Mixed feelings. That is how I feel right now. After 365 days of the Atlas Corps – Emerging Global leadership initiative fellowship that is how I feel. Let me explain.

I am happy to go back and meet family, I would miss the fellowship community, I am not sure I will miss the weather but I would miss constant electricity and Wi-Fi – when I return to Pakistan that might be a challenge but I guess it’s all part of reverse cultural shock.

But apart from family, which is very important to me, I am also very anxious about my next steps. And I bet most of my fellows in class 21 are also anxious about their next steps – professionally and personally. So, before I go out in the next two or three hours to enjoy a get together with my fellows as we celebrate our graduation I will just like go more in detail about my mixed feelings.

 I am happy that I am going back in few days and will meet my family. My family is also excited to have me back home after a year. I am happy that I will meet my relatives and friends and I will share my experience with them here in the US. That’s on a happy note.

On another hand, I will miss the amazing Atlas Corps fellowship community. The previous one year was a hard and full of challenges but fellows were the most important and exciting part of the fellowship. We made a strong bond of oneness and lived like a family. We shared our experiences, we laughed together, we cried together, and we supported one another. That is how I feel right now. I am sure that we will be in contact and will work together for a better world.

On another note, back home in Pakistan its 40 to 42 Celsius, which will certainly remind me the good weather of DC. But I think I would deal with that…although I would certainly miss the “luxury” of constant electricity and Wi-Fi.

However, one of the most important things for fellows is next steps. What are your next steps after the fellowship? That’s a question every fellow gets asked. After completing such an amazing fellowship both family and friends have expectations. Some expect us to land good jobs and have amazing careers, others expect even more – for single fellows, family and friends sometimes expect them to meet someone. The anxiety that comes with these expectations could be too much some times. And most times, fellows just “escape” – they put it aside and remain optimistic about their post fellowship experience.

I am also anxious about my career. Right now, I’m thinking about a million things, but I’ll put that aside for a while and go celebrate with class 21 fellows. We have a reason to celebrate and we must remain conscious of that, even as we aspire for greater things.

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