Two years ago today I graduated from Baylor and my entire life changed. I had no idea how difficult it would be to adjust to a postgrad existence right after I came back home, and my first year after college was extremely rough. I wrote a long summary of my one year postgrad experience (read it here!), which was a much more painful year than this past one. Two years ago I was a completely different person without a clue about my future or what it’d take to get me to where I am right now. I’m still not in the career or place I’d like to be (like with everyone else’s plans, COVID derailed my timeline of moving to NYC in March 2021!), but I’m learning and growing here at home surrounded by my family, friends, comrades, and other loved ones and I’m working toward my goals every day! I loved writing that one year recap of my life since college and wanted to continue with this summary of this past year—two years after graduation!
Starting my professional career (post-Legal Aid) at OPD during the pandemic was interesting because the office culture completely shifted when COVID erupted in Hawaiʻi. I moved from one section to another right before COVID hit and I’m lucky I started before the “state” shut down and paused all hiring indefinitely. During this period where most of our attorneys worked from home every day I became close to a couple of my appeals PDs and other PD and clerk coworkers. I started walking 5 miles once a week after work with my former PD-turned-pal Okie and we gathered a few other acquaintances who are now my friends to join us. These walks were instrumental for me because shortly after in June, I decided to lose the weight I gained from senior year till my severe depression in 2019. In January 2021 I reached and eventually surpassed my weight loss goal (here’s a post about it), which I couldn’t have done without my weekly walking time with Okie and friends.
In June I met my comrades Leilani and Laurel who quickly became like family to me as we created our own organizing space. I’ve mentioned numerous times before how I wanted to find a political organizing home here in Hawaiʻi, but I had no such luck as most of our larger local orgs are reformist with carceral feminists, SWERFs, and TERFs. I didn’t agree with the politics of said orgs, so before I met Leilani and Laurel I thought I’d have to wait until I could move to NYC to find a way to organize. Thankfully, the three of us connected, wrote an abolitionist article, and gathered several other friends to start the Study and Struggle program and eventually found the Hawaiʻi Abolition Collective! We’ve had our share of conflict and difficulties over the past handful of months (which we’re still working on), but I’m immensely grateful for the connections we’ve made and the work we did and are going to do. Becoming an organizer with HAC and Hawaiʻi Peace and Justice (as a board member and part-time organizer) is what I wanted for so long and they’ve both showed me how capable I am of juggling tasks and creatively offering support to impacted individuals.
Besides my weight loss and new organizing activities, the most obvious difference about me over the past two years is my improved mental health. In 2019 I was on the brink of s*icide (though I never mentioned my spirals to anyone) because I felt wholly lost and not good enough, but now even on my worst days, I don’t get to that point. I stopped going to therapy last August (I wrote about my decision here), but I feel happier and less traumatized than ever before. I owe my ongoing recovery and stability to my loved ones who have supported and uplifted me even when I was in the darkest places. I’m not “healed” (whatever that could mean) from my anxiety and depression and those illnesses are often triggered by some mean coworkers and difficult office situations, but I feel so much better in general now than I’ve been since 2015. I’m lucky to have my best friends here to spend weekends and occasional weeknights together, my family who’s always willing to support me in every season, new comrades I trust and depend on fully, and the several coworkers who would do anything for me. Overall despite certain frustrating scenarios, I’m in a far better state of mind now than I was in 2019 or even 2020.
The past two years since I graduated from Baylor have been stressful, painful, exciting, peaceful, and scary. I wish I knew exactly what the next two years will look like and when I’ll finally feel settled with my life, but I know I’m still young and I’m lucky to have accomplished what I have so far with the people I love by my side. Two years has flown by and I can’t wait to see what the next year holds for me!