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My (Anxious) Life After College Graduation: The Modern Woman Debacle

My (Anxious) Life After College Graduation: The Modern Woman Debacle

(Editor’s note: This is the sixth in a multi-part series by guest blogger Kim Dreese, a 2013 college grad writing about the joys [read: anxieties] of toting her B.A. degree from the graduation stage on into the “real world”.)

As if it isn’t already hard enough just to exist and not end up defaulting on rent and getting your electricity shut off, ladies get the extra special post-graduate problem of being expected to be a modern, independent woman.

One of the unexpectedly unfortunate consequences of the feminist movement is that women are now more than ever required to be able to take care of themselves and stand on their own two feet without allowing attachments or men to hold them back.

In fact, when you walk up to that stage and collect your diploma, you kiss your state of dependency on your parents goodbye.  Your safety net is gone.


You’re in the real world now, and it’s up to you to not fail.  You are not encouraged or entitled to become a Real Housewife of Orange County, and you are instead expected to be one of the career-driven and personal-relationship-shirking Robin Scherbatskis of the world.

I’m frequently uncomfortable and even ashamed when I’m around some of my friends who are moving across the country to get their dream jobs.

“Oh, you wrote ads about nail polish today, Kim?” I picture them saying. “I saved an entire nursery from a burning inferno and then ran ten miles on the beach with David Hasselhoff.”

I’ve settled in a terrifying city less than two hours from my home town.

My accomplishments seem small in comparison.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not one of those personality-devoid aspiring trophy wives who just want someone to take care of them so they never have to work or think for themselves.

I’m going to write a novel (or a hundred) someday.

I’m going to achieve my dreams.

But I’m also pursuing one of life’s most worthwhile pursuits — love — and that means I have personal relationships and permanent attachments.  If that means I’m not a true modern, independent woman, then so be it.

But in the meantime, I’m going to celebrate my small victories and signs of independence such as correctly identifying Phillip’s head screwdrivers and learning how to work a fuse box.


Another anxiety-inducing aspect of the real world is that you’ll probably always feel like you’re just not quite good enough.

A college degree is apparently not all that impressive to the world anymore, and many people will pressure you to go to grad school.  I would love to get my master’s, but no one died and left me a swimming pool full of money to leisurely dole out to the greedy institutions of higher education.

You might be more educated than the guy who dropped out of your high school after scorching half his face off making a homemade bomb in seventh grade, but all you have is a tiny little bachelor’s degree.

You are hopelessly average.

Additionally, no matter how much you do for others, you can’t please everyone.  Even if you try your hardest at work, chances are your boss won’t throw a “good job” your way.  He (or she) will question every action you take and always point out what you did wrong.

An unrelenting mantra will repeat in your head that you’re not good enough, that it shouldn’t be this hard.

Some days, I just want to curl up in a Little Mermaid blanket and transport myself back to kindergarten when my biggest responsibility was braiding my own hair and picking out shoes that didn’t clash with my poofy 90s dress.


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.

My (Anxious) Life After College Graduation: The Modern Woman Debacle

Summer Beretsky

Summer Beretsky enjoys writing about her experiences with anxiety, panic, and Paxil. She had her first panic attack as an undergrad at Lycoming College and plenty more while she worked toward her M.A. in Communication from the University of Delaware. She contributes to the World of Psychology blog here on PsychCentral and has written for the Los Angeles Times. You can follow her on Twitter @summerberetsky.

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APA Reference
Beretsky, S. (2013). My (Anxious) Life After College Graduation: The Modern Woman Debacle. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 31, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 Aug 2013
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