By Derek Anderson
My college graduation was only a few days ago. I’m ready to explore the open world ahead of me and chase after my dreams, something I’ve been promised since elementary school. I’m ready for the adventure.
But I have to deal with my current situation, before getting to the adventure, and that tears me apart from the inside out.
I’m a standard statistic. My case isn’t from anyone else who has struggled financially to be in school. College tuition is just not in the “affordable” or even “slightly reasonable” price range.
Yet I took loans out to do it anyway, and have since buried myself in what seems to be an impossible situation of debt (cough$80,000withinterestandcouldbemorecough).
“You’re a journalism major? Isn’t that a dying business? Why would you get into that? Did you even want to make money?” is the common response I receive when I explain my hopeful career path as a journalist.
Just days past my college graduation, I’m on my last thread of patience. I don’t feel any different with a degree in my hand, except perhaps a little more cynical of the future. The pressure is growing with each day I’ve had my degree, but I have no plan for what’s next.
There’s a seemingly permanent increase in my heart rate that smashes in a frantic rhythm against my ribcage. My stomach is in a knot so large it could single-handedly stop a cruise liner floating away from a dock.
As I walked across the stage at commencement, I shed the “studying undergrad” label and became part of what’s frequently referenced to as “the real world.”
Over the past four years of my college career, I’ve looked at “the real world” through the blissfully rose-tinted lens of a student. Although not in ignorance, because I knew what was coming. But there was inexplicable comfort in the idea “I don’t have to deal with it yet.”
Now? Well, crap.
What seemed like an instantaneous change, I’ve exited college with student debt through the roof in a terrible economy that is offering little-to-no jobs, especially within my major.
It’s easy to say I’m terrified of the future.
At the same time, I’ve realized I’m very much part of a generation that tends to be overly stubborn, loud, demanding, and highly efficient when in dire situations. And I’m in quite the dire situation. We tend to thrive on the fact that we’re almost expected to fail. It’s our reason for existence, driving us forward. I’m proud to be a part of that.
I’m freaked out right now. One hundred percent losing my mind. But at the same time, I know I can do something. Anything. I have to, and I will. I will make it work. We, as a graduating class, will make it work, no matter where an individual comes from, wealthy or not.
I may eat single-slice peanut butter sandwiches for lunch on occasion, get far too excited over finding quarters on the ground because they’re incredibly useful for parking meters, or hold off on laundry until I’m literally wearing my last clean pair of underwear, but I will make something of myself.
It won’t be glorious. It definitely won’t be pretty at times, but the drive is there. I’m scared, but I’m glad, because I know failure is not an option. We are capable despite the failures of our economy and the struggles of our country.
We just have to find new ways to do it. We have to stay hopeful. Because if we can’t believe we’ll make it, we’ve got nothing left.
Hello, “real world,” let’s do this dance. I’m ready as I’ll ever be.
Photo by uonottingham (Flickr)
About Derek: A New Englander born and raised, I'm a die-hard news junkie with his heart set on journalism. I have a sizable obsession with music, Star Wars, coffee, and the Bruins and the Patriots. I tend to stay up way too late, I enjoy getting sucked into a great book, and of course, I love to writewritewrite. Greek mythology, Batman, Tina Fey, and golden retrievers (or really any fluffy animal) are some of the keys to my heart. Get your tweet on with me: @DerekJAnderson
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