How To Be A Successful Post-Grad Failure

Noah Kalina
Noah Kalina

You’ve graduated, but the party’s ending, over, or completely dead. But there you are, standing by the speakers playing the latest song on the radio, two-stepping to the beat, drinking your cheap beer with your eyes closed in complete denial that once you open them you’ll be staring in the face, or the asshole, of the real-world. Post-grad life’s a bitch, and then your student loans kick in.

Screw it, you tell yourself. Why waste my 20s worrying about all the nonsense. So, you get a gig at your friend of a friend of a friend’s boyfriend’s friend’s restaurant thinking it’s a way to stay young…a way to earn money and tell mom and dad you’re being responsible while still meeting new people, partying and sleeping in. Slowly, but inevitably, you realize that waitering/waitressing kind of sucks and that it was a much more gratifying occupation when you were in college — along with everything else. Day-by-day your life becomes harder to chew. You hate going to work, but can’t be out of work. You begin playing scratch-off lottery games, summoning the Charlie from the Chocolate Factory poor man’s guilt that magically allotted him the inheritance of Willy’s womb of candy. Through trial and much tribulation, you decide this is a waste of time and your two bucks could be spent on a coffee, or a Snickers, or whatever…something that at least temporarily makes you feel stimulated. You begin taking out your frustration on those around you. Gain a couple pounds. You have bags under your eyes, not because you’re tired, but because you’re miserable so your body is metaphorically showcasing how life has punched you in the face. You still haven’t made your first student loan payment.

A family death makes you reassess your mindset. You take a look at your daily routine and feel you are allowing it to hold you back. You’re not writing as much. You hardly read, and you have certainly stopped doing the New York Times Monday Crossword Puzzles. You get motivated to change your situation. You quit the waitressing job with some money saved to pay your rent for a little while. You begin feeling like yourself again. You take up pilates. Soon, you find yourself digesting your life a little better than you were before. It’s no NY Strip steak cooked perfectly to a medium rare sizzle; it’s more like butterless popcorn at a Matthew McConaughey movie, but nonetheless, you’re beginning to swallow. Your inner dialogue increases. You subscribe to the Eat, Pray, Love mindset. You subscribe to the ‘I’ll be okay, I’ll be okay’ mantra. You officially have middle-class white-girl problems.

Your lease is ending. You move from Manhattan to Brooklyn, but convince yourself this is an upgrade. Your boyfriend is in a band, and you are working for a non-profit. Your inner-artist-aspirations are frozen in your ‘saving that dream for later’ fund and you are making money. You still haven’t paid your first student loan payment. You lost a couple pounds. You don’t wear make up to work and you don’t make eye contact with your boss. Despite your ability to get along with adults, you’re attempting to be a fly-on-the-wall. Come and go at your discretion. Stare like a corpse at your computer screen. Convince yourself you need glasses.

You question happiness and have trouble sleeping. You have to go to the ER because a bum opened a rusty door on your foot and it bled. On everything.

Think about dead relatives. Think about being dead, and then think about being alive. Buy a scratch-off ticket and win two dollars. Think…things may be looking up. TC mark

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Image Credit: Noah Kalina

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  • a polar bear

    'your inner dialogue' is misspelt. this seems like the opposite of a generalization [as is, i think, implied in the title]. i don't know, i don't like it.
    write one for people who didn't go to columbia, a.s.

    • http://twitter.com/ThoughtCatalog Thought Catalog

      Thanks, Polar Bear: typo fixed.

  • http://staugustine2.wordpress.com/ STaugustine

    That's a brilliant photograph

  • http://staugustine2.wordpress.com/ STaugustine

    Nice essay also

  • Dan H

    Have you read Sam Biddle's piece on The Awl about being a graduate in NY? Or my piece on TC, 'Dan Hoffman, College Graduate'?

    • Alexsharry

      i read both and enjoyed both! thanks for the suggestions. i liked your piece a lot…sorry to hear you went through such a bad time, but the more and more i question getting out of bed, i find the more and more i don't get out of bed, so i just stopped questioning it and concluded bad economy or good economy, post-grad life sucks and who knows when it gets better. one can only hope! good luck! look forward to reading more of your pieces!

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