The Year of Transition by Gabrielle Kassel

2016 was predicted to be The Year of Transition; I knew in advance that I would be graduating in May, moving to New York for a three month period to complete a summer course at NYU, and acknowledged that after that, I had no Real Plan… yet. So when graduation came and went, I packed my bags for the city and spent the end of the Summer looking for a job, which landed me back in the city for a job I love.

It was a Year of Transition, but everything moved more or less according to some grand plan: graduate, move, work.

Yet as 2016 rounded to a close, the only thing I’m able to predict for 2017 is more transition. When I ran into another Smith graduate at the airport returning to New York last week we lamented about how hard this time of life is, how full of uncertainty these months after graduating are. While the Graduate Move Work plan was executed with a grade of about a B+, the grey areas between those milestones danced in the C’s.

I’ve lost touch with friends I predicted in April would be the best-men and women at my wedding (have I become a cliche by thinking in terms of my future marriage?). I’m making and saving less money than my college-self hoped I would be, and I don’t wash my sheets more than once every three weeks, which after washing them weekly in college, feels representative of a larger failure to prioritize self care. I still haven’t found an alcoholic beverage to order when I go out with friends that doesn’t make me stick my tongue out in a look of disgust, and the smell of cigarettes still stirs a “good girl gone bad” desire in me.

The lease of the apartment I am subletting a room in ends in March, my temp position with Women’s Health Magazine doesn’t yet have a set end date, and making friends in a new city hasn’t been as fruitful as I would have hoped. I still haven’t been daring enough to try on a new haircut and say RIP to my long locks, haven’t taken skin to needle for the artichoke tattoo I’ve been lusting for since 2013, and my type A scheduling habits have only became more defined when I moved to a new city and adjusted to just how much cushion time I need to allow for subway delays.

I still think longingly about Portland, Oregon and wonder what my life would look like had I decided to graduate early and move back to work at Title 9 and I often get stuck in a cycle of blaming New York for moments of unhappiness and discomfort I have in my current life.

But the feeling of unease isn’t a result of what time zone I’m in, it’s a failure to step back and really appreciate the successes I worked for, earned, and found joy in, in 2016.

I walked across the stage to college a college diploma (with the eyes of honorary recipients Abby Wambach and Alison Bechdel on me). I received a graduate-level certificate in publishing (and made two friends I plan to keep around for a lifetime). I realized definitely that I want to be in an industry that combines creative communication and healthy living. I was hired for my first out of college job (an internship with a well known Women’s magazine, which turned into a temporary position). I learned the subway system and overcame my fear of travelling beneath ground (this, after pledging to run to and from work to avoid the underground train prior to moving to the city). My roommates, who I met on a random housing Facebook page, have become my confidants and friends. I read over 50 books (a series of memoirs, romance novels, and renowned fiction novels). I completed two obstacle course races. I kept in touch with as many friends and coaches as I’ve lost touch with, continued to lift weights and get physically stronger, and have consistently been writing at least two articles per week.

I know the names of every barista at the Starbucks I go to each weekday morning and the trainers at my gym have become friends at best and acquaintances at worst. I have not yet slept through my morning alarm. I cook dinner at least 6 nights a week and have been a connoisseur of chilis and soups. I drink more than 8 glasses of water and eat more than one apple each day. I ditched my every-day sweatpants for black-on-black-on-black business casual gear. I fell into a routine in a city that is a stranger to me, and I’m making a life for myself.

Yet, I’m nervous for what the coming year will bring. After marking 2016 The Year of Transition, entering my second year of trial and change is nerve-wracking. And the first week of the new year had a rocky start: my body lulled me to sleep over two hours before the ball dropped at midnight, leaving my lover unkissed and disappointed and hurt into the first of the year, and leaving me saddened that my first opportunity at a new year’s kiss had not gone according to plan. I woke on the second of the month with a plane to catch but a fever holding my body in contempt. On the third I called out of work sick- the fever still lingering, my body exhausted from failing to fight this cold that I’m still hoping won’t evolve into the flu. But none of these things need to become representative of what 2017 will bring. These first three days are nothing more than my body coming down with the common cold.

While I always type up a list of resolutions (and goals) for the year the first week of January, I also come up with a motto for the year. A motto that encapsulates what I struggled with the previous year, that targets what I predict will be the hardest thing for me in the coming twelve months. This first week will test my ability to live by the motto that I hope will be the torch that lights the way for 2017.

This year’s motto: Embrace times of transition and tribulation by living in the NOW.

By living in the NOW I will be able to better-appreciate how much I love my job and day-to-day routine, instead of fretting to the point of obsession about the possibility of not having a job two or three months from now. I will be able to appreciate a texting conversation, Skype date, or long phone call with my friends instead of cursing the miles between us. I will able to remember that I’m 22.

And as an older friend of mine said “The name of the game is experienced for a little while. Right or wrong. Good and bad. As many or as few as you decide. You get to try it all, fuck it up, do some pretty incredible things. You get to do whatever you want. Try it on, wear it for a bit. If it doesn’t feel right, feel good, or feel like home, stop everything and start over”.

In 2017 I will do my best to remember that I am only 22, and that I only get to live this incredible age once. In 2017 I will remember that it’s okay to struggle, to fail, to ask for help. It’s okay to try on different job titles, industries, and responsibilities. It’s okay to fall out of touch with friends and make new ones. It’s okay to long for the west coast and the glories that exist there. It is okay to not have it all down perfectly.

In this second year of transition I will remember that for as far as I have to go, I have come pretty damn far. I’m not done learning. I’m not done growing. I’m not done transitioning. And I hope never to be.

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