The thought of graduating from college always provided a mix of emotions – sadness, excitement, but mostly anxiety. I always thought about what if I absolutely fell on my feet the moment I was handed that diploma. What if I wasted my time and money and was stuck in a rut just like others that didn’t spend time or money on higher education?
And for a moment, I thought I had done just that when I did graduate. On my graduation day, I didn’t have a job lined up. I was going to move in with my friends for the summer, away from home. I needed to get away from home because it wasn’t the best option for me, mentally…but living on somebody’s couch just made me feel like even more of a failure.
How could I not have any definite plan or some worthwhile option? I worked my ass off in school. I had a 3.64 GPA and was one of the most involved students on campus. I served as President of my sorority for two consecutive years, sat on multiple executive boards, including our school’s Student Government. I held four different internships. And here I was, living with my friends without a job for the first time in my life since I was 17.
It didn’t seem right. It almost felt like I resented life a little bit. We can’t help what we were born into, but I’ve always believed you can take charge of where you are going. It took time for me to realize that while I may not be where I want to be yet, it doesn’t mean I won’t get there. I may have graduated college, but that doesn’t mean my hard work stops and I get handed a shiny prize of immediate success with a bow on top of it.
What really stunned me is that other aspects of my life felt like they were finally aligning – I was happy about life after months of depression, I was eating healthy and exercising again, and I had good people in my life. Why couldn’t I just have a job for me to feel stable?
I am not a life master with this ample amount of wisdom to offer, but I am a human being dealing with a human experience. And I know in my time of need, I needed to hear from other people that I wasn’t alone and I wasn’t going to be alone. I turned to my friends for encouragement, I used my past for motivation, and I literally googled inspiring videos and “post grad advice” on Google. I refused to let myself sink into a hole.
I wanted to write this piece for a few reasons. I wanted to let it all out – the fears and frustrations. And then look at it, reflect, and determine what I’m going to do about it. Because I will be damned if I do nothing. I also wanted to write down what I think has been helpful for me personally, and maybe it can help some others who might feel the same way as me.
Here’s what I found:
Apply for Jobs Every Single Day
I’m serious – every single day. I make a goal to apply for 5, but sometimes I fall short on that. But I keep making an effort and look for new opportunities. If you don’t seek those opportunities, you’re never going to get the change. I literally had 8 interviews within two weeks, and none of those happened to work out. But I’m still applying. When I ran out of jobs I could find, I emailed company’s my resume and cover letter just in case they might be interested.
Get A Job in The Meantime (Even If It Isn’t In Your Field)
Don’t sit at home. You’re going to have so much time on your hands you never had before, and if you’re like me, too much time can lead to too much thinking and then self-doubt. I’ve recently applied to some other jobs that are near my friend’s house I’m living in. I’m hoping to use these to just get out the house for awhile and save up some cash throughout the summer. Even if it’s waitressing or bartending – nothing is beneath you. Get out and work.
I’ve made self care a huge priority in my life in 2017. Now that I’m at a point where I am more likely to feel down, I am making sure self care has become some sort of daily practice.
Exercise Your Body
Some people love to hit up the gym, some people hate it. I personally have gotten more interested in trying different things. I picked up yoga in the past few months, I’ve looked into HIIT workouts, and Summer provides the perfect time for some outdoor cardio. Endorphins are real, people. Elle Woods wasn’t lying.
Exercise Your Mind
I’ve recently picked up meditating. I downloaded an app (lol how “millennial” of me I suppose), and I try to do it either right when I wake up or right before bed. Either way, I found it really allows me to focus on important themes of life. Today my session was all about acceptance. Many people think about what they don’t have and what they want, and how many of us simply practice accepting what we have? PS: Don’t let this intimidate you. It only takes me 5 minutes each day.
The second you start to compare your journey to somebody else’s is the second you prepare yourself for doubt. You will immediately begin to see what you don’t have instead of focusing on what you are capable of doing. Whenever I catch myself comparing (because sometimes it is only human to do it), I try to actively tell myself – “Don’t let that discourage you. Instead, use it as your inspiration.” Kill the competitiveness.
Delete social media if you have to. I haven’t deleted my social media, to be honest. But I did get rid of some apps on my phone so that I am less likely to check them and I avoid certain individual’s stories on Snapchat.
I’m not claiming these all will make you feel magically calm or seem to cure any post grad blues. It can be tough, and I know I still breakdown in fear sometimes. But I try to bring myself to these thoughts and surround myself with others who will help fuel those ideas and beliefs.
Let me know if you have any tips of your own from your experiences! Until then, take a deep breathe and remember to stay present.