The year is 2016, but that’s impossible. I could swear it’s 2012 and the large bags currently in my foyer are about to be lugged to the airport as opposed to being brought from it. It’s mind-boggling to me that the fresh faced boy who left four years ago for a life in New Orleans has finally returned to New York a scruffy faced man. I’ve heard that to begin the healing process, one must first admit to the problem, so here it goes: my name is Alex Katz and I’m a recent college graduate. Now you’re saying, “Alex, what the hell are you saying? you graduated college! That’s great, congratulations!” and yes, technically you’re right. I passed my tests, submitted my essays, and shed many, many tears over red-bull-drowned all nighters. In society, I’ve achieved something that in reality is a significant achievement, and in no way will I diminish that.
But I gotta tell you, I’m scared absolutely shitless.
All of my life I’ve been in school. I’ve had a goal to strive toward, which was graduation. Every impossible test, every arbitrary paper, every hung-over 9am lecture attended was all intended towards this goal. So what the hell do you do when you’ve finally reached your goal? Well, the purpose of getting your college degree is to get a good job, right? And hey, I’m a college graduate with a degree! I can get a good job…right? Let me just google “well paying jobs for recent college grads” aaannnnnddddd…..oh…that’s……that’s what the job market is like?………….Why the fuck did I major in digital media production and theater? It’s the idealistic view of college that America has: you graduate college and suddenly some magical CEO from above flies down on wings made of dollar bills and bam! You’re set up for life. I’m still waiting for him, or her, or it?
It’s become a compromise between what I want and what’s expected of me, and god, what in the hell do I want? Well, what I WANT to do is marry rich and/or become a glamorous movie star, but what you “want” in life isn’t what’s expected of you when you graduate college. You’re told that once you graduate college, you’ll KNOW what you wanna do. You’ll come out of your four years wanting to be an engineer, an astronaut, or a mid level manager with a heart of gold. The only problem is that what I want changes more than the actor who’s currently playing spider-man. As I lay awake at night, I’m pressed with the question, “do I continue trying to figure it what I want to do for a living even though after four years I should already “know” or do I compromise and press forward in a profession that I know will make me money?”
I’m here to tell you, IT WILL BE OKAY.
Just because you’re going back home jobless and most likely a bit broke and even tired, doesn’t mean you’re going to be a failure. First of all, you graduated college! You did it! You’re out and you survived. Honestly, if you survived that you can make it through just about anything.
You wanna be a movie star? Act in student films and be a barista to make some money on the side. You wanna be an event planner? Ask your local community if they need help organizing their next event. If you’re completely lost, that’s okay too! Take a trip, figure yourself out.
Your life is in your own hands, and I believe if you work, if you reaaallly work, you can figure out not only what you want, but how to succeed at it.
I believe in myself, and I believe in all of you.
Alex Katz is a Life in a Pile contributor who enjoys Piña Coladas, getting caught in the rain, and eating the last slice of pizza.