Tag Archives: graduation

We Are The In-Betweeners

We grew up in an age where the American dream meant you followed a specified list and ticked the items off one-by-one, in the appropriate order. We were told that we would walk tall off our college campuses with our freshly inked degrees. We would accept the job offer that would inevitably come our way. We’d get married and have kids and then, after thirty years at the same company, we’d retire. The picket fence we would build to contain our succinct lives would chip and falter over time but it would be physical proof that we “made it.”

 
We don’t live in that world anymore. The colleges became more selective. What was once a choice became whatever we could get. Those degrees became overwrought, expensive pieces of paper indicating less about knowledge and more about pedigree. The job offers for postgrads that once gushed from the proverbial firehose became infrequent droplets from a shower head that is now all but dry. The divorce rate has skyrocketed and accepting that you’ll have a “first wife” or a “second husband” has devolved from being the idea of a cynic to being that of a realist.
 
 
This world for us “in-betweeners,” us “pseudo-adults,” is alien and terrifying. The 23-year-olds of yesteryear were self-sufficient, level-headed, and guided. Those 23-year-olds would scoff at us. Our better-educated, more driven, and dream-laden selves would probably look like bumbling infants to them. We are standing on the precipice of a world our predecessors could have never imagined. We straddle this strange border between knowing enough to start our lives but not enough to establish who we are. We have the trust of our elders but not the faith.
 
 
In the year since I’ve graduated, I’ve lost more than I ever thought I would. I’ve lost jobs and friends and lovers and confidence and, above all, myself. I no longer recognize myself when I look in the mirror every morning. I go through the motions of my day. I laugh and I cry and I ponder and I yell and I wait. I wait until my life feels like it’s my own and it’s one that I’m proud to identify with. I wait for the day when I know what it is that I want to identify with.
 
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Congrats Grads, Here’s How to Make Your First Year Out Suck Less

I just finished my first full year out of college.

I graduated May 23, 2013, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I was beyond excited to get out of school and “start my life.” I naively thought that with a diploma in hand, I was ready for it all. Like a typical millennial cliché, I was very wrong.

Unlike a lot of my peers, I had a signed offer for a job over a month before I’d don my cap and gown. It was a job in my chosen field (publishing), with a decent salary, and conveniently right near Penn Station, so commuting from home on Long Island would be a breeze (or, at least, as much of a breeze as an hour and a half trip could be). So, I quit my beloved part-time job at Apple, took a deep breath and jumped headfirst into the workforce a mere week after graduation.

Not surprisingly, it was too good to be true and I was laid off within just a few months of starting. My boss cited “budget cuts” and I took the whole thing terribly. My shiny new life on the cusp of beginning suddenly became cracked, dull, and utterly terrifying. Since then, this past year has been a whirlwind and it’s one that has been filled with more things unexpected than expected. So, in light of all you new graduates accepting your diplomas and singing “SCHOOL’S OUT FOREVER!” at the top of your lungs, I give you a few nuggets of wisdom from my whole year in the wild. Grain of salt sold separately.

Save money. This either seems obvious or ridiculous to you, but it’s actually something I wish someone had ingrained harder into my brain before graduating. In college, “broke” meant you couldn’t go out one night or your meal of choice for the next week was a pack of hotdogs. In “real life,” being broke can mean defaulting on student loan payments, barely paying the minimum on credit cards, and having zero social life. Nest eggs are the difference between sinking or swimming. Download the Mint app — it’ll make saving a whole lot easier (I’m newly obsessed). Seriously, if you find yourself out of a job, a nest egg will keep your credit from being destroyed and food on the table. Also, it’ll save you the tail-between-your-legs chat with your parents.

Make like Chumbawamba: If you get knocked down, get up again. I failed miserably at this but you shouldn’t. I’ll give it to you straight: I was hugely depressed after losing my job. I was convinced that I was a failure, a feeling that was only exacerbated by the amount of interviews I went on while looking for a new job. I interviewed — yes, interviewed — with 19 different companies over a period of four months. My printer died from printing out so many copies of my resume. I was pounding pavement, chatting up HR employees all over the city and praying to whatever god that would listen that I’d find something. I wish that when I told myself, “It’s all going to work out,” that I genuinely believed it would. I cried night after night because I was convinced I was going to have to forfeit my dream of being an editor so I could pay the bills. In just one year out of college, I know I’ve gotten thicker skin. I gave myself a reality check: “DUDE, YOU’RE 22. CALM DOWN.” Do yourself the favor and don’t be afraid to fail. It’s definitely going to happen and it’s definitely going to get better.

Try harder in your friendships. The diaspora of friends as they leave the collegiate bubble is no joke. For your whole life, your friends have been easily accessible. They’ve been in the next room, across the hall, around the block. And then suddenly, after graduation, your best friends have detached themselves from your hip and moved to Cleveland (or, in my case, Boston. And Virginia. And Florida). It becomes very easy to let days turn into weeks without talking or checking in. Friends you once knew everything about become these people that you just sort of know. Seeing them and actually learning about their day-to-day activities takes serious effort. Put the work in for the friends that matter to you — set out time every week to talk to them. Have “Skype Session Sundays” and you’ll never be out of the loop. There’s nothing that feels more like a punch in the gut than finding out from Facebook that your best friend is engaged.

Work hard. This is a “mom” piece of advice but it’s definitely valid. Get to work on time, don’t drink every single night of the week (or do so in moderation…), stay positive, and fight for what you want. No one’s going to be a bigger advocate for you than yourself. If you want something, don’t be afraid to ask for it. And if you don’t get it? Well, perseverance goes a looooooong way.

Welcome to post-grad life, my friends, and here’s to a good first year out. Maybe yours won’t end over a pint of ice cream and “What’s My Age Again?” on replay but I can’t make any promises.

This Is What It Feels Like

David V DartelIt’s been quite a bit of time since I last wrote on this thing, huh. What’s strange is that it is not for lack of things to say because, let’s be frank, anyone who has ever met me knows I’m never without words. If I’m being totally truthful, I can’t say I’ve been too busy – because I could’ve found time to write here and there. I will say, however, that I don’t think I wanted to hear or read what I would have written in those stolen moments.

Upon graduating nearly three months ago, my day-to-day has taken a complete one-eighty. Gone are the days when I trekked to and from Grand Central, the pages and pages of notes procured in dozens of lecture halls have been trashed, and the hard-earned, yet still imaginary, paystubs of interning have been bid adieu. Now, my Monday through Friday consists of working nine-to-six at a desk. My weekends are suddenly free game, my paychecks are suddenly gargantuan in comparison to what they once were (yet they seem to disappear just as quickly…), and if I stay awake past eleven pm, it’s considered a “late night.” What’s more is that my days feel like the crawl by but the weeks seem to race faster than light. I’ve blinked and my summer has all but disappeared, without so much as a good suntan to remember it by.

Oyster

How did this happen? How did I become this twenty-one year old college graduate? Here I am, this pseudo-adult entering the real world equipped with nothing but a piece of paper and a mountain of debt. It seems so preposterous that this can be the scenario – that I am by social standards ready to be pushed from the nest and willed to fly. But perhaps, it’s not so preposterous that I’m here but rather, how I got here; this is what confounds my mind.

And I know. It’s horribly cliché to reflect on your “college years.” There’s been far too many Facebook status’, dramatic speeches, absurd photos, and Tweets from outside parties that have made this whole reminiscing process wildly redundant, annoying, and utterly nauseating. Yet, despite all of that, I still sit here with my head in my hands – trying to shake these sober spins – thinking of what these past four years really meant.

The seventeen-year old me would have never recognized this girl, (woman? Am I supposed to call myself that now?), that looks back at me through the mirror as I brush my teeth in the morning. And I know that that’s a great thing – change. But no one really prepares your seventeen year-old self for the changes you’ll undergo in college. And I think I love that there are no preparations because it forced me to jump into the lion’s den with no armor. Where high school is awkward, pubescent, and wildly dramatic in all the most humiliating ways, college is raw, emotional, and absolutely incredible in all the most I-want-to-be-young-forever ways.

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So, Take Me Back To The Start

It’s been a year since I started this thing and to say, “a lot has happened” would be a grand injustice to the adventures I’ve had, the pain I’ve endured, the friends I’ve made, and the overall life I’ve lived these past twelve months. Even thinking back to last year and where I was emotionally/physically is so different than where I’m at now.

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