From Hero to Zero

My sudden plunge from college graduation to full-time unemployment has been shocking, to say the least. I’m sure that a lot of others in similar positions feel the same way: disappointed, somehow cheated, sad, vaguely angry.

My situation

From 0–18, I worked hard to get good grades to get into a good college because that’s what you were supposed to do. Then, I got to said good college, worked hard, and graduated with honors. I even got some awards my senior year. Again, because that’s what you’re supposed to do. In that sense, I felt like a winner. I had done everything “right” more or less. Leading up to graduation, there was much talk among my friends about crying, but I didn’t cry at all because I was happy.

But where has all that hard work and success gotten me months later? Nowhere. Suddenly, I’m a loser. I basically live in my parents’ basement; except my parents downsized, so I live in the spare bedroom/office of their two bedroom apartment. I have no job, hardly any friends in this city, nothing to do. After months of applying to jobs, I am certain that my resume has yet to reach the hands of a single human being. I can’t get an interview for a job that’s not a scam.

Why should you even care?

Maybe I have unrealistic expectations about the job search. (For what it’s worth, employers also have unrealistic expectations for me, more on that in future posts). But that does not diminish the shittiness of my situation. Instead it speaks to how my education and support network has totally failed to prepare me for post-graduate life and therefore amplified how badly I feel now.

For whatever reason, no one talks about depression after graduation.

When you’re graduating, everyone says vaguely positive things about your inevitable future success. Commencement speeches almost universally focus on inspiring future leaders to make a positive impact on the world. No one talks about months to years of unemployment or floundering in difficult, unfulfilling, part-time, or unpaid jobs, but that is the reality that I and many of my friends face. Even the ones with objectively good jobs in their field of interest feel a certain malaise: “Is this it?”

We need to talk about these problems more openly. I myself often feel too ashamed or scared to discuss my current loser state most of the time because I fear a) people will judge me for being so desperate, b) I will come off as an entitled brat, and c) I will burst into tears should I think about it for too long. For whatever reason, no one talks about depression after graduation. I don’t have any answers, but I’m hoping that this blog will resonate with some of you and we can all feel less alone.

Because I’ve been thinking about these all week

I’ll leave you with some old videos that really speak to me now, created by other recent graduates (at the time).

  1. Haleyghoover’s “HOW TO BE 22,” which is loosely a response to that one song about being 22. (Yes, that one.)
  2. The Battery’s Down because “I can’t believe how much [my] life really blows” and because if you haven’t already seen this web series can we even be friends?