Accepting the Unlikelihood of Post-Grad Expectations

Yasmeen Waliaga

Half a semester remains until graduation and all I want to do is punch my laptop square in the center of the screen so hard the device flies across the room in a meteor shower of technological parts. After three and a half years, I’ve grown bitter towards this laptop. I feel like it is responsible for so many beginnings and so many ends.

This laptop sat through 100 student lectures with me. It gave me a foreground of Pinterest and StumbleUpon when there was a background of political science slideshows. This laptop has endured literal tears without getting any water damage, however it did not have the same luck enduring a Jose Cuervo spill on my 21st birthday. But it recovered from that just in time for the next essay, the next homework assignment, the next e-mail.

Why is it that in this moment, after all of our adverse circumstances, I have nothing but a fiery loathing towards this damn laptop? Because on this MacBook, I made my first resume, my first website, my first “attempt” at a cover letter and on this laptop, I opened an e-mail containing the first (of many, I’m learning) job deferral.

I knew I wasn’t going to get the job.

A harsh reality

At a certain point towards the end of your college career, your feelings start to hop around from undeniable excitement for the future to a constant sense of defeat to an impending fear that time is fleeing too quickly for you to enjoy while ensuring another adventure will be waiting once it’s over.

I would be lying if I said I did not possess an ounce of hope that I will land a career doing exactly what I have been trained for during the past three and a half years. But that probably won’t happen. This is no realist interpretation of the most rational standard of life development. It is me realizing something that doesn’t deal with relationships or parties or anything else I’ve become best at confronting during my college years. It’s me realizing that nothing is guaranteed, especially in our quest for instant meaning in the career world.

You might be lucky. You might graduate with that degree- whether it’s in hospitality or pre-med or teaching- and instantly find an environment in which you are guaranteed to thrive as the person you pictured growing up that you’d be.

Our hopes and dreams matter

While we don’t all know what we want, we do all want to feel like we have become the person we’ve envisioned and told everyone close we would be. It matters. That’s why we work up a slight hand sweat talking about our aspirations and get embarrassed when we fall short- they matter.

People criticize millennials for being unsatisfied with the post-graduation scenario. Our generation is known for impatience, lacking the ability to be content, having expectations that are laughable to those who have been exposed to the unwelcoming ways of society beyond this bubble.

But are we really to blame? Is it so wrong to hide under the bed when loads of assignments and deadlines and responsibilities come pounding on the door but still expect some kind of guaranteed opportunity after all of it? Is it not the most human thing to have inside us a little spark of hope that the world owes us a chance to step into the only role we feel fits, even though that might be a risk?

Answers for our post-graduation

We should not feel bad for having decent expectations. We shouldn’t feel dumb for paving clear grounds for an opportunity that isn’t even going to come this way. There is nothing to justify about hoping you land that job that only hires the best of the best.

It happens to all of us seeking some flawless concrete scenario to be our story after this four-year ride. Graduating college does not mark the end of everything. It marks the beginning. Realizing this brought me to terms with the feeling I had after bleeding every thought of mine into a cover letter that probably wasn’t read past the first paragraph.

Swap the post-grad panic for hunger- hunger that will be satisfied by something other than a dream job. Buy a plane ticket. Help people. Work that job you talked down to your friends and make it enjoyable. Think of it as merely a transition.

It’s become terribly obvious how unrealistic achieving life’s sole dream one week after being handed that diploma is, but why be in such a rush anyways? So I opened a job denial e-mail on this laptop- the same laptop I’ll type a new cover letter on, search more opportunities on, and if all else fails, book a flight on so I can flee any existential crisis I might encounter after another job denial.

I think I’ll hold back on destroying this thing. It can stick around- at least for the next couple months.