the life of a kind-of-qualified recent grad

Sure it’s a “first world problem” and the media enjoys mocking recent grads and their pitiful job search that they endure from the comfort of their parents couch after sleeping till noon. But that doesn’t diminish its relevancy in 2016. Its relevancy in my life.

There are a million and one flavors of unemployment, recent-grad status being one of the most relatable among 22–30 year olds chasing the dreams. Many of us were told all throughout college to chase our dreams, find our passions, and pursue them with vigor. That’s what our professors did, right? Those preaching to us are living examples of what it looks like to research your favorite thing for a living. But you know what they forgot?

The other parts of life. The parts about how “just scraping by” with a crappy job doesn’t equate to being a failure. They forgot to mention the struggles of picking career over loved ones, if only geographically. And they certainly never approved of moving or forgoing opportunities for a relationship. In fact, ever since applying to colleges, I’ve been taught that choosing a school or job based on a significant other is short-sighted and silly. Although, isn’t that something that’s seen in just about every “adult” couple at some point or another? Is it just my age that makes it seem naive?

As much as the next millennial, I am still in hot-pursuit of finding my dream job and making sacrifices to get there. I’m up against competitive applicants that not only graduated with two or three degrees, but managed to juggle varsity athletics with international internships and somehow found time to cure cancer and open a school for blind orphans in their “free time.” And that’s only partial hyperbole. While constantly searching for the right opportunities to break into my hopeful field of global health journalism, I’m berated just as regularly by the overwhelming evidence that I’m under-qualified for everything I seek and only worthy of meagerly paid (if at all) internships that somehow require extreme time commitments.

Okay. Exaggeration aside.

Are there any university advisors out there that have the wisdom to remind their students about other worthwhile things in life besides academics? Or that dish out advice on how to juggle life and bills and family and friends while that “dream job” isn’t panning out? Let alone mention that life can still be fulfilling and worthwhile if you’re not in the ideal career (that certainly never occurred to me before). Because right now I’m close to broke, spent the last 8 months living in a garage, and recently had to list “3000 miles away” as my answer on an emergency contact question asking for my nearest family member. I consider myself driven and motivated, and overall I feel like things will work out over time, but my god would it have helped to know that not making money or advancing in my undergraduate degree field doesn’t equate to failing. It’d be great to know putting my relationship above an internship opportunity isn’t something to feel ashamed about.

While the recent-grad lens pertains to me, making money vs. finding a career you love have been on opposite ends of a spectrum for decades. The few people that have both are so ecstatic that they can hardly help preach it to the rest of us. Heaven forbid two of them finding each other and procreate and the poor child grows up thinking a perfect job is the only way to live happily. Sure it’s one way, but it can’t be the only way, can it? I’m sure it’s phenomenal to be able to spend your waking hours working hard in a field you love- I’m certainly still aiming for that- but I want to give a shout out to everyone who’s 9–5 looks more like a 6–12 then a 1–8, and then a weekend shift every month. A shout out to any of us that are feeling less-than based on our job title or our lack of response to an application essay asking about “creative leadership and service experience”. Here’s to the corporate employee that makes it out of work every day to catch the sunset because it’s the most beautiful thing in his (or her) daily routine. To the receptionists that are kind and respectful and make everyone’s life easier even if their work gets tedious. I want to acknowledge all of those humans that are working hard and still searching for love and meaning in the world even if you couldn’t tell it by their resume. And to all my fellow recent grads trying to make sense of the world on their own for the first time.

You matter. You’re enough.