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.