Young graduates, I feel your pain. I know how much unemployment hurts and I am here to break it down for you. This way, we can all start a support group for a generation that believed they could do whatever they wanted, and is now sitting at home staring at the telly, wondering if they will ever amount to anything.
Here’s what happened: you did what the adults told you to do. You studied and you got into university. You studied and you got your hard-earned degree. After graduation, you applied for jobs – loads of them! You even got some interviews where you got to talk to lovely people who seemed keen on giving you a job. But so far, no such luck. You have no income. You have nothing to do all day. And what’s worse: you miss doing what you did all your life, you miss studying.
I’m on the same emotionally rocky, jobless young persons boat. So here is a stage-by-stage guide of what you, unemployed graduate, are going through right now. And it gets better in the end – kind of.
Stage 1: Relief
With graduation comes the relief of finally having a degree. No more essays, no more dissertation, no more reading for seminars! Now, you can immerse yourself in the bliss of reading whatever you want to read, whenever you want to read it. You can also watch a lot of television and catch up on all the shows you always wanted to watch. As you work through the shameful pile of books you kept telling yourself you would read over your university years, you think “At last! At long last!”
Stage 2: Boredom
The novelty of doing whatever you want whenever you want it wears off really quickly. Unfortunately, drinking a cup of tea with your morning paper doesn’t quite last all day like you thought it would when you daydreamed it during a particularly tough night at the library. What are you supposed to do with yourself again? Maybe the telly has something interesting. We all know what day-time TV is like though, and as you flip the channels back and forth you realize you will never find anything decent to watch. You get hungry, but there’s nothing in the fridge. So you sit down in front of the sofa again, wrapping yourself in a blanket and eventually falling asleep in front of the television at around 9pm. This goes on for days.
Stage 3: Determination
Boredom soon morphs into a bizarre need to do everything you possibly can to entertain yourself. So you decide, instead of being desperate because months have gone by and you have no job, that you need to go out there and learn new things! You come up with odd projects like writing a book about your dog or being a photographer. Everyone is supportive, but they can see the dull pain in your eyes that says “What am I doing with my life?”
In this stage, you also start getting up ridiculously early and ordering books off Amazon to teach yourself new things. When the postman delivers your packages you have an awkwardly long conversation with him, and later you can only remember yourself ranting at him about how much you’ve always wanted to learn Italian.
Next time he delivers something, he leaves very quickly. You still end your days asleep on your couch.
Stage 4: Bargaining
You’re not just sitting around doing nothing! You’re sitting around looking at job listings every day. And they rarely change from one day to the next, and as you can’t apply for any more jobs in your field since you’ve already applied for all of them several times, you start to look at jobs you don’t actually want, or don’t have any of the skills required to do.
Marketing? Er, yes I guess you learned some of that in that YouTube video you saw once… Financial reporter? That would be so exciting! And you’re great with numbers, right? I mean, really, you almost studied business! If it wasn’t for all the other stuff you’d rather do before that, you’d be a businessman or woman right now!
Stage 5: Jealousy
This is the ugliest of stages and it does not take long for it to pop up – just like good news on your Facebook feed! That is, good news for other people who have got your dream job for which you applied for but didn’t even get to the interview stage. Let’s not pretend we don’t do this. Being jealous is natural, but you can’t let it infiltrate your life.
Sure, scrolling up and down your Twitter page and reading about successful classmates more than stings in your worse boredom filled days (you know, once you’ve hid all your Italian learning tapes in under the bed because you’ve been doing such a bad job at using them) but letting it get to you is a beginner’s mistake. Be jealous and get over it. Here’s an exercise to help you through this stage: think of all the actors who are also young adults and make millions every year. Thought of it? Now let it go. Let that anger go!
Did it work? No? Well, I never said it would. Don’t look at me, I don’t have a job either.
Stage 6: Serenity
This happens because it is the only thing that can happen. You are so exhausted over obsessing with this getting-a-job-after-you-graduate thing that you just give up on it. You start to just go with it and hope for the best. It takes you a while and you go back and forth between stages. But eventually you find yourself feeling a bit more confident because hey, everyone else is unemployed, so you can’t be so bad, right? Right.
Now, where’s the remote control?
You can read more from Nicole Froio on her blog.
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