If you’re a graduating senior, this post is specifically directed at you and I’m going to give you a piece of advice I should have taken a long, long time ago:
R E L A X.
I know by now you’re tempted to click away in frustration, thinking what I’ve written holds little value, but I urge you to press on.
Graduating is terrifying and there’s a whole lot on your plate. Add job hunting to the mix and slowly but surely, you’ll be consumed by it all. You’ll lose touch with yourself, others, and everything going on around you. Now, I’m not saying throw your laptop out the window and deactivate your LinkedIn account. The search is still important. It just doesn’t need to take over your entire life.
I get it, you’ve heard this all before and you’re rolling your eyes at how cliché I sound, but let me explain a bit further with a personal anecdote:
I applied for a job about a month ago and heard back right away. I had two excellent interviews and a reference check. I thought I had this position in the bag and was already beginning to map out the coming months. I thought wrong. It came down to two candidates and I sadly was not the chosen one. Initially, I felt existential dread. I had no clue what I would do, how I would possibly find a job before graduation, how I would compete with all the superstars within my major, etc. In a matter of minutes my whole life had fallen apart. It sounds dramatic, right? That’s the problem.
In my head, I felt I needed every aspect of my life to come together in a certain way. As a student, I was so accustomed to routine and knowing what came next in life that I couldn’t handle seeing only question marks in my head. I needed a plan, but truly, in the grand scheme, I didn’t.
The truth is simple. Everyone has a different path, yet all of us graduating seniors feel we need to be doing the exact same things: landing the dream job, moving into the city, impressing everyone with impeccable skills, and overall, appearing happy. Unfortunately, this frame of thinking is a product of our society. We’ve grown to believe that success can be determined by a simple equation and if you don’t stick to the status quo, well then you’re just a failure. I’m here to tell you how painfully untrue that is. You are not a failure, not by any stretch.
Upward social comparison doesn’t help either. How many times have you seen some acquaintance post a Facebook status about their new incredible job, living their absolute best life? How did you feel? I can say that I’ve been in both situations – sitting on my bed fuming with frustration, but in the same vein, also unknowingly posting content that made others feel lesser. Comparison can be found in more subtle ways, as well. Look at how education promotes itself. When you apply to a college, you learn how many seniors graduate with full-time job offers, the standard starting salary, and the impressive array of position titles. These are the focus points that end up on a bulleted card sent to your family mailbox. You don’t hear about the way students have grown into better people, or how their perspectives have changed on different cultural issues, or how they found a passion they can feel proud of. Those concepts aren’t tangible measurement tools. So, what can you measure? Money.
The pressures of predetermined success are everywhere and in some cases, impossible to escape. I personally got caught up in the frenzy and lost track of who I was and what I stood for. I forgot to stop and smell the Hofstra tulips. I forgot to sit in the grass and admire all the exciting things taking place around me. I forgot to enjoy my final year as an undergraduate student. I’m not getting that time back and in the next 14 days, I plan to do everything in my power to make up for it.
Looking back, I’m glad my life has fallen into place in this crazy, chaotic mess. I have no idea what I’m doing next month or the month after that and I have no definitive plans in any way, shape, or form. But even still, I am more at peace now than I have been all year. My time will come and in the meantime, I will go wherever the wind blows.
If you’re feeling the way I did, I understand completely. Life is an ongoing challenge that never seems to get any easier. But please, try to relax. You will get a job at some point in time. It doesn’t need to be tomorrow or next week. Enjoy the life around you and keep your mental health in check. All good things come to those who wait and the universe has its plans for you yet.