It was a grab bag of mixed emotions as I entered the arena in Tallahassee where I had sat three years prior on Graduation Day. A weird feeling of pride, mixed with all of the extraneous feelings that I’ve felt since leaving there. The faces on the kids graduating were priceless, and evoked a sense of jealousy, frustration and sadness. Part of me felt like… “Ahhh…my Alma Mater….that I love.” Then the other piece of me wanted to be like, “Dear children before me. These people are about to lie to you, telling you that the previous four years you’ve broke your back to finish with a degree were all worth it and NOW…you can be whatever you want!”
The same gripe I have with movies that depict a brand of love that is harder to find than “unobtainium,” I share with our educators. From the moment I could recite the alphabet, teachers [and of course my mother] have been pumping me up with the notion I can be whatever I want. FURTHERMORE, not only can I be whatever I want, but NOTHING and NO ONE can stand in my way. Doesn’t that sound fancy? It seemed relatively simple, right? Go to school to the highest level and it pays off.
Well…here’s a newsflash kiddies…LIES…ALL LIES! [Said like Frau Firbissinau from Austin Powers]
On the jealousy aspect, here’s how I was feeling…my time at FSU was amazing. Period. In the beginning, I couldn’t envision myself being happy in a place like Tallahassee. BUT, after that, I met some of the greatest people and some of my closest friends whom I’ll remain close with hopefully forever [making me extremely happy]. Also, looking at the about to be grads, I just thought…wow…I’d like to feel THAT optimistic about ANYTHING these days. Their faces were glowing, their excitement was palpable and I just thought…damn you…damn you all…
After sulking momentarily, I collected myself when I realized that reality was about to bitch slap them…and hard. Life’s not as rosy as it’s necessarily always painted. Shit gets REAL. Wait until you are searching for a job and can’t find one. Then, after 600 resumes via Monster, Craigslist, CareerBuilder, LinkedIn, Smoke Signals, and Willsellmysoulforajob.com you get a hit. You’re amped. Like…super, ultra, mega, fucking AMPED. “THIS IS MY TIME!” you confidently reassure yourself in the mirror, while shaking with that “just graduated undergrad” smell of fear and joy emanating from you. In your head, this job is locked up. YOU GOT THIS. And, why not? You’re smart, fearless [stupid?], and ready to work to prove you’re here and you mean business.
The job interview goes insanely well and you saunter out of there trying not to make it look like a victory dance. You nailed it! You nailed it SO HARD that no one else will want to even try, because that job’s going to be walking funny for WEEKS. BOOYAH! Good for you! Now, you wait…. and wait…and wait….
Waiting has to be the cruelest game ever. As time goes on, the waiting game has this funny way of chipping away at your confidence. I’m not sure what that’s about, but it gets serious. Where you started out thinking you basically took that job interview to a fancy dinner and made passionate, sweet love to it, you start thinking…uh oh…what did I do, what did I say? I shouldn’t have worn perfume, he was coughing…he was probably allergic. Maybe I was twitching; I do that when I get nervous. No eye contact? TOO MUCH EYE CONTACT? SWEATY ARMPITS? BLARRRRGH! Pretty soon you turn into a ball of insecurity, left alone to dwell within your own broken psyche. You whimper… “b…b…but…I’m qualified.” When the company has finally broken your spirits, that’s when they call you with the big news…you’re wanted. “IN YOUR FACE!” you scream…to yourself. “TOLLLLLLLDJA!”
The job process is like playing with a yo-yo. At some points it’s high and you’re enjoying yourself. Other points, it swings gracefully between confident and holy shit where did this go wrong. THEN…it stops. We’re about at the stopping point, where they tell you how much you’re worth. You take the job, because you need it and if you need to work yourself to the top, than by GEORGE you’ll DO IT! Enjoy this moment, for it’s the last moment you will ever feel that level of drive…ever…again.
The job starts out fine. You make peace with the fact you’re working for peanuts, because you have no loans to deal with and are planning to go back to school to get a Master’s degree because that’s where the BIG opportunities are…for “those” people with BIG degrees. You muddle through and eventually leave that job, after being convinced that “you’ll see how many doors open for you and how many people value higher education and the power of knowledge and blah, blah, blah, blahhhhhhhhhhhhhh…” Your last thought at that job is… “Whatever…I don’t need you guys. And you’re silly, because I’m going to be a Master and THEN you’ll want me and I’ll be like…no chance yo.”
Advance to “GO” and collect a small piece of optimism.
Enter Graduate School. It’s nothing like your Undergraduate experience and you wonder WTF you just signed up for. You don’t write a single paper past two pages for two years, and then on your last semester you write what’s called a thesis, A.K.A “jokes on you, bitch” paper. A nearly 100 page paper on something you care nothing about, but if you don’t keep your margins tight, your grammar perfect and don’t bleed your heart and soul into this rigidly formatted silly paper…you are, for all intents and purposes….le fucked.
Then, HUZZAH! You wait to hear if you passed! And wait…and wait…and…
YAY! You passed! You’re out of Graduate School and are a Master [of one thing or another] and now, that notion of “anything is possible” is being drilled into your brain. Yet, this time…it feels right. YOU CAN do anything. YOU ARE READY to take on this World and make a difference [throw a fist in the air, jump, and smile as I’m doing right now. Seriously…it makes it more authentic]!
And then…3 months later, no job…this happens…
Stranger: Knock, Knock
Optimistic Me: Whaddup! Who’s there?
Optimistic Me: Oh heeeey reality, I’m ready for you. You’re supposed to be awesome, and cookies, and ponies, and flowers.
Stranger: Eh…I don’t know about all that, but I did bring you a complimentary “I can learn to cut myself” kit. Yay? Also, my friend the economy is here to kick you square in your lady balls [if you’re a dude, clearly sub that for regular man balls].
At six months, you’re disgruntled, frustrated, sad, angry, disappointed and it’s getting worse. This was supposed to be the answer, but you’re pretty convinced that the stripper off your highway exit with the superman tattoo on her face is bringing in more dough than you are. You repeat the process from Undergrad and start feverishly searching Craigslist, Monster, CareerBuilder, LinkedIN, Facebook, Smoke Signals, Willsellyoumysoleormaybemyfirstbornforajob.com and still nothing comes from it. Luckily, you had a job while in school who thought it’d be a good idea to start paying you full time. While the job makes you think that hot fire pokers in your eye would be a calming relief from the day to day, you’re grateful and you keep it. Sure, it’s not what you envisioned yourself doing.
Sure, it’s not what you want to be doing. BUT complacency sets in. Lots of other people don’t have jobs and can’t seem to find one. You’re lucky, you understand.
FACT: The economy blows.
FICTION: It’s “getting better.”
FACT: Job peeps are looking for the most experienced person whom they can pay the least and work the hardest.
FICTION: This is a wildly exciting notion to you.
FACT: You start using the term “FML” more than a 12 year old girl with back acne who bought a strapless dress for the dance.
FICTION: You’re thrilled that your brother, who just graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree, is making $40,000
FACT: He’s selling designer dogs, so the joke’s on him.
And then once again…SHIT GETS REAL! At this point, you’ve given up. You’ve become another corporate yuppie; exactly what you didn’t want, but you’re making SOME kind of money. Then…you realize…you have loans to pay back, a cable bill, rent, FPL, and bill, after bill, after bill…AFTER BILL.
One last FACT…none of those people above take “hugs” as collateral or payment.
Everyone wants a piece of you and not in a good way. They want money from you that doesn’t exist. You panic…but you can do nothing except bury your once perfect credit. And life is grand.
My point [it was in here, I swear]…is that I’m sick and tired of people fluffing up reality. Men wonder why women are insane and want prince charming? Simple. It’s a combination of Disney’s fault, and society allowing us to believe there is some level of perfection roaming around who will do whatever it takes to get us and keep us. If you’re perfection and you’re out there, show yourself…because I’m pretty sure you’re a mythical unicorn [meant to be told in legends, but never held nor seen]. MORE TO THE POINT…our educators and parents need to be real with us. They need to say, you’re going to get out of school and struggle. It won’t be fun, it won’t be cute, but eventually something will crack and you’ll be fine. Stop painting this picture that education is “the way,” or that it will solve all economic problems [meaning you’ll be paid oodles of money when again, there’s really not that much to be had]. Honesty can go a long way…and I should have ended this better, but honestly, I don’t care! HOW DO YA LIKE ME NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!?