Life After College: Freelancing and Finding Friends

Hello dear loved ones! If you are reading this, I very much suspect you are someone I care for. Because I haven't been good at keeping in touch with people (I'm generally quite bad with long-distance communication), I thought it would be good to write an update! 

I miss college dearly but am adjusting to the swing of adult life. After graduating, I did a design bootcamp, moved to Seattle where my parents currently are, and launched an online magazine called Quirk! Though working on the magazine has been an arduous task, I'm passionate about it and am so proud of my fellow editors, grateful towards the contributors, and thankful for every single reader. 

Let's have a little heart-to-heart. We can pretend it's just you and me, sitting across from each other with a cup of minty green tea in my hands and a cup of coffee/tea/IPA/your preferred beverage in your hands. While we're at it, let's throw in a few pretend scones and macarons so we feel fancy.

I do believe job searching can be quite damaging for the soul. I worry about the future and am constantly face-to-face with my inadequacies. I worry if I'm good enough. I have the audacity to dream big dreams but am also burdened by the anxiety that my dreams won't come true because life isn't always so kind. 

As I've been transitioning into a fully-fledged working adult, I'm happy that I'll soon be earning enough money to support myself. Yet, I'm also feeling somewhat empty as I've been stripped of my identity as a student and am embarking into an unknown chapter of life.

I've been applying for User Interface design (web/mobile design) jobs online and hope to move to California because of the warmer weather. Four years of Chi-beria was more than enough for me! So far in my interviews, I've gotten feedback such as: "Your portfolio was in the top 3 of over a 100 applicants, but unfortunately we chose a candidate with more experience" or "We really like your portfolio and it was refreshing seeing it after sifting through so many applications, but we're looking for someone with a bit more experience." 

So, in order to gain more experience, I've started freelancing! I'm designing an app - basically making the very first prototype. I think it's a really exciting project, and I'm grateful for the opportunity. The great thing about freelancing is that I can work from home and set my own schedule. When I'm a mom, I think freelancing would definitely be a good route to go so that I can still spend time with my kids. I'm enjoying freelancing for now and I have grown affectionate towards Seattle, but will still be on the lookout for a job in Cali. I'm interviewing for a job in LA right now, so we shall see how that goes.

As I've talked to other recent graduates, I've come to realize that there are actually many of us who are floundering about. There are some of us who are at jobs we love and feel good about the direction our careers are going. There are some of us taking a gap year. There are some of us at the crossroads of making a major career decision, such as whether to go to med school or pursue the arts. There are some of us waiting at restaurants, there are some of us doing internships, there are some of us trying out something new for the first time, there are some of us at jobs we hate, there are some of us going back to school because we don't know what else to do. If you are a recent graduate and feel uncertain, confused, or perhaps even like a failure, I just wanted to let you know that you're not alone. I hope you can find comfort in knowing there are other recent graduates who can relate to your situation and with whom you can mutually encourage and support. I know it's hard when people ask what you're doing with your life after spending thousands on a college degree, but keep your chin up and don't be ashamed. Don't give up!!! You got this!!!

Throughout all of this, my faith has played an integral role in the way I've dealt with the situation. Because I trust that God is in control of my life, I can have peace. Because I know God loves me as His daughter, I know I have value. Because I believe God has perfect timing, I can enjoy the moment I'm currently in and am filled with joy.

I may not be able to control my circumstance, but I can control my attitude.

If you're a senior about to graduate, you might be wondering about the social aspects of life after college. Making friends is definitely harder post-graduation. I moved to Seattle and barely knew anyone. My parents had a more active social life than I did, and I was dragged along to their dinners and was so tired of small talk. However, through church and friends of friends, I've found people whose company I genuinely enjoy. Yesterday, I went to a board game cafe, which is basically a cafe where you play board games. It was the most fun I'd had since moving to Seattle! It was great hanging out with people my age instead of my parent's friends HAH. So slowly but surely, I am happy to report that I am making friends here.

Thank you for powering through this - these thoughts have been weighing heavily on my heart for the past few months. Your pretend cup of beverage is probably finished by now. I hope this was encouraging for at least some of you who read this post. Thank you so much to those who have been a constant source of support. I really appreciate it. Thank you to those who have been so vulnerable with me. I'm humbled and floored by the love you guys have poured into me. Here's a big hug from me to you before you go! HUUUUUUUUUG! I miss you all so much.

Settling Into Seattle

It's been a bit over a month since I arrived back in Seattle. I spent a large portion of this time coding and finessing Quirk Magazine, then updating my portfolio. With that out of the way, I'm now on the hunt for a job! To be honest, job hunting is an anxiety-inducing endeavor. I worry if I'm good enough (imposter syndrome anyone?), or that I'll end up at a job I feel only half-heartedly about. It's also very easy to compare myself to the creatives and entrepreneurs out there in the world who are making awesome things. When I look at their work, I remind myself to feel inspired, not discouraged - though there's often a fine line between those two emotions. If any creatives out there are feeling discouraged and need a quick pick-me-up, I love this video by Ira Glass. Watching it always gives me a spurt of motivation. 

Here's a photo grid of my adventures in Seattle thus far! Recently, I've been dabbling in a more minimalist style of photography and it's been stretching me as a photographer. I'd like to play around with this style more and see where it takes me.

Quirk Magazine

There's something super exciting I'd love to share about! 

I designed and coded an online magazine! You can check it out here: The name of the magazine is called Quirk and it is by and for young women.

I started this magazine because I was frustrated with the selection of magazines out there that objectify women. "Get a flatter stomach!" and "Here's what you need to do to please your man!" litter the covers of magazines. On one hand, I don't believe there's anything inherently wrong with wanting a flatter stomach or wanting to please your man. However, it's an issue when it becomes a fixation that usurps other important facets of life. Women are painted as shallow, two-dimensional individuals who care single-mindedly about their appearance, men, and celebrities. Furthermore, these magazines prey on women's insecurities and, at the basis of it all, are constantly telling women that they're not good enough. "You're good enough only if you have a rocking body, if you can satisfy men sexually, if you're wearing the latest trends." All that being said, I understand that many people find these magazines entertaining to read, and that these magazines will probably be around for a long time.

However, I wished there could be a magazine for young women that didn't photoshop models' bodies. I wished there could be a magazine out there that extended beyond celebrity gossip, but also covered other topics like feminism and mental health. I wished there could be a magazine that celebrated female entrepreneurs and artists. And that's why Quirk was conceived.

Quirk isn't aiming to replace those magazines off the shelves; rather, it serves as an alternative option. My vision for Quirk Magazine is that it will cover a wide range of topics relevant to young women -- so not just fashion, but also social issues; not just outer beauty but also inner beauty. Quirk will feature entrepreneurs, artists, and women who are doing really cool stuff out there in the world! Maybe one day, I'll be able to see this online magazine in print.

Quirk is currently one day old, but I hope that as it matures and develops, it will stay true to its vision.


My First Wedding

At age 22,  I had never attended a wedding before. So when my supervisor at my college part-time job invited me, I jumped at the chance!

It was such a beautiful ceremony. I'm an avid fan of romance and I couldn't hold in all the feels. My heart was flailing on the inside, and I kept nudging my friends during the ultra romantic moments. I didn't expect to tear up, but when the groom saw his glowing bride for the first time, the waterworks turned on.

They exited the chapel in one heck of a vintage car.

We threw bits of lavender and other herbs over the couple as they made their graceful exit.

My workplace designed and made this card just for them. Congratulations Jason & Jessica!

Designation Continued!

The last few weeks have been pretty hectic! I've been learning and honing so many new skills at Designation, the design school I've been attending. Recently, I've been more focused on coding and design. Coding is one of those things I could do for hours without eating, drinking, sleeping, or even peeing! Once I get into the zone, it's hard to break away from the computer.

I was given the assignment to create the branding and design for a futuristic app when phones can identify smells. I went ahead and coded a website for the app, which you can view by clicking this link. I coded it from scratch minus the Jquery & CSS animations.

One great aspect of Designation is that you have some time to pursue your own interests. I sat down one day and figured out how to code Parallax scrolling through an online tutorial. Parallax scrolling is a special scrolling technique where background images move slower than foreground images/text, giving the site a more dimensional effect. Here is the link to the very rough exercise I put together, if you'd like to better understand what it is. Using the information I learned from that exercise, I did a fun and interactive animation experiment. You can view that experiment by clicking this link. I am always open to feedback, and appreciate all the comments people have made about my work! (My friends want the hot air balloon to explode haha - maybe I'll work on that in the future).

For the next few weeks, I'll be working on real-life (yay!) client projects from startups that are part of 1871, Chicago's entrepreneurial hub for startups. It's such a privilege to play a part in the process of helping these new companies realize their ideas. My tasks are somewhat daunting yet very exciting at the same time!

A big thank you to my friends who have been helping to sustain me over these arduous weeks. Thank you for feeding me, checking up on me, and listening to any issues I've been having!


Little 3ish year old Abi in Kazakhstan

The First Time

The first time I pedaled
on a two-wheeled bike, I was eight,
scared, and weighed down
by self-doubt and old pieces of
pink bubblegum. My foot met a
pedal, its first hello tinged with
distrust as it sunk its weight
into the mesh of plastic and
metal. Sweat poured from
pores, skin sticky like
cherry lollipops.
Three seconds to launch
and my imagination
skyrocketed, as I pictured
hitting the razor-sharp
pavement that would
cut my knees til they
blossomed red.
My father began the countdown
and I steadied myself to lose
control, face contorted with
courage. He released me,
and my thighs pumped
like train engines,
my feet faster than
speeding cars,
the wind bowing before
my every movement,
and I flew like a princess
on top of the world,
with the powers of
a superhero, my fantasies
touching the precipice
of reality.