In Transit

My search for purpose, employment and so many other things life has to offer occurs within unavoidable periods of transition. In most cases, the shift is both physical and mental. Physically moving the things that I need to live is an exhausting feat that a popular phrase compares to having a child and burying a loved one. For the past five years, with the help of my alma mater’s Co-op and Dialogue programs, I’ve physically moved my belongings and myself across continents about 5 times. This doesn’t count my endless moves from New York to Boston. Whilst I’ve been blessed to have experienced the opportunity to attend college and travel extensively during that time; I’ve had an unnerving feeling of instability before I ever stepped foot onto campus. I’m no army brat, but I’ve seen my fair share of moves, more than five before starting university.

The number of times I’ve transported what I considered my life, my things, from somewhere that felt like home to somewhere else began to take an emotional toll after my third move. Take a moment and think about the items you’ve accumulated that make up your life. The things that make it easier, stuff you like to collect, objects you’ve learned to live with; all with their own special place in your space. Now imagine having to pack them away. Categorize them. Place them in a hierarchy of importance. What does your new home have space for? What get tossed in the trash? Be sure not to leave anything behind!

I’d just about reached my mental limit with moving when it was time for me to start college. Up until then, I’d lost so many things I once loved and ranted about it every time I remembered. A favorite pair of shoes, childhood teddy bear, jewelry, diaries, etc. all went missing in the big move abyss. I believed my move to Boston for college would be my last (not including room changes) for the next five years or so.

Life had other plans.

I didn’t start college with the idea that I would participate in international study programs, but they became my passion. Studying and working in France, Brazil, Ghana, Singapore and England were never apart of my plan, which was to have a normal college experience in Boston and nowhere else. Living and learning abroad gives me a feeling that still can’t be matched by anything else I’ve experienced. However, in order to follow and fulfill my passion, transit is key.

This was a hard idea to comprehend and accept at first, but I’ve managed to cope and adjust accordingly. This is not to say that I feel any less anxiety or anger when I lose things in a move, or feel down about not having a space of my own to settle down at the moment. However, my coping curve has smoothed. I’ve begun to accept any bumps in the road as emotional collateral damage in exchange for living my dream.

Although transition is harrowing and endlessly frustrating, I’ve come to realize that its an unavoidable symptom of change. Change is difficult, but it’s also necessary for growth. My experience living in transit for as long as I can remember, my constant movement can be seen as hopeless instability, or endless growth leading me to my true self.

I choose to believe the latter.

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N.U.inspired

NUin PhotoI’m happy to announce I’ve secured a position with my alma mater’s N.U.in program as an international student advisor. It serves as an alternative for admitted freshman students with a January start date to spend their first semester abroad instead of, well… doing nothing I suppose. It is a unique opportunity for students to mature outside of their comfort zone and engage with the culture of their host country through service learning and college level courses. I’ve been assigned to the London program with the Foundation for International Education partner institution.

I’ve known about it for a while, but I had reservations and mulled over my decision to accept the opportunity. Given its temporary nature, fear of missing out on opportunities within my field took over. (This feeling is described in short as ‘FOMO’ © Dena Cox) During my deliberation, I continued to apply for full time employment and hoped for a sign that would point me back to my degree and experience in journalism. Needless to say, that didn’t happen and I’m only days away from embarking on my own alternative path to full time post-grad employment.

While I waited for the journalism job gods to get back to me, there were more signs from the higher ed field that revealed themselves. My involvement with Northeastern’s International Co-op department and extensive global education experiences scored me an invitation to the launch of the university’s newest and most ambitious fundraising initiative entitled Empower: The Northeastern Campaign.

Administrators, faculty, students and friends of the university experienced the power of philanthropy firsthand. Donations sponsored the lavish celebration of student and faculty innovation. Guests participated in interactive exhibitions that included a game station, marine life petting zoo, a veggie truck entrepreneurial venture and a global lounge, along with exhibits of various departments’ research and accomplishments. The event required guests to engage, ask questions and leave with a better understanding of the concepts, similar to what Northeastern demands of students.

Attending the Empower launch gave me a meaningful glimpse into various successful and rewarding careers in higher education. From development officers forging a path for the next generation of students to achieve their goals, to event and business staff coordinating event logistics, to the various academic advisors and directors parading their departments’ initiatives and achievements.

Starting my post-grad journey with a program like N.U.in is as exciting as it is unnerving. It’s frightening to think that I’ve spent a mortgage on a degree in a field I may not end up in. However, this position will allow me to explore global education, student affairs and advising while developing professional skills and networks. I’m also beginning to realize that I didn’t just earn a degree; I left Northeastern with much more. Apart from a first-rate education, I graduated with valuable personal and professional experience, a global perspective and a vast network of accomplished professionals and pioneers to tap into at a moment’s notice.

Northeastern has inspired and empowered me to abandon my fear of failure, embrace opportunity and think beyond self-imposed and physical barriers.

Whom or what inspires and/or empowers you?

Empower photo(Photo row at Empower: The Northeastern Campaign launch)

Out of Nowhere

This post is coming from a place of disorientation to put it simply. I’m no stranger to change and the emotions that come with it. Coming from a background void of comfort or stability, I’ve grown accustomed to moving around and adapting accordingly. However, as a person who is fond of preparation for the future, nothing could prepare me for what I can only describe as the “free fall” I’m experiencing post graduation. 

Friends and relatives try their best to console my fear of failure and disappointment citing that I’ve just begun my journey. They encourage me to enjoy this time off and not to worry so much since I’m still young. While this is true, it’s hard to acknowledge their optimism when it feels like my life is at a standstill. Having to revert back to depending on my parents for the basics is humbling to say the least. 

In times like these, I obsess over applications and being as productive as possible. I’ve started to measure the events of the day against how many applications I’ve submitted. This is wildly unhealthy, I know. But it seems like the only way to cope. I hope to shake off this feeling soon, hopefully with a prospect of full time employment. 

To other recent grads who are feeling similar pressure, you’re not alone. One of the reasons I’ve started this blog is to share our collective struggle to find both purpose and employment in this recovering economy and period of change.

May the job gods be with you.