Ramen noodles for dinner, boring lectures, outrageous text book costs, sleepless nights full of cramming, outlandish parking pass fees, countless finals, heavy traffic, campus construction, and dare I forget UNC-Charlotte’s crazy geese that found humor in terrorizing me on my way to class - - all the more reason for me to hurry up and be done with college already.
Like thousands of other soon-to-be graduates, I remember it like yesterday - - being completely over my last year of college and overly zealous about graduation nearing.
College was consuming my life. I was ready for the real world.
I was ready to say GOODBYE to part-time retail checks and HELLO to real money! I was certain that I’d quickly land a “big girl” job in the workforce and a nice paying one at that - - perhaps too certain.
I mean isn’t that how it works for all college graduates? You go to college. You graduate. You start work in your dream profession. You make the big bucks. You live on your own - - away from parents. You live happily ever after. Life is good.
Yet a week before a graduation, a time I should’ve been most excited for the end nearing, I found myself weeping in front of the T.V. with a huge bowl of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream in hand. College had prepped me for the real world through internships, on site learning opportunities, and much more but boy did my professors leave out the part about experiencing the*cues the “dun dun dunnn” sound*…
There I sat as a single mom that had overcome so many depressing statistics by actually completing college only to find myself bearing feelings of anxiety, emptiness, sadness, and hopelessness. The Blues intensified after graduation.
At a time when I should’ve been proud of my accomplishment, why was I in such a funk? What was wrong with me?
SIMPLYMEI’S GOT A STRONG CASE OF THE GRADUATION BLUES
1. Keeping Up with The Joneses:
You may find yourself feeling lonelier than ever. Let’s face it. You and your friends did everything together: registered for the same classes, frequented dining halls together, and even had study dates together. So what if the study dates were last minute and occurred after weekends of partying. The fact is in college you found individuals to pass the time with. Now that you’ve graduated you may find yourself trying to attend every event and/or outing with the same buddies for fear that you are missing out on something. In fact, you find yourself being so booked up with trying to keep up with everyone that you neglect setting your own new goals.
Solution CHILL. There’s a strong chance that you and your buddies won’t be living as roommates forever, working at the same job forever, or living in the same city together forever. (Think about it. Your future wife or husband might find that odd, don’t you think?) It’s always great to see friends but the transition from college to “real life” will require some alone time too. At some point you will need to relax on being so readily available to everyone and focus on YOUR next steps in life. Is graduate school an option? Do you plan to climb the corporate ladder? Are you starting a family soon?
2. Help! I Hate My New Job:
Not only did it take you a couple of failed job interviews and countless days submitting your resume, but now that you’ve finally landed a job you realize that you hate it. You find yourself asking, “was college even worth it?” Seriously. This job has nothing REMOTELY to do with your major and some of your friends that didn’t go to college are getting paid nearly the same amount as you. Pretty soon you’re writing Facebook statuses about how overrated college is and debating on quitting your first out-of-college job. This is NOT what you signed up for. Where are the big bucks? What happened to the dream job? The cubicle at work is just not cutting it for you and you can’t pay Sally Mae on this budget.
Solution Breathe. Now is not the time to get flustered. Frustration has a bad way in manifesting itself into poor performance on the job. Now is a great time to humble yourself (& yes this can be done without becoming complacent). Remind yourself that even if this job is not permanent, there is ALWAYS something you can learn at any job. You’d be surprise at how much you can accomplish with an open mind. Maybe this is an opportunity to enhance your workplace communication skills or time management skills. If you still absolutely hate it, treat it as a learning experience - - at least now you know what you DON’T want in a job when searching for your next one. Maybe you’ve now learned that you actually don’t prefer a behind-the-desk, 9-5 kind of career you once dreamed of.
3. Be The Change You Wish to See… How?
HELP! You had all of these unique passions in college and guess what? You found a crowd of like-minded individuals that shared the same passions. Who knew other people existed in the world that loved Harry Potter as much as you? Who knew that there were other philanthropists who also loved volunteering in the community? The point is there were so many on-campus organizations for you to join that made you feel like you had a sense of belonging and purpose. By now you are suffering from a slight identity crisis. Now that you’ve graduated you feel as if you have cut ties with your sense of purpose and you are wondering, “what do I do now?”
Solution Don’t be discouraged and don’t give up on those passions. There are plenty of organizations that exist beyond the collegiate level. Do your research. Join your school’s alumni association. Connect with other recent graduates. Start your own organization. Realize that there is not an absence of organizations when you graduate. It is the absence of so much structure (that you found in college) that creates this illusion. As a graduate you will be challenged to actually go out and seek opportunities. Don’t fear. Many of these organizations are waiting on someone one just like you!
4. Great... I Went from Making $8.50/hr. to $9.00/hr. With A Side of Debt
You are super stoked. Part time waitressing at Joe’s Shack just wasn’t cutting it. You’ve waited forever to graduate and finally land you a full time job that would make you more money. One problem: Every job is asking for you to have EXPERIENCE in addition to a degree. Wait a minute. You JUST graduated. Of course you don’t have ample experience yet. When you finally land your first job you are appreciative but you soon learn that you are starting off at the “bottom of the totem pole.” In other words, you realize that you are not quite making the big bucks like you predicted. You also realize that there are co-workers with just as much education as you with more experience.
Solution Realize that you are not alone. Just ask another graduate or two. It is not atypical to feel like you are worth more than what the job is paying you. However, it is not always best to leave a job before reaping your harvest. If you feel that you are way more valuable and not just some naïve graduate, then now is the time to prove it to your boss. Do above average work. Take initiative on those special projects at work. Create ideas to help your job be more effecient. Be a leader. In short, be so good that no one can dispute the fact that you deserve a raise. Even if you don’t plan on making a career out of your job, don’t burn bridges. Should you move on, keep in mind that the people at your current job will one day turn into your references. What will they say about your track record?
5. “Go Home Roger!”
Many of you have gotten a taste of what freedom feels like being away from home. Who wants to trade college life and freedom for being told to do the dishes, take out the trash, and clean your room? In other words, you’re just NOT trying to go back home and live with your parents again. Okay so what if you don’t have a job or any leads? The point is you don’t want to leave your college friends or the life you have established for yourself.
Solution Life is full of transitions. Remember when you first graduated high school and you were so scared to leave your high school friends? You eventually acclimated to a new environment (college) and found out that it wasn’t so bad. This is just another