How To Screw Your Life Up After You Graduate College

Move back in with your parents and haunt your hometown like a very sad ghost—the kind of ghost that cuts themselves with a dull razor blade because they don’t want to do any real damage, and gets Further Seems Forever lyrics tattooed on their wrist. Treat your hometown like it’s a decayed museum full of broken artifacts. Sincerely believe that you can resurrect certain memories if you visit their origin and think about them hard enough. “This matters to me now because it mattered to me then…”

Make sad Facebook updates and tag unflattering pictures of yourself drinking at your hometown bar knowing full well that your friends are going to be judging you. They’re going to be sitting in their grown up apartments with their grown up jobs and they’re going to feel flashes of pity go through their young professional work clothes for you. Maybe they’ll even text a mutual friend something like, “Um, have you seen so-and-so’s Facebook lately? WTF are they doing? Have you spoken to them?” A part of you feels incredibly embarrassed that your life has been reduced to this but another part feels so freaking liberated. When you bring your life down to the depths of nothingness, you have nowhere to go but up. Up, up, up.

Think back to all the interviews you’ve read with famous musicians and actors who said things like, “Before my big break, I had no money and didn’t know a soul in the city. Sometimes I wouldn’t leave my apartment for weeks.” Find it very hard to believe that someone like Patti Smith wouldn’t leave their apartment for weeks and had no friends but take solace in reading the words anyway. People go through hard times and feel completely alienated from their surroundings. Figure that this is your time to do that. This is your Patti Smith time and in a few years when you’re famous and rich, you can tell interviewers, “After graduating, I moved home and had no friends. I had no money. I barely left the house. It was a terrible time and I wasn’t sure I’d ever get out of it.” Play these pretend interviews over and over again in your head and smile softly to yourself.

Date someone who’s terribly ugly and post pictures of the two of you making out on Facebook with the caption: “me n mi boo!!!” Have your friends in Chicago, San Francisco, and New York call you immediately and express concern. “Who is this person you’re dating? Why didn’t you tell me?! Why do they look like the Loch Ness Monster?!” Okay, they don’t say that last part but you know that’s what they’re thinking. Respond politely to all of their questions and then turn off your phone. The truth is that you don’t know why you’re dating this person you have no physical attraction to. But maybe you’re doing it because it’s unexpected and will piss people off. It will cause them to reevaluate their opinion of you. You can imagine your friends talking about you over drinks at some overpriced bar whispering, “I just don’t know what happened. They’re living back at home and dating this person who literally looks like a gremlin. Have I shown you?” And they’ll laugh and laugh at your expense, all while claiming to still love you. But they don’t. They’re just thankful they’re not you. They’ll need you forever now just so they can always feel good about themselves. So what do you do in retaliation to their judginess? Post ANOTHER picture of you and your Loch Ness Monster with the caption: NO APOLOGIZES. OUR LOVE IS FOR REAL….” Screw it. If you’re going to get Judge Judy’d, you might as well go big.

Stop leaving a digital trail of everything you’re doing. People already think you’ve gone off the deep end but if you stop tweeting and going on Facebook, they’ll actually think you’ve died or at least gone to rehab. After a few weeks of complete digital silence, get a text from someone asking if you’re okay. Decide to call them and sound enthusiastic and healthy on the phone. Claim to have completely  forgotten about the Internet for a sec. Your friend will be creeped out but also sort of jealous. You were able to go off the grid and do your own thing while they remained a slave to all of these electronic devices. They’ll wonder if you’re the one who’s actually figured out how to lead a happy life.  They did the “right” thing by moving to a big city after college and networking but deep down they feel kind of empty, no matter how much money they blow at brunch on Sunday. And, sure, you seem sad and pathetic moving back to the town everyone else forgot about it but you actually seem happier than anyone else they know. So, in a weird way, you might be the one everyone starts to envy.

Moving back to your hometown, working a lame job, dating Chewbacca, and deleting your Facebook: these are all things that one might consider to be a bad decision. They raise an eyebrow and cause people to label you a failure. You fell through the post grad cracks and we have the Facebook pictures to prove it! But in reality, the things you do to screw your life up might end up being the things that ultimately repair it. By officially deciding to not give a crap, you’ve given yourself the gift that very few have, which is total and complete freedom. Go you. TC mark

image: The Graduate

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.

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  • Guest

    further seems forever, dying for that reference!

  • http://twitter.com/spencercniemetz Spencer Niemetz

    there’s nothing wrong with conforming to expected norms when you live in america.

  • Anonymous

    Ryan, I love you so much it hurts. 

  • Sky

    you have no idea what your last paragraph did to me. great post. thank you.

  • guest

    good god there is hope.

  • http://scribblesandtostitos.wordpress.com Yaa Yaa

    “Play these pretend interviews over and over again in your head and smile softly to yourself.” and “Screw it. If you’re going to get Judge Judy’d, you might as well go big.” 
    Lmbo at my favorite two statements in this post. And it is so true. The worst the struggle the greater the interview. Ryan, did you like read my journal or something before writing this post? So accurate. Lol.

  • http://twitter.com/immin Lisa Harrison

    Graduated in September, now back in hometown with parents, decided to delete Facebook yesterday just to stop myself posting mournful shit about unemployment.

    THIS SPOKE TO ME.

    • future gopher

      at least you have the balls to speak the truth.  some ppl’s facebooks are just a facade

  • http://about.me/mattcherette Matt Cherette

    Accurate last paragraph is accurate.

  • Lindsay

    Ryan, you are sooo funny. I love reading your work!

  • melissa

    uh, the depths of nothingness because of post-GRADUATE struggles and life at home with your parents? i mean, i feel you. i really feel you. this is literally me. i’m just hoping that maybe when some good luck comes your way you’ll be able to put things into perspective. it’s just not that bad, Ryan. chin up.

  • Sophia

    There is absolutely nothing about deleting Facebook that could be considered a bad decision. Working on gathering up the courage myself

    • Mary

      I deleted my facebook almost 3 months ago and never even thought about going back. It felt great! Go for it Sophia! ( :

  • anon

    shit this is me. I was going to write this yesterday, but you beat me to the punch.

    Can’t even contribute to TC. Huge fail.

  • Wtf

    surprised no one has commented on this. You don’t graduate college. You graduate FROM college.

    question.. do you consider yourself to be a real writer? Or.. do you just smoke a lot of weed, have a lot of anxious “20-something” thoughts, and enough skill to type it all out? 

    final thought: WHYYYY do i keep opening your articles even though i know they’re going to piss me off

    • Shutthefuckup

      You should really check out linguistics. Specifically the difference between descriptive and prescriptive grammar. Saying that you graduate college is totally fine.

      You also might want to look into getting a life outside of criticizing random articles on the internet. Just a suggestion. 

  • Anonymous

    Most of the posts on this site suck and this one is no exception.

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