Your life is about to change. It’s going to change a lot. Everything you know and every sense of comfort and stability you know is about to fall into a dark abyss. You’re about to go from one of the warmest moments of your life thus far to one of the darkest, one of the coldest.
I loved college. I was afforded the ability to attend my dream school. I started a fraternity. I marched in the marching band. I worked at the campus television station. I studied and earned great grades. I worked 6 internships. I had fantastic friends – family, almost. Graduation week was a whirlwind of triumph and fun and hell all balled into one. I relished every second of it – even the part where my graduation was the first to be rained on in something like 30 years. It was all so magical, so perfect.
Then it all ended.
I was left with four years of memories to pack up.
They always tell you about how good it feels to accomplish something like graduating from college. It’s amazing. It’s special. It’s a privilege. What they don’t tell you is how dark the months after graduation are. You’ll go from having the time of your life and feeling secure in your abilities and beliefs to being thrown out into this thing called life and expected to figure it out.
Some of you will go on to that job you signed the contract for back in November in your dream city – New York? Or is it Chicago? Congratulations; you did it. Your struggle is something different than this one, but something just as complex.
Some of you will go back to your parents’ basement, working your old summer job until you can save enough to move into the city from suburbia.
Others yet will try to stay in the city you went to school in, hoping by some strange magic your connections will get you a job there, otherwise you’ll have to be that one alum that works in the registrar’s office.
I ended up back home. I loved my hometown and I wanted to move back after school. After the dust from moving settled, I started looking for a job.
I applied to jobs. Then applied to a few more jobs. Went on an interview. Applied to a few more jobs. Another interview. Lots more job applications. One more interview.
There was just one problem: I was still unemployed.
I had graduated from school and gotten good grades and worked internships – I did everything right.
But I was missing everything that was so magical about my time in college.
What had I done wrong?
I cried some more.
I gained weight.
I developed insomnia.
I drank a lot more.
I lost weight.
The world around me was dark. It felt cold, but it was the middle of September. I honestly had no clue what I was going to do. I couldn’t even get hired at a coffee shop – apparently “overqualified” is a real thing these days.
My parents insisted I wasn’t a failure. That didn’t help, naturally.
Then I got an email asking me to come in for an interview.
Then another email.
Then a phone call.
And the rest is history. I’m working and moving across the country for a job and enjoying this ride called life.
You’re probably in the midst of finals and having all the same heart attacks I did and the same heart attacks tons of college seniors are having with you this very moment. You’re probably scared and excited. You’re ready to get the heck out of school and put your degree to use. At the same time, you’re worried everything you’ve done is for naught, and that you’ll end up in that refrigerator box under the 10 Freeway fending off vermin and subsisting on pennies you find in the street.
The world is pretty dark in this moment. That darkness is the unknown. It’s terrifying in so many ways.
There is one thing we always hear that we find cliché, but I’m here to tell you that it holds true: “The world is always darkest before the dawn.”