You just graduated from college. For the first time in your life, there is no plan. It’s now entirely up to you what you do and for how long. Yikes! Depending on the day, you will feel either encouraged and excited, or flat out adject fear of the future.
Being an adult is a daunting task. It’s not like you can choose NOT to be an adult. Once you step out of school, you’re an adult whether you like it or not. And you will have to do adult things. What’s next? When do you move out and where do you move to? What kind of job do you need? Those are questions that every generation of twenty-somethings have had to face, but now the landscape of the world is completely changing.
The advice of your parents and their experiences are being increasingly irrelevant and antiquated. Blue collar jobs; old stand-by industries that generations upon generations have been able to fall back on, like getting a job in the postal service are now as uncertain as any other industry, victims of political red-tape and an economy that’s unsure of itself. New technologies and opportunities are cropping up, but don’t offer the stability or the money that you need. In almost any direction you turn in, there are more questions than answers. And that’s just getting any job. Forget about forging a career. You go to school for four years (at least) in the hopes that you’ll graduate into a job that will set you on the path to the career you worked hard in school to be in. But not so fast! Very often, newly grads simply can’t get a job in their industries. How long is too long to wait for something to open up before taking your life in a new direction?
I know a lot of people that have been out of school and either working unrelated jobs to their schooling, or are out of work entirely and searching. Is it stubborn to hold out and wait for a job in your career? And should you take an entry level, low paying job in your industry over a better paying and more stable job outside of your industry? Even if doing so means you’ll be living with your folks longer? And even if there aren’t any guarantees that the entry level gig will do anything for you in the future? Oh, God, my chest hurts writing this. I don’t know if it’s anxiety or I’m actually having a heart attack. Whatever it is, it’ll have to just resolve itself because my insurance is up in the air between my parent’s plan (that, despite Obamacare, still leaves me with limited coverage after leaving school) and whatever rinky-dink insurance I can get my way into. Adject fear. Terror. What am I to do?
First thing’s first - get a beer and find a friend to vent to. Chances are, they’re going through the same thing. Eventually, you’ll open up Facebook (or Twitter, or Instagram…) and you see a few posts from your friends. One guy is living out in the city, working (seemingly) happily in a new tech startup. Damn, he’s doing big things. Another guy is building a legitimate following in the increasingly legitimate field of blogging. Good for him! Yet another guy is snapping pictures of expensive looking drinks that he can afford. Wow!
Seeing all this, you can’t help but pick yourself up. Come on, if they can do it, so can you! You’re a part of the new generation. Yes, all hell is breaking loose and nothing is promised, but you’re young, smart and you have a degree and friends with connections all over the place. You can make things happen! Something no one has thought of before, just like your buddies on Instagram. You give yourself a pep talk and straighten out your resume. You revise your life’s plan and get yourself out there to do some interviews. You’re locked and loaded, with a fresh haircut to boot. You’ve gone from a little worry-wart, to Bruce Wayne suiting up to fight crime as Batman. All you need to do is latch your utility belt on and start up the Batmobile. You’ve replaced all that fear with ambition! Unbridled ambition and determination. You’re the next Steve Jobs. But also, Batman.
Whew, that was exhausting, though. Writing a resume in the right format and pretending you’re Batman really take a lot out of you. Plus, do you really want to lock up your young twenties with a nine-to-five job? Yuck. No one wants a nine-to-five. I definitely have nine-to-five-ophobia, which is a made up condition where you have a paranoid fear of committing yourself to a full time, day job.
So you cool it a little, keep trudging along until something, like getting another wedding invitation in the mail, triggers the anxiety to start again. It’s a cycle, that won’t end until you finally have a breakthrough, which could be instantaneous, but will probably take many years and hard work to develop. This cycle of fear and ambition is what I think we’ll eventually discover is a new, premature version of a midlife crisis. It’s an existential meltdown that I call “The Quarter Life Crisis.” And right now, the only known cure is happy hour. Who’s down for some two-fers?