The weird post-college limbo nobody warned me about
This past May I graduated from college. I had worked hard there, keeping busy with full class loads, playing collegiate softball, and working a part-time job. Unfortunately though, my graduation came with an asterisk at the end. Because I had chosen to play collegiate softball for all four years, I had to complete my student teaching a semester after I graduated. When I walked at graduation in May, I had earned a degree with a double major in English and education and a minor in writing, but I still wasn’t licensed to teach.
For a while I was bitter about this. I was mad because I wasn’t told I would have to stay an extra semester until my junior year. I was mad because I couldn’t get a full-time job working in the field of my choice the summer after I graduated. Who wants to hire someone for only three months? And I was mad because I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to teach the rest of my life.
As much as I love education, I also love writing and have worked part-time with PR departments and newspapers. With so many options, I’m still not sure what I want to do. I’m stuck in-between.
I no longer consider myself a college student. I’m not taking classes anymore, but I’m still technically enrolled. I will be in the classroom teaching full-time, but I won’t get paid to do it. This in-between land can be frustrating. But when I started thinking about how many options I had, I started to feel a lot luckier.
For instance, I know when I finally secure my licensure in the fall, it’s going to be a lot trickier for me to find a full-time teaching job (not many teachers end their jobs mid-school year), but I will have more time to look for jobs and hopefully less competition. I should be able to easily fill my days substitute teaching (which would totally leave room for my writing as well). I could even pursue careers that are more writing-oriented, an option that I may have strayed away from previously. In-between-ness is really just opportunity.
Too often we find ourselves trying to fit into a cookie-cutter persona, which often doesn’t fit us. I didn’t graduate cleanly in four years, but for me it’s looking like the best option day by day. It’s giving me time to start job searching early and to consider options I may have missed earlier.
As we start to age, it becomes easier to compare our own achievements against those of our friends. After college things are suddenly in an uproar. Some friends are getting married. Some are having kids. Some are moving across the country (or the world). Some have landed their dream jobs right off the bat. Suddenly, it seems like we aren’t where we are supposed to be.
This all becomes even easier when our friends are so self-assured of their own decisions. When going to graduate school is the right decision or moving home is the right decision for someone else, it’s so easy to feel like we’ve made the wrong decisions. But we can’t keep trying to match ourselves up with others, mostly because we aren’t those other people.
Most of my friends want a different future than I do, and that’s ok. It just means that we are going to have to take different paths which might be hard at first, but in the end it will be what’s best for everyone.
My stuck-in-between probably isn’t your stuck-in-between and that’s ok too. We all get stuck different places, and we’ve all got things to learn from those places. As for me, I’m going to take this summer to spend with my family, because who knows where I’ll be a year from now.
Anna Phillips is a writer from Chicago. You may have read some of her work before in places like Thought Catalog or Femsplain. When she grows up she wants to be Mindy Kaling’s best friend. Anna stays busy reading comedians’ memoirs and watching movies from the 80s.
[Image via iStock]