When All Your Friends Are Kicking Post-Grad Life's Ass and You're Like... Not
An Open Letter to the College Grads Who Feel Like They Haven't Gotten Anywhere Since College... (Fun fact: You're not the only one).
You graduated. Maybe it was a couple years ago. Maybe it was a couple months ago.
Well, pat yourself on the back pal, because regardless of where you're at in your career, you deserve to feel good about actually surviving those years of late-night, caffeine-fueled crams, super intimidating this-is-half-your-grade-so-don't-fuck-it-up-or-you-fail presentations, weekly tests in ALL of your classes, annoying group projects, million-paged research papers, constant pressure to be involved in clubs and such, actually being involved in said clubs, subjecting your stomach to the barely-passable-as-food caf selections, and OH YEAH, somehow finding a balance between all of that and being a decently social human with a life outside of academics.
Yeah. YOU did that.
And those dumb voices? The ones in your head that somehow cancel out all that hard work you did just because you're not where society says you should be by now? Well, they're just...
Maybe you're currently working a minimum-wage job (or making even less as a server somewhere). Perhaps you've got a decently-paying job, but in a field completely unrelated to what you majored in. Hey, it's even possible that you don't have a job right now and you're living at your parents' house actively avoiding looking at your degree that's collecting dust on their yeah-look-at-my-kid's-accomplishments shelf.
Hey, if this is you, those reminders probably have you feeling some anxiety. (Totes normal.)
SO, LET'S TAKE A SEC REAL QUICK.
Breathe. (Yes, like an actual, real-deal deep breath.)
And now let it all out, sloooowly.
If this happens to be freaky-accurately describing your current life situation, that is 100000% okay, my dear college-educated friend.
1. You're actually super far from alone.
You may feel like you're the only one of your friends (and even your friends' friends) to graduate college and end up working a "high-school job"...
But, have I got news for you, pal.
According to the New York Fed, roughly one in three college graduates (34 percent) are underemployed, AKA... they are working in jobs that do not require a degree.
And among recent grads, that number is even higher. According to the same source, a whopping 44 percent of college graduates ages 22 to 27 are underemployed.
That's almost half.
You could be a parent that's reading this and wondering "well, why the heck is this happening?" ... Truth is, there are probably tons of reasons behind it.
But, the "why" part is not the purpose of this post. (I'll leave that fun Googling sesh to you.)
The point is: if you're a college grad and most of your coworkers are talking about prom and getting their permits... know that you are definitely not alone. *heart emoji*
And sometimes... just knowing this can make a hell of a difference.
Comin' at ya hot, here's the second reason you're perfectly a-okay, my friend.
2. Your degree does not equal YOU.
Let's talk about a few things your degree is and a few things it is not:
- Your degreeIS a (very expensive) piece of paper signifying you've learned a lot about a certain field.
- Your degreeIS something that tells employers "hey, hire me because I spent a lot of time in (and outside) of class studying stuff relevant to this job / I know more than I did when I graduated high-school."
- Your degree IS representative of the fact that you can juggle many different responsibilities and deadlines at once.
Great. Now, pay close attention.
- Your degree IS NOT a certificate that means "HI, YOU STUDIED [insert-major-here] FOR 4 YEARS SO THAT'S ALL YOU CAN HAVE A CAREER WITHIN, K BYE."
- Your degree IS NOT, in any way, the only measure of your potential for becoming a successful, impactful individual of society.
Steve Jobs. Bill Gates. Henry Ford. Rachel Ray. ELLEN DEGENERES, YA'LL. None of these fabulous humans obtained degrees. Still badasses? You bet.
Your degree isn't anything more than exactly what it is. A certificate. It says you're smart and you know some cool, specialized stuff. Period.
And finally, the most important reason why you're going to be juuuust fiiiiiine. *wink
3. Every. Journey. Is. Different. And. That's. OKAY.
Comparison is a killer.
Hey, let's be honest. Chances are pretty good that you probably spend a good chunk of time every day comparing.
You compare your life to other people's lives. Your stuff. Your accomplishments. Your goals. Your progress.
With social media being what it is these days, it's pretty difficult to, like, not compare. #relatable
But you know what? Other people's successes are not your failure.
LET THIS SINK INTO YOUR BEAUTIFUL BRAIN...
Other. People's. Successes. Are. Not. Your. Failure.
So freakin' what if you haven't put your degree to use yet?
Degrees represent knowledge. And where does knowledge live? In your MIND, my friend. You have infinite access to it.
And if you forget some stuff? Well, your brain is always ready for refreshers.
And yessss. PARENTS. I know what you're thinking: "This is all nice and everything, but WHAT ABOUT STUDENT LOANS????"
Ha, that fickle beast. (Yeah, no, I didn't forget.) And here's the thing, guys:
Yes, student loans suck. Yes, they are outrageously enormous in this day and age. Yes, the proper money has to be made to pay these mofos off. And yeah... a minimum-wage job just isn't going to cut it for that kind of debt.
However, it's 99.9999% likely that your little gradsters have already thought of this. Chances are, they think about it daily. (After all, we're our own worst critics, right?)
So try to relax and let them take control of their lives. Their time will come. Maybe share this post with them. Perhaps, talk calmly with them about where their mind and heart are currently. (Just try to avoid any shaming, judgment, or guilt vibes while you're discussing this with them because trust me, they'll feel it in a microsecond and will most likely stop openly communicating with you.)
Remember, your kids are not their degrees.They are SO much more. And whether they are actively using their degrees or not, they are still the precious souls you raised, loved, and brought safely to adulthood. They're still silly, lovable, smart, and straight-up awesome. They have the potential to do anything in this world.
But you knew that.
If you take anything away from this post, let it be this:
Wherever you are in your journey, relax and know that you are exactly where you are supposed to be. There is no race. There is no deadline for when you should be successful. There is nothing but this very moment. So, live in it.
If you're not where you want to be, change it. You have that wonderful ability. Set some goals, practice those habits you've been wanting to, break the ones that have set you back, put some rad podcasts on blast, let those feelings of shame and self-judgment fall away, and do the damn thang, you totally-capable-grad, you.
P.s. If you need some help, motivation, or just someone to talk to about those weird post-grad feels, feel free to shoot me a message at [email protected] (I'll try to respond as timely as I can!)
P.s.s. If you feel like this article helped you feel a lot better about where you are in your post-grad life / you have friends or family that might need a reminder of their total bad-assery... go right on ‘head and hit that share button, pal. ;)
Peace and love, friends.