I graduate university in less than two weeks.
Here in DC, there’s a looming terror in the town and talk. It’s talk of hiring freezes, job competition, overworking, underpaying, and chronic unfulfillment. Words like “temporary” and “settling” permeate the conversations of employable sturdy youth, youth that should have its head in the clouds but instead indulges talk of 401(k)s.
Any serious career advice sought inevitably begins with a condescending look and a “Oh, it’s really hard to get into,” prompting one of my very attractive snorts: No shit. Every career worth having is hard to get into.
Articles regurgitating information about bleak job prospects circulate social media, along with prescriptive captions like, “Everything is terrible” and “The new child labor!!”
Indeed, times are tough. But my question is: So?
I may be naively optimistic, but I need to be.
To accurately and specifically give you an idea of my future (and thus, this blog) here is a hand-full of the infinite directions my life could go:
- Look for jobs in NYC; save up; be happy [this is the definite short term]
- Travel to Southeast Asia; do photojournalism; be happy
- Teach English in Vietnam for a year; be happy
- Move to Poland; be happy
- Look into UN opportunities; be happy
- Volunteer in Liberia; be happy
- Graduate school in Russia; be happy [eventually]
- Graduate school in the EU; be happy [eventually]
- Become a [_____] writer; be happy
- Pester Nat Geo until they hire me; be happy.
- Go to Turkmenistan; be happy
- Move to Argentina; eat steak; learn to tango; be happy
- Et cetera ad infinitum; be happy
You see the problem. I have so many options (I don’t, however, have the option of being unhappy. I’m okay with this). I add to this list everyday, literally anything that comes to mind as an attractive possibility. Clown school? If my heart’s in it! French culinary school? My stomach would thank me! Become a Polish-American triple agent in Russia? Probably not as my cover is already blown! Literally anything. I mustn’t build a comfortable life in a shoe box. There are bigger boxes or, better yet, a life without boxes entirely.
While I am so very lucky to be in the position that I can do whatever I want (provided I work for it), the choices are overwhelming, like when I’m in the supermarket and I’m forced to choose one or two types of cheese out of dozens of flavors. What if I choose the wrong cheese? What if I don’t like the cheese? What if it’s rotten or costs too much money or someone isn’t happy with my choice of cheese?
So? I deal with it and go back to the store and try a different cheese. Regarding the last bit, they can just fuck off.
EDIT: A truthful observation from a friend with a brain (the one pictured, actually): “There’s no such thing as a “wrong cheese”; cheese can never be wrong (literally and metaphorically speaking…). but there is such thing as a wrong pairing, discerning palate, or a picky (cowardly) eater — whoever thinks a cheese is “wrong” just needs to grow a pair, expand their palate, and/or be more adventurous.”
Indeed, there is no cheese inherently wrong. This also extends to choices, as long as our choices don’t hurt people.