As new columnists, we would like to use this first opportunity to introduce ourselves to you and let you know a little bit about who we are and where we are.

For us, one summer has ended, but another is just beginning. As the leaves transform from green to gold, we too are changing. At 22, we are no longer in the spring of our lives, when everything is beautiful and new. Now things are heating up, making us sweat, working up our thirst. This is not like the season of play we used to anticipate so eagerly. This is our transition into the so-called Real World.

Even though we have been best friends for the past 8 years, we find ourselves entering this new phase in very different ways. One is back in Texas, where we were born and raised; the other moved 1,100 miles away to Ohio. How did we get to these places? Summer brought us here.

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Kristan

On May 21st, I carried the last cardboard box from my dorm room to my car. With a mixture of reluctance and excitement, I closed the trunk, settled in behind the wheel, and pulled away from campus. Looking in the rearview mirror, what did I see? A beautiful university, an exciting city, and four of the best years of my life. And when I looked ahead? The great unknown.

Well, not completely unknown. From a map, I learned that “Cincinasty” sits in the bottom left corner of Ohio. From my boyfriend, who graduated and moved there a year before me, I learned that the city serves as corporate headquarters to Procter & Gamble, the company that gives us Crest, Charmin, Tide, and every other consumer product we need to survive. From the United States Post Office, I learned that it’s spelled C-I-N-C-I-N-N-A-T-I, not C-I-N-C-I-N-A-T-T-I. Oops.

So, Cincinnati, OH is home to Steven Spielberg, Ken Griffey Jr., Nick Lachey, and now, me. I was fortunate enough to get a job offer just two days before graduation, so it was bye bye summer, hello 9-to-5. I jumped straight into my new city and my new career, making me wonder, whatever happened to baby steps?

But I guess that’s the point: I’m not a baby anymore. Not even a kid. I’m an adult, more or less, and this is how it goes. Work, eat, pay bills, sleep. Repeat.

To tell you the truth, it’s really not that bad. There are things I miss, like my family and friends, but I sincerely enjoy my work, I have a roof over my head, and the weather here is great! Truly I am very grateful for all of that.

But there’s something missing. Though I am doing a lot of things for myself—reading for leisure, practicing piano, playing sports—I feel less personally fulfilled than I did in college. As a Resident Assistant and student leader, I practically had meaning thrown at me. I assisted my fellow undergrads almost 24 hours a day, arranging study groups, volunteering sessions, or trips to the emergency room. While I don’t necessarily want to be on-call all the time again, I do want to feel like I’m contributing to my community in some larger way.

In school, it’s so easy. Every day, we are given purpose and value. Through education, through leadership, through personal interactions. But out here, in the Real World, we lose a lot of that. We struggle, because suddenly we are in a void. We cannot find meaning. We have to make it.

So that’s what I’m doing now. Working and writing, yes. Exploring a new city and taking new steps in my relationship, yes. But most of all, I am trying to make meaning in my life, with my life. Because that’s what really matters to me.

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To be continued…


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