In a Fast-Paced City, Starting Fresh Can Require Slowing Down

Courtesy Of Makeda Sandford
Welcome to the inaugural class of '29. We've selected 29 graduating college seniors, entering the "real" world in 2018, to write about the state of their lives. What are their hopes, dreams, fears, stressors, failures, and successes as they leave school behind? We will be releasing new entries on a daily basis. If you would like yours to be considered, please email classof29@refinery29.com.
I let out the biggest sigh of relief. Five years living and studying in a little southern mountain city was finally coming to a slow decrescendo.This was a place where I found the best and worst parts of myself, where I learned more about mass communications and African colonialism, where I shook my hips at every base drop. Just a few months ago, I was so ready to go. But there’s a beauty that is undeniably bittersweet when you part ways with your undergraduate campus. My school was also the place where I created a great photography portfolio, landed four internships, fell in and out of love and made friends who taught me more about who I am. The freedom of post-grad life comes with a ton of questions and a new set of fears. You begin to realize just how young you were throughout all of it — and how young you still are.
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Given that my alma mater wasn’t exactly my dream school — and the town was a tad too small for my liking — my dreamer eyes were set on other horizons even before I arrived. The ultimate post-graduation goal was to move to New York City. And I was ready to do what it took to make that happen. As an A-type personality gal with an earthy astrology chart and a childhood that forced me to grow up fast, I was certain about my future. I made lists and checked them off, filling Moleskine notebooks piled high with my plans and goals. I spent a summer there (and met a lovely girlfriend in the process). I was making sure I believed in myself this time, to make post-college life pro-ME. No more regret, no more “what ifs.”
Illustrated By Paola Delucca
Weeks after finishing finals, that work paid off, as I found myself officially living in New York. My plan was working and the opportunities up there are mine for the taking. I was so eager that I decided to go up before my move in date. I got a temp production job to make extra cash. Those first few weeks, there were many mishaps. My temp job wasn’t as fun as advertised and I carried more boxes than I was any sort of creative asset. The experience gave me a taste of the hard work it takes to succeed in a faster-paced place.
But if I learned anything from studying Africana studies, it’s that I come from a lineage of resilient people. That knowledge instilled in my an attitude of Yes I can. OR “I can do this!” became my mantra. I started my official job, a salary-paying internship, still sleeping with friends for the third week as plans fell through to get help to move into my new apartment. But at the same time, I was welcomed by an amazing group of budding journalists at Gizmodo Media. And if there’s anything I’ve learned from moving to New York as a young dreamer, it is that the ocean current of a big city is going to move you. It’s best to move with it. And enjoy the ride.
Since my move, I was offered an opportunity to be on a movie set as a stills photographer filming out of town. Taking the job meant taking a break from the city I had worked so hard to make it to. I found myself back in a college dorm with the crew on the Massachusetts coast. Leaving New York and my girlfriend, even temporarily, was hard. But I learned so much about myself on set, including that I love film production! (Why didn’t I think of that before?!) I found myself marveling at the idea that the universe brings us back into ourselves sometimes to sow new seeds. Back in the quiet comfort of my mind, I was reminded that moving slow was exactly what I needed to prepare myself for my life in the fast city. And I’m ready now more than ever.
Makeda Sandford is a culture writer and self-taught creative from North Carolina, newly based in Brooklyn, NY. She does editorial photography freelance and is a social media intern at Gizmodo Media. makedasandford.com
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