Feeling Lied to by the Real World, and Overcoming It

Accounts from a College Grad

I love monsoon season.

The landscape of my hometown suddenly transforms into a haven for all of the greenery that hasn’t had the chance to bloom all year long. The trees are taller, the grass healthier, and the air smells so much of petrichor that it’s like a Christmas gift to my sense of smell.

But for all of this growth — all of this beauty to take place, a monstrous thunderstorm has to swallow the sky and utterly ravage the earth below. We may have been complacent with the sweltering desert that stood before, but once the storm dissipates, it’s hard to return to brown when everything’s so verdantly alive.

That is exactly what I need. I need a monsoon storm to ravage my world and turn it upside-down to bring it back to life.

And I know I need it because my world is a desert at the moment…

But if we rewind about 6 months ago when I was still in college, you’d witness me at my zenith. By senior year I was doing very well in school, I was a responsible drinker, I had a job at one of the campus offices with wonderful people I actually cared about, I was the founder and first president of a new chapter of my fraternity, I had the greatest friends in the world, and I matured to a whole new level of my being. I had issues. I was stressed. But I had made it. I could handle things many couldn’t. I had skills. I understood leadership. I mattered. I was so alive and unstoppable. Once I moved on from college I had to figure just about anyone would hire me if I simply applied, right?

Well, graduation was finally upon me and I stood among thousands of other graduates, feeling tall and proud as I basked in the auras of collective achievement. I was a first generation college student on the verge of getting my hard-earned degree, and although I was leaving behind some of the best memories I’d ever made, I was ready — ready for a big boy job, or for what everyone colloquially calls “the real world.”

But I was sadly mistaken.

And it feels like I should have known this from the get go. Isn’t it obvious? I’d heard things like, “the college degree is the new high school diploma,” or, “it doesn’t matter what you know but who you know.” Heck, I even think I’ve read articles with the same sentiments as the one I’m writing. I felt so stupid. Why didn’t I start looking for jobs and networking and filling up my resume and doing more earlier? More. What was I thinking? I was wrong. No one is hiring me, life is hard, and I was wrong.

And so, yes, overwhelming feelings of “woe is me” ensued. I felt pathetic. How did I go from one of the busiest, most productive, most likable guys in my network to a no-one stuck under his mother’s roof? With as much education as I have, as many applications as I’ve sent out, and a degree in psychology I thought was perfectly viable, why wouldn’t anyone that I strongly desired to work for hire me? Was my resume not colorful enough? Too colorful? Too wordy maybe? Or perhaps I don’t have as many skills as I think I do. Why is the job market so crappy? Who is responsible for this madness? Did I let a life-transforming opportunity pass me by that would have changed everything and I just had no idea? Should I have picked a better major? Am I even smart? Would I survive in a zombie apocalypse? Why is life so hard? Why? Why why whyyyy?

Sad, right?

This attitude was so counterproductive that I proceeded to become frustrated with myself. I DO have skills. I DO matter. I know that. I also know nobody really gives a damn. But with my $26,000+ in student loan debt, I don’t have time to dwell on how crappy the world is and how it’s not giving me what apparently only I think I’ve earned and how it blatantly lied to me.

But to start overcoming this, I first have to forgive myself for having felt this way. I know I’m not the only one. Is it too much to ask for a job that pays at least 30k a year to start? I really don’t think so. I have dreams and aspirations that living at home jobless won’t allow me to start building. And I don’t want unrealistic, flashy things. I enjoy working for and earning the things that I have. I just want to live comfortably without having my mom pay for my cellphone bill or buy me new underwear. I’m not in grade school anymore.

And it’s hard on the psyche. And I’m exhausted — of filling out application after tedious application, typing my name so many times it’s lost all meaning — of writing all of these cover letters that I think are totally engaging and compelling but apparently aren’t — of employers asking for my resume, then asking me to fill out forms on my job history — of thinking about possibly resorting to working at Walmart — of feeling let down by this backward system of paying for school to get a job that doesn’t pay you nearly enough to pay for said school — of constantly putting myself out there to no avail — of dragging other people along my sad road of unemployment — of complaining about it all…

Let’s face it: we all know the world is different from back then and what college means is different from back then and the job market is different from back then. We all know that this generation has, for the most part, grown up with the notion that college is truly “making it” when it’s actually a load of crap. We all know it’s been discussed exhaustively in article upon article how we are purportedly so “entitled” but not really because of recessions and degrees not meaning diddly squat anymore and the baby boomers basically screwing it up for us and other reasons along those lines.

But does it even matter anymore? — why I do or don’t have a job? Does it really matter what’s on my resume? How much effort it took to get my degree? What it took to get to where I am now? Does it matter at all? I know no one cares. No. One. Cares.

So you know what? Screw it.

I’m going to monsoon-storm myself.

I’m going to ravage my own world and reinvigorate my post-graduation strategy and my motivation. I’ve always considered myself exceptionally resourceful. If I’m not guaranteed a job after college like I so naïvely thought, then fine. I’m creative and can make amazing things happen with little resources. Why not show that company I want to work for how I can solve their problems with a project I put together that demonstrates how exactly I’d do it. Or why not contact the hiring manager with my new ideas that would help the company expand and grow, however small scale they may be. I’m sure it’s better to present an average-sounding, practical idea that’s at least somewhat useful, than appearing absolutely flawless but merely on paper with nothing to offer. My apparent flawlessness means zero if I can’t show I care about the company. I guess it’s true when people say no one cares about what you know until they know you care.

Bingo.

And a huge part of me now finds these new strategies so obvious that it’s almost patronizing. But I said I would forgive myself because when you’re never taught and you don’t know something, you just don’t know. It’s that simple. But now I do. So I’m going to stop being mad about being lied to, go get a damn job, and be green again. The storm is here and I’m itching to bloom. I’m itching to show the world what I’ve got. My generation has so much to offer and it honestly sucks feeling like we’re getting the short end of the stick, but with a job market paradigm shift, we must change the way we approach looking for one.

At this point, getting a job I know I could get straight out of high school doesn’t bother me anymore. And part of that comes from letting go of, ‘I’ve just wasted the last four years of my life.’ That thought couldn’t be more untrue.

If anything, college showed me more of who I am. Like really deep, profound, raw stuff. And even with my student loan debt, I can’t say it wasn’t worth it because I’m majorly impressed with who I am today, despite my current life circumstances.

So here I am, forgiving myself and just rolling with the punches of this storm that’s currently ravaging my world. The petrichor is wafting through the air and I’m feeling tall again. Once everything clears up, you bet I’ll be at work kicking ass and making some company, whichever it may be, better than it was before I arrived.

And all thanks to monsoon season.

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