“Sometimes what we want doesn’t happen when or how we want it to. But that doesn’t mean the answer is “no” it just means the answer is “not now.” – Sarah Centrella
No matter how you ask it, it’s all the same question. What have you been up to? What are your plans for the fall? How’s the job hunt going? Why aren’t you employed yet? It feels like, ever since May, the badgering has been insistent. Like the only thing anyone is allowed to ask a new graduate is whether they’ve lined up an opportunity in which they will subsequently give up a good majority of their life and time. I guess it makes sense though- if you’re struggling through a conversation, it’s an easy fallback. Milestones make great small talk.
There’s a lot of pressure for young people to find a job these days, especially because the job market isn’t doing us any favors. I tried explaining this to my mom, the fact that, even though she and my father never put direct pressure on me, it’s still there. Most of the time, I put it on myself. I remember the comments made throughout college about choosing something reasonable and making yourself marketable. I remember the articles my friends’ parents shared on Facebook about how un-employed our generation is. It was subtle, and unintentional, but it stuck.
In the end, the excuses are moot. The point of this post isn’t to complain. Instead, I want to explore my own experiences as someone who is still unemployed. Sure, I hope that by September, I’m in a classroom, utilizing the teacher certification I worked so darn hard for. However, if I’m not, I have to keep reminding myself that that is okay. I have a solid plan B, especially considering that I’m only (almost) twenty two, transitioning out of college and into the real world, and uninhibited by debt. My situation could be much, much worse. So why does plan B feel like a failure when I think about it?
My best friend bought a one way ticket to Europe. At first, I was shocked. Then jealousy started to creep in. In her very early twenties, she is completely unattached. No family to support, no mortgage to pay. She can jet off without blinking an eye. So, why should she get a job right away? It’s my experience that adults love to preach that this is the time in your life when you should explore. Why work a nine to five right away? It’s my belief, however, that pressure to join the ‘real’ world, often wins out.
I got a bit emotional the other night. It happens every now and again, when I think about this topic. I feel like I’m not doing enough or I start comparing myself to others I know in my situation. Then there’s the (stupid) fear of how others might judge me, pulling at the back of my mind.
Now, I’ve arrived at one idea: we should let people’s choices be their own. Furthermore, we should trust our own choices. There is no cookie cutter life to live. There is no right way to get by. As long as you observe some moral ground and avoid breaking the law, who are you really hurting? Most days, I’m able to talk myself out of the anxiety and fear that comes with being unemployed. I want to urge others, at this point in their lives, to do the same. Time might be an unsettling factor, but we have plenty of it. It’s hard sometimes, to imagine that everything will be okay, but it will be. It has to be.
So, here’s my final two cents on the topic. Next time you strike up a conversation with a recent graduate, ask them what they’re passionate about. Ask them what gets them out of bed in the morning, what they want to explore more of. If they have the answers to those questions, then they’ll find their way. If not, they have plenty of opportunity to figure it out.