Dear 2017 graduates: Here is what I wish someone had told me about postgrad life
Remember that big, bad scary entity of cubicles and taxes that everyone and their mama warned you about when you were in college? The Real World. Not to be confused with the MTV reality TV series of yesteryear, because real life is way more dramatic.
It’s been exactly two years and one day since I graduated from my not-so-liberal liberal arts college with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Communications.
My successes to date have been a one year stint as a pseudo librarian, a short-lived experience as a Manhattanite, and a full-circle return to the same employer I worked for right out of college.
In other words, I am nowhere near where I wanted to be — or where I feel like I should be, TBH.
Between you and me, I was fully prepared to turn this postgraduate reflection into a five hundred word piece about my grudge against THE SYSTEM, and the fact that my alma mater couldn’t be bothered to print my major on my degree. Or lament about my fear of never shattering the glass ceiling.
Or I might just say, there will never be a moment that feels quite like this — not your wedding day, and not the freedom that comes with being pantsless in your first apartment. Unless you are one of those unicorns that decide to get more than one undergraduate degree, this is it. The feeling of accomplishment that washes over you when you switch that little tassel from one side to the other is priceless. (I mean, technically, if you had student loans you definitely paid a price — but even so.)
What comes next you might ask?
Well, first, you will get to know the IRS intimately, and you will become fluent in the foreign tongue of adulthood — with words like consolidation and business casual rolling off your lips.
Then, you may strengthen your relationships with your friends and family. You and your friends are bonding over submitting 30 job applications a week. Maybe your dad becomes your best friend, because watching movies with him on Friday nights is cost effective. You will feel old, because teenagers code better than you, and the closest you come to coding is unlocking your iPhone.
Post-grad life will remind you that, sometimes, it’s okay to talk to strangers. In fact, that may be the only way to deal with the anxiety you never knew you had.
One of adulthood’s favorite foreign words? Benefits. Use them. Go to the doctor’s for the hiccups, get your teeth cleaned, and talk to a professional when life feels like too much. If you are one of the fortunate ones with healthcare use it, and fight for those who don’t.
And finally, everyone will tell you that you ought to be grateful for this opportunity. Professors and academics — with titles you don’t understand — will tell you that, today, you will take the world by storm. But sometimes you just end up caught in the rain. The world is your oyster, but maybe you hate oysters because they’re slimy and weird.
The truth is this: graduating college is actually scary as fuck.
There are days when you have cereal for dinner — because if it was good enough as a child, then it technically counts as a real meal. It will often feel like everyone has a romantic partner and you got picked last for dodgeball, and supervisors will micromanage and underestimate you. That piece of paper you’re getting today means nothing — the most significant thing about today is you, and the fact that you persevered through mental and emotional stress.
You mustered up faith in yourself in order to take what is basically a four year risk so that you’ll have a chance at an equitable life.
A degree means that you did something when at least one person in your life said that you wouldn’t, and adulthood is the same. Everyone will tell you that you are too much, not enough, too bitter, too sweet — but you are enough.
And if you can hold on that, you just might be okay.