The contract job I had just came to an end. At first, I was disappointed, then I was a bit relieved because I thought, “Maybe this is my chance to finally go to Europe,” and now I don’t know what I feel other than useless. I feel useless sitting here on my bed not making any money. I feel useless that I went to school for 16 years straight and now I’m not even putting that education to use. I feel useless that I’m not making the most of my life and contributing to society. I feel like I’m wasting my education. One day, when I’m madly running around, juggling a million things, and wishing I had more time, I’ll probably think back to these days and wish that I could get them back so that I could make something of them.
What have I even been doing since I graduated nine months ago? I wasted my summer waiting around, went to New York for a week, worked a part time job that had nothing to do with my degree, then got some brief work experience, and now I’m back to waiting around wondering what I should do with my life. All my friends are still safely in school or starting their careers. It makes me feel a bit sick to my stomach sometimes. It makes me feel disappointed in myself and guilty. Guilty because I was lucky enough to get an education – a good education – but I’m not using it. And worst of all…I don’t want to use it. I don’t want to work. Oh, eventually I do – but right now? Right now all I want to do is see the world. I have the rest of my life to work, don’t I? It feels like I have this window of opportunity – and every day that passes it gets smaller and smaller – and I feel like I need to jump through it before I don’t fit anymore.
I wonder what my parents think of me sitting in my room in my pajamas in the middle of the afternoon. I wonder what my grandpa up in Heaven thinks of me. I wonder what my future self thinks of me. Do I turn out alright one day? I sure hope so. I hope I turn out happier than I’ve ever been. I hope my dreams come true – whatever they even are. And I hope I stop feeling like there is a part of me that is unfulfilled.
It’s easy to think about finding a full-time job and then settling down into an apartment. But as comfortable as that sounds, I really feel deep down inside that I need to explore first. Because I don’t think I’ll ever forgive myself if I don’t. I guess it’s this “in between” stage that’s the worst. I’m not working; I’m not travelling. In truth, I’m doing absolutely nothing. And I’m torn between what I think I’m supposed to do and what I want to do.
It’s a strange place to be. I apply for jobs here and there. Some sound really great and fun…but whenever I press “submit”, I find myself half hoping that I don’t get it so that I can go to Europe instead. And then that brings on a fresh wave of guilt because there are so many other people looking for jobs and hoping they get it.
“One day,” I reassure myself, “One day I’ll get a ‘good’ job and make money and buy my parents nice things.”
I know that after you get your degree you’re supposed to get a job and you’re supposed to make money and you’re supposed to do all these things that your parents and your friends and your teachers and society expects you to do. But what if you don’t want to do that? What if you’ve been going to school since you were 5 years old and now that you’re done, you’d rather scuba dive in Australia or walk the Great Wall of China or eat a gelato in Italy? What if you actually want to live instead of just making a living? And why do some people make you feel guilty for wanting this, as though you are breaking some fundamental rule of life? Why do you make yourself feel guilty about this – for wanting more out of life than a 9-5 desk job? I’ve been sitting behind a desk for 16 years – more than half my life! Surely there has to be more to life than sitting behind a desk for all of it?
I tell myself that “I’ll gain life experience” and that “I’ll learn things I can’t learn from a textbook,” and that “I’ll come back so much more confident and compassionate and connected.” I’ll have new friends, and new stories, and new ideas…and be a more rounded person. I still feel conflicted though – as if not getting a job right after graduation will make me fall behind while everybody else gets ahead.
It’s just that when I see other people exploring and having life experiences, I start to believe that that could be me. But unfortunately, when I’m sitting in my pajamas at one in the afternoon and it’s time I probably took a shower and I’ve halfheartedly browsed through job postings while the other tab is open to lists of top things to do in Madrid, it becomes a little bit harder to believe.