Why Does Graduating From College Suck So Hard?

Graduating from college was hard for a variety of reasons—entering a terrible job market, having a degree that felt like it was written on a cocktail napkin, and feeling like a giant question mark was placed on top of your life. These were things that I expected to feel though. These were the things that had been discussed ad nauseam so I felt emotionally prepared for the blow. What I wasn’t prepared for, however, were the quiet losses, the little deaths that litter your path when you begin the next stage of your life.

This is something we’ve talked a lot about. These are the themes we keep going back to over and over, and before you scream bloody murder at the redundancy, it’s important to think about why everyone is having such a hard time. I don’t think it’s normal to exist so heavily in a post-grad fugue so what’s the deal? Are we all just developmentally stunted? It goes beyond the crappy economy; it goes beyond spending a hundred grand on college, doing everything you thought you had to do in order to succeed only to end up as a waitress/ intern for a period of time that extends beyond the post-grad grace period. People are just having a difficult time growing up these days. We suffer from crippling nostalgia brought on by Facebook photo albums and clicking Refresh, we feel cheated by the new modern workplace so we freelance and have a lot of feelings instead. This is a moment in culture that belongs only to us. This is our generation’s legacy.

You might not relate and that’s okay because enough people do. It’s strange to see such a blatant disconnect between yourself and your parents though. They came of age and graduated college in a very different time. Their post-grad experience doesn’t resemble yours, it resembles grad school or an immediate job after college. We’re seeing a true separation of the generations happening here, right now.

It’s frustrating because we’re perceived as being lazy, which might be only a little bit true. Because now more than ever it seems there’s a pressure to be successful. Especially with Facebook and Twitter where you can chart people’s professional progress and silently judge them. We’re living life under the microscope that we created so trust us when we say that we do want a job. We need to be validated by LinkedIn!

I graduated college a year and a half ago and my friends are all still in such different places. Some are traveling, some are unemployed and doing the daily job search we all know and loathe, some are interning, some are straight up in that 9-to-5 grind at a job they hate, and only two or three of us have landed our dream jobs. No one’s on the same page. Friends are moving, staying, ignoring phone calls, falling in love, breaking up, disappearing. Some friends do happy hour after work, some are sober and go to bed at ten p.m., some of us can go out whenever we want because there’s no job to wake up to. I wonder if/ when this will ever even out. I wonder when/ if we can all find our way back to each other again. That’s the hardest part about graduating college for me—no longer being in the same place as your friends. We’re all just so far away from each other now and some of us are successful and some of us aren’t and some of us are getting there and some of us may never get there. It makes you miss the days when you both had papers on Jane Eyre due. Except not really because that book was a headache. TC mark

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.

Trace the scars life has left you. It will remind you that at one point, you fought for something. You believed.

“You are the only person who gets to decide if you are happy or not—do not put your happiness into the hands of other people. Do not make it contingent on their acceptance of you or their feelings for you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if someone dislikes you or if someone doesn’t want to be with you. All that matters is that you are happy with the person you are becoming. All that matters is that you like yourself, that you are proud of what you are putting out into the world. You are in charge of your joy, of your worth. You get to be your own validation. Please don’t ever forget that.” — Bianca Sparacino

Excerpted from The Strength In Our Scars by Bianca Sparacino.

Read Here

More From Thought Catalog

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=612928768 Samie Rose

    The last two sentences were gold. +

    The problem is that I skipped over a lot of the post because it felt too dense and wordy. –

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=612928768 Samie Rose

    The last two sentences were gold. +

    The problem is that I skipped over a lot of the post because it felt too dense and wordy. –

    • blob

      was seriously not dense at all come on bro damn give it a chance

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=612928768 Samie Rose

    The last two sentences were gold. +

    The problem is that I skipped over a lot of the post because it felt too dense and wordy. –

  • Me

    so true

  • Anonymous

    Completely true and beautifully written. And I used to think that all of this was a bad thing, a sign of failure and, like you said, laziness. But it’s not, and the worst thing IS the separation from friends, not the lack of connections on LinkedIn. Thanks for writing this!

  • Anonymous

    Completely true and beautifully written. And I used to think that all of this was a bad thing, a sign of failure and, like you said, laziness. But it’s not, and the worst thing IS the separation from friends, not the lack of connections on LinkedIn. Thanks for writing this!

  • Anonymous

    Completely true and beautifully written. And I used to think that all of this was a bad thing, a sign of failure and, like you said, laziness. But it’s not, and the worst thing IS the separation from friends, not the lack of connections on LinkedIn. Thanks for writing this!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001702321197 Sasha Jones

    “There is a quiet, stubborn, and most likely foolish belief among our generation that we can actually be whoever we want to be. It may be naïve, gullible, or flat-out stupid, but guess who instilled this outlandish grandeur in our heads? Who brainwashed us to believe we can achieve our dreams if we reach for the proverbial stars? All the generations before us.” This was in this (http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/25726/20-somethings-societys-black-plague/) article that was about a similar topic.

    I loved this post, though. Inspiring in a way–melancholy.

  • http://profiles.google.com/sheelacheong Sheela Cheong

    IT’S THE ECONOMY.
    ‘Wherever abundant consumption is established, one particular
    spectacular opposition is always in the forefront of illusory roles:
    the antagonism between youth and adults. But real adults — people who are masters of their own lives — are in fact nowhere to be found.’ –Debord
     

  • Lily

    I need to stop reading your posts until after I graduate college

  • this

    it’s “graduating FROM college”. ugh “graduating college” really grinds my gears.

  • I AM A SENIOR IN REAL LIFE

    I graduated college three years ago (am I too old for TC???) and it was, in all honesty, the worst year of my life.  It was sort of the perfect storm of bad stuff for me, but I look back on that year and am so thankful that it happened and I came out the other side.  I’ve learned more about myself in the years since college than the years in college, but I think that college had to happen to set the whole wheel in motion.  K, my introspective rant is over.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=35901612 Monica Laine Berkowitz

    If you don’t want to be perceived as lazy, try this: don’t be lazy and proofread your essays before hitting submit. You graduate FROM college, not graduate college. Grammatical mistakes happen to the best of us, but there is no excuse for poor grammar in the title and first sentence of your essay if you want to be taken seriously. 

    • Ryan O'Connell

      omg hunny im shaming long daze at da office

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=35901612 Monica Laine Berkowitz

        You missed one. Last paragraph, first sentence. You’re welcome. 

      • Guesty

        eat a thousand dicks

      • Hip Hip Hooray

        what’s it like never getting laid?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=35901612 Monica Laine Berkowitz

        It sucks. It’s hard being single and a Virgo. Don’t hate. Ryan gets it, I’m sure. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=35901612 Monica Laine Berkowitz

        You missed one. Last paragraph, first sentence. You’re welcome. 

    • blob

      calm down wtf

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=35901612 Monica Laine Berkowitz

        your rite. grammer is stoopid. wtf wuz i thinkin. 

      • Guesty

        prescriptivism is stupid

      • chris

        wtf

    • Kobayashi

      Get over yourself. Jesus.

  • http://twitter.com/galette_rois Julian Galette

    You lost me in the second paragraph but I was with you again right at the end.

    I’ve been feeling a lot that way, now that senior year of college is starting and my mother and professors are leaning on me to take the GREs and apply to grad schools…I just think about where I am right now in relation to my high school friends, the people who I consider my best friends. A lot of them haven’t gone anywhere, haven’t done anything, haven’t changed and sometimes I feel bad for leaving them behind and sometimes I resent that I think they’re making me feel about that very thing I already feel bad about…

    And then I think about how, three years out from college, will it be the same thing with my college friends?  I already see a lot of my bros less now that they’ve been wifed up, but I know they’ll always be around, it’s the other people though, the other people who I had a bond with that forged with something as weird and crazy as frat life, it’s the people who I found in those moments in-between all that and how I already feel like they’re slipping away.

    Fuck. You got me all sad and wistful. 

  • Cm3smith

    I have three daughters, one of whom is graduating end of August. Every graduating generation thinks they are THE generation, and in a few ways, they are. This generation, however, is collectively,  the most connected and celebrated and commiserated. And along with all that connectedness comes withdrawl during what is, for every generation, a necessarily more singular ‘season’. To put it succinctly, you are all not all that great at spending hours, days and minutes alone, as a singular being and not part of a collective.  Maybe you never will. 

    Maybe the beauty and the beast of this generation will be completely woven into the fabric of social connectedness. Who am I to say. But years and years of growing up has by definition required solo journeys, digging deep to find your unique hero. I’m sure you all will. Hopefully you will find the perspective to look past all the ‘stuff’ your generation has access to and create ways of achieving some sort of global recognition of community that my generation is struggling with.

  • Megan Do

    brb starting a Ryan O’Connell fan club.

  • Vicky

    I graduated 4 years ago but I’m the same as you — 24, right? I’m still experiencing the same thing and unfortunately, as the years go by, you realize that you feel more disconnected with your friends even if there are these so-called social networking sites that keep us “connected”. Life sucks or this quarterlife shit sucks.

    • Kristen

      Amen Vicky!!

  • castle

    I don’t know, though. My Dad and Mom graduated in 1975 and 1976 respectively and they both struggled finding a job after college. In my experience, though, it depends a lot on where you live and what you want to do. I graduated three years ago from a small (miniscule) private college with Studio Art and Arts Administration degrees. I spent two years as a barista in Seattle and, jesus, I was sick to death of the food service industry. So I moved. I left Washington even though I loved living there. Now I live in Austin and it’s fucking bonkers how much easier it was here. I was hired within two months at a small arts nonprofit doing what my experience and education prepared me to do. I know that isn’t realistic for everyone, but when I was living in New York then Seattle it was next to impossible to find a decent job that I liked. So I changed my surroundings. I figured out where to go to find a job and a better situation than what I was in. And, honestly, I work for a group of people who were tired of doing the things they didn’t love. So they started their own organization doing what they wanted to do. It seems just as possible now as it ever was – apply for grants, research, research, research, be proactive. It isn’t going to fall in your lap. You have to seek it out.

    I graduated in 2008 with a job at a nonprofit in Seattle and was let go a few months later after the economy tanked. It sucked. A lot. Give yourself some time. Stop checking facebook. You grow apart from college friends organically. If you assume everyone you ever met will keep up with you and love you then that doesn’t leave much room to met anyone new. At some point you have to move on and make the changes you want to make. It evens out. You move one. You grow up. You’re not in college anymore. You get older and more interesting.

    And I wrote a hell of a lot for one comment.

  • Floyd Pouncil

    “We need to be validated by LinkedIn!”
    True dat. I’m still in college, a senior now, but I have a few more years since I decided to dual major. Anyway, I’ve been daunted by LinkedIn and the amount of networking our advising department has drilled into us that it takes to land a job in education, which is my field. 

  • Allie

    I’ve been out of college for six months now and I can’t agree more about all of this. I took the 9-to-5 for security (and maybe cowardly) reasons, and just six months out (and just one or two months for most of my friends who finished in May), I already see the disconnect between all of us. It’s more surreal than anything else.

  • ...

    Maybe you wouldn’t be in this position if you studied a useful degree like engineering.

    • Ryan O'Connell

      I’m so tired of people thinking that creative degrees aren’t useful. I mean, are you serious? Creative people produce TV, movies, and all the websites that you peruse when you’re bored at your engineering job.

      • http://twitter.com/galette_rois Julian Galette

        I fucking agree with this so much. I’ve spent the last two years working for newspapers and websites and now I’ve got a gig doing press for an art gallery and I’ve never been happier. 

        I think I’d kill myself if I didn’t have a job where I didn’t write words. 

      • Guess

        You’re so right.

      • ...

        Well actually i create websites in my spare time, it’s not difficult. None of the things you mentioned require a degree to be good at them, there is a disproportionate number of people who are interested in the creative arts relative to how many useful creative artists are required in society. There is always demand for engineers because the skills are incredibly valuable, you wouldnt have the internet, your computer or cameras to even make movies if it was not for the contribution of those Engineers. Enjoy working in Starbucks.

      • FOR REALZZZ

        you’re right…every person to ever graduate with a BA works at starbucks…

      • Ryan O'Connell

        Yes. I work at Starbucks. I don’t work at a website that I helped create and is now successful. Ugh, you are just TOO weird and bitter.

      • ...

        Then what are you moaning about ?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=704016484 Joe Ott

      God damn you are a jackass. You are truly meant for nothing but designing hvac systems or whatever it is you may or may not do…. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/grc15r Gregory Costa

      Engineering isn’t for everyone…you’re just fortunate that your strengths or interests are in a major with high demand. 

  • Asd

    don’t think engineering majors have a problem

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=704016484 Joe Ott

      Internet fight! Sorry to be immature, but you and the one below you bother me. While there may be some empirical support for the proposition that persons who major in the sciences have better luck finding jobs, it remains to be seen if this is because the skills they acquire there are intrinsically more valuable or rather if the sciences self-select a scientifically minded and hard working student demographic. The latter contention seems to me pretentious and misguided, and moreover fails to recognize that whatever the case, the skills which allowed you to obtain such a degree are the same skills that will allow 15 Chinese students to do what you do better than you can.

      As an intern for a large IP law firm, I can tell you that your education has probably not prepared you with the types of interpersonal and/or communication skills that will continue to make you a valuable asset in the coming years. Our people would rather defend a chineese engineer who can’t speak english than someone like you, who alienates the normal, ‘non valuable’ persons that evaluate your credibility as an individual and ensure you the opportunity to utilize those skills in future.

      Finally, regardless of whether or not the soft degrees have any value to you, as a matter of history the liberal arts have become engrained within western education as a means for individuals to choose the things they would like to define themselves with. The arts are valuable not in-spite, but because of their lack of overt utility, which allows them to articulate paradigms of being oneself that are alternative to the dominant economic ideology. To contest their value because they are not ‘useful’ is a stereotypical over-rationalization of a person whose calculus skills are greater than their capacity to exist as an empathetic individual, you jackass.

      • ...

        lol.

        It’s clear you studied law judging by the amount of information you extrapolated from one line of text. Keep lying for a living

      • FOR REALZZZ

        “lying for a living” is about a gross a generalization as saying that you work for a government contracted defense company that builds weapons to blow people up with your engineering degree…

      • Sad Guest

        most lawyers do lie, but who cares. the world is built on lies. get over it.

      • Sad Guest

        Dude..All ASD said is that he “wouldn’t have a problem” if he majored in engineering, and ASD is right. there is more you are making it way more complicated than it is.  There is more of a demand for engineers.

  • Asd

    don’t think engineering majors have a problem

  • http://www.facebook.com/sasjam Sas Jam

    It’s good to know there’s handfuls of other people in my spot.
    It’s bad to know that we’d probably knife each other at the first opportunity to land said “dream jobs”…. Or to not just work at Starbucks…

  • Jillypants

    this sums up everything i have been feeling for the last 8 months. and it’s getting worse. 
    i’m a little comforted knowing i’m not the only one in this weird headspace. 

    • Sad Guest

      …why would you think that you’re the only one? fucking ignorant moron.

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