So, you graduated. Congratulations! But, now what?
When I walked through the door of my mother’s house for the first time in 6 months, it really hit me that this long, exciting, and busy chapter of my life was over. I’ve been trained my entire life to become a college student. In elementary school, they ask you what you want to be when you grow up. In middle school, they ask what your major will be when you go to college. In high school, they ask what school you’re going to apply to. I always had careful answers, sentences that had been crafted for these moments. I was a bright, shining pupil, eager to fulfill my societal duty of being a student. Now that I’ve made it out of my undergraduate career, people ask what’s next. For the first time, I don’t have a response.
Maybe it is because I’ve been jaded by my experience in academia that I don’t really have an answer to people’s typical questions anymore. Halfway through college, I realized that my education is not about preparing me for a career. I was pursuing education to redefine the world around me, a world that had been dictated to me since a young age. When the deadline for graduation was around the corner, highlighted by a global pandemic, economic collapse, and political uprisings, it felt like doomsday. But when the actual day happened, it came and went. Just like that, everything I had planned for was over in 24 hours. The rest of my life was waiting for me on the other side.
No one really prepares you for how lonely this post-grad life can be, much less how much worse it is when you’re forced to be isolated in your childhood home. Currently, my days consist of waking up at noon, completing the one or two required tasks I have penciled in for the day, and finding ways to waste time. I’ve taken up a few hobbies. Crocheting. Yoga. Rewatching all of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Some days, I just sit in my mom’s garden and watch the bees fly around. It’s still. It’s quiet. A few birds chirping, my neighbors talking, a dog barking. It is in these moments that I gain more insight into the world and my future. It’s in the static of my handheld radio when I lay in the sun. It’s in my mom’s humming as she works from home. It’s in the shadows cast by the tree I do yoga under.
You see, at first, I felt guilty. I felt guilty for being still. You spent four years honing and developing your skills, I think to myself, why aren’t you applying them? I still think this sometimes. When am I going to take the job hunt seriously? How am I ever going to be independent if I’m already getting used to living at home? You’re the first in your family to go to a university, and you can’t even come out of it employed?
Maybe this sounds like self-sabotage, and to an extent it is, but did I really originate these thoughts? In his article, “In Praise of Idleness,” Bertrand Russell claims that “the conception of duty, speaking historically, has been a means used by the holders of power to induce others to live for the interests of their masters rather than their own.”
You see, capitalism is not in the interest of preserving our humanity; it is an unsustainable system that burns bright and fades fast. Everything that capitalism produces burns bright and fades fast. I am a human. I do not want to burn bright and fade fast. I want to take my time, enjoy the small things, and fully embrace the experience that is my life. This isn’t laziness talking; engaging in leisure is one of the most necessary and human things you could do.
Leisure is something that capitalism does not account for. If capitalism could have its way, the workday would be 24 hours, and your off time is solely a way for you to reboot for the next working day. We have to constantly remind ourselves that we are humans before we are laborers. Our leisure is precious; it is our right and duty to preserve our health, mindsets, and bodies. Granting myself time to relax after I graduate is not me being lazy. It is a part of my growth. Even in moments of stagnancy, we are not static beings.
In my idleness, I have been deepening my relationships and fully embracing the food, media, and words I consume. My gratefulness for simple pleasures, and especially for the people who produce it, has grown tenfold in the midst of this pandemic. Russell says that “we think too much of production and too little of consumption. One result is that we attach too little importance to enjoyment and simpleness and that we do not judge production by the pleasure that it gives to the consumer.” Let’s be the generation that heals this broken relationship with labor; let’s embrace leisure and rebuild community connections.
In this time of uncertainty, it is our duty to take advantage of every bit of time we have for what is coming next. The US is continuing to run itself into the ground, and it is going down kicking and screaming. As the veneer of American exceptionalism starts to fade, as the people continue to be agitated by the unjust structures of our world, as the very core of this rotten system starts to falter, we will be rested and ready to take action. When that curtain drops, it will be the youth, women, LGBTQ+ folks, and BIPOC communities that will redefine our world. Rest up. Take your time. Eat your veggies. We’re in this for the long game.
Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.
Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.
We have grown since then, putting out bimonthly issues (we are contributor powered: apply to write for our next one!), and weekly reviews of culture, and news that is important to us.
You can find announcements, more news, and get to know our staff on social media: give us a follow, and learn how you can get involved today!
We do not claim to speak for all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. We are just here to give them a place to speak for themselves.