The Danger of a Singular Identity

Originally posted on Post Grad Purpose


I am a writer. This is my identity and has been for most of my life. About a week ago, though, I began to question this.

While I am undoubtedly a writer – I’m a journalist, I write fiction, and I’m always thinking of new stories – is this really my only identity? I’ve always said that above all I’m a writer. Then someone said something to me that at first made me kind of angry.

“Writing is your job,” they said. “It’s not who you are.”

I didn’t understand this. I chose writing as my career because it’s what I love, it’s my passion. Choosing anything else would have gone against my desire to make a career out of something I truly love. Because writing is my job and my passion, I don’t always think about my life as having a work/life balance. I write at work, I write at home – it’s all the same and it’s what I like.

This isn’t about the importance of a work/life balance (I’ll save that for a future post). It’s about tying up your entire identity in one thing.

“What if you lost your ability to write?” the person had asked me.

“Impossible.”


The Met Gala was held this past Monday in New York and as he’s done the past few years, Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York took photos. A photo of Selena Gomez stood out to me, not just because I LOVE her, but because of what she said.

This really resonated with me, and not just because I’m afraid I’ll lose my ability to write or my privilege to do what I love for a living. I’m not worried that if I suddenly couldn’t write I wouldn’t know who I am. I’m worried that my existing feelings of not knowing who I am are stemming from my singular identity as a writer.

Writing is just one facet of my life, but by making it my whole life, I’m missing out on everything else. I’m denying myself the opportunity to be a more well rounded person. As a result I’ve been stressed, confused, and unsatisfied. I’m not exploring my interests and letting myself be free to try new things. I’m holding myself back.

One thing I’ve found myself doing a lot since graduating college is trying to stick myself in a box. I’ve thought that I could only be one thing or one certain way. For example, I love the ocean and marine mammals and a year or so ago I began questioning whether I should even be a journalist because of this interest. I wondered if I should try and start a new career. When I realized I couldn’t, I began to neglect the interest.

Thinking about that now, I realize how backwards that thinking is. Why can’t I be a journalist who learns about the ocean for fun and volunteers in the field in my spare time? My desire to stick with my singular identity of a writer has held me back from exploring other areas of my life.


I’ve realized that it’s not healthy to define yourself by your career. There are so many other things that make people who they are. I’ve often heard people say that when you first meet someone you shouldn’t ask what they do for work, you should ask them how they spend their time. I never truly grasped why that was so important until recently.

A career doesn’t make someone who they are. Having varied interests and personality quirks are what add up to one whole person. And it adds depth and layers to who a person is.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about who I am. Yes, I’m a writer. I’m also an ambitious, funny, and caring person who loves animals and traveling, is passionate about women’s and girls’ rights, and values friendship and being with other people.

I want to explore all these other parts of myself. I already do somewhat with volunteer work, but I never allow myself to become really invested in these interests. Whenever I’m working on a project for fun, such as painting or scrapbooking, I tend to think of it as time I’m wasting by not writing. And at that point, writing starts to seem like something I’m supposed to be doing, not something I want to be doing.

Making your career your sole identity makes your career less enjoyable. Doing any one thing all the time will make it less enjoyable. I’ve started to realize that by shifting my focus away from writing some of the time, I’ll be a better writer when I actually am writing. Not only will I be more energized by the other things going on in my life, I’ll probably have some amazing experiences to draw from.

I’m curious – what are your identities? Do you have multiple? Are they defined by personality traits, interests, social labels? Let me know ↓

The best of [April]

Originally published on Post Grad Purpose


Well, it’s May 1 (hello birthday month!) and I’ve got to say, April really flew by. I went to Florida, was published on Girlboss.com (check it out below), and fiiiiiinally launched Post Grad Purpose. I also did a lot of reading (as I tend to do), and watched/listened to some things, and I thought I’d share some of that. Check out some of my faves from the past month:

What I’ve been {watching}

  • Ingrid Nilsen So I have no idea where Ingrid Nilsen, aka my dream BFF, has been all my life, but I am so happy I finally discovered her. In case you’ve also been out of the loop, she’s a YouTuber who makes videos about beauty, fashion, and general lifestyle advice. She has a very calming presence and soothing voice (is that a weird thing to say?) and I’ve felt inspired by her to put myself out there more. Finding her channel is what motivated me to finally start this little blog.
  • Scrubs I found out a couple weeks ago that on May 2 Netflix will be removing Scrubs and I’ve been binge-watching hard to prepare for its absence. Scrubs (the most medically accurate show BTW) is hilarious and smart and dark and dramatic and it somehow pulls all of these things off perfectly. Netflix has threatened to pull it many times in the past, but fans always rally to keep it around. No word yet on what will happen this time around. *fingers crossed*

What I’ve been {reading}

  • Big Little Lies The book (and the show) everyone is talking about. Yes, I jumped on the bandwagon, and honestly, I don’t even care. This book was amazing! Do yourself a favor and read it ASAP.
  • The Big Life As a former subscriber of Seventeen magazine, you better believe I was all over this book by it’s past editor, Ann Shoket. It’s a career advice book for millennials that acknowledges how stressful and chaotic post grad life is (HELLO!) – Shoket’s advice: “Embrace the mess.” [Full review coming soon]
  • Selena Gomez’s Vogue cover story I have always LOVED Selena Gomez and one of the reasons why is because of how real she is. Her April cover story in Vogue is no exception. Selena speaks candidly about her mental health issues, which I think is pretty inspiring for other twenty-somethings who feel alone in their struggles with pressure and stress.

What I’ve been {listening to}

  • Ladies Who Lunch I know I already mentioned Ingrid Nilsen, but hey, finding her YouTube channel led me to finding her podcast and I’m hooked. I’ve never really been into podcasts before, but this one has changed everything. It’s by Ingrid and her friend/fellow YouTuber Cat Valdez (who I’m not super crazy about, but Ingrid balances the show out) and they talk about, well, pretty much everything. They tackle social issues, relationships, personal identities, and a lot of other things affecting people in their twenties.
  • The Moana soundtrack on repeat Who says post grads can’t love Disney? The Moana soundtrack is straight fire 🔥 🔥 🔥

Post Grad Reads

{Best & Worst} of Post Grad Life

Originally published on Post Grad Purpose


Like all things, post grad life has pros and cons. When it’s good, everything’s fine. You paid your rent on time, your boss praised you in front of your coworkers, and you nailed your meal prep Sunday night. You’ve got this adulting thing figured out.

When it’s bad, though, it’s bad. You stayed up all night stressing about whether you chose the right career path, you got a parking ticket, and your mom finally turned your old bedroom into a dog room (I’m not kidding). You feel lost, unimportant, and more stressed than ever.

I’ve found that the good and bad of post grad life ebb and flow. The challenges lead to new realizations and the hardships have surprising resolutions. Here’s the best and worst of post grad life:

Best

  • Independence. Sorry to those still living with the rents, but for the rest of us, post grad life means FREEDOM. You make the rules, not mom and dad or your college hall director.
  • No more studying. Speaking of freedom… Your time is now yours. Yeah, you need to punch in for that 9 to 5, but nights and weekends are yours. So sleep a little more, plan a weekend get-away, or start working on that side hustle.
  • Money, money, money. With that 9 to 5 comes the oh-so-glorious paycheck. In college you got paid minimum wage to work at the campus bookstore. Now with every direct deposit you’re seeing the payoff (literally) of the degree you worked so hard to get.
  • Hello friends. New city and new job means new friends. It’s hard at first, but trust me, you will meet new people. Go to events, ask the girl one cubicle down to grab coffee, or hit up a college acquaintance you know lives nearby.
  • Company happy hours. If you work at the right place, this is a thing. And if you work at a good place, they’ll pick up the tab.
  • You, meet you. This may be super cheesy, but probably the best part of post grad life is that you will learn a TON about yourself. Your interests and ways of thinking will expand, you’ll overcome some tough times, and you’ll grow and develop as a person.

Worst

  • Ugh, bills. Ok, so I know I said you’ll finally be making some money, but guess where it’s going? Even thinking about seeing the electric company’s logo on the top left corner of that envelope every month makes me cringe.
  • Student loans. Like bills, but worse. When that grace period ends, be warned – the student loan bills come at you fast.
  • Cooking for one. Is there a sadder phrase in the English language? From cooking too much and then eating alone, it’s not too much fun. Luckily, it gets easier as you go.
  • Loss of community. One of the hardest things to adjust to post-college is the loss of community. College is a little bubble filled with things to do and people to hang out with. The second you get that diploma, your safety net falls away.
  • What to do, what to do? The stress of trying to figure out what to do with your life is literally the worst. I can’t even tell you how many hours I’ve spent having mental breakdowns over this.

That may have ended on a bit of a depressing note, but one of the reasons I started Post Grad Purpose is to talk about all this. I plan to cover pretty much every above bullet in a future post, even the not-so-fun stuff. Like, for real, does anyone like cooking for one??

Anything I missed? Let me know in the comments ↓

Purpose vs. Paycheck: How to Strike a Balance

Originally published on Post Grad Purpose


Ever since I was little I always said I would never take a job just for the money. Case in point, I am now a newspaper reporter (and broke af). My dad would always tell me I should be a doctor or a lawyer, but those fields never appealed to me.

“But think of how rich you’d be!” my dad would say.

“Think of how unhappy I’d be,” I would reply.

For me it’s always been more important to be happy than rich. Not that I’m not trying to sound morally superior or anything. It’s just that whenever I would imagine the long, grueling hours a doctor works or the technical, legal jargon lawyers read all day, I would cringe. I knew neither of those careers would bring me happiness. Writing, though, that’s always made me happy. The reason it makes me happy – it means something to me.

There’s definitely a trend among millennials to value passion and purpose over a big, fat paycheck. Obviously there are still plenty of young people trying to climb the corporate the ladder, but there are also a lot of recent college grads forging their own paths. We understand that life is about more than being a slave to your cubicle.

I’ve always been drawn to stories about people who found their calling and were passionate about their work. When someone is passionate about something, it radiates out of them. That passion is what makes a bad day at work bearable. You can manage the stress because you love what you’re doing. And when you’re passionate about your job or career, it shouldn’t always feel like work. I don’t mind hard work, but I want to be invested in it. I want to know there’s meaning behind what I’m doing.

I would never want a job that sucked the happiness out of my life. I truly don’t understand the point. Now I know that some people need to take whatever job they can get. This isn’t what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the people who set themselves on a career path despite having no interest in the field. The people who are purely looking to make as much money as possible despite the effect it has on their emotional and mental well being.

Unfortunately, some people find themselves in situations where their job or career field is making them miserable and they want out. Or, they follow their dreams and wind up unable to pay their bills each month. Neither of these situations are ideal, but I think they can be remedied with a little side work and a leap of faith.

If you’re in a career you hate wishing you could go back to college with a do-over in a major you’re passionate about, first of all, don’t beat yourself up. This is where the side hustle and volunteering come in. Doing either will give you valuable skills and connections to make a career change. (More on both of these topics in later blog posts, I promise.)

The side hustle is also ideal if you’re chasing your dreams and falling short on rent. And it’s important to be realistic. I want to be an author, but I’m not forgoing a steady job so I can work on my novel all day. Sometimes you have to pay your dues and put in the work so you can get where you want to be in life.

I think living a life with meaning is so important because if you’re not striving to do the things you care about and things that bring you happiness, what are you doing? Money won’t give your life meaning, and to be cliche, it won’t buy you happiness. Doing work that gives your life purpose is key and I’m glad I’m in a cohort of post grads that agree.

Learning to Take More Chances

Originally published on Post Grad Purpose


You know that feeling you get when you have an idea in your head that just won’t go away? It keeps coming back to you no matter how many times you try to brush it off. You know it’s something good, but the fear of the unknown keeps you from pursuing it.

That’s what Post Grad Purpose is for me. It’s an idea I got almost two years ago that I’ve been toying with on and off for months. I’ve gone over all the possibilities for failure and have asked myself a million questions — is it a blog or an online magazine? Is it a business or a hobby? — and to be honest, I haven’t answered a lot of them. Although I’m scared to death about all the ways this site could go wrong, the incessant gnawing of that voice in my head is what’s motivating me to move forward. The voice, and my belief in this idea, are what’s driving me.

Since graduating from college almost three years ago (oh my god, BTW), I’ve experienced the highs and lows of post grad life. I know exactly what it’s like to graduate college and realize adult life isn’t all that easy. Many nights have been spent laying awake wondering what the rest of my life will look like and how I’ll ever be able to accomplish all the things I dream of.

What is Post Grad Purpose?

Post Grad Purpose is for those twenty-somethings in the same boat I find myself in. We’re wading through this difficult stage in life and can often feel alone in our struggles. All around us people are building start-ups, landing book deals, and being named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. We’re only at the beginning of our careers, but it already feels like we’re falling behind.

After graduation, I quickly realized the difficulties of post grad life aren’t always talked about or are downplayed, and that a lot of people need help and advice. I hope to take what I’ve learned over the past few years and share it with others. By drawing on my personal experiences and talking with others, I plan to write about careers, relationships, wellness, and life outside of work, as well as talk about the books and articles I’ve found helpful.

One of the biggest things I’ve realized since graduating is that I want to live a meaningful life. Sure, most people want this, but I’ve noticed a trend with millennials where we crave passion and purpose. We want more than the money and fancy titles; we want to enjoy the work we do and the lives we lead. My hope is that Post Grad Purpose can guide people, myself included, to that point.

Taking chances & going for it

Like I said, this blog has been something I’ve wanted to do for a while now. Thinking about doing it and actually doing it are two completely different things, though, and I got tired of only doing the former. I realized it was time to take a chance.

Taking chances and creating opportunities for yourself are huge parts of post grad life. Putting myself out there hasn’t always been my strong suit, but I’m working on it. Starting Post Grad Purpose is my first step towards that.

Gilmore Girls: A Year of Finding Oneself

If you have yet to watch the Gilmore Girls revival, first of all, what are you doing?? And second, don’t read ahead if you don’t want any SPOILERS.

Ok, now that that’s out of the way… I loved the revival! I’m a huge Gilmore Girls fan (see post from February if you need more proof), and have been anxiously awaiting the revival all year for the past nine years. Instead of detailing every little thought I have about the revival, such as whether I liked the ending and THE LAST FOUR WORDS (I loved it) or if there should be more episodes (NO), I will talk about the one theme that stuck out to me the most: finding yourself. Continue reading Gilmore Girls: A Year of Finding Oneself

How Rory can redeem herself

With less than a month (!!!) until the Gilmore Girls revival comes out, Netflix has released the official trailer for the highly anticipated return of my all-time favorite show. Here it is in all it’s fast-talking, highly caffeinated glory:

The first time I watched it, I was at work and had to suck in all my tears so I could maintain some semblance of professionalism. When I got home, though, I was free to cry as hard as I wanted. And I did. Just ask my boyfriend. He has the mascara-stained shirt to prove it.  Continue reading How Rory can redeem herself

Summer reads

I think there’s a pretty strong general consensus that this summer went by waaaaaaaaaayy too fast. It’s already September, and with Labor Day weekend behind us, fall is officially here. With that being the case, I thought I’d share what I read this summer, especially since I haven’t posted since May. Oops.

I always romanticize summer reading as some luxurious activity characterized by lounging by the water with a juicy read. Reading in the sunshine always makes me feel like I’m on vacation, even if I’m just sitting outside of my apartment. This summer my books didn’t travel far, but with stories set in New York City, Italy, and even Hogwarts, I ended up on some interesting adventures.  Continue reading Summer reads

Reporting on the story no one wants to have

Last week I had a story published in The Forecaster called “‘Yes means yes’: Changing the way Maine looks at sexual violence.” I wrote the story in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which happens every April, and it ran in every edition of the paper.

Yes means yes

Although this awareness month happens every year, I found that sexual assault occurs at a much more alarming frequency – every 107 seconds. In Maine, which is where I focused my reporting, the numbers are thankfully lower than that.  Continue reading Reporting on the story no one wants to have

Creating the future Leslie Knopes of the world

So here’s a fun game: Spot Kate among the 8th graders!

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Top row: Emma, Haley, Rachel, Hannah, Heaven, my co-mentor Carolyn, Olivia; Bottom row: Reagan, me, Mackenzie, Lauren, Anya

Last week I volunteered as a mentor for Girls’ Day at the State House with the Maine Women’s Policy Center. It was an amazing day, but as you can probably see from the picture of my group, I was often mistaken for one of the students. Continue reading Creating the future Leslie Knopes of the world