I’ve been thinking a lot lately about community. What does that mean to me? How do I find it here in Hawaii? Graduating from grad school left behind a sense of emptiness in its wake. I received an advanced degree, but I lost a community. I recognize several people are still in Hawaii and I consider them close friends (though my closest friends have left) but what brought us together is no longer there. And it’s not like I want to go back; I don’t. But I have yet to see what will fill that space. It’s been over a year since I graduated but I still feel empty at times.
In an effort to meet more people, I tried paddling. Paddling in Hawaii is fascinating. It can be fiercely competitive and your team is your tribe. At the regatta’s, each team fly’s a flag with their team name and huddles together under their pop-up tents. Matching team shirts, shorts, hats, stickers, towels…you name it. I tried the top women’s team, then ended up with a significantly less competitive, and slightly disorganized team. It was a good fit. Interestingly, it the season came to a halt due to internal politics (or paddle-tics) and I’m ready to move on.
What I’ve been sitting on for actually years now is a spiritual community. Over the past few months, I’ve been attending a service at the Unitarian church on and off. And it feels like home. It’s not so much the message or sermon, but the desire for community as a congregation. At one service during the opening words, a man mentioned something along the lines of, “We are here for the same purpose: a people hungry for community”. And that stuck with me. Where in our daily lives do people speak like this? I am not sure where this path will lead me but I’m thankful it exists. I am willing to begin the journey for now. I sometimes grieve the person of faith I used to be years ago; I’m hoping now I can at least believe in community.
My last blog entry was shortly after I graduated from graduate school. Three to four months later I have found myself with a job in my field of interest. I feel like I should be happier than I am but the reality of joining the working world also weighs on me.
It’s strange to be in an office again. The rhythm of office life: you wake up, get to work, work, head home, home. Maybe you stop somewhere, go to yoga, hang out with a friend. The predictability is comforting but stifling at times. For now I need the consistency and stability of a paycheck. And as much as it sounds great to have all the free time in the world, even that gets old. I do believe we were meant to productive as humans and feel like we’ve accomplished something with our days. Whether we are too productive or not enough, both can cause problems.
So here my journey begins of being a “professional” in Hawaii. Graduate school was exactly what I needed and I had a blast but it feels like it’s time to grow up (again). I’m nervous I will lose sight of why I came here but it’s hard to forget with the spectacular view of the ocean from your office.
The view of Honolulu, Diamond Head and the ocean from the office
It’s been over a month since I’ve graduated and I don’t feel like I’ve moved much. Physically, yes, but mentally I’m not so sure. Not working has been great but the nagging feeling that I should be looking for a job weighs on me. And I have been looking, though not all that different from graduate school, it never ends and it’s completely self-motivated. Motivation is the key word here.
Part of my hesitation of investing more time into a job search is: a) I am ambivalent about being a professional again (think: game face all the time); b) I know once I start working full-time I’ll wish I had more time off; and c) I am not quite certain there are a lot of available jobs in my field in Hawaii and I’m scared to find out.
Strange being in what feels like the no-mans-land of life. No job, no school, just sort of floating around. Yet it’s very freeing to be in this place and still be okay with it all. A few years ago I would have been ridden with anxiety. I do wonder what will come my way, wondering if anything will come my way, but trusting in the journey is all I can really do.
Off to Seattle, Vancouver and San Francisco this week. I’m looking at it as my last hurrah before my paid vacations will be 2-weeks… if I’m lucky.
Since I’ve graduated I feel:
Elated because I’m free to live my life with out meaningless course work and grad school deadlines.
Terrified because I have no idea what’s next.
Excited because the new life I was looking for when I moved here is graduating (excuse the pun) to a new level.
I came here to start a new life that felt more authentic. Graduate school was the avenue I chose to get here and now that I’m finished, there’s time to see where I’ve landed. So here I am, looking around in a bit of a stupor. My place in Hawaii has shifted from student to…. I don’t know.
For now I’m going to sit in the afterglow of graduating and enjoy the stillness.
Every time I ride home from campus I think of putting a note on this one car that blocks the sidewalk ramp in front of their house that leads to the H1 overpass. I have to sometimes get off my bike to walk it around which is extremely annoying. I’ve imagined writing, “I’m a disabled person in a wheelchair that cannot access the over-ramp because of your car”. Though I am averse to lying. But today I actually saw an elderly man with a cane that had to go around the car, up and down the sidewalk curb; not easy for an older man! So on my way home I thought, well now I can leave a note, but on his behalf. So I plan to bring a note soon saying:
“Please do not block the sidewalk. An elderly uncle with a cane was trying to reach the overpass and had to go around your car.”
Will I actually do it? I don’t know. But I like to think I of myself as the advocate of keeping sidewalks clear for pedestrians and cyclists to get over the bridge. Probably only 2 people ever use the bridge (me and the old man), but that it beside the point. Continue reading
After an exhausting 2 and a half hour meeting today on my graduate research project, I’ve come to the conclusion I don’t want to take the high road I want to take the easy road.
I see all the pieces of my life, like little islands, somehow coming together to create a map. They don’t seem to quite connect but they make up who I am. They seem to have rigid borders but I’m not sure they need to be this way. I don’t know where I belong now, just trying to enjoy the day.
Walking to the beach yesterday after 3 bitter cold weeks in Europe and Washington, DC and a week lying in bed from a nasty cold was like a warm bath. I did some yoga at the tiny park before the steep slope up to Diamond Head and felt the sun beat down on my face. As I stared out into the sea, I reflected on the past few weeks, past year and the two and a half years since I moved here.
My life here in Hawaii is not what I’d expected: I imagined a quiet, contemplative life enjoying ocean breezes and lazy afternoons with few distractions and worries. There are days like this but it ends there; reality lingers and catches up to you. I didn’t expect to Continue reading
I have a difficult time recognizing if someone has been a jerk if it’s fairly clear it wasn’t intentional. I’m good at making excuses for other people’s bad behavior. But at what point is someone just a jerk?
A couple of weeks ago I had an encounter with an academic superior where I was spoken to disrespectfully and shocked by what was spewing out of his mouth. A few years ago I would have left with tears, but what I thought as I sat there and listened to him was, “I don’t care. I don’t want to be like you nor do what you do”. It was wonderfully liberating to walk away laughing instead of crying, with my head held high. Though, with a slightly deflated ego.
I like this quote and it really speaks to me right now. I’ve felt less-than-genius for the past year, trying to figure out my research project and somehow finish graduate school. There were a couple of unexpected curve balls that derailed me over the year and I’m not so sure I’ve recovered, at least not in the way I had hoped. So the next step is figuring out how to rally and finish what I started. Judging myself has not proved helpful. Perhaps accepting where I am at and moving forward is all I can do in this moment.
My intention for this week is to remember to be thankful for having the opportunity to be in grad school and that I’m not working 9-5. At times it sounds appealing but I remember the not so distant past where I wanted to poke my eyes out at 4 pm every day, staring at the clock. Well, not exactly, but I most definitely did not enjoy spending the majority of my day in an office, chained to a computer.
When I first moved to Hawaii and started grad school I couldn’t believe how great life was and all I could think was: why didn’t I do this earlier? Now I just want to to finish and make some money.
Maybe the grass is always greener on the other side?
How do I express that everything has changed, yet nothing at all? Accepting that life will never be what it was. With the New Year, I wanted to leave the sadness and grief of my mothers’ death behind, embarking on a new year with new expectations on myself and the future. But that doesn’t change me. All the intentions and determination in the world cannot change who I am in the moment. You cannot command the grieving process or feelings to act in a certain way. If only it were that easy.
I wanted to push the past behind me, move forward. And in many ways I have. I have accepted the past several months were difficult and painful: that some areas in my life were put on hold.
In a world where progress is measured in success and “moving on”, it’s difficult to honor the grieving process as work in itself. I may not have been as productive in certain areas as I could have been, but I was (and am) working my ass off in other ways: grieving (action word). If only you could put that on your resume.
In some ways I’m surprised that I Continue reading
Pretty amazing how chemistry can practically bring me to tears. Memories of being in high school and not “getting it” come to the surface and I feel like I just can’t do it. But I have to in order to graduate. I’m sitting here, glaring at my chem book and sipping seltzer water.
Been surfing a lot in the past week. I feel like I owe it to myself to get back into it. The last time I surfed regularly was over 10 years ago and I may as well be a complete beginner again. The past year I’ve been in Hawaii I look at the waves almost daily and I want to be in waves, not just observing them. I think it’s time. We’ll see how long it lasts, but I hope it stays with me.
I am not sure why I threw myself back into school this fall so quickly. I wanted a distraction and I had no idea what else to do with myself. So I walked forward in the only direction I knew how to at the time. So here I am. Crying over chemistry.
Chemistry and biology at the same time during a 6-week summer session was most definitely not the greatest idea I’ve had. Therefore, I dropped biology yesterday. What a great decision it was! I appreciate my ambitious nature but I was beginning to question my sanity. It has been a long and exhausting summer. Or more like a long and busy spring that bled into summer and hasn’t stopped since.
A bit sad right now that the wonderful elation I was feeling from my time in Mozambique has significantly waned, mostly due to overwhelming myself with school and work. Only back a little over 3 weeks and it feels like it never happened. But I trust it will come back. Amazing experiences always Continue reading