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May 25, 2014

Post-College Purgatory: The Mind of a Recent College Grad. ~ Emily Hoyt

Graduation

Now What?

Recently I was sipping my morning coffee, enjoying the gentle aromas that filled the room, looking thoughtfully through the window onto a beautiful day.

The external environment was calm and quiet, but my internal environment was far from serene.

It occurred to me at that moment—I’ve arrived at a dead end.

If you’re like me and are entering a post-college purgatory—or if you’ve been here a while—you can probably relate.

This is a state of halves—half-broke, half-tired, half-spent.

The glass is both half empty and half full, and it feels like I’m half-sleeping through a waking dream.

My college neglected to inform me exactly what I was trading in for my diploma—

Dining hall omelets and coffee shop stops, with good company and new people.

Bargain buying and trinket trading, while enjoying the allure of unusual places.

Avoiding homework and pulling all-nighters, then skipping school for yoga class.

Exploring and adventuring with fellow explorers and adventurers.

If all that seems simple and idealistic, it was. That’s precisely what I miss about it.

Instead of embracing the spontaneity of each day with eager anticipation, I now endure melancholy mornings and sip my coffee beneath the burden of a nine to five day job.

It has been a drastic change.

To clarify, it’s not the work itself that I find burdening. What’s troubling me is the sense of routine this so-called “real world” has rudely introduced to me.

I miss the days when summer was an actual vacation instead of a frame-of-mind. The days when home was a communal space filled with cheap furniture and tapestries. The days when my only concern was my Friday night plans.

While weekend plans are still often on my mind, their priority level has dropped significantly. Like most recently graduated individuals, after a stressful workweek I barely have energy to make myself dinner or watch a movie—solo.

Sadly, my days no longer end with the phrases, “Where my girls at?” or “Taco Tuesday anyone?”

Lately, the only thing I can express is a terrifying feeling of intangibility.

It’s like walking down a hallway toward an open door—my legs move, and the floor tiles pass beneath me, but that door never seems to get any closer. 

And when my friends in college go back to school, and I see great opportunities unfolding for them, all I can do is stand still while that former world prances flirtatiously around me.

I don’t belong there anymore, and the 50-cent drinks I downed last weekend at the campus bar helped make that all too clear.

So, I got a haircut and bought some new “professional” clothes. I thought changing my undergrad image would help me move forward into the career world.

It didn’t exactly help.

It wasn’t until I found myself sitting cross-legged, on the floor of the astrology aisle in Barnes & Noble, searching for cosmic insight, that I realized I’ve crossed an emotional threshold.

I can’t stand the overwhelming anxiety of the unknown dominating most of my post-grad conversations. My former refuge—my friends—now talk only of bills, jobs, school loans, career changes and loneliness.

It all blends together into some unresolved enigma, and there is a feeling among us that we’ve been stuck in checkmate since graduation.

I hear it gets better. I hear we just have to pay our dues and work our way to the top.

Apparently that’s where we gain money, acclaim and success. That’s where we’ll make a name for ourselves.

If you’re like me, you’re probably not satisfied with those assurances.

You’re probably still trying to patch a hole you didn’t even know existed until now.

And you probably spend every day looking for a clue, any clue, that will lead you in the right direction.

Well, I’ve decided, instead of “working my way to the top,” I’m going to take time to explore my options. To do the things I never thought I could do. I am going to learn to be a good listener, to lean on those who offer their help, and to help those who are in need.

To pursue anything that feels right, even if it turns out to be wrong.

And if all I become is an inspiration to others, then I’ve accomplished a great deal.

Because that is something not even a college degree can guarantee.

~

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Apprentice Editor: Shannon Costello / Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Photo: Freerangestock

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Emily Hoyt