In my lonely nostalgic hours, I can still hear my name being announced on stage during college graduation. Right then and there, I was sure of the bright path I am heading. Four years of dedication in a prominent University, even burning bridges for that Latin honor I expected to shine in my resume.
They were right when they said fresh graduates are the most dynamic people to hire. The thrilling uncertainties and excitement will fill in our heads as we step out of the academe. Sure it was scary but not even that thought can stop us from dreaming the independent life. “What will my own place look like? What will I buy with my first salary? Where do I wish to travel now? Hello dream job! Hello relationship goals!!” The world is full of ecstatic thought bubbles playing around that we forget a diploma doesn’t guarantee an easy life.
They were right when they laid out the struggles of adulthood but we refused to listen. We think of how our own place would look like but never how expensive the rent is. We jump at the thought of our first salary but never the bills to pay. We can already imagine the “instagrammable” travel photos but not the expenses to trim just to afford the tickets. Nobody said our dream job’s also a dream of so many employees ahead of us and you don’t always win the race. Nobody said even your dream job would turn out unfulfilling when you get there. Nobody said even relationships you were saving after college still wouldn’t work out.
They were right when they said independence is beautiful but nobody said it’s a toxic kind of beautiful; and you have to embrace it – by yourself.
As graduation curtains close and the hype settles down, you will feel the disappointment crawling at the back of your head. The mist clears off and reality will slap you hard. You are stagnant, fleeting, demotivated while everyone else is soaring high in their field. You THOUGHT they are, yet in truth some of us are just equally stuck in the same shallow void.
I can recall how clear my vision was: I will get a job, enter law school, give back to my family and keep long lasting relationships with peers and partner.
Nevertheless, my vision also meant having to work double time hence to be financially stable. I was already starting to panic, I felt left behind looking at my checklist unaccomplished. I carried on and moved even more quickly. I transferred residency, worked for sidelines and looked scholarships in different law schools. Along with this are the regular emotional breakdowns of missing home and losing relationships. E-V-E-R-Y-D-A-Y I get up of my bed with all these thoughts pressing me to the core. It felt heavier and heavier as time passes by that I started to feel low, worthless and unwanted.
I didn’t realize that I was too keen at aiming my goals, my heart has been bearing so much; it was suffocating. It took me months of negative outlook and exhausted mornings before I decided to step outside of the picture, talked to my self and evaluated my decisions.
Truth is, toxicity is internal. The ally and the enemy is inside each and every one of us; thus no one can fix our mindsets but ourselves.
I decided to pause and let go for a while. I cannot go on fighting for things that aren’t for me. Heck am I only 21 years old. I have encountered people in their 30s, 40s even 50s that hasn’t figured out life yet.
We can all reach our goals and be happy at the right time. Meanwhile, at this point of questioning the purpose of our own existence, find it necessary to enjoy the growth first. Things may take slow but what matters is the little progress in between.
Be kind to yourself because not everyone will sincerely do that for you. Be courageous enough to leave when it is no good anymore; likewise, patiently learn from rejections.
Dear fresh graduates, relax. Do not trade self-fulfillment for rushed decisions. You see in this very demeaning post-graduation world, you deserve nothing but genuine happiness, out of own sacrifices, earned over time. As a friend once told me, “there are no stable jobs, there are no stable lives; but there are stable people – and stable people are happy people.”