A little less than a month ago, I received my diploma. That was probably one of the happiest, most freeing/liberating/empowering/prideful moments of my 20s. Now, I've "seen some shit" and done a lot of crazy things that sets me apart from my typical 28 year old counterparts, but earning a college degree--and doing a cartwheel across the stage--has been one of the most incredible journeys thus far. It took me to Southeast Asia and back, but it also brought me here, to DC, for an entire semester last fall.
UC Berkeley, c/o 2011
I don't have quite the post-graduation romantic stories that our parents and grandparents tell us about when they took their first real dive into the real world, but for me, this is it. No doubt about it. Granted, I came here with some damn good savings in the bank, but it will only go so far because DC is just as an expensive place to live, work, and play as NYC or SF. Not only that, getting a good, well-paying job AND an affordable/nice room or apartment are about two of the hardest things imaginable--the latter more so than the former. Shoot, with looks to kill, it's only a matter of time . . . slightly kiddding.
So, where am I at this point in my life? I'll tell you this, despite all the real uncertainty (for what seems like the first time in my life), I am not and will not go through a Quarterlife Crisis. Shit, I passed that point at least two years ago, and it never happened then, and I boldly believe that now, there's just no damn time for that mess. However, that's not to say the conditions aren't ripe: currently, I am sitting on a bed in the basement bedroom of my best friend's grandparent's home in Greenbelt, MD. I have a job that can only afford to work me as an intern for three days a week and pay me $10/hr, and it costs me $12.75/day to commute there and back. Now, I am not swimming in debt--my car's paid off (great grad gift, btw!), I have some money stocked up, and I am living rent free until I can find an affordable and nice place in the District. Taking the good with the bad, the joys of now living in the most desirable city for a political science undergrad completely outweigh the few-to-little-to-no downsides.
What am I saying . . . I have four day weekends. I have an amazing and growing network of young professionals who, from everyone I've talked to so far, started out just like I am now. I've been to kick ass parties, fashion show fund raisers with Real Housewives of DC, tubing down the Shenandoah River, countless happy hours, a Cal Alumni barbecue, Ocean City for a weekend, and out to my host family's Chesapeake Bay house to pick crab and watch the sunset! Did I mention I've only been here two weeks so far?
The time off is good, don't get me wrong. The fact that I don't have to do homework during my time off is probably the single greatest upside to being finished with school (for now), living in a new city, and trying every day to flex my extroverted personality to the max. I thought I knew a thing or two about networking, but my rookie skills pale in comparison to some of the people I've met in the last two weeks. Down time is almost a past time, and I barely work. So, with that said, I have a few other things I need to do before I go to sleep tonight, and on top of that, I need to work on my one-liners for this barbecue for Rep. Steny Hoyer tomorrow night. You never know who you'll meet at those things, and this guy needs a J-O-B.
As far as my initial claim about East vs. West, well . . . I guess the only thing I can say at this point is we on the East are "ahead" of you all out West. By the time you read this, I'll probably already have done 2 or 3 hours worth of shit, and I'll be waiting for you to catch up. Ha ha, just kidding. Miss you CA.