Post Graduation: One Year Later

I do not know what is more sad, the fact that I'm now a full year removed from college or that I am a full year removed from my last blog post. My blog is riddled with drafts and notes as reminders to continue writing and sharing my thoughts and experiences, but alas I have not brought myself to do it.

One year. Fifty-two weeks. Three hundred and sixty-five days. I'm now a grown adult, fully removed from the protective environment of college and fully accountable to the world. Or so they say.

It's surreal to spell out everything that has happened in the past year. It almost sounds like a lie, to say that so much has happened in such a short amount of time. But a fully-packed year has dropped me in a situation similar to where I found myself this time a year ago.

I guess I should start with last summer...

Upon realizing that I did not have a career waiting for me immediately after graduation, I moved home with the anticipation of finding a job in Pittsburgh. Much to my joy, I eventually landed a regional job with the company I had worked for prior to leaving Oklahoma City: Whole Foods Market. I was given, on a silver platter, it seemed, a very well-paying position in the prestigious market of New York City in the field of marketing and communications. This was my dream, so I thought. While I've never been a fan of New York City, there's simply no better place to be when pursuing a career in communications. I could make connections and grow professionally, all while working for a company that I truly loved. However, a relatively dormant illness was making its way to the forefront of my life. After years of refusing to address it, there I was: one month into the best job I could have hoped for after graduating, sitting alone in an emergency room in a hospital in Stamford, Connecticut, experiencing the worst mental breakdown of my life, still a tad foggy from being strung out on opiates the night before and no end to the pain in sight. I thought I was losing my mind. I didn't know how to process anything. I was alone, my family was hundreds of miles away and I did not know anyone in the area that well.

Rock bottom.

It wasn't long after that I decided to move back to Oklahoma City. My depression and anxiety had been triggered to a critical degree, perhaps under the pressure of post-grad life. I wanted to go back to a place where everything was familiar, a place where I had friends and mentors and my girlfriend. A place I could finally address my mental illnesses and attempt to recompose myself.

After months of recuperating, I finally landed a job at local nonprofit, The Education and Employment Ministry. This nonprofit assists incarcerated individuals by providing them with mentoring and case management, helping them to transition and to reduce recidivism rates. A genuine cause that I have long championed. After three months there, I left. This week, I experienced the true weight of the cruelest and most arrogant man for whom I've ever worked. While I continued the work for the sake of the clients and the wonderful work TEEM does for them, I simply couldn't bear the toxic environment and the ethical dilemmas that arise when working for an allegedly corrupt individual.

And so, here I am. One year since graduation. Unemployed again. Drifting, searching for something to dedicate myself to, a cause and an organization I can gladly be a part of and relationships I can continue to invest in.

So much has happened in a year, and on the surface, I'm right back where I was.

But I know that I'm not.

Everything is different.

I'm more stable than I have been in years. I've cultivated some amazing friendships and am currently engaged in the best romantic relationship I'm sure I will ever experience. I am wiser and stronger. I'm more compassionate. I'm not where I was. I still have an infinite amount of personal growth to continue achieving, but for now, I'm glad with where I am. In the midst of the suffering that seemed unbearable at the time, I'm happy to say that I'm moving onward. Onward to bigger and better and newer. Onward to deeper and happier and wiser. Not simply as an inherent result of where I've been, but as an intentional goal as to where I'm headed.

Onward.

 Portrait courtesy of Jennifer Lauren Photography. Captured at Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park, Montana.

Portrait courtesy of Jennifer Lauren Photography. Captured at Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park, Montana.

Dylan Schouppe