Life after college is tough.
Remember your Junior year of High School when you started planning out where you’d go to school in 2 years with sky-high goals to become that doctor/engineer/business owner? When you were promised a Bachelor’s degree would lead you to the path of success? When you changed your mind 100 times choosing a major and ended up choosing one not even close to what you had started with?
And then you graduate. (Maybe)
Rewind to 6 months before graduation: I had just scored a job in Chicago. The job (I thought) I wanted. I knew that I might have sold myself short, but I was so pumped to be the first of my friends to have security once school was over. I was eager to move onto this next chapter in my life.
Fast forward to June: I was wrong. The job was not what I thought it was. The hours were long. I had no idea what I was doing and minimal training. I was mocked by superiors and was in constant fear of failure.
I was so jealous of my friends who waited a bit longer and made sure they looked at all their options. The majority were making more money and/or were happier than I was. What did I do wrong?
Fast forward another 6 months: I got laid off. The company was failing and I was one of many to be let go. Was I surprised? Yes. Was I disappointed? Not really. Was I freaking out? Absolutely. My loan repayment had just kicked in and I had already been considering getting a second job to be able to live more comfortably. Now I have no income? Initiate panic mode.
Was I surprised? Yes. Was I disappointed? Not really. Was I freaking out? Absolutely.
I went 5 weeks without a job. Being someone who hasn’t gone more than a week without working since I was 14, I felt like a bum. I had a strict salary requirement that I told myself I would not go under.
Flash forward to week 5 of unemployment: Morale was running low. I had officially classified myself as a broke loser with no talent. OK maybe was being a little harsh on myself but I was so tired of getting questioned why I was back in Iowa at my parents or how I got “so lucky” to be able to stay for two whole weeks for Thanksgiving.
As we do every year, a large group of the people I graduated with got together the day after Thanksgiving at a party and caught up with what everyone was doing. I had friends in the same rut I had been in at my old job and others who scored their own office already. There was still all those dreaded questions coming from every person I interacted with – “How is the big city life in Chicago?” I live in the suburbs. “What are you doing now? Do you love your job?” I’ve been crashing at my parents’ house so I don’t have to pay for groceries and I don’t have a job.
When I finally gave up the act and told people what I was actually doing, there were sighs of relief. More than half of those people I had been putting up a front for were doing the same exact thing. Some people were even jealous me, having the ability to start over. Thinking about it, that was something I was super thankful for.
The next week, I finally got a response to one of my job applications. A travel agency I had applied to wanted to meet later that week back in my city in Illinois. It wasn’t one of my top choices but I figured I needed to stop waiting around and bite the bait. I flexed the fact that I had my own website and strong social media skills. Apparently my passion for discovering new places and cultures stood out – I was hired on the spot.
… I figured I needed to stop waiting around and bite the bait.
Flash forward to now: I now love going to work everyday. I am not drained from rude customers. I work with happy people who have the same passion as I do. I am learning things I have an interest in. And things just keep getting better.
Sometimes life doesn’t go the way you had planned. There are dips and turns but trust the process and keep making it happen.