Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars + 7 Things I've Learned after Graduating
It's been a little over a year since I graduated from law school and started working. The past year has been full of ups, downs, laughter, tears, and lots of personal growth. What it hasn't been full of is international travel (or really any travel), huge life milestones, or any of the other things that we often think are "supposed" to fill our lives after we graduate. If I'm being honest, the past year has been just plain HARD.
Not everyone's post-graduate life experience is as blissful as social media posts would have us believe. If you're anything like me post-grad, you've often felt stuck, frustrated, disappointed, and questioned if even going to school to get that degree was the right choice in the first place. Yea, I said it. I want to be honest here, because I've had conversations with both mentors and friends who have the felt THE EXACT SAME WAY.
Yet, we all felt completely alone because nobody is talking about how hard it can be to navigate life after graduation. If you're feeling a little lost and alone on your post-grad journey, I'm here to reassure you that those feelings are more normal than you may think, you are not alone, and things will get better.
A whole year later and I'm just now finally starting to feel like I'm on the other side of a really tough season in my post-graduate life journey. I'm far from having it "all figured out", but there are a few key things that I've learned over the past year. Today, I'm getting a little vulnerable and sharing them with you! Like I said, I'm not an expert on life after graduation (or life in general), but I'm hoping that some of these takeaways resonate and encourage you.
Oh, and I couldn't leave y'all without a recipe, so I'm sharing thesePeanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars with you, too! Who doesn't love peanut butter and chocolate?! I combined the two with oats, chia seeds, and honey to make the perfect pre-workout snack or treat. I'm also guessing they'd be a hit in a kid's lunchbox, but don't quote me on that because I haven't actually tested these on children...
What I've Learned 1 Year After Graduation
1. Life may be much different than you imagined, and that's OK.
I tried not to have too many expectations about what post-grad life would look like, but it's hard not to dream up your fairytale idea of how much better life will be when you're done with the bar exam and finally in the next phase of life. I won't say that life has been horrible (because it hasn't been), but it didn't really meet my expectations. In some ways it's been better and in other ways...not so much. Despite all of my expectations, one thing I can say is that I've learned more this past year about myself, and the importance of having the right perspective, than I could have ever imagined.
2. Instagram is a lie.
I love social media and I think it's so fun to share parts of my life with others, but that's just it...I'm only sharing parts. I love seeing the engagements, the home buyers, the weddings, the new babies, but I have to intentionally remember that people are usually only sharing the best and brightest moments of their lives. I can't compare my life to theirs. I spent so much of the last year looking at social media feeling like everyone else's life was charging ahead at warp speed while I was just stuck, stagnant, not making any progress. I was so focused on everyone else's journey that I couldn't even see the beauty of my own. Don't be like like me.
3. Spending time with God is a non-negotiable.
I've learned that I have to be really intentional about spending time with God in devotion each morning. Initially, I was just doing a quick devotion on the way to work, which is fine, but personally I needed more. I needed intentional, quite, purposeful time spent with God each and every day. For me, spending time with God is a form of self care. It's when I get filled up and recharged. Once I blocked off that time in my schedule each morning, my perspective and life really began to shift.
4. Don't be ashamed of your journey.
Over the last year I gained 15 pounds, which is kind of ironic because I walked into post-grad life with a weight loss goal. I thought I would have time to completely focus on my physical appearance and drop a few pounds. Turns out the past year was tough, stressful, and definitely not the right time for me to focus on weight loss. On top of the stress, I struggled to stay active, came home from work frustrated and binged watch Netflix instead of going for a walk or hitting the gym, and I've officially solidified that I'm an emotional eater. At first I was really ashamed about gaining weight, but then I got myself together and realized I had absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. SO WHAT if I gained a little weight. I'm no less beautiful, worthy of love, or somehow less credible because my bodyweight has shifted. I refuse to be ashamed of this part of my journey and I'm choosing to show up each day confident and ready love myself regardless of my physical appearance.
5. Don't be afraid to go after what you REALLY want.
Don't settle for what you think you're supposed to have or only what you think you can get. Go after more and keep going until you get what it is that you really want. Also, don't let your degree limit you or put you in a box. Just because you have a degree in one area does not mean that you can't pursue the other passions and dreams that are on your heart. Challenge yourself, chase your dreams, disregard the negative and uneducated opinions of other people, and be absolutely unapologetic about it.
6. How you start isn't how you'll finish.
My mom told me this a few weeks ago and it really stuck. How I started this post-graduate journey isn't how I'll finish. For some reason, after graduating I started to think that there wasn't much opportunity for my life to change in the coming years. That, somehow, I would just be stuck in the same job, same place, doing the same thing and feeling the same feelings of discontent. I couldn't have been more wrong, but in the moment (and sometimes still) those thoughts try to come creeping in. When they do, I remind myself that how I start this journey is just that - the start. I'm no where near the finish line and the best is yet to come.
7. Give yourself grace.
Out of all the lessons I've learned, the most important one has been to give myself grace. I'm not perfect and I don't have it all figured out. I can't place unrealistically high expectations on myself to always get it "right" or even make the perfect decisions. What I can do is trust God to lead, guide, and show me how to do the very best I can with the information and resources I have at the time. I've learned (and I'm still learning) to take all of the unnecessary pressure off of myself and fully rely on Christ.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
1 cup creamy all natural peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups gluten-free oats
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp chia seeds
Mix the peanut butter, honey, and vanilla until well combined.
Add the remaining ingredients and stir until the mixture resembles a dough like consistency.
Press the "dough" into a 8x8 baking dish lined with parchment or wax paper and then place into fridge or freeze for 15-20 minutes.
Once the bars have hardened, remove them and cut them into bars or squares.
Enjoy! Store in an air-tight container in the freezer or fridge.