Emotional and Moral Support Are Worth More Than Money Can Buy

I’m not gonna lie: to be in financial security for the rest of my life could rival my desire to be doing the things I love for a living.  To know I could afford to support myself and live comfortably, even if I was stuck in an office doing the same exact thing day-in, day-out, is a very tempting thought. But, despite this temptation, I know, deep down, that I would not be happy. All the financial security in the world could not keep me from growing to hate my job, and subsequently myself, if I cannot justify my work as an investment into causes for which I wish to devote my time.

Therefore, I say that moral and emotional support are worth a thousand times what money could buy me.  To have someone listen to my hopes, and worries, and tell me “I’m behind you on this,” means so much more to me than having financial security. Knowing that there are others who believe in me and the things I want to do or try, and knowing that–though they may not understand what I want to do or why–they will give me their support and not greet my ideas with doubt and insecurity (because I already have plenty of that myself) is a more reassuring feeling than any financial security could bring.

The reason this  is on my mind, and the reason why I am devoting this week’s blog to this idea, is because I think this is something many of us getting ready to graduate struggle with.  Our whole lives have been structured in such a way that we have grown up with the idea that success is getting good grades, and either 1) making it big on our talent (including achieving placement at a prestigious grad school) or 2) achieving gainful employment, getting married, and settling down.

Well, my life is not exactly taking off on either of those paths, though I’m hoping that my little jaunt off the beaten track will eventually lead me back to some of those things. It’s been a real struggle between exploring the possibilities of things that have, until the last two weeks, been nothing but the seemingly farthest musings of a dream. Even now, nothing is set in stone, but the reality is slowing hurtling towards me.

But it’s still a frightening reality, because nothing is certain–food, money, shelter–none of it is a given. I do not have gainful employment. All I have is an opportunity–a possibility that may–or may not–lead to something else, which may–or may not–lead to something else, which might–if I’m extremely lucky–lead to actual employment.  And I’m not going to lie to you: I’m extremely freaked out by it, but at the same time, it is something I feel I must do; it is something I must try, because it is something I have always dreamed of doing and being a part of, and not to even try feels like such an injustice to myself that I’m not sure I could live my life without beating myself up over it for years to come.

This is why it is important to have emotional and moral support. It’s not that I need someone to validate my decisions (though that reassurance is always nice); it is that I need to know that if–and most assuredly, when–I fall down, when I fail, even just a tiny bit, I will have someone to turn to who will not judge me for my failures, but instead comfort me in my struggles, put me back on my feet, and steer me back in the direction of a happy life.

Because, that’s what we all should be pursuing–a happy life. And it doesn’t mean you can’t take that financial security–by all means, you are a smarter being than me if you do–it simply means that you never stop doing the things you love, and you never stop pursing those things. And finding that emotional and moral support is the first part of pursuing that happiness.

So, fear not, fellow graduates, for though the world feels like a large abyss, it is not, and at some point, you will realize that there is much more that goes into seeking happiness and success than simply having a job and financial security.  So find your support system, and cling to it like rock in a storm. And always know that I am right there with you, anxieties about money and the future and life, and somehow, we’ll make it through.

Until Next Monday (when I can hopefully be a little more coherent),

Yours truly,

tlc

Life Vests Welcome

Who would have thought that I’d be giving pep talks to someone else about graduating and finding a job?  I mean, I realize that the whole point of this blog series is to give support to my fellow soon-to-be grads who might be struggling with the same anxieties I think we all face at this point in our lives, but that doesn’t mean I’m qualified to give pep talks. Yet, somehow, today I found myself doing just that.

One of my dear friends reached out to me in a frustrated flurry of emotion after a tough four hours of filling out job applications. She was emotionally drained and feeling as though she wasn’t good enough. She had been thinking about all of the people she knew who already had jobs lined up after graduation, and had been questioning why–when she was just as good a student and worker–she wasn’t getting any closer to finding a job herself.

I don’t think she reached out to me because she was looking for a pep talk, but that’s what I gave her. I rooted her on, I told her how great a person she was (because it’s true), and I reassured her that things would work out. That, somehow, she would find a job and the right opportunity when the time came, and that I knew she’d find that job because she is a hard worker, and she is gifted, and smart (also true).

The irony is that I said all of these things to her, knowing exactly how she feels, and being in a very similar situation myself. How can I reassure someone else that things will work out, when I worry about the outcome of my own job search and career path?  It’s because, in the end, I know that we will both be fine. Of course, I don’t know where we’ll be, or if it will be something we actually like or want to be doing, but we will find something that will put a roof over our heads and food in our mouths. And, because I know that we are both driven people, I know that we will not be stagnant. We will continue to improve ourselves, and find new ways to build paths towards our life-long goals. If there is only one thing I know of success, it is that success does not simply come to those who work towards it; success comes to those who continue to find new ways to work towards it, no matter how many times they have to redirect their path. My friend and I will continue to pave new ways towards our goals until we reach them, no matter where we have to start.

I don’t know why I am suddenly so optimistic when nothing has really prompted these feelings. If anything, I think I would be justified in taking a bit of a more pessimistic view. However, negativity has never improved anything. I have reached a point where the only attitude I can–and wish–to take in my ongoing job search is a positive one. If I let myself stress out over rejection, or compare myself to others’ success, that will not help me.  Worrying about things that I cannot help or change will not make my experience in finding a job any easier. Instead, I will put a smile on my face, and keep on going. Sure, I’ll worry–and believe me, I’m plenty stressed–but a little concern can’t be helped.

Instead, I am choosing to be happy. I am choosing to continue to work towards my goals. I am choosing not to give up so easily on my dreams. I am choosing to trust that there is something positive in store for my life.

So, here I am, one week away from my spring break, giving you a mini pep-talk: Choose to be happy. Seek out the positive, and don’t get discouraged. Everyone faces rejection, and you will find the success that you allow yourself to have. Have patience, and enjoy life while you’re waiting.

Oh, and a word of advice–especially to those of you who are not gearing up to graduate yet–use the Career Center at your university!  You can start using it even before your senior year; go have them check out your resume, teach you how to write a cover letter, prep for interviews, and introduce you to the job search process. Part of the reason I got a bit of a late start in my own job search was because I didn’t understand how the career center could work like a pre-planning resource; I had all of these online resources for searching through job openings, but I didn’t even know where to begin or what to apply for because I didn’t even know the first thing about what I wanted to do or what I should really look into. The career center will help you figure that out.

A side note: Next week I will be studying abroad for Spring Break (Yay!) and may or may not have time/internet access to post a blog. We will see. My apologies if the latter is the case.

Until next (or next next) Monday,

Yours truly,

tlc

Flowers are Always Good

Thank God for great friends, right?

Boy, I tell you what, this last week has been full of ups and downs. Well, in particular, one reassuring up, and one very, very low down.  Reflecting, I suppose I’ve learned something about myself in all of this. But maybe I should back up a bit first and explain…before I explain.

The week started out pretty well. I was very optimistic–I made my first-ever CV, made the trek to the Career Center and got it looked over (she thought it looked great, I might add), and went to the University Career Fair, where I talked to some programs that I’m actually very interested in, and got an interview for a program I hadn’t even intended on applying for (strange how those things work out).

That wasn’t even the high of my week, though: the day before, I had been offered both a student library job/internship (I’ve been trying to snag a job at KU libraries for the last three years, but scheduling has just never worked out before now) for the rest of the semester, and a summer job as a Teaching Assistant for Duke TIP.

Still, all of this was sort of arbitrary–secondary, perhaps–to the real plan. My coworker and I had our hearts and our heads set: we were going to work for Disney. She had worked as part of the Disney College Program before, and I had been dreaming about it since before I was even in college–in fact, I think the first time I ever looked the Disney College Program up, I was a junior in high school.

So, I was going to apply, and she was going to re-apply. And we were going to work at Walt Disney World, or Walt Disneyland, or Walt Disney World and Walt Disneyland, and for the next six months, we were going to be golden. Then, using my awesome experience working in one of the Disney parks, I was going to apply for writing internships in television and development, and of course employers were going to love me–I’m fun, I’m responsible, and I have a lot of good work experience. This was the plan. This was going to happen. It felt right. It was right.

Until I didn’t move through to the next phase of the interview process.

Yep, that’s right, revel in the irony, everyone: Tasha, the woman who has loved Disney since she was old enough to watch movies; the woman who is so obsessed with Disney fairy tales that she wrote her senior thesis on them, did not make it through the interview process for the Disney College Program. Maybe it was one too many “neutrals” on the survey I had to fill out; maybe it was because, instead of a positive person (which, in comparison with my coworker, I am no where near positive, but in terms of the rest of the world, I’m a pretty positive person) I consider myself more of a realist, because to me, being a realist is still positive, just not delusional. (…Not that positive people are delusional…) But now I’m starting to sound more like a bitter, negative, whiny person.

My point is this: I hit a bottom this week. One of dreams that I’ve had for a very, very long time is no longer possible.  And, while right now it still stings, that’s okay. I’m okay. It’s not like I haven’t been thrown curve-balls in my life before. In fact, most of my life (in my own opinion) has been nothing but curve balls. Disappointments and rejections that have forced me to take ninety-degree turns and barrel on through a new path. And that’s only what this is. A ninety-degree turn. And so now, I’ll just have to barrel that path in a new direction, and hopefully shoot for a similar–or better–landing place.

And really, taking ninety-degree turns is actually good for me, because I tend to make long, intricate plans for my life and what happens in it, and these moments are eye-opening reminders that I shouldn’t shut the rest of the world and its countless opportunities out. So, while Disney lost a seriously good potential employee this week, some other opportunity I haven’t considered yet is going to gain a seriously great candidate. And I’m going to sound cocky, because it’s true. I work hard.

And that brings me to what I learned about myself from all of this: I realized, amid my sobbing, disappointed phone call to my mother, and my rather mopey Monday, that somewhere along my life, I seem to have gotten my priorities mixed up.  I am in a relationship with my work and career goals. I care more about working towards success, than I do about making and growing relationships with other people along the way. And this is wrong. Because success IS the people and relationships you have while making your way, and your living, in this world.

Thank God I have friends like my coworker, who sent me flowers (because flowers really do make everything better), and spent a very long time occupied by my emotional embraces, who–despite my relationship with my work (which is a horrible boyfriend, by the way; he never remembers my birthday)–has somehow become one of my dearest friends. And it is friendships like hers, and friendships like my roommates, and friendships and love like my mother’s that has reminded me that it really is the relationships that matter. What’s it worth to conquer the world without someone to share it with?

So, my fellow almost-graduates, my only advice to you this week is this: make the absolute best friends you can, and keep them, because they won’t judge you when you’re working in a coffee shop to pay the rent, and they will always buy you flowers when you are very, very sad.

Here’s to hoping next Monday is a little happier.

Yours truly,

tlc

The World from the POV of a Prospective Grad

Hi there. Will you hire me?

I am happy to say that the snow gods came through last week and brought me not one, but two snow days. Granted, as a graduating senior, I don’t have a very busy class schedule, anyways, but the snow days allowed me some extra time to catch up on homework and start working on tasks unrelated to homework, like looking for jobs.

Now, I know this entire series of blogs is supposed to be about my experience transitioning into the real world anyways, and, if you’ve been reading my posts, you know by now that I am terrified of that unknown.  But I thought it might be helpful for me to really define to you the way I see the world right now, because as I start looking more and more thoroughly at the different career paths I could take, I’m slowly beginning to realize the serious generational myth that I think many of us were raised on:

There is no perfect job.

There really isn’t. Does this sound like something I should have known before now?  Certainly I’m not the only one whose never thought about this before. Think about it: how many times in our lives have we gotten the question, “What is your ideal job?”  ‘Ideal’ shouldn’t really be synonymous with ‘perfect’ but I think in many of our minds it is.  We begin to build this fantasy in our minds of what we’ll do and how much we’ll get paid and how great our coworkers and bosses will be and how amazing the architecture of our work buildings will be and how we’ll get paid vacations spending months on end in cool first-world countries and resorts abroad. It’s like 99% of my celebrity crushes: in my mind, here are all of these handsome men that sound so smart and suave on screen and in interviews, and I’m sure that if I met them in real life, I’d be disappointed with almost all of them (maybe not because they themselves are bad people, but just because they wouldn’t be what I imagined them to be). Jobs and careers are the same way.

For most of our lives (‘our’ as in soon-to-be and recent college grads), we’ve been fed two strong and conflicting ideas: 1) the job market is horrible, and you better thank your lucky stars you’re even getting a job offer, and 2) If you can dream it, you can achieve it.

Except that neither of those are true.

Sure, the job market sucks, but jobs have always been, and they always will be, competitive.  If you don’t work at what you want or need, you won’t get it, end of story. Sometimes even when you work at something, it doesn’t work out. But you have to move on anyways.  And if something isn’t what you want, keep looking. Pay the bills, but keep looking.  Which brings me to that second point: just because you dream something doesn’t mean that it will happen, or that it will happen right away. You have to build your dreams, work at them from the ground up, and don’t expect too much. If you plan out every detail about your future, you are only setting yourself up for disappointment. In my short observance of people out in the real world, I’ve learned that sometimes things come to those who wait. So if you’re smart about your finances, and the first thing that comes available to you doesn’t feel right, don’t take it. Keep your goals in sight.

But this is a bit of a digression, because the real issue with the ‘if you dream it, you can achieve it’ slogan is that many of us have been laughed at for our dreams.  We’ve been told they are impossible, or too competitive, or impractical, so we don’t strive for them. We settle. Or conversely, we refuse to settle and end up unemployed for years on end because we see anything as less than the ideal as below us.  Sometimes working for that dream and building it from the ground up means taking that office job to pay the bills, or working at a coffee shop during the day, or living at home until you find something that will allow you your own place.  And, I think if you are really determined to reach your goals, that none of these things should be seen as beneath you.  (Just try not to live with mom and dad for too long, okay?)

I guess the real reason I’m saying all of this is because who knows where I’ll be in three months.  Nearly a straight-A student in college with several honors and awards on my resume, along with two internships and several leadership experiences, and I might still be that kid who lives at home for months before finding a job.  It’s just that kind of a world.  And I realize this all might sound contradictory, but that’s simply because this whole competitive job market thing is a confusing place.  My whole life I’ve been told I need to go to college, and I wanted to go to college, and then I get here, and I’m told that college doesn’t make me a competitively-qualified job candidate anymore, and that I’m going to have to settle for the types of jobs that will never pay off tuition costs and college bills. On top of that, you’re thrown out into the real world of independence, trying to pay bills and find a place to live, learning how to keep track of finances and pay taxes.  It’s an utterly mind-boggling time.  It’s frustrating, too, because everyone thinks they know exactly what you need to do, or how you should do it, or how you are generational-ly flawed, and how those qualities will only work against you in the job market.

And you know what? To all of that, I say this: Whatever.  I’m going to go out, find something I at least like doing (if I don’t love it) and then I’m going to work towards building a life that I love.  Because the perfect job doesn’t exist, but one (or a thousand, because let’s face it, we’re all going to hold several jobs (probably) throughout our lives) that provides me the ability to make a life that I love does exist.

So here’s to building dreams and working towards goals, finding OK-jobs and loving our lives.  Here’s to experiencing.

Until next Monday,

Yours truly,

tlc