From the first day of stepping onto a college campus, I imagined that within four years my life would be full of endless adventures. All of my dreams would one day come true after just four years of hard work and sleepless nights. To much dismay of myself and practically all of my fellow post grad friends, life after graduation isn’t that picturesque place of green fields and easy breezes. It’s more like one emotional roller coaster after the next.
Waking up already full of disappointment. Reinhabiting the room you grew up in. Submitting your resume robotically to the few positions in your field that are actually “entry level.” Obsessively checking your inbox for an automated rejection email six months after you applied.
Walking across the stage at commencement should feel like walking into a new world of opportunity. A chance to finally reach your dreams! But for many of us post grads, it feels like a lot of closed doors in our face. It’s weird how in most of your adolescence you can have such firmly rooted convictions about who you will be and what you will be doing once you are an adult. You are adamant in your career path and where you’ll be in just a few years. But within a few months, let’s say three, post graduation can make you lose all of your confidence.
The dreams that you once had now feel like they’re in the hand of some person in a suit behind an office desk. And all you can do is wait. Wait for a rejection. Wait for someone to tell you have talent. Wait for the validation that used to come from within yourself.
Being unemployed after graduation and feeling absolutely lost in life can be one of the first real hardships and dilemmas in people’s lives. Everything seemed so easy up to that point. Things were constantly handed to you; awards, acceptance letters, scholarships, a degree. And then you wait. You wait longer. You wait until you begin to lose confidence in yourself and your dreams. Your young but you feel old, and you wonder if all the dreams you had since you were a teenager were all rubbish and if they will ever come true.
Safe to say you are not alone in this feeling. The lost years. That questionable time after graduation where you question basically everything. Unemployed days are filled with preeminent quarter life crises and and an existential debate taking up the whole of your afternoons. You see your friends get jobs before you. You hear complaints and “advice” from your parents and family, which in your mind feels like they’re just telling you to settle.
You just feel lost. But the truth is-everyone has felt lost at this stage of life. This stage where what you imagined fails to stand up to your idealized expectations. That stage when each corner you turn is another closed door. That stage when Netflix and YouTube are the only things to help you cope with what you feel is a meaningless meandering existence.
Maybe it’s not as melodramatic as that, but the lost years are real. I have spent so much time since my graduation, nine months ago, complaining and wallowing and feeling disappointed in my so-called failures. And guess where that got me? Absolutely nowhere.
My epiphany came from the fact that this “lost time” is still time. Time is still moving forward even though you may feel like you are not. The moment I realized that this lost time is actual time I decided to become more productive. You don’t need your dreams handed to you. In fact, no one ever will hand you your dreams. You have to make it happen on your own. If you love writing start a blog. If you love acting audition for a play. If you love art then paint your way to the Met. It doesn’t have to be big though. You can start small, like working as a receptionist in a company purely because you love that company and dream of being CEO one day.
The thing that was hard for me to learn but necessary, is that dreams take a long-a very long time to achieve. Which is why you have to make the most of your time now. Find a new perspective, look at some different avenues, even better create a new road for yourself.
Feeling lost can be a good thing. It will make you question yourself. Do I really want this? Do I really need this? If the answer is yes, you have to back it up with a consistent work ethic. Nothing great came from doing nothing. But many great things derived from failure.
Rainer Maria Rilke said, “A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity.” Once that feeling of confusion and lostness transforms into an urgency and necessity to achieve your dreams, that’s where greatness is formed. If you can channel the inevitable question marks in your mind into a plan of action, doors begin to open, ideas begin to take flight, and greater passion begins to fill your life again.
It’s ok to feel lost. Most of us do after we enter the “real world.” But make sure that in that time of feeling lost, we are still moving, we are still working towards a goal. If you don’t have one yet, you can also use this time to discover what it is you want to do with your life. Whether its contemplating on your bed with your eyes staring at the ceiling or while sitting on the great wall of China. Adventure and achievement is still out there. You just have to work your ass off, wait, work harder, and wait some more for it to become real.