The Post-college Grad Blues:

unemployment-grads-cartoon.jpg

I was talking with my friend Peter the other day with whom I graduated college. It’s been a year since school and our lives have taken similar paths, but neither of us are working where we thought we would. I learned we both miss the college experience now that we’re a year out. Peter used a term to describe the process of waiting for our careers to take off and missing the college experience: the Post-college Grad Blues.

In college, you have one goal: graduate. That goal will take at least four years to achieve. It’s comforting to have a time frame for your goal. Rarely in life, I’m finding, are things that simple. Now that I’m a year out of college, I’ve felt the Blues.

I recently moved back to Eugene, Oregon, where I graduated college. It’s surreal being back. I didn’t realize how much I would miss college. I miss the setting, the environment, the opportunity of it. Nowhere else can you be free to try so many new things and be encouraged to try those things by the very people who champion those ideals. I wouldn’t be who I am today without my college experience.

I miss having the opportunities I had in college to learn and grow. Sure, I have similar opportunities now, but it’s harder to find them. I feel like I have to educate myself on things I do not know. It takes longer that way. I took for granted the fact that in college I was surrounded by like-minded people. I miss finding like-minded people so easily. I miss that support of people who are struggling, but struggling WELL, toward a common goal. You’ll find like-minded people the moment you step inside a classroom. When you join a class, you’re sharing more than just knowledge. You’re sharing an experience.

Once you graduate, you have to seek out these people. It’s easy to feel like you’re alone. The truth is you’re not. Sometimes you have to initiate community. I did this by recognizing the needs I had: to find common ground with other struggling post-grads and writers. I loved every minute of the two groups I joined. With both groups, all I had to do was put myself out there. My church didn’t have a post-grad Bible study, so I asked my pastor if there were other post-grads who wanted to start one. I didn’t expect to co-lead one, but that’s what ended up happening. With the writers group, I had to create one on Meetup.com because there wasn’t an existing one in my hometown. I created one and had to hope that other people would join. To my pleasant surprise, that’s exactly what happened. To those who are struggling with finding meaning in their lives and direction, you are not alone. All you have to do is find a community.

As a Christian, it’s hard not to wonder why God doesn’t just give me the job I want. I don’t think the answer is that simple. You don’t just get the right job. Through a combination of hard work and luck, you might get your dream job after a long wait. I think the point of the waiting is that God wants us to learn and grow. In His timing, I believe God will grant me the right job. But what is the “right job”? I wonder if God and I disagree on what that means. To me, the right job is one where I could apply my major and be paid to do what I love. Right now, I think the perfect job would be editing for a fiction publishing company. However, the “right job” to God may be one where I can learn the lessons God wants me to learn. My last job wasn’t even remotely related to what I love, but it taught me how to be timely and work hard at something I’m not passionate about. Does that mean it was a bad job? No, absolutely not. I think I learned what God wanted me to learn at that job. I’m still searching for the right job, but I have faith that God will one day reward me for my efforts and trust in Him.

I feel like I’ve been living in the past, but I’m trying to live now for the future. I have a new goal now: seek God and obey Him. It’s not as clear-cut a goal as graduating college, but I have Jesus to guide me into obedience. I’m trying to live out Proverbs 3:5-6:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.”

It’s comforting to know that I can trust God and that He will direct my steps.