How to Win Post-Graduation

So you have your degree in General Studies (concentrations in literature, French, and philosophy). Now what? How do you become a real person in the real world, walking around acting like a human being in society? Well, it’s a lot harder than watching every episode of The Sopranos on Netflix or getting a high rank in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, not to downplay such time consuming accomplishments. In fact, you may come to realize that the challenges of the job market will require movement through physical space as well as composing formal employee-type documents. Here’s a step-by-step guide based on a sampling of friends, acquaintances, roommates, and people I made up.

First, search through jobs on for approximately ten minutes. Realize neither your Starbucks job nor your Albertsons cashier job provided you with the sufficient previous experience necessary for a real-world career, despite your degree. Disillusioned, begin watching YouTube videos of cats jumping on watermelons, then videos of cats attacking small children, then Facebook stalk your ex-girlfriend, then read the Wikipedia page for X-Men for a couple hours, then forget what you were doing in the first place. Eat a pepperoni pizza Hot Pocket while experiencing mysterious psychological tremors like your brain is trying to self-destruct. Once asleep, dream of climbing an endless staircase for days, months, years, only to have the staircase transform suddenly into a waterslide that washes you back to the bottom.

Count up all the graduation money your family members sent you in the hope that it might ease your transition into adulthood. Then slowly spend the majority on fancy coffee drinks from Starbucks and organic vegan granola bars from Whole Foods. Spend the rest on a stylish Chinese lantern with an orange flower design around the edge you ordered off the internet. Hang it up in your bedroom. Take it down because you’re moving to your old bedroom at your parents’ house.

When your mom asks you how the job search is going, tell her about how you looked on When your mom says to check Craigslist, say you checked it already. Then check Craigslist. Send your resume to help-wanted ads for dog walkers and babysitters, even though no one would hire a male babysitter, and the dog walking job is twenty dollars once a week. Send your resume to mysterious companies with descriptions like, “FuN jOb! WoRk FrOm HoMe! $$$!” or “WE’RE LOOKING FOR COOL PEOPLE FOR A COOL PLACE TO DO AWESOME THINGS!” Discover these are all low-paying data-entry jobs.

Instead of searching for a job, learn interesting tasks like how to give a back massage or how to solve a Rubik’s cube by watching instructional videos on Youtube. Feel at last that you are being productive, that you are filling your head with knowledge, and what is life but a step-by-step journey toward enlightenment? From a philosophical standpoint, you’re not “wasting your life” but “living a rich inner life.” Download college courses on CD off the internet and listen to them in your car. Listen to the lectures for the course called “No Excuses: Existentialism.” Begin mentioning Sartre in casual conversation.

Subconsciously begin engaging in activities that lead to drug addiction. Whenever alcohol, pot, or mushrooms are presented, gobble everything in sight as if you have AIDS and the only cure is substance abuse. Think thoughts like, ‘I am in a bad place in life. This is what people do when they’re in a bad place in life.’ Start espousing inane malformed theories about the world like “You can lose weight by just sweating” and “I think outer space is a hoax by astronomers” to anyone in earshot. As the night progresses, stare intensely at people without blinking. Make enigmatic hand gestures. Quietly cry in the backyard next to a couple making out.

In your free time (just kidding—all time is free time), play bass guitar for an awful emo screamo band that only plays at a pizza place a block from the lead singer’s house. Consider the possibility that your terrible band will become famous. When drunk, tell people you want to spend your life making music. If nothing else, appreciate the free pizza you receive as payment for driving away customers with your terrible music.

Go to house parties by yourself and hit on drunk freshman girls. Feel suddenly conscious of the fact that you’re doing the same thing you’ve done for the past five years. Feel caught in a time warp. Feel like a stagnant pool of water, festering, choked with mosquito larva and cigarette butts. Wonder where to begin making the changes in behavior necessary to become an adult, or if you’re even someone capable of making those changes. Picture the vast array of alternate dimensions where you made better, wiser decisions and are now a record label executive or a software engineer, someone successful and content. Feel inadequate. Look at cat videos on YouTube for an hour to avoid crippling depression.

When asked by your mom what your plans are after a year of idleness, say you’re thinking about going back to school to be an architect. When confronted with her bewilderment and questions about ‘Why architect?’ and ‘What do you know about being an architect?’ and ‘I’ve never seen you show any interest in architecture,’ mention an article you read on the internet about how it was a high paying job. The next day, further defile your credibility by suggesting that you might become a nurse. Or a police officer. A police officer or a nurse or an architect. TC mark

image – BdwayDiva1


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  • Daniel Roberts

    Oy, the content of TC really doesn't apply to me anymore. This is a sad personal moment


      Same here. The most interesting effect that the last month or so of “Guys I've Slept With” and “How To Be A Hipster” posts have had is turning the 'About' page into a humorous article, without any of the actual content changing.

      1. Thought Catalog is illuminating and informative.

      3. TC contributors are smart. They’re at the vanguard of their respective fields and have published everywhere from The Paris Review to Maxim.

      • Brad Pike

        You hurt my feelings when you imply I'm not smart. We're not going to be internet friends.

  • Sheela Cheong


  • ben

    “Once asleep, dream of climbing an endless staircase for days, months, years, only to have the staircase transform suddenly into a waterslide that washes you back to the bottom”

    i relate to this

    i am sad

  • Elton

    i listen to “no excuses” in my car all the time… interesting… but damn i thought i was unique

  • Jordan

    We've all read this before right? See lots of Ryan O'Connell's stuff and maybe something Tao wrote that wasn't about drugs, and probably a bunch of other contributors. These posts are kinda like romantic comedies because they're not Oscar-winning but they will almost always be 'good enough.' Lets get some Oscars and less How-Tos. Or maybe How Tos on different topics?

    • Brad Pike

      I will do better next time for you, Jordan.

    • Jody Fossler

      nope. we liked this. don't hate because you can't relate.

    • Jordan

      @Brad: yeah I was probably overly sarcastic but I was trying to be constructive! It's no knock on your writing/piece, but the influx of pieces like it over the past months
      @Jody: I can relate, which is why it was good enough for me to read the whole thing and find it OK. But, more than two thoughts can exist at once at while and it was 'good enough' there is also a lot of it on TC :) Thats all. I too had a post-graduation phase where I wasnt in the industry I had spent thousands of dollars and several years preparing. I too went back to (grad) school because 'why not'. But you didn't know that eh? Its alright :) The only things I didn't really relate to was the graduation money received from relatives and the Starbucks/organic/vegan bit but those were mere details :) Also, I'm on Season 1 Episode 4 of re-watching the Sopranos series. Talk about relating!

  • Rachel Butters Scotch

    The last paragraph is pretty true. Return back to school because school is comfortable and defining.

  • Greg Petliski

    “…what is life but a step-by-step journey toward enlightenment? From a philosophical standpoint, you’re not “wasting your life” but “living a rich inner life.”

    Thank you for writing this. It just puts into perspective what I've already known and believed in for some time. I'm giving up on society for the time being to go back to the wilderness. I know what it means for others to tell you you're wasting your time, youre crazy, etc etc. But I believe that, as you said, life IS a step-by-step journey (towards what I don't know). It surely can't just be wealth and houses and kids and picket fences. And if it is, if thats what satisfies you, then ok, go for it. Try not to shit on anyone in the process. But I know from my short time alive here on this planet that there is more going on than we are aware of, that there is more to be experienced than we care for, and that each of us has to grasp this in whatever way we can to make sense of it all so we don't just sit around wallowing in our collective feces and filth all day long.

    Whew. Anyone got a joint?

  • Tadr1t

    hauntingly similar to my life right now, except the substance abuse part.

  • hallithbates


    • Brad Pike


  • qviri

    Awaiting the Thought Catalog article entitled How To Be A Werewolf

  • pea


  • RamonaCC

    Fuck me with a chainsaw. I hate this, because I know this. I am this.

  • Jody Fossler

    “Picture the vast array of alternate dimensions where you made better, wiser decisions and are now a record label executive or a software engineer, someone successful and content.”
    I think of that a lot. A lot a lot. Unemployed (underemployed/meaninglessly employed) solidarity, yo.

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