Sunday, 26 May 2013

Life After Graduation: How to survive

Life After Graduation: How to survive
Graduate Meets World
#Episode 1:  The 5 Stages of Post-Graduation Grief


This all started innocently enough as I was narrating the details of a weird dream I had followed by an anxiety attack to a friend , it’s important to mention that said friend is employed and has been so for the past 5 years! Him being an observant of the scene, or the drama of the “Graduate meets world”, he suggested that I write about it as it has become a pandemic, so here goes!
It is also noteworthy to mention that I attempted to do research on what has previously been written on the matter and I skimmed through several survival kits that have already been published, and I promise to dedicate an episode (or part of an episode) to discuss them, apparently it’s an industry, books are being sold and people are making money off of this!

The Dream

The dream was vast and the sky was the limit!

But of course they lied about that, almost as big a lie as the one told to millions of poor unsuspecting high-schoolers ; “tough it out now and university will be more relaxed” , you get to university and realize that the only reason it’s more relaxed is that you stopped bothering and very little can phase you when it comes to school, especially if you go abroad to study, I should mention that I am not generalizing here and this certainly doesn’t apply to all students, however, I speak for myself and those who have gone through this very same rite of passage. Anyways, not to stray too far from the topic at hand….The Dream which is the very close second biggest lie, is that *drum rolls*: Once you leave the student life behind you, comes the real world with all its perks despite the hardships, the independency and adulthood in its true essence, a career, a paycheck, an interesting life even a family of your own!
The grace period between the day you actually receive your diploma to the day you wake up and decide you’re done relaxing and you need to pursue the dream varies in length from graduate to graduate and I have a hypothesis that suggests that the length of the grace period is inversely proportional to the effort you put into your degree!
Yours truly was one of the obsessive ones who started hunting for jobs before they were even certain they’ll graduate, yup! Before I even sat for my final exams so my grace period was more of a time to slow down and rejoice in the abolition from the dreaded student life and its shackles, I mean I am about to pursue the dream and the sky is the limit! I need a break to recharge! Or so I thought!  

A few weeks into the grace period and the dream slowly starts to shed its masks and you see it for what it is….
Employers aren’t going to Sparta over your fancy qualifications or rare major! Shocker! Right?
Job security is a luxury to those who have jobs!
Money talks!...... Sometimes it never shuts up
It’s who you know , hardly ever what you know, in fact, with this economic situation, a know it all is the last thing employers look for,  an obedient slave to memorize and do the tasks efficiently is the ideal candidate. 
You’re cheap labor! And even then, you’re not coveted….
And many many other fun facts about The Dream!

The journey from graduation to the much needed wake up call and reality check, sobering up and becoming objective can be summarized as follows :  

The 5 stages of Post-Graduation Grief

1-      Denial is the first stage; however denial starts upon the first impact with the truth about “The Dream”. Denial itself has different stages and layers, it starts with the basic denial of the fact that you’ve been hoodwinked, denial that you’re no different from all these other people who graduated last year and are still looking, after all, you’ve attended thousands of seminars and read hundreds of articles and have the techniques of how to land your first job memorized! No, it’s a matter of time before I land the perfect job, I am proactive and I’ve done my homework well, I even have a LinkedIn account!

2-      Anger is the stage that begins to creep up on you after spending a few weeks or months in denial (depending on how fast you start to sober up) , you start realizing that none of the lies the career advisory office sold you works, those articles on how to market yourself were written as a practical joke and you’re as prepared as  you were for university the first day you arrived! (refer back to biggest lie ever sold) . This stage transforms you into a bitter cookie, you direct your anger at friends, family, inanimate objects and mostly on strangers on the internet, you pour your focus on politics, sports or any other field that offers a healthy space for rage on the cyber space, you’re angry and you show it towards everything and everyone except what is really bothering you!

3-      But the anger gets old real fast! You start to cool down and enter the Bargaining stage ,  you lower your standards in terms of job hunting (like that makes a difference) , you put a fancy label on your desperation “expanding my horizons” ,  you start comforting yourself by thoughts like “If only I had kept an open mind sooner, I’d be hired by now” and a personal favorite “if only I had just taken any job to get me started, I’d already be well on my way to my ideal job” ……yup! 

4-      Depression hits when all fails, you lowered your standards, you applied to basic jobs that only require computer literacy, but you haven’t heard back. Family friends and relatives who took your CV have disappeared from your life, you don’t even check your email anymore because you just know all you’ll find is spam job offers from the various recruitment websites you signed up to! You start questioning your choice to study what you studied and beating yourself up over your poor decision. And soon enough, you remove your resume from all online Databases, and you spend your days cynically browsing job listings, eating your weight in whatever junk food at your disposal, you don’t even go out anymore, because going out and spending your parents’ money only emphasizes and enhances your feelings of total worthlessness.

5-      Acceptance comes upon realizing that yes you’ve been fooled and the world was indeed painted with a fake rosey  brush , but you’re not the only one, everyone has gone through it, even those who have jobs now! With that truth settling in your mind, you shed off depression and decide that there is no option but to keep trying. 

Monday, 20 May 2013

The Honeymoon's over....

This piece was written ages ago as a part of a larger novel that is as of this moment remains unfinished...

She let out a long exhale after taking a very deep breath, as if expelling all her anguish and frustration, she knew it would happen and a part of her was looking forward to it but there was no amount of grounding that would prepare anyone to deal with the fact that the honeymoon was over, nothing prepares you for the first fight! Big or small, it comes with a lot of terror, uncertainty, frustration and most importantly, questions! Will we survive this fight? Is it a testimony of the fragility of our relationship? Did I really mean any of the things I said? Did he? Will it change the way we deal with each other? They say lovers’ spats are natural but how comes nothing about this feels natural?
She absentmindedly left the tap running as she recalled the events of last night, the anger was building up within her again, all the things she should have said and didn’t and all the things that were uncalled for but she failed to hold back, “He was pretty mean though” she whispered to herself before letting the streams of tears that were swelling up in her eyes run down her cheeks. 
She heard the sound of the bathroom door closing and realized he had woken up too, she turned off the water tap, dried her hands on her pajama bottoms and stood staring at the coffee pot, undecided on how to play out the morning routine, he makes the coffee and she makes the sandwiches and whomever is done dressing ends up doing the dishes, and him being the diva he was, she’d always do them! This morning was different, she didn’t try every tickling technique to wake him, they didn’t start their morning with kisses and wishes they didn’t have to be at work, he didn’t tease her about her puffy face and she didn’t pretend to be upset just so he’d shower her with clich├ęd sweet nothings. They didn’t take turns in hogging the mirror to brush their teeth and suggested to move to a place with two bathrooms, none of that!
It was 35 minutes before he emerged out of the bedroom, all dressed up to go to work , she was on the couch ,they made eye contact for a second and she looked away with a thousand thoughts running through her mind! “Should I say good morning or wait for him? What if he didn’t say it? What if he did? Should I answer back? He really was pretty mean! Will he make coffee or just pass by starbucks, if he made coffee should I make the sandwiches! How the hell do I do this!
His voice interrupted her train of obsessive thoughts, she looked at him and his face carried all the callousness and the seriousness he could muster, not a hint of a smile or a possibility of it! He didn’t wait for her answer and walked to the kitchen. She was caught off guard and by the time she had decided to reply, he had already walked away! “Morning”, she whispered to herself. He turned around and looked at her, she was still looking away, he shook his head and carried on.
Her brain continued to generate thoughts so conflicting and contradicting that it took her twice the usual time to get ready, she was however thankful it was a working day and they’ll both be at work all day and would not have to deal with each other.  
For the rest of the day, she continued to replay the fight and their morning interaction in her head.
He stared at the ceiling for what seemed to be forever, his left arm tucked under his head while his right arm is resting on his belly, he’d occasionally look at her side of the bed, cold and creaseless. He sighed in dissatisfaction as he replayed events of the previous night in his head, he had seen a side of her he didn’t know existed, he tried hard but he couldn’t recall a time he’s been that angry with anyone before, it usually takes a lot to anger him to the point of saying what he said and he never thought that she of all people would ever push him that far! He had played every scenario of their first fight in his head but none of them was even remotely related to what took place!  
He sat up and looked at the digital clock on the nightstand, 10 minutes to 6! He lit a cigarette and sat up on  the bed with his bare feet touching the cold floor, he closed his eyes as he took a long drag of his cigarette, listening to the faint sound of water running in the kitchen, “sogood!” he thought to himself and a smile escaped his control! He was thankful he was alone in the room and she didn’t see him caving, because to him that was the explanation of the smile!
He put out his cigarette and walked to the bathroom. The warm water washed down all the negativity he woke up soaked in, he wanted this to pass, he didn’t know how but he didn’t want to be mad at her anymore, and somehow, all the anger seemed but a silly overreaction, he tried to remember why the argument started, whether it was worth it or not, but all he could think of was that he wanted them to move past this!
He finally walked out of the bedroom to find her sitting on the couch, their eyes met, a part of him wanted to take her in his arms, say “let’s quit this nonsense” and carry out the morning routine, but his stubborn male ego only allowed him to let the word “Morning” out! He froze for a split second which felt like a million years waiting for a response and when it didn’t come he walked away, as a timid “morning” caught up with his ears, he turned around but she wasn’t looking, frustrated with her passiveness he carried on.
For the rest of the day, he kept busy, forcibly dismissing any thoughts relating to the fight!

He came home later than usual, and a delicious aroma of spices mixed with a tantalizing scent of incenses burning in a corner somewhere greeted him at the door, he walked in following the aroma to the kitchen where she stood, in her work outfit, placing the last layer of “gurasa” on a plate. She noticed him observing her with a blank expression on his face, indifferent! The truth is, he was struggling not to smile and at the same time battling a voice in his head telling him that it will take more than this. She walked to him and reached for his hand and smiling she said “ I know it is going to take more than this, but at least it’s a start no?” , He looked at her with the same blank expression as she lowered her gaze and sighed in frustration, she led him by the hand to the living room, they were finally on the couch, it was a few minutes before he spoke, “ what do you think you’re doing?” he said callously. Her eyes were now swollen with tears, she looked away as he demanded she looks at him, still looking away her voice came shaking as she choked on her own tears “ I am apologizing but you should know I am not apologizing for getting mad, you were a complete jerk and your words were very hurtful!” ,  “is this your first apology? “ he interrupted, “ Because you suck at it” , she turned to him, tears soaking her face but a pilfered smile has found its way to her lips , “ I don’t want to ever do this again!” she muttered before throwing herself into his arms!
“Look” he said while wrapping his arms around her, “ it will happen again, this is not our last fight, I certainly do hope it isn’t! you just need to understand, it’s difficult , it’s like we’re getting to know each other all over again and we need to both be very strong, we both said horrible things , and it is scary to realize we are capable of saying such things to each other” , she lifted her head from his chest, wiped her tears and said “ you’re right , I can’t promise you that I’ll never be a bitch again, but I promise that whatever happens, I will never sleep on this couch again!” , he let out a laugh and printed a kiss on her forehead “3aweera , let’s eat”  , he got up and extended his hand to help her up, she reached to grab his hand but hesitated at the last minute, she looked at him and said “ Only if you promise that we’ll talk this out”, he grabbed her hand and pulled her up , “ But first we eat!”