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Graduating from college is daunting because the repetitive years of “I know what’s next, another year of school” is over. The linear path that once dominated every year of your life since you were 5 years old has now been obstructed with the burden of choice. What’s more daunting is the education you bought doesn’t teach you some crucial life skills, including making smart financial choices, well being, walking away from poor relationships, healthy eating on a budget, work/life balance, and debt.
So in this new stage of life you are bright, intellectually curious, and armed with passion with no real security in place.
After living in New York for five years and losing two jobs to company closures and lay offs, the alarming zig zag/ back and forth/ up and down/ crooked path was illuminated before my naive and youthful eyes. I didn’t understand how all my “preparation” left me totally unprepared and alone. So perhaps I can offer some candid advice about how to manage this new influx of choice and struggle in the awakenings of your “real life” beginning.
1.) “It” doesn’t get easier. The job or lover that you are expecting to come along and set your path to happiness ablaze with a sense of completion may or may not come–or when it does it may not meet or exceed your expectations. This is normal. I’ve learned that what lies ahead of us is a thousand disappointments and victories. Awareness of this reality could make you feel jaded and deterred, or you could choose an alternative way of thinking—acceptance. This perspective shift would allow the bad and good seasons to blend together because you aren’t expecting some symphony of perfection. You are trusting life to move you where you need to go as your heart breaks and cheers. It doesn’t get easier, but your ability to accept the process does.
“Don’t be afraid to let aspects of yourself and roles you have played die.”
2) You can live different lives in one life. My first life within this life was a marketing coordinator, and I am grateful for the experience. I learned the corporate grind, structure and due diligence that I will carry with me forever–even if I’m not doing that exact job anymore as a full time writer for HelloBeautiful.
Don’t be afraid to let aspects of yourself and roles you have played die.
The thing is, your sense of “what you want to be” will adjust as you learn more about “who you want to be.” Some years you may just want a bed and food on the table, so just getting a bi-weekly paycheck is enough for you. Some years you may want to change someone’s life, so no traditional job seems satisfactory. Don’t listen to any stories that make you feel like someone else has it more together than you do. The person in the skyscraper is just as confused as the wandering soul in the jungles of Brazil.
3) It’s all a trade off. The corporate job that feeds you and provides for your comfortable life will also deny you hours spent with family and friends and time that could be spent catering to your emotional and spiritual well being. You will work relentlessly for a weekend and ten days vacation a year,
The freelance job will have you hustling and grinding for rent, eating ramen noodles, and not going out because you can’t even afford the $2.75 subway fee. But you will own your time and the way your days are spent which is basically, all we have.
Your choice. But expecting one path to give you everything is naive and quixotic. You will have to sacrifice. You will have to choose. But no ones choice is better than yours. I trust your soul to do what brings you the most peace.
4) Exhilaration. Though daunting, you own your life now.The monotonous uphill school ladder is now obliterated. You did what you wanted (or what your family wanted) and got your degree. Now it’s time to get you. Learn what you love and learn what you hate and don’t be afraid to try and fail. We have all failed. We have all changed course. We have all been confused. Once you understand that you are not alienated in this suffering, you can find home and peace in it. It’s the universal ache to be and to become. You are not alone. You never were, and never will be.
Dear Graduates, There Is No Linear Path To Success was originally published on hellobeautiful.com
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