On Post Grad


It’s surreal to think that I am closely approaching the end of my first year of post grad life. This time last year, I was anxiously preparing for my senior art show, anticipating graduation, waiting to hear back from a summer internship that would have relocated me to the East Coast, and dating some guy that I really wasn’t that interested in. To be completely honest, I was not in a good emotional and mental state of mind. Things were about to change drastically and I was very ready to leave California. The weeks leading up to my show, this internship that felt like my only avenue to take after graduating, decided to move forward with another candidate. Just like that. After 4 months of phone calls, video conferences, emails, and making it as a finalist, I got cut. The plans I had for myself were suddenly non existent and there was no back up plan. The days leading up to my show, I ended things with this guy. I felt like a real b for leading him on. To be fair, I was insecure and scared. I felt like I needed to settle for a mediocre at best connection because this was as good as it was going to get for me. Dramatic. I know. 

Here’s where things turned around. I had one of two options; mope around and be angry about my failed plans and feel sorry for myself, or suck it up, move on and take steps in bettering myself and figure out what to do next. I chose the latter. Maybe this decision was made for me, but I’d like to think that sometimes God closes the doors we’d rather take to bring us somewhere far greater than we could have ever imagined. 

That summer, I got a job at a local coffee shop, got a bowling pass, and started to plug myself in at the church I grew up at. These three things were crucial. I finally had a steady source of income and got a free coffee everyday. Honestly, I didn’t even like bowling that much. I just liked hanging out and now those guys are some of my favorite people. Then came youth camp and before I knew it, I ended up committing to serving in the high school fellowship at church. 

Within the next few months, I finally felt a sense of belonging and built a familiar and safe community of friends that I really loved. Over this last year, I was ultimately in search of independence, happiness, and security in my own self worth. I invested all my time and energy into my friends, my career, ministry and ultimately becoming someone that I was proud of being. Without going too much into the specifics, I was uninterested in being interrupted of this process or the independence I was discovering because there was simply no time for anything else and I was okay with that. 

The product of this last year are these; the friendships in my life have been the strongest and closest they’ve ever been, I landed a position at a company that I really respect and have been making really great work, I’m so much more secure and confident in who I am and what I’m capable of, and I genuinely love serving in youth ministry and getting to invest in the lives of high schoolers who are teaching me so much about having fun and being kind. 

I remember walking home from class and opening up that email and how excruciatingly painful and devastating it felt to have invested so much time only to get rejected in the end. I immediately started crying and called one of my best friends who lives in Chicago and she sat on the phone with me in my anger and frustration. Honestly, it was just a lot of tears and cursing. I remember sitting in the living room with my roommates crafting out how to break up with this guy in the most gentle way. And I remember packing up my car and moving out of the house I lived in with all my best friends in college and crying on the car ride home as ‘rivers and roads’ blasted out of the speakers. As I look back at this timeline of events, the actual moments were really hard and confusing, but I am without a doubt, so grateful that it played out in this way. I am the happiest I have ever been and God’s plan was truly far greater than I had ever imagined. Suffice to say, I’m glad I didn’t move across the country and I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be at this very moment. I know that life is full of unexpected twists and turns and maybe I’m being a little pessimistic, but a part of me is kind of bracing myself for the next stage of life. However, there’s something really beautiful and rewarding in experiencing such a wide spectrum of losses and hardship, only to find the most unfamiliar joys and celebrations in both the mundane and grandest of events. 

I’ve found some of the best joys in the most unexpected places and people this year. I look forward to another year of the unknown and landing in spaces of more self discovery and figuring life out with the best people. 

Thanks for reading, Cheers!

Catherine Li