When You Have The ‘Perfect’ Post-College Life, But You Can’t Shake Off The Wanderlust

Atlas Green
Atlas Green

I graduated college back in May. Thank you, thank you — yes I know it is a wonderful accomplishment, I am very proud, what’s that? What am I doing now? Well, hmm.

I mean, technically, I think I’m doing exactly what I’m “supposed” to be doing to be considered successful. I moved in with my boyfriend (yasss), I keep in touch with my friends (yasss), and I have a job (mehhh). Although it seems as though I’m working my way down the checklist of “Things to do to be Good at Life,” I am still so confused and stressed out that I may as well have nothing checked off at all.

Maybe I can chalk this up to the fact that I’ve always been a worrier, a stressor, and an over-thinker. But something just doesn’t feel right, and I don’t think that I’m the only one who feels this way. I have a job, but I don’t love it. I’m getting paid, but so little that I haven’t contributed to my savings account since I graduated (I’ve been withdrawing on the regs though) and I’m unable to even pay the interest on my student loan debt that’s in the five figure region.

How is that something that people do? How is it even LEGAL for us to live our lives this way? Maybe I would feel differently if I was making tons of money, saving, paying off my debt, buying nice things – but maybe I wouldn’t feel any differently at all.

The fact that we are expected to sell our souls to jobs that we so often do not love is truly scary to me. I want to leave my job and pursue other paths in hopes of finding something that I enjoy more, but there are even roadblocks in the way of doing that. If I do not see my contract through to the end, I cannot use my job for references or recommendations. If I don’t stay for a full year, it will look bad on my resume. I cannot leave one job before securing another because I have no savings. The whole thing makes me nauseas.

And I’m one of the lucky ones! I have a job for the moment that allows me to pay my rent, even if it seems like it is draining my soul at the same time. I have a place to live, and am not trying to juggle work with looking for an apartment. I have a boyfriend so I don’t have to try to find love while also trying to find a career that makes me happy. I have most of my life figured out. So why is it so hard?

I want to save the rainforest, the animals that are endangered, and the children who are bullied. I want to see Machu Picchu, The Great Barrier Reef, and the Pyramids. I want to travel, to learn, and to love. But I’m stuck here – at my job that stresses me out, living paycheck to paycheck with nothing to save.

So when people ask me what I’m doing with my life now that I’m finished with college, I don’t know what to say to honestly answer them.

When I stick to the facts: “I live with my boyfriend an hour from my hometown, I’m working in a near by city”, it doesn’t seem to express anything that I’m really feeling. A more honest answer would be: “I’m really happy with my living arrangements and my relationship. I also got a kitten who brings me joy. But I’m in the middle of a season-long existential crisis that I just can’t seem to get over, so sometimes I cry about what I’m doing with my life and I worry constantly that I’m wasting my youth on ‘building my resume’ when I should be traveling the world.” TC mark

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