I think something that no one tells you when you finish school, whether it be college or university, is that although the world portrays you as full of potential and choice and opportunity, there will be a struggle and it may come close to breaking you. Yes, you made it through years of grueling school work, late nights with little (if any) sleep, and caffeine fueled classes. Yes, you studied endlessly for tests that you may have just hardly passed anyways. Yes, there were the struggles to make friends and keep friends, oh, and hopefully find a relationship though this is a whole other ball game. Yes, you’ve accomplished all of this and it amounts to a walk up to the front of the room, accepting a diploma or certificate at graduation, but this is only the beginning. No one seems to mention how truly terrifying it is to hand in those final assignments, reach for that diploma and all of a sudden have a new life.
For years we’ve been students, sure we may have worked part time jobs throughout the year, maybe even full time during the summer months while school was out, but do we really know what full time employment means? We’re so used to school and its culture that it’s a complete shock to be thrown into “adult” adult life and be told “here you go, go get that job, reach your full potential!”
Suddenly there’s a timeline. If you’ve been out of school a short time, there’s the pressure to find a job, and a good one…and fast! Then, as time passes, you get desperate to start paying off the student loans and take some job completely unrelated to this “full potential” everyone keeps throwing around. If you decide not to settle for something that you’ll most likely hate and hold out for something good, then it all comes down to time. It becomes a race to get a job before this indeterminate period of time gets determined as being “too long” and this “full potential idea” goes slowly down the drain.
How long is too long? What job are we supposed to expect to get right out of school with minimal experience? What if the experience we have from part time jobs is no longer what we wish to do and becomes irrelevant in the search?
I guess you could say that these are the questions that have been keeping me up late at night. Questions surrounding my future, both professional and personal. Ideally I’d work for myself, set my own schedule, be my own boss, and be fully accountable both to and for me. Although many people want this, I’m sure, I can’t seem to accept the fact that those same people are never able to achieve it. I can’t seem to accept that I may be one of those people who hates work every single day, doing a job that doesn’t fulfill me. It’s a terrible thought, but one that costs me hours of sleep each night as I toss and turn, trying meditation apps to calm my busy mind.
I guess the point is that no one prepares you for this. No one explains that this is what can happen, no matter how successful you may have been in school or in past employment. No one tells you how nauseating the stress can be as loans pile up and there’s no way to pay them or to get a job that will get you anywhere close to where you want to be. All we can do is search and attempt to find the path that we are meant to be on and hope that opportunity and good fortune line up in such a way that allows us to follow this path. No one tells you any of this, but maybe this is part of some twisted rite of passage that all young graduates must learn for themselves and struggle through, as a sort of ‘paying their dues’. We must continue to have hope and optimism that one day soon we will find our way, having figured it out for ourselves.