The nitty-gritty of finding your first job after college. It starts a little something like this…
Note: Most of the writing in this post is taken straight from my journal, so this is a very candid representation of how I felt at each point of the job search. Obviously my experience isn’t representative of everyone’s.
Stage 1: Oh, you graduated? Now what?
From the outside looking in, it may seem like I have my shit together. But, my close friends and family members know that over the past 6 months (timeframe: spring semester — just after graduating) that’s not been the case. No one quite prepares you for the unknown. How could they? Up until this point in my life, every next step has been neatly predetermined. Then one day, I find myself having graduated from college with every option available to me, but all I feel is numb. Numb because there are too many directions my life could take from here and I’m desperately searching for the “right”‘ direction. When I think I’ve found it, doubt sneaks in and I’m left reaching into nothingness. What a vicious, tolling cycle.
I’ve gotten so much encouragement and support from those around me, which I’m so grateful for. I’m continually told things like: it’s only a matter of time, you’ll find something amazing, there’s no wrong choice. I’ve also been what feels like wrongfully complemented by statements like “I can’t wait to see all the incredible things you’ll do!” I’m then haunted by self-doubt again — what if I’ve peaked? What if I don’t do anything incredible at all? What if all my hard work amounts to a life that’s merely “eh”? The idea of living a mediocre life terrifies me at my core.
The funny part of it all? I know the only person standing in my way is myself. I know the only reassurance I need is my own. I know that even taking a “wrong” first step will ultimately lead me to a “right” one. I know these things, yet I’m too overwhelmed to fully believe them. Today, I find myself still struggling and realizing that’s okay. Sometimes being real is better than pretending everything is fine.
Stage 2: Learning to be thankful
Sometimes I’m so in my own head ruminating that I miss the world around me. My body goes on autopilot and I nod at the right times in conversations, smile when appropriate, and respond with surface level commentary. The actions are there, but no one is home. I am unaware.
For me it’s been a matter of realizing when I’m in that trance and remembering I’m standing in the way of being in the moment. When possible, that is. Or removing myself from a situation in order to allow myself to feel whatever emotions I need to feel, give attention to whatever thoughts I’m so stuck on, let it pass, and then move on. I’ve learned to not feel guilty for needing a break. And this time off — not going to school and not working — seems to be a prolonged break I didn’t know I needed. So, instead of feeling guilty, I’m learning to be thankful.
Stage 3: We’re over the hump
Dare I say it, but I’ve been feeling good lately. Like really good. I’ve been feeling noticeably confident, my mood has been more positive, and my mind more at ease than it has been in a long time. And you know what? That scares me. There have been multiple times where I’m like “wow I’m feeling great” and then my mind suddenly goes to “oh shit.” Because to be frank, I’m not used to feeling at ease anymore. And now when I do, it seems too good to be true. It feels like it’s got to have an expiration date and I’m terrified this mood will only last another day or even 15 minutes before it’s gone.
It sounds almost dramatic to think it’s mainly been job related, but then I take a step back and realize it’s not dramatic at all. More than being stressed about finding a job, it’s the great unknown and the stress of trying to take your first step into your future. Yeah, shit’s real. But, the sky is still blue. I’m so happy right now I could cry and nothing even remotely monumental has happened. And I’m damn thankful for that. Maybe there’s another hurdle in the distance, but for right now at least, I’m over the hump.
FYI I was driving and just pulled over on the side of the road to write this out because sometimes words don’t come at opportune times and I wanted to capture this moment.
*turns hazard lights off and resumes drive to Target*
Stage 4: Let’s do this
So this is being an adult, huh? Part of me feels like I’m an impostor. But here I am — waking up at 6:45am, getting on the 7:48 train with the other so called adults in their business casual attire. There’s no shortage of briefcases, flats (or for the particularly brave — heels), ties, and blazers during my commute, that’s for sure. Oh, and headphones. One of my favorite games to play is “what is he/she listening to?”
On the real, it’s nice to have a purpose again. That sounds super depressing, but I don’t mean it to. It’s not that I didn’t have a purpose before, but I also didn’t have anything to do with my time. As much as waking up anytime before 9:30 pains me, I do appreciate starting my day early (it’s just the getting out of bed part that’s tricky).
Looking back, my biggest fear was that I’d finally find a job only to get 2 weeks in and be like “sh*t I don’t want to do this.” The thought of having to start the job search over again was NOT in my ideal scenario. Luckily, I’m free of resumes and interviews for the foreseeable future because I’m really enjoying my job. It’s funny because I clearly didn’t know what I was looking for until I found it. I even mentioned this in my interview — and risked sounding like a suck-up, but it was true. After reading both the company blurb and job description, I remember sitting there thinking “OMG. This is it. This is what I want to do.” It’s both related and completely unrelated to my degree so learning everything from scratch has me far out of my comfort zone in the best way possible.
It’s crazy to look back at the series of events that got me here. If one thing had been different, who knows where’d I’d be right now. I guess that’s always an interesting concept to think about. But for now, all I have left to say is…”We did it!” *please read in Elle Wood’s voice alla the end of Legally Blonde*