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. 

1 comment:

  1. This article should be stapled to every Diploma, come graduation. It would make life easier for so many young 'uns. Great read! Hope it's all better now.