’s even harder), but if you really love this person (and really love and want to take care of yourself), the best thing for both of you ultimately is to try to be happy with all the memories and good times you’ve had together, but agree that your happiness and futures are more important than hanging onto a relationship that will almost definitely end eventually. It’s going to hurt like hell, but after many pints of Ben & Jerry’s and binge-watching Gilmore Girls a few times over, in the long run this will be the best decision for both of you.

How to Deal with Instagram-related Jealousy and Insecurities

Let me just start off by saying that in my logical, reasonable mind, I trust my partner with all my heart. He’s been perfect, never makes me feel worried about the possibility of him cheating, and reassures me that he cares about me by texting me constantly throughout the day and giving me his full attention when we’re together.

But no matter how much I love and trust him, the less rational part of my mind still worries occasionally (which I think is natural for everyone). When I look through my Instagram newsfeed when I’m bored, I’m afraid I’ll see that he liked a hot girl’s picture and I’ll discover that the happiness I had was all temporary. It’s like I’m just waiting for him to prove that my worst fears are true: that love doesn’t work out and that I shouldn’t trust anyone. I feel incredibly petty worrying about something so superficial as a “like” on Instagram—I know deep down that it’s 100% harmless. And I can’t really get mad at him because I follow way more pretty girls and models than he does, and he never says anything about it (but in my defense, I follow them 50% for inspiration and self-love by seeing more beautiful brown women who make me feel better about myself by extension… 50% because they’re hot as hell and I like to admire them).

When I see he “likes” some girls’ photos, I get this painful feeling in my gut. I imagine him fantasizing about how much happier he would be if they were his girlfriends instead of me. I worry that he is comparing me, with the mole on my face, the rolls on my stomach when I bend over, my meager B cups, to this image of a girl with a perfectly contoured face and a push-up bra.

I know none of this is true. Anyone who uses Instagram scrolls through basically mindlessly, “liking” pictures in a second, then instantly forgetting the previous post once it leaves the reach of their thumb. These worries are part of a story I’ve made up in my head that is a manifestation of all my insecurities and trust issues I’ve developed from past relationships, with exes who had wandering eyes. Seeing the person you love give validation and attention (even in the smallest form, a “like” on social media) feels like a betrayal, in a world where a large part of the construction of self-worth relies on how many “likes” you get and who gives them to you—as much as we’d like to think we’re disconnected from social media, it affects everyone.

When I stop and think about it, my worries have nothing to do with my partner. He could tell me he loves me every day, never hang out with any other girls, do literally everything right, and I still would feel this way (and it makes me feel terrible that I do).

At our very core, when we feel jealousy, it’s not about our partners being disloyal about something so small—it’s about our deep need to be loved and to be given attention and loyalty from the person we love. The jealousy stems from the small child in each of us who needs love and worries that the flaws we see in ourselves will prevent other people from loving us (sorry, I know I sound Zen-y like my dad here, but it’s true).

The best solution when you’re feeling insecure about your partner “liking” other people’s posts is to realize and remind yourself that your relationship with a person is much more than what goes on in social media, and shouldn’t be defined by “likes,” especially if it’s with someone you have a deep connection with personally. You shouldn’t compare one “like” on a picture to the weeks/months/years of getting to know each other that you’ve had with your partner (and if he/she really wanted to be with that other person instead of you, don’t you think they would?).

Don’t compare yourself to others, especially not you in real life, right now, vs a staged photo. I feel like shit when I compare myself to a picture of a girl with her makeup done, while I’m lying in bed wearing my oversized “I [heart] gays” t-shirt and no bra. Your partner doesn’t love you because you look on point all the time, they love you because you have a real connection and because of your personality. Plus there’s no way those girls online look like that 24/7. Instagram is performance (repeat that to yourself 100x every day and you might turn out okay).

Some steps to take when you get into a negative mindset with these insecurities:

Get off Instagram! Be productive, take a walk and enjoy nature and keep your phone on “do not disturb” if you use it to listen to music, interact with the people who are around you in real life, work on a project. Create, don’t get into a negative spiral.

Do something that makes you feel good about yourself. Don’t base your self-worth off of whether a person double taps on an image of you. Remind yourself why you are a good person, why you are beautiful, and why you are attractive and worthy of love—most of all, your own love.

What I do:

    • lift weights (makes me feel strong and proud of myself)
    • go for a walk (sunshine makes me happy, gets my sun-kissed skin back)
    • put on a little makeup or curl my hair (doesn’t take that much effort and ends up making me really happy and feel pretty)
    • wear something I wouldn’t normally wear (anything besides work/bum clothes)
    • write (makes me feel smart and capable)
    • tidy my room (makes my living situation more comfortable)

Also, it’s hard to be in a happy relationship with someone who is insecure and doesn’t see their own self-worth (me at times, in this case). You need to remind yourself why you are valuable as an individual and as a partner, both for your own mental health and for the sake of your relationship.

Talk to someone (or at least write it out to yourself). Saying your fears out loud makes them sound a lot less real and will show you they aren’t actual reasons to worry. It helps a lot to get out of your own negative self-talk and train of thought if you have to explain it to someone else, and they can tell you you have nothing to worry about.

Make a list of things to be grateful for in your life. You have more going on for yourself than just one person, anyway!

Make a list of ways your partner has shown they love you. If you’re in a good relationship, these will outweigh the minor slight of Instagram “likes” by far. After I write my lists, I feel so much happier, more in love with my partner, and appreciative of what a good person he is.

Overall, the best thing you can do is to just not look at the feed.

The urge to prevent your partner from looking at anyone else but you (which is impossible) is possessive, and makes me feel small for being controlling in that way. If you want to keep your relationship healthy, you need to just trust that your partner is a good person who does not want to hurt you.

Even more importantly, you need to trust that you are a good person who deserves to be with someone who loves you and will be loyal to you (even if you don’t always believe it, it’s true). The stress of stalking your partner online constantly is bad for the skin anyway, so don’t detract from your physical beauty, and in turn the source of your value as a person (just kidding! internal beauty all the way! *smirking emoji*).

Rituals of Self-Care in My Post-Grad Life

If it wasn’t already apparent in my other posts or depressing Facebook statuses, I haven’t been having the best time in my post-grad life. Though I am fortunate enough to have my parents support me and let me live with them while I figure out what the next phase of my life will look like, it’s a struggle every day for me to be happy. I often have anxiety attacks and breakdowns worrying about how I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life, for the first time in my life. It’s difficult, but I’ve been trying to be patient and gentle with myself as I’m going through this confusing in-between stage. I’m trying to focus on taking care of my physical and mental health while struggling with post-grad depression.


When I lived in an apartment with my friends and had to take care of my own meals for the first time, I spent most of my grocery money on sour patch kids and party-sized bags of hot cheetos. I ate at McDonald’s or Costco at least a few times a week because they were a 5-minute walk from my place. Eventually, I got sick often and couldn’t get the taste of salt out of my mouth for days.

Since I moved back home, I made a few changes to my diet. I stopped letting myself eat so much dairy because I became lactose intolerant, and tried to just push through the pain whenever I had a milkshake before. I created a ritual of drinking tea in the morning, which makes me happy by doing this small act of self-care. I started switching out sugary cereals for oatmeal for breakfast. If I add some walnuts, cinnamon, and banana slices to it, it’s a lot more filling and tastier than cheap cereal. I also eat a lot less junk food, which is a luxury because now I have my parents to either cook or provide food for me, and don’t have to fend for myself like I did while I was in college.


This is what made me feel the best about myself as a person since I graduated. For my whole life I felt like I was weak and couldn’t lift anything heavy or protect myself. I saw myself as frail and clumsy. And while I am still a bit of a klutz, I no longer see myself as a weak person. Lifting weights and seeing how much I can handle makes me realize how strong I truly am, and gives me confidence in other areas of my life. I started getting scheduled to work shifts in the back room at my retail part-time job, and before working out, I wouldn’t have thought I could hold my own in there and would have been really nervous. But since I know I can lift 100 lbs, I’m not afraid to carry heavy boxes, although I still ask for help when I need it.


I wear less makeup now that I don’t go to school—I used to wear lipstick, mascara, and do my eyebrows almost every day last school year. Living in Davis, where—let’s be real—people don’t really care about their appearance and walk around wearing spandex and North Face jackets, it’s much easier for me to let go and not keep up my appearance. I go for days now where I stay in gray thermal pajamas (much like a tribute from The Hunger Games) and don’t put effort into my looks.

However, I try to make a point every now and then (at least once or a few times a week) to do the bare minimum of curling my lashes, swishing on some mascara, and fixing my eyebrows. Taking just 10 minutes of my time makes me feel better about myself for the rest of the day.


Before I left Santa Barbara, I was worried about how I wasn’t going to have any friends when I graduated. It was scary to think that I would go from having all my closest friends live within walking distance of me, to having nobody to hang out with when I moved back home with my parents. When I moved to Davis in 2010, I came to a new high school during my senior year not knowing anyone, and spent the year eating lunch alone and reading Harry Potter or studying for the SAT. I dreaded coming back to this, especially since my new skill for making so many friends in college had become one of the qualities I liked best about myself.

While I enjoyed the fact that I couldn’t walk through campus without seeing at least 5 friendly faces, I did miss my family terribly sometimes. Moving back home gave me the opportunity to spend time with my kid siblings, who are now my best friends since I graduated. Driving my 17 year old brother home from cross country practice, we got to talk about his feelings about going to college and growing up, which I’m grateful for because we barely spoke when I was in college (besides a few short texts now and then about Game of Thrones). Helping my 9 year old sister write her blog posts, watching Tangled with her, and cuddling makes me happy and fulfilled with my social life in a different way from hanging out with my college friends did. Being back home gives me the chance to reconnect with my brothers and sisters and with my identity as an older sister and mentor.

Reading List for 2016

Seeing as I didn’t finish a single book for pleasure this year, this list is pretty ambitious. In my defense, I did have a lot of reading to do for school and I also started a lot of books and read many of them about halfway through.

I doubt I’ll read every book on this list, but here are some that I’m excited to start (and hopefully finish):

    • Why Not Me? – Mindy Kaling. As per my mom’s recommendation, I borrowed this book from the library and read a couple of her short essays on the last day before I had to return it on a 7-day loan. I wish I’d started reading it earlier because her writing style is personal and funny, and her sense of voice is great. Reading her writing makes me want to write and develop my voice to be as good as hers.
    • Modern RomanceAziz Ansari. I loved Master of None and his stand-up, so I figure this book will be a fun read and insightful.
    • The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath. I’m ashamed to admit I was supposed to read this for an English class and never got around to it, but I liked what my T.A. said about The Bell Jar in our discussion section, so I made a mental note to get around to it. Then at the end of Master of None, the quote Aziz used from the book stuck with me. Fate brought the book to me at a used book sale at the library (thank baby Jesus everyone in Davis is so well-read and discards treasures like The Bell Jar).
    • Lair of Dreams – Libba Bray. My step-mom introduced the young adult novel The Diviners to me in 2013 and I loved it. The story follows a New York City teenaged socialite in the 1920s who can touch an object and divine information about its owner, and communicate with the dead or with spirits. The sequel finally came out this year and I haven’t gotten around to reading past the first chapter.
    • Truth and Beauty – Ann Patchett. I’ve been half-reading this book for over a year now and am afraid of finishing it because I know Lucy will eventually die, and I’m not emotionally prepared for that. But reading about Ann’s (I notice I refer to her as Ann even though I refer to other writers on this list by their last names because I feel so familiar with her and her writing. Plus I was fortunate enough to meet her after a talk she held at UCSB this year!) post-grad life makes me feel more hopeful about mine. If she can become a best-selling author after having to spend an off-year waitressing at a T.G.I. Fridays after she completed her graduate writing program, then there is hope for me too. All I need now is her talent…
    • Patron Saint of Liars – Ann Patchett. I’ve read a few of her other books and her writing style is beautiful. Ann Patchett is easily my favorite fiction author.
    • One Hundred Years of SolitudeGabriel García Márquez. I picked up a copy of this at a tiny bookstore in Madrid over the summer!
    • Perfume: The Story of a Murderer – Patrick Süskind. Yet another half-finished book I have sitting in my room. I bought this one at Shakespeare and Company in Paris.
    • A Spy in the House of Love – Anaïs Nin. Love me some erotica (just kidding. Kind of). Bonus books: Delta of Venus and The Diary of Anaïs Nin.
    • The Time Traveler’s Wife Audrey Niffenegger. I’ve already read this two years ago, but it was so interesting that I’d read it again.
    • The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt. This was recommended by both my grandma and my dad, and the first chapter was immersive and emotional.
    • The Blind Assassin, The Edible Woman – Margaret Atwood. Feminism! I read an excerpt of The Robber Bride in my fairy tale literature course in 2014 and found it intriguing.
    • Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami. They say judge a book by its cover, and I do so with the unique, aesthetically pleasing artwork on Murakami’s novels. The cover of Norwegian Wood stood out to me at City Lights in San Francisco, and the first few pages hooked me.
    • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling. I’m not sure if these count because I’ve read them several times before, but they’re of my favorites and I’d love to reread them at this point in my life, and see what new meaning I can find.
    • A Casual Vacancy – J.K. Rowling. If this book isn’t about Harry as  grown-up, I’m demanding a refund.

Image credits

Goals for 2016

  1. Get a real grown-up job (making more than minimum wage, please) and hopefully in an area that interests me—anything dealing with writing.
  2. Save up enough money to feel safe living on my own and move out of my parents’ house.
  3. Read at least one book a month. This is so embarrassing as a former English major, but I barely read any books for pleasure this year (although I read long-form articles daily, so at least I’m learning…), and now that I have a lot of spare time, I can use my post-grad transitional year as an opportunity to get back into reading. I’m sure I can do this if I just go to bed a little earlier and read, or substitute an hour of reading for an hour I would’ve spent watching TV. Here’s my 2016 reading list.
  4. Keep working out at least three times a week. I’m not going to set any lofty goals for fitness that I can’t meet, but staying consistent with exercise is a difficult task in itself. Luckily my parents are all fitness nuts and lift weights with me or try to get me to run or do yoga with them.
  5. Deadlift my own body weight—which is an increasingly difficult task because the more weight I can lift, the heavier I get. I just recently started lifting 100 lbs and while I assume that’s pretty light for people featured on fitness Instagram accounts, I’m still really proud of myself for getting this far!
  6. Blog consistently throughout the year. At least one post a week would be great.
  7. Start writing a book.
  8. Spend less money on things I don’t really need. I’m going to start keeping a running Google Doc with all the items I purchase with rationalizations on why I bought them so that I can be more conscious about my spending habits—and hopefully guilt myself out of buying unnecessary things.
  9. Try to slowly transition into eating healthier. This is hard for me because I love sweets so much. I highly doubt I’ll be anyone’s vegan clean eating inspo, but I’d like to at least eat more fruits and vegetables, and a little less processed food.
  10. Spend more quality time with my younger siblings. They’re only going to be kids for a little while longer, and I want to take advantage of living near them for the first time in 4 years to hang out with them more, especially if I’m planning to move away for a job eventually.

What I would do differently if I could go back to college

Last week, I had dinner with two of my good friends from college—which was the first time I met up with any of my friends from UC Santa Barbara since I graduated in June (besides hanging out with my one friend who also lives in Davis now). One of them asked us if there was anything we would do differently if we could go back to undergrad. For the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in SB, and most of the mistakes I made turned out for the better, because (as cliche as it sounds) they helped make me who I am today. But in retrospect, there are a few things I wish could advise 18-21 year old Chloe about, and would extend this advice to anyone new to college too. Because if there’s anything I’ve learned during my few months of post-grad life, it’s that you only get to experience that part of your life once, and it can suck living the regret of knowing you could have gotten more out of that special time.

  • Branch out and join more clubs, especially starting in freshman year, or actually stick with the clubs you check out. This was probably my biggest mistake (as I wrote about in my post with advice to my 18 year old self).

  • Make use of the unique resources your school has to offer. I’ve wanted to get scuba certified for a few years and went to one class in a series offered by my school’s recreational center, but gave up after I didn’t pass the swimming test on the first try. I regret not going through with the classes or going surfing at least once, especially since I so fortunate to go to a school that was literally on the beach.
  • Put yourself outside of your comfort zone as much as possible.

  • Live as close to campus as possible. It’s a drag having to take the bus to class and either having to stay on campus all day or go back and forth and take up hours of your time.

  • Don’t just choose your acquaintances you met on your dorm floor to be your roommates for the next school year—chances are you won’t even be friends by the end of winter quarter.

  • Stop worrying about getting a boyfriend—love will find its way to you eventually. When you’re focusing on becoming the best version of yourself, people will notice and be attracted to your positivity and ambition. As soon as I stopped looking for a boyfriend and worked on figuring out who I was as an individual, that’s when I seemed to get asked out the most, and in a few months I met the guy who I would date for the next two years (and counting).

  • What you want at 18 will be completely different at 22 (and at 26, and 30, probably). When I was planning to marry my boyfriend in freshman year (I know, what was I thinking) I read this in an article and I couldn’t imagine wanting anything else. This piece of advice made more and more sense every year throughout college as I noticed myself changing as a person, and is still changing to this day. It’s hard not to, but you should try to focus on enjoying the good things you have in the present instead of constantly worrying about the future, because you’ll never enjoy yourself that way, and you’ll be disappointed when the future comes and it isn’t everything you expected.

  • Take advantage of every free event possible—and standing in line for a couple hours is worth the memories you’ll have forever of the concert you went to by waiting for those tickets. I missed out on some cool free events in my freshman year because I lived in the farthest dorm from campus and didn’t bother to go out very often.

  • Get over your lazy tendencies and go out with your friends. I barely drank at all until I actually turned 21, and even then, I hardly went out to parties or the clubs with my friends. Although I enjoyed my nights in my warm bed at night when the idea of a night of taking too many shots and vomiting outside after dancing in a room full of sweaty strangers didn’t sound appealing, the individual nights of binge-watching my favorite shows don’t stand out as clearly in my mind as the ones when I actually went out with my friends. I didn’t enjoy getting my toes stepped on by sloppy drunk girls’ stilettos on the bus home at 2am, but I do remember having fun dancing to Taylor Swift’s “22” on my birthday and the time my friend and I saw our 40-something year old Spanish professor at Tonic Nightclub.