Traversing the Unknown: How Graduates deal with the Stress of being Unemployed

“I can’t give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time.” ― Herbert Bayard Swope

As someone who just graduated, I can still feel the palpable stress of friends and colleagues who haven’t yet landed their dream job. As someone who struggled with feeling insecure, I understand what it is like to question myself in times of uncertainty. As someone who is human I know I am not perfect – but I also don’t want to be.
Truth is, post grad is hard – whether you have a job or not. And while I have taken time to measure how lucky I am to have found my way thus far, I also want to take a moment to recognize the instability I endured to get here. I want to level with you all – so here it goes.
Three months ago, I was preparing to graduate college. I was lucky enough to have studied at an institution I loved and gave my heart to, but the feeling of leaving it was and still is surreal. Now, I know that because I am going back to school in the fall my story is a bit different than those who are done with their education, but a year ago I wasn’t enrolled in a Masters program, I was working at an internship that challenged me but also wasn’t what I expected, and I still had no clue what my future held. Suffice to say I was petrified.

Today there is a powerful sense of insecurity that comes with the term unemployment.

I see it in my peers, my friends, my family and I saw it in my parents when the recession hit in 2008 but in some ways the stress that comes with that inevitable sense of insecurity, places adults in the place they need to be.
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Now don’t get me wrong, I am not advising unemployment, but I can say that there is a lot to gain from fear. There is a lot to gain from endless hallways and corridors that lead to unknown places – and there’s something about being lost that helps the right people find us. I would know – I have been lost – and in many ways we all have.
For those of you who don’t understand this feeling, I’ll explain it like this…Remember when you were a kid, shopping for groceries with your parent? Now remember the fear of being in the supermarket and losing sight of your parent. Remember that split second of having no idea what to do next? “Mom told you to stay in place, she said she’d find you, but patience is the last thing you need when you feel this way.” No matter your age you justified the need to remain calm, to follow instructions or to break protocol. Now look at yourself when you are scared, looking for a job, or in between relationships… This time in your life is no different.
Think about it, you have just walked into a huge space [post grad/unemployment is like a grocery store] you know exactly where you are, what each isle [opportunity] holds, but all you want to do is find the people or the food that makes you feel safe. [You want to hold onto your parents cart and not let go.]
The way I see it – when college ends, it’s like getting stuck in the supermarket without your parent. You know you should stay where you are but now the game has changed and now you need to find what is best for you.
I guess what I am trying to say is that I think it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle. To get caught on a easy road or isle that you’ve walked a hundred times – but the methods you used to get things done have evolved, and so have you. The shelves got taller, the prices rose, the stakes are more prevalent than ever and it is scary, but you will find your way.

The game has changed – but so have you. The store has changed – but so have you. Things have evolved from the way they used to be – but you have too.

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Fact: each and every person you know is insecure about something. Every person in the world is insecure about something. But – Fact: that’s normal. Truth is, it’s not only ok to not know what comes next, but it’s the best thing for you.

There is a reason our mom’s take us to the store when we are little – it’s not because they have to watch us but more so that we have to watch them. We learn by following the lead of those around us. So when everyone around us is scared, we are too – but we don’t have to be.

 

We learn by following the lead of those around us. So when everyone around us is scared, we are too – but we don’t have to be.

To all my friends, collegues, readers and lost souls realize that you are not alone, that we are all trapped in our heads trying to find a way out. We are all scared of what comes next – and we have the right to be. But also remember that the best is yet to come, hope is on the horizon and the corridor will end if you just keep walking.
I spent a whole year being afraid, working hard, trying to play it cool. I was completely petrified the whole time, but I kept doing what I was supposed to. I worked, I exersised, I ate good food, I ate bad food and I did it all day after day – I wasn’t perfect and I didn’t pretend or act like I was anything special, I just hoped everything would fall into place – and when the year ended I got a call and I got lucky.
Truth is, fear was the best thing for me during this last year. It always has been but this year it was more important than ever because it grounded me and allowed me to set achievable goals. At the end of the day, I am not a poster child for what to do after you recieve your degree. At the end of the day, I am still learning; but at the end of the day, you are too. So hold on, keep working and be ready. The secret to dealing with stress as a graduate is simple, live. Just live and move toward your goals because sure enough you will find that your opportunity is coming – all you have to do is reach out and catch it.

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