This past weekend I went to visit my parents as I do every few months, whether I need too or not because I’m putting my name in for the yearly #FavouriteChild award. During said visit, my mother mentioned her disappointment that I didn’t shower my social media feeds with photos of my fancy new degree (see below photographic evidence #YoureWelcomeMom) like “all the other kids” who just graduated are doing.
It seems important here to point out that “all the other kids” talking about graduation in this scenario are the class of high schoolers from the rural school where my mom works, so it’s not exactly the #SameThing. But nonetheless, it did get me thinking about what happens after you’ve graduated.
Most people’s first instinct is to go get a real adult job, and when I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree an unnamed amount of years ago, it was my first move too. Except the economy was sh*t.
After I graduated, I sat at home panicking for four months trying to find a job, literally any job that would pay me to do something, anything. I had been working in the communication field (read: public relations for those of you unfamiliar) for a few years prior to graduation so I was ahead of my class experience-wise, but I still couldn’t seem to find ANYONE that would hire me.
I ended up with a job that had nothing to do with what I had studied, and everything to do with filling out forms for lawyers. It wasn’t glamours. It paid ridiculously low. And, most importantly, I hated it. But I learned an incredibly valuable lesson, don’t go for anything.
Do What You Want To Do
What I should have been doing during those four months was less panicking and more relaxing and figuring out what I really wanted. I might have actually learned a thing or two about myself that would have come in handy.
See, I did everything you’re supposed to do—I got a good job with a decent salary, climbed the company ranks, took a higher position, moved to another one, volunteered in the community, climbed the political ladder, hob-nobbed with fancy people—only to one day look in the mirror and realize that I had no idea who I was anymore. Further to that, that I absolutely hated who’d I become.
The lesson here isn’t don’t pursue a career. You need money to live, and you’re going to need to start paying off those student loans soon. It’s find something that you like doing, and do it.
It’s okay to wait a bit, if you can. There’s nothing wrong with slinging the ‘za at the local Italian joint or folding clothes at the mall until the right job comes along. Because once you’re in, it’s really hard to get out. There’s a reason why people daydream about switching careers but never get around to doing it.
Take a School Break
For those of you out there that really really want to pursue another degree, there’ll be time for that later. But later means later, not now.
I went from high school to university. Then from university to another university to take a second degree, which I stopped halfway through to pursue a third degree which I just finished this past March. I have spent every single year of my life since I was five years old in school.
But you know what I haven’t done? Been to Europe, or Asia, or goddamn New York City for that matter. I’ve never really taken time off, and I have the “one day I’ll do this” list to prove it.
School is a huge undertaking, and while I would never encourage anyone not to pursue their educational dreams (because I’m a true nerd and learning is fun), I would highly recommend taking some time off now and then. A lot of things happen when you have your nose shoved in a textbook—and a lot of things don’t.
Check Something Off Your List
Yeah, I know you have a list, we all do. And since you just graduated, my best advice is to check something off it. You don’t have to pick the biggest baddest thing on there—you’re probably not going to have a make-out sesh with Leo Dicap (though #YouGoGirl)—but pick something.
Because work’s going to start sooner than you think and that other degree is going to come calling, then there’ll be that meet cute at the coffee shop, the obligatory dog or cat adoption, the accidental (but super freaking adorable) daughter, then the white picket fence… and before you know it you’ll find your list in the back of the drawer you’re cleaning out so you and Randall can settle into the 65+ only retirement community.
Life happens whether you want it to or not, you’re only real control over the situation is deciding what you do and when.
Congratulations, You Just Graduated
The easy part of your life is now officially over. But the good news is, the fun can now begin.