No One Ever Tells You…

When I graduated in May, I thought the corporate journalism world was going to accept me with open arms. My professors told me I was a strong writer, friends asked me for an extra set of eyes for their papers, and my articles were being published. Yet, I am still stuck in a weird post-grad limbo that, currently, feels scarier than actual limbo (from what I imagine actual limbo would be like).

College officials, parents, friends and even that person you met at a networking event say, “Your degree will open so many doors for you.”

But it looks more like this:

When I graduated in May, I never thought I would miss Ithaca College so much. After walking across the stage, my main thoughts were, “My mom and I never have to fill out FAFSA again and I’ll never have to take out another Sallie Mae loan.” But now that I’ve been away from campus and Ithaca’s fall semester is halfway complete, I can’t help but feel left out. I can’t watch the mesmerizing Ithaca leaves change, I can’t watch my paycheck hit my checking account Friday morning, I can’t attend dance practice every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, and I can’t goof off with my roommates like we used to.

No one ever tells you the feeling you get after you leave college. You have deserted a routine that you’ve had for the past four years of your life. Scheduling out your days of the week at the beginning of the semester was the most crucial point to determine your weekly outlook. Those days remained consistent and you always looked forward to grabbing that coffee between your 9:25 and 12:15 like you always did. In another way, you’ve also given up a part of your imagination. In college, you have the freedom to picture yourself in your ideal career. Having the option to experiment with your interests and figure out what isn’t working for you. That’s the whole goal of going to college. To test the waters within the realm of what you like and then get a $40,000+ degree that says you did it.

No one ever tells you that post-grad can mess with your mental health. Whenever my professors Skyped in an alum or industry professional into class, they were always the success story. They were someone who worked at the New York Times, Disney, Condé Nast or other big-name media companies. We imagined ourselves being as successful as them, which is simply a naive undergraduate mentality. (This isn’t to negate the fact that those people must’ve had their own post-grad struggles too. It’s just never talked about.) Then, when graduation rolled around and the arms of the corporate journalism world were nowhere to be found, I questioned my skills –– as anyone in my position would naturally do. Researching jobs, filling out applications, and writing cover letters became its own grueling task. After rejection emails started flowing into my inbox, I became hesitant when it came to my own writing. All these thoughts flow through your head as you sit there in your room trying to find the right career.

Do I qualify for this? I hope I didn’t miss anything on that edit test. When will they respond with my fate? Who am I up against? Did they like me when I met them? Are they going to respond today? 

No one ever tells you that some of your classmates are going through the same thing. What I really needed was someone else to vent to who was on the same train as me. You know, the “Please hire me because I’m a great writer trying to make it in New York City and going broke” train. One day at an Ithaca College Women of Color (WOC) Alumni Network meet-up, I spoke to my friend who was also a journalism major and writing minor (so you could say we were literally sitting next to each other on that train). We talked about the places we were applying to, the post-grad struggles that our college didn’t share, the lack of services/networking for those in the journalism department who didn’t want to go into broadcast journalism, our mental health, and the overall weight of the world. What shocked me was that she was also reluctant when it came to her own free writing. Although the reason is different for everyone, there’s this subconscious battle where your work was once hyped up and appreciated, and now it slips into thin air.

No one ever tells you that finding positive mental health patterns after college is crucial. I type that sentence while still figuring it out myself. Whether you need to write, go to the gym, or talk it out with a friend in a similar situation for guidance and emotional support, just do it.

Of course, I’ve had looming thoughts about how I’m going to pay for my loans once my grace period is done, how to avoid going broke when a friend comes to visit me in the city, and how I’m not living up to the version of myself I had envisioned two months before graduation. I’ve thought it all. But it’s also important to not let those thoughts eat away at you and your passions.

 

 

Feature photo by me

 

One thought on “No One Ever Tells You…

  1. You are absolutely right. But know that once you stay true to that passion you will find the resilience and persistence to stay positive and keep pressing on. This too will pass!

    Like

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