I thought life would be a little bit easier after graduating from college. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was because I would no longer have to juggle school and work and volunteering and a social life. Instead, I would have to juggle all of those things minus the school work. But as it turns out, I was wrong. If anything, I’ve found life to be harder since graduating. Looking back now, I wish someone would have warned me, but to be fair, I probably should have been a little less naive too. At school, I had structure and purpose, a job I liked, a group a friends all in one place. But with graduation, that all changed. I also get the job questions now with a little less understanding. Someone will say “Where are you working now?” and I’ll answer with “Oh, at a restaurant,” and you can see the pity in their eyes. I can tell they’re thinking “You poor college graduate, wasting your degree. Wave goodbye to any success you planned on having.” I can tell because I feel the same way when I look in the mirror. I try to tell myself that there are a lot of factors to deal with like the current job market and the lack of jobs in my field where I live. But I still feel like I’ve already fallen behind. Like I’ve missed my shot. And I know this is a pessimistic viewpoint to have and, hopefully, things will work out, but the waiting is the worst part. The waiting until I make enough money to move to a better job market. The waiting to hear back from employers about an interview. The waiting, the waiting, the WAAIITT-INNNG. (Shrek the Musical anyone?)
And I know what you’re all thinking. “Welcome to the real world, kid. You aren’t the only one going through this. The rest of us just aren’t complaining about it.” And maybe you’re right. I’m grateful to have a job because many aren’t so lucky. And if I’m truly honest with myself, it’s my ego that’s bothered the most. My pride. Maybe I felt like I’d earned a rung higher on the ladder by getting a college degree, but let’s face it, a lot of people with college degrees are now working at minimum wage jobs. And why did I expect to have an easier ride just because I was lucky enough to be able to get a four year degree, a privilege denied to too many? So I guess there is some good that’s come from my job struggles. Hopefully, I’m a little more understanding and humble than I was eight months ago.
And for the record, there is nothing shameful about working in a restaurant. Restaurant employees work hard for very little money and have to put up with a lot of cruelty from customers who don’t see them as fellow human beings. It’s a good thing to remember.