My (Anxious) Life After College Graduation: The Lies
(Editor’s note: Summer here. I’ll be 30 soon, which is weird. As each year passes, I increasingly lose sight of the college student experience. Yeah — college. That fantastic place where I developed my anxiety disorder. Three cheers for you.
I think current college students and recent grads have a lot more uncertainty on their plates now in this not-so-awesome economy. What if they can’t find a job? What if they can’t make enough money to pay off their student loans? What if, what if, what if?
So, I’d like to introduce Kim Dreese as a guest blogger for the month of July. As a 2013 graduate of a small liberal arts school — ehrm, perhaps the very one that I myself attended — Kim is living in the “what if” world. Below is the introduction to her new series about anxiety in the post-college whirlwind of bills, the 9-to-5, and living on her own.)
SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE HOLDING DEGREES
As soon as I graduated from college, I realized that most of the people I know have been lying to me for my entire life.
After I accepted my diploma and managed to avoid tripping and catapulting myself into the audience at the ceremony, I quickly understood that most of the things I did in order to prepare me for being an adult were entirely superfluous.
Our teachers all told us the same thing in high school. Get good grades, be involved in a ton of extracurriculars, and you’ll get into a great college. You’ll never get anywhere without a college degree, and said degree will entitle you to a job where you’ll make a nice living and be able to support a family.
After spending two months in the adult world, however, I can easily say that my college degree is like the last piece of toilet paper on the roll: It’s not completely useless, but frankly, it does not get the job done.
I did everything right, but I’m not swimming in a pool filled with hundred dollar bills. I may be quaintly planning out my future wedding on Pinterest, but there’s no way the job I have now will enable me to pay for it.
THAT’S ME IN THE SPOTLIGHT…OR NOT
Something everyone fails to mention about post-graduate life is that while you may have pulled your fair share of all-nighters studying for finals and gotten really good grades, everyone else is doing the same thing.
After graduation, I realized that I’m not that special, I’m not particularly qualified to do anything, and the scrap of paper that represents over a hundred thousand dollars worth of education means approximately nothing because in today’s job market, there is no level playing field.
It’s this utter hopelessness that is perhaps the greatest source of anxiety for me in my new life as a “real” adult. I’ve been fairly lucky in life in that I never really suffered from anxiety until I started college, and I didn’t really begin to be dramatically affected by it until about two months ago after graduation.
Now, as I begin this new chapter of my life, there is something new that inspires anxiety, worry, and an overwhelming sense of dread each and every day. Gone are the carefree days of my youth where I’d skip class to watch Pretty Little Liars or lay in the sunshine on the quad.
New, adult days full of mowing lawns and grocery shopping and bill-paying stretch as far as the eye can see.
After spending approximately two months in the “real” world, I feel that I’m now in a position to warn future graduates about the perils and anxiety they’ll face shortly after receiving their diplomas.
Stay tuned for those warnings.
Photo: Will Folsom / Flickr
Kim Dreese is a recent graduate of Lycoming College, where she foolishly majored in Creative Writing and minored in Psychology and Media Writing. Her newest hobbies include blogging and complaining about being an adult. She works at a small advertising firm in Wilkes-Barre, PA. You can follow her daily rants on Twitter at @lyco13.
Beretsky, S. (2013). My (Anxious) Life After College Graduation: The Lies. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 3, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/panic/2013/07/my-anxious-life-after-college-graduation-the-lies/