Once upon a time there was a bold, beautiful woman who graduated college. She then patted herself on the back and patiently waited for the enthusiastic hoards of job offers to flood in.
The public begged for her services on the pretext of her unparalleled awesomeness, and because English majors with minors in Philosophy are very much in demand these days. So, she plucked her dream job offer from the lot and became the most renowned journalist in all the land.
Or, so I thought.
It’s been 33 days since I triumphantly completed my last exam, and I’ve discovered that life after college is not quite as magical as I had hoped it would be. Many of you have already recognized and come to grips with this jarring fact. But for those who aren’t familiar with this angst-ridden condition that categorizes the post-college, pre-career life, prepare to be enlightened in the form of Sherlock gifs. Why Sherlock gifs, you ask? Because I have a one-track mind, and I’m still suffering from Sherlock withdrawal. And also because I’m on page 68 of 2608 of the Everything Sherlock Tumblr account and I need to get these gifs out of my system before I hit the quadruple digit page count.
So! Let us begin.
My initial reaction to graduating is pretty much what you’d expect: Euphoria!!!! At long last, I’ve obtained freedom from academic obligations of any kind whatsoever. And the best thing about being a mid-year graduate is that I can smirk at my fellow seniors who still have another semester to go.
However, I have a surprisingly short attention span, so I start to feel stifled by the seemingly endless prospect of paralyzing nothingness before I can even enjoy it. Barely two days after overthrowing the shackles of higher education, it hits me: What now?
Meanwhile, my peers are engaging in grown-up activities such as pursuing jobs and purposes in life, finding spouses, etc.
I start to seek out a full-time job, since it seems to be the thing to do these days.
But I seem to have misplaced the motivation that has propelled me through schooling and internships for the past 16 years, and the few positions for which I worked up the courage to apply informed me that they have decided to Go In A Different Direction with their applicants. And so, after receiving a fair share (alright, only two. I have a fragile ego) of application rejections, I start to consider trying my hand at another profession. Maybe journalism is not my true calling in life after all.
But I quickly dispel that thought; I’ve devoted so much time and energy over the years convincing myself and others of my superb journalistic abilities that I left little to no room for excelling at anything else.
Comfortably reassured that my career prospects lead only in one direction, my Vacation Brain chimes in with the always dangerous: ‘What’s the rush? You have your whole life ahead of you!’ After that, my post-college, pre-career existence kicks into high gear—or, well, jumps off the track altogether. Days blend together, losing their differences until every day becomes, essentially, a Sunday. (Vacation Brain: ‘SUNDAYS ARE GREAT!!!!’) When I’m hungry, I eat; when I’m tired, I sleep. My “To Read” pile becomes a lot lighter than my “Read” pile, and I wonder vaguely if some hipster out there is awarding me mystical bookworm cred, which I can proudly scribble into the margins of my suddenly inconsequential résumé.
I don’t exactly “snap out of” this Zen-like haze, but eventually I come to the realization that I don’t particularly enjoy this state of existence. When each day is exactly like the next, you start to feel trapped– like you’re only engaging in a pale imitation of Living, whatever the hell that is. So, since I’m still not even remotely sure what else I should be doing, I start to engage in mini-projects. You know, just to keep busy.
I even agree to take on tasks for others that don’t involve monetary compensation for my efforts, simply because it’s something to do.
Even so, somewhere along the line I made the unconscious decision to avoid stepping outside the house at all costs. For one thing, that would require getting dressed, which is simply too much for my feeble, post-college brain to handle.
Besides, what does the world beyond my window have to offer that I can’t access via my conveniently located computer screen?
And, let’s be real, instant access to free food whenever I want it is a major plus.
Meanwhile, my friends are all ostensibly off Having Lives, or at least engaging in the aforementioned, semi-productive activities geared toward a future goal. I feel like I missed something crucial regarding the whole “getting older” business.
I resolve, though, in that Oldest Child Syndrome sort of way, that I’ll just have to do everything myself. So I make a herculean attempt to reach out to people instead of expecting them to respond to my urgent telepathic requests to come to me. But after so many days of blobbbing—an onomatopoeia I’ve just invented to suit my purposes in this blog post—I seem to have completely misplaced the ability to socialize convincingly.
Predictably– but no less alarmingly—Vacation Brain also seems to have shifted into Phase Two: Summer Brain, and I even start to lose my grasp of the English language. I worry that the effects may be permanent.
Fortunately, my rent-a-dog, Trixie, gets me, social skills or no social skills.
Love you too, Trix.
And though I briefly consider a lucrative career in dog-walking (good money! fresh air! no required human interaction!) something finally does jolt me out of my listlessness.
I resolve to do what I do best: Make a To Do list. Rejuvenated by the prospect of having a goal, I tear off a Post-It note, scribble “PLAN LIFE” in a haphazard, too-cool-for-school (ha! literally! ok bye) way, forcefully slam it down on my desk, and then curl up under my covers to watch another episode of Sherlock.
But the Little Post-It Note That Could remains on my desk, in plain sight, over the coming weeks. Because if I know one thing about myself, it’s that I gain a perverse amount by pleasure for crossing an item off a To Do list—God forbid I should profane the system by throwing a list away without having completed the written task(s)! Thus, the PLAN LIFE Post-It remains stubbornly stuck to my desk, taunting me mercilessly.
For a day. Or two. Or seven. Eventually, I can’t stand it any longer, so I do something radically proactive, like signing up for the Barnard Career Fair and/or picking up an object of clothing from my floor.
I’m very pleased with my progress. It’s not much, but it’s definitely something; something to keep me going until the world realizes how desperately it needs me, at least.
….But I’m still a dunce because I left my favorite hat on an airplane and now I’m really mad.
Aside from that, my friends: The game is on!