I don’t know if it was our parents or the schools who told us that once you received your education and earned your degrees that tons of doors would be open to you. What they didn’t tell us was that everyone was getting the same spiel. After graduation I was thrown into a pool with many graduates all competing for the same 30 spots (or less) in graduate programs.
I have peers who decided to take time off between undergraduate and graduate studies, hoping to find decent work to save up for school. In this wonderful economy, there was no work to be found. Many of us settled for part time or volunteer work in our field, while the brave took on full time jobs in something completely unrelated.
I know we are not the first, and definitely not the last group of graduates to experience a less than stellar job market after graduation. If we take the knowledge that we learned while in school and insist on a career that puts it to use, we may be out of work forever.
I chose to view my education as training for deadlines, tough bosses, and teamwork. When I was able to let go of what I expected to happen after graduation and embrace the reality, it did not end up being half bad.
Being able to let go of your expectations and comparing your experience to someone else’s is a skill learned in yoga. More times than not, the pose the teacher is demonstrating looks ridiculously easy. Then you look over at the mat next to you and they are coming into the pose with ease as well. Never mind that you’re supposed to be focusing on your own breath and body, these others are doing something you can’t! The ego kicks in – “if they can do it, why can’t I?” and you have an expectation that you should be able to do the pose. Just like we had an expectation that we should be instantly employed after graduation. You then have two options: 1) let go of your ego and realize that the pose is way beyond what your body can do today or 2) go for it, full steam ahead, and either injure yourself before realizing it’s no good for your, or escape unharmed…this time.
It’s so important to work on removing the ego from our decision-making, to not take things personally. You didn’t get hired at the law firm this summer not because you’re too good for them (actually someone else is better) but because there is another opportunity just down the line for you. There is another pose that you will be able to float into with ease next week. Or maybe months from now, the pose that was once difficult, is now a breeze. But you have to keep working at it.
If there was one lesson I learned in college, it was to keep swimming because sinking is not an option.