Life after college shouldn’t be feared

Von Lanier

Life after college can be an awkward time when trying to figure out where you want to go and where you should be becomes a blurred line.

For some, it’s easy knowing you’re on your way to that great job in the Big Apple or some other fancy place. But for others, this can be a bumpy transitional period. When the cushy and nurturing atmosphere of college is no longer there, you’re stuck with facing the harsh realization that we live in an unpredictable economy and you now possess a seemingly worthless degree.

I may not be speaking directly from experience, but I do have friends who have gone on to endure the hardships that come with not knowing the next step. As sort of a procrastinator, I can honestly admit I am not anywhere close to knowing what the next five years of my life will hold, but I am not ashamed of that.

The road to self-discovery presents its own set of challenges for every individual but here’s my point: It’s OK if you don’t find some amazing internship while doing your undergraduate coursework. It’s OK if you can’t afford grad school for a while after you get that degree. It’s OK to not go directly from undergraduate studies to some prestigious job title with a yearly salary and benefits. Simply put, it’s completely OK to not have it figured out yet because you are not alone.

We are the generation with the highest of college debt to ever exist and that amount continues to grow, with interest. According to a Millennial Jobs Report published by GenerationOpportunity.org, 12.8 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds are unemployed. While nothing can be gained from unemployment, it can be argued that we have the most to gain as a generation because we have nothing to lose.

The morbidly declining rate of labor force participation by millennials can be attributed to a lack of jobs as well as the higher levels of stress in a large percentage of today’s young adults.

Very seldom do we stop to actually consider as college students what exactly is stressing us out. Perhaps it’s the pressure to do better than previous generations who left behind issues we just aren’t ready to deal with, like climate change, an unsustainably growing population and lots of racial tension for starters.

Or maybe, just maybe, millennials are so stressed out because what drew us to adulthood when we were all adolescents is the same thing that makes us want to go back to that time of blissful unenlightenment. Responsibility is a factor that we pride ourselves on because of our resilience in dealing with the issues left behind from our predecessors.

Because we have so many challenges to overcome, journalists and commentators alike love ragging on the millennial generation by saying we’re unprepared to deal with life’s challenges. They say millennials can’t grow up due to challenges with conflict negotiation and that we’re often unable to think for ourselves.

This conclusion is drawn by looking at the higher rates of mental health issues like depression and anxiety that many of us are dealing with. While experts search for the cause of these problems, we continue to find a way forward in a job marketplace that makes us feel like we don’t have much to offer.

This brings me to my final point. Don’t waste precious moments of life getting too caught up trying to live by someone’s expectations or standards. Take some time to grow by working a crappy job.

Save some money. Go forth and travel as much as you can. Move somewhere crazy. Make some mistakes but, don’t make any bad habits.