Yesterday marked graduation from my (undergraduate) alma mater, Washington University in St. Louis. To celebrate the occasion, some students formed a flash mob in front of the library. Good times. But those good times – that feeling of freedom – wears off eventually.
When I graduated from Wash. U. two years ago, I felt completely confident in my plans, unlike many of my fellow students, who were facing the void of life after college. I was going to graduate school in journalism – two more years to figure out what I was meant to do before being thrust into the real world. Grad school is a respite from reality, though a respite that made me sleep-deprived and hooked on caffeine. But two years goes a lot faster than you’d might think.
I have graduated from my Master’s program. I am officially a real person, so to speak. (Though an unemployed one.) And I am finally privy to the paralyzing uncertainty and fear many of my compatriots faced two years ago. Of course, they’re all employed now. (Bugger.} I have sent out numerous applications and inquiry letters. The only response I’ve had is from a national publication that told me, alas (yes, that word was used), all paid positions have been filled. And so I am stuck in limbo, waiting.
I hate waiting.
Of course, it could be argued that my current aimless position is something to take advantage of. The economy is not friendly to employment-seeking students, so why not go back to school? Or volunteer while applying for more jobs? Or move to another country and live on a shoestring while amassing the required material for the eventual memoir? Each option offers something.
But the truth is, I’m scared. Scared of having to take a job I don’t want in order to make money, scared to be completely on my own, scared if that I choose one option, I will regret not taking another. And, at least for now, I am tired of the late nights and constant stress of graduate school. I loved my program – the people, the opportunities to write, the jokes about the AP stylebook. But I think I need some real world experience. I just need to find it.
So far, life after graduation is both exciting and disorienting. (Much like a rollercoaster ride would feel like, I expect, though I am too much of a wuss to ever go on one.) At this point, I am chucking prayers to the employment gods and keeping my fingers crossed for everyone in the same boat. If anyone has a bubble suit, let me know. I might be bouncing around for a while.