What I Learned One Year After College Graduation

One year ago, I was standing under the lights of Pauley Pavilion, my robe swishing behind me, my decorated cap on my head. A nervous energy was bubbling up inside of me as I was surrounded by likeminded individuals who were all here for the exact same reason as me — to graduate from UCLA as the Class of 2016. The pent up excitement released and drowned my nerves as I turned the tassel on my cap to the left. From that moment, the rest of my life began.

Since then, real life has shown its true colors and provided me with its fair share of life lessons outside of the classroom. Although I owe a lot of what I know now to UCLA, here are some of the life lessons that I learned and cultivated in my first year as a post-graduate that I would not have known as an undergrad.
  1. Invest in yourself.

    College institutions can be draining and exhausting, both mentally and physically. But with college done, you can really spend time to use that mental and physical energy and focus on yourself. Take time to reflect and think about what you want to do now to make your present and future self happy. What are the areas in your life you want to nourish or improve on? Personally, I invest in myself by following a morning routine, practicing mindfulness and doing hot yoga. Whatever it is that you want to do to invest in yourself, just remember that the next couple of years should be all about developing yourself into the best possible version.

  2. Do what brings you joy and eliminate the things that don’t.

    This life is too short to not do things that bring you joy. If you don’t know what sparks joy inside of you, here is a simple exercise: write down everything that makes you happy and joyful, then write down the things that don’t bring you joy. Deep down, you know what you love and what brings you joy, but it takes recognition and acknowledgement to understand them. Ultimately, those will be the things that fuel you throughout the rest of your post-grad days, and will empower you to use your gifts and talents to share to the world. As Marie Kondo said in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, “Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.”

  3. Mistakes are meant to be learned from.

    Just because you have a college degree and 4 years of college experience under your belt doesn’t mean you won’t make more mistakes, because you definitely will. And that’s completely fine. As long as you do not dwell on it and instead use it as a lesson in your life, it is perfectly fine to make mistakes. Stephen R. Covey said in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “Our response to any mistake affects the quality of the next moment. It is important to immediately admit and correct our mistakes so that they have no power over that next moment and we are empowered again.”

  4. You will always be a student for life.

    Learning never stops outside of the classroom. There is so much in life to learn, and luckily, we live in an era where education is at our fingertips. Just scroll through the millions of YouTube tutorials that are out there. I personally owe a lot of my knowledge to the internet, and I constantly use it as a resource to learn about things I’m interested in that I couldn’t learn as an English major, such as graphic design and brand building. Recently, I completed my first UCLA Extension course on Design Fundamentals, and it was all for free since I graduated from UCLA (here is the link if you are a UCLA alumnus as well!). There are tons of resources for free online courses besides YouTube, such as Lynda.com, Udemy.com and Skillshare.com (I just recently got 2 free months of Skillshare Premium from Lavendaire, who is also a big advocate of being a student for life. Check out her video if you’re interested!). There is so many resources and different opportunities to take advantage of, so soak it up as much as you can in this life.

  5. Friendships are no longer “convenient”. You truly have to make an effort.

    Sometimes we may be lucky to see some of our old college friends every once in awhile, but the truth is, you are no longer part of a college bubble where your friends are easily accessible. Convenience is no longer something you have when it comes to those friendships. If you want to foster relationships, you have to make a true effort to see and talk to them. It gets more difficult when you start a full-time job and start investing in your life because that means less chances of seeing your friends. As a result, you will most likely not be as close to your college friends as before. To prevent complete erasure though, carve out time out of your week or month to catch up with an old friend and grab dinner to continue building those relationships. It may be hard to find time that works best for both parties but even without the convenience, it’s not impossible to keep those life-long friendships.

  6. Reflection helps create clarity and reach goals.

    The future is not constant, and sometimes things don’t go your way. But reflection really allows you to step back and take a look at what you have been doing so far in your life and how you can adjust and improve. Making reflection a daily habit has been known to develop a clearer sense of mind and self, improved productivity, and higher rate of success. For 2017, I started practicing monthly reflections in my Passion Planner and have always found it helpful to look myself from the inside out and dive deep into how I can better myself.

  7. Find time to live new experiences.

    Life can get mundane once you’re in the work force, so make sure that you spend time to travel and live new experiences. Go to Coachella, check out the free concert series at Santa Monica, be a tourist in your own city, fly out to Portland or Seattle for the weekend. Work should not be meant to only pay the bills and make a sustainable living. You should also use the money to color and enrich your life with experiences and memories. When you think about this long term, carving out time for new experiences refreshes your mind, improves creativity and work ethic, and inspires you to try more new things and explore new passions.

  8. Save, save, save!

    This is something that I still struggle with, but saving is such an important facet of adulthood. You can no longer rely on financial aid every quarter to uplift your bank account every time you’re in a rut. When you get your paycheck, make it a habit to put 10-20% of that money to your savings. Have saving goal buckets so that you have something to pool from when you need it for a specific reason. My paycheck automatically deducts 20% of the money to go towards my travel fund and emergency fund. It’s a bit of a pain, but your future self will send you lots of love for it.

  9. Sometimes serendipity comes out to play. Enjoy it.

    As much as we can plan for our day, our week, our lives, life can still throw curveballs at you and unravel your plans. They can be annoying and discouraging, but sometimes it can be a beautiful addition to the value and meaning of life. Besides, what is life without the struggle? We would just be stagnant and lifeless without anything to learn from. So enjoy that serendipitous moment when it comes and appreciate the fact that it’s happening and enriching your life.

  10. You can live day by day, but don’t forget to think of the bigger picture.

    It’s easy to get caught up in the daily 9-5 and just go home and mindlessly scroll through social media or watch Netflix without a care in the world. Take time during your week or month to sit down and make a plan of what you want to do in one year, in 5 years, and even 10 years. For me, this has always been a difficult thing to do since I can barely plan my week, but it’s so important to think about the vision you have in your life and to not forget about what you truly want out of life. Simply writing down where you visualize yourself in 5 years is enough to help you think bigger picture.

  11. Community is out there, as long as you ask and seek for it.

    Community was the biggest thing that got me through college, so when I graduated, the biggest transitionary struggle I faced as a post-grad was the lack of community. I used to have spaces where I felt grounded in solidarity and comfort. It was a place of belonging. I spent a good deal of my first year of post-grad seeking communities in alumni networks, camp counselor sessions, dance classes, yoga classes, blogs and YouTube channels. Eventually I found a sense of community in places I never thought I would — my old friends and my work team. Community is out there if you are looking for it, it just takes more effort to put in those same community values you’ve learned from your experiences into new spaces.

  12. We have time. Take advantage of it.

    Be proactive and take initiative of your time. It’s hard to believe this, but our 20s is filled with time and space to learn something new, to find a new trajectory for our life, to find and grow new passions. All you have to do is start now. So go out there and show the world your worth!

Thank you for reading, and congratulations to the class of 2017! If you have any other lessons you have learned after graduation, or even from life, let me know in the comments! 🙂

The Biggest Millennial Soul-Searching Question I Asked Myself

When I started this blog, it was meant to be a space to showcase my travels, to express myself creatively and to share the life lessons of a millennial fresh out of college. Right after I graduated, I looked forward to writing about my experiences and putting my thoughts and opinions out there for the interweb on Skyline Soul

However, life has been putting me in a weird funk lately. I have been in a constant period of re-evaluating and re-assessing my life decisions, and I realized my heart was tugging me in different directions when it came to pursuing the things I was passionate about. This led to the decision to take a small break from blogging and social media. I enrolled in an online Design Fundamentals course from UCLA Extensions. I started getting more involved with hot yoga at Core Power and fell so in love with the practice that I extended my membership there. After Coachella this year, I worked on editing a vlog, which was something I hadn’t done in months and what I wanted to pick back up again. I was exploring and soaking in all my learnings and experiences. And why shouldn’t I? As a 22 year old who spent the last 4 years of college balancing multiple extracurriculars, internships and part time jobs, this exploration period was natural to me.

But then one day, I was faced with the biggest soul-searching question of my post-grad life. “Am I an expert at the things that I love to do?”

I was stumped. I thought of everything that I loved to do and what I thought I was good at. Some things that came to mind were photography, videography, editing, writing, storytelling and design. But the love and the levels of expertise were not aligned. To say I was an expert at all would be an exaggeration. I was too well-rounded to be good at anything.

I came to an answer and conclusion: I have no expertise in anything, especially in the things I love the most. I love all things creative, but to call myself an expert in any of the things I loved would be a lie.

The only thing I can call myself is a jack of all trades, a master of none.

At first, my immediate reaction to this new revelation was to internally panic. Most people my age or younger were already so skilled in their craft of choice. I knew plenty of my peers who already spent years working on a wide portfolio of artwork to showcase. They cultivated their interests into something that could be worthwhile.

However, I realized that I was falling for the comparison trap. My peers’ journeys are different from mine. “A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.” I am still continuing to grow during this process of adulting, and I have no regrets with how I spent my 4 years of college. Every moment of exploration was my own way of cultivating my interests. In the end, I am happy to have learned and dabbled in the things that interested me, and I am proud of myself for taking the leap to try and make this blog a valuable resource to the lifestyle and travel community.

My goal now is to finish my design course, flourish my creative visual photography skills through Instagram, become more involved in the YouTube community, and blog once or twice a month when another travel adventure comes up. For now, I want to prioritize my personal life, my full-time job and my interests and passions that I feel will matter the most to me before I broaden my horizons with my blog.

This is not a goodbye, but rather a departing, stepping stone to become the best possible version of myself.

If you have read this far, I have a challenge for you — what are you an expert at? That’s great! Continue to cultivate that area, or step out of your comfort zone and find something new. You will be surprised at the high level of expertise you can hone in life.

Thank you for reading and enjoy the rest of your days! ❤️