I’ve been out of college for a solid seven months. In terms of “real world” time, this is nothing. A drop in the bucket of the endless abyss that appears to be the rest of my post-grad life. But in college time, this is an eternity. This is almost two semesters. This is 10 classes, 20 exams, 40 papers, and 50 sleepless nights in my college newspaper office.
Time moves even slower when you’re living with your parents in the broom closet you call your childhood bedroom, tripping over your belongings each morning because you have tried to fit a queen bed along with the six cartons of books that you brought home from school.
Add to this the never-ending job search. As a journalist, I scored the impossible: a good, part-time job in my field that allows me to work from home and sleep in late. But what no one tells you about working a night shift is how isolating it can be. You miss out on social engagements or eating dinner with your boyfriend because he gets off work as you start your shift. You sleep through mornings because you’re awake until 3 a.m. the night before. But it’s not solid, it’s not salaried, and it’s not what I wanted to be doing with my life at age 23. So I apply. And apply. And write cover letters. And reformat my resume. And get no bites.
Now try coming to terms with the fact that you used to be up at 7 and asleep at 2 a.m., and compare the staggering amount of work you used to do in one day to the fact that you now consider taking a shower a major victory. Putting on clothes that don’t involve elastic is a big deal, and seeing friends or someone outside of your family is both exhilarating and terrifying.
Your expensive liberal arts degree has imbued you with a keen ability to approach issues from a new angle, address all sides of a problem, research, report, and write like a pro. You can over analyze anything put in front of you. You can find nebulous connections between unrelated situations and people. You’ve been told how important it is to care—about the world, about other people, and about your own success.
Armed with this keen ability to over analyze and over feel, you sit in your car sometimes for hours, the same songs playing on repeat, staring off in to the terrifying nothingness that appears to be your future. And you begin to apply great meaning to these songs, because when you listen to them you start to feel nothing. And that’s a huge relief. This has become the soundtrack to your post grad depression.
First // Cold War Kids
You play the game, though it’s unfair you think as you fill out another application you will never hear back from. They’re all the same, who can compare? keeps running through your head as you realize your liberal arts degree is one in a sea of thousands. First you lose trust, then you get worried. Didn’t I go to school to be able to get a job?
Unbelievers // Vampire Weekend
I’m not excited, but should I be? you wonder as you tell your 10th extended family member that you’ve finally graduated. And no, you don’t have a job. That’s so great that their daughter got hired before graduation. And sure, you’d totally be interested in being hooked up with their friend who’s hiring for a minimum wage personal assistant job. Is this the fate that half of the world has planned for me?
Little Nowhere Towns // The Tallest Man On Earth
Well so honestly I’m broken down by this emptiness I feel is on repeat as you drive home at night. You briefly consider driving your car into a wall so that you could have a break from it all for a minute. Then you realize you should really not do that until you have a job that covers your health insurance.
Young Fathers // Typhoon
You take a realistic look at your skills and experience, and realize that maybe none of your plans are viable. Why did you even think you could get a job in writing? When you’re young you have, You have your whole life before you. Everyone will adore you. Grow up you’ll be an astronaut. Why didn’t you major in something more practical like accounting?
This Will Be Our Year // The Zombies
Occasionally you have moments of clarity when you realize that you are only 23, you just graduated, and your life is not the pit you assume it is. Most of your friends aren’t steadily employed either. But you guys can do this. And this will be our year, you think, looking on the optimistic side. Took a long time to come, you assume you’ll be thinking one day, as you sit, triumphantly, in the life you imagined for yourself.