Summer is a time of reflection. After writing out this current collective narrative of a recent graduate, the feedback I have received has caused me to keep this post up on the main page until early August.
My last post ended with the sentences, “So let’s all let the sun and warmth remind us to embrace the waves of our hair, of the water, of our lives. Seen the waves lately? Let’s nourish our true selves, and ENJOY!”
Thinking about the waves in life, I decided to go sit outside and start writing and let the words flow out. What flowed onto the words of my journal was a powerful collective narrative inspired by the stories and experiences of recent graduates. This post is different than my usual ones, but I felt called to share it as some of you reading might feel comfort in the story’s message. I also think it will start a beautiful dialogue about how we can help each other find our way.
“I was walking along the beach for a coffee, talk, and a walk with a friend this past weekend. We had been talking superficially about life, but I wanted to share something deeper. Then we came across a beautiful piece of driftwood on the path, for which we stopped; I really connected to it. It was the opening I needed to share the feelings I had been holding in for a while during my twenties - how I felt like a piece of driftwood – drifting, alone (currently) and in transition.
I have just graduated and worked really hard to get an education. Not only did I do well in my courses, but I played sports and worked to get more experience and pay tuition. Now, I’m finding it very difficult to find a job in my field. I am either over-qualified for the job or too under-qualified – need more years of professional experience after obtaining the degree. People tell me to go work in retail or go work in the trades because the route I’m taking isn’t working out or meeting expectations.
They want me to give up the degrees and start back at the beginning, training for a new career. They don’t think I have a vision – they see me as stuck. They don’t ask me what lights me up or how I can apply the skills/training I have in a different way. I feel alone and need help. I’m kind of embarrassed speaking this, as I should have it all together like everyone else. I have this dream but am starting to give up and lose hope – hence why I reached out to you, dear friend, as you get it; you’ve been there.
It’s not that I’m not trying – I put in 8 hours a day of job-searching and building relationships – I’m exhausted of sending out hundreds of resumes and not getting call-backs, networking with a ton of people, volunteering when I can, trying to go to as many conferences or courses I can to boost my worth; none of this ever seems like enough. I’m drained.
This job search process is taking a toll on my self-worth, relationships, growth, and mental health. I’m internalizing my lack of a paying job as being worthless. I look around the internet and by the looks of it, everyone seems to be doing so well – and I feel like a failure because I don’t have my life completely together. I never thought when I graduated high school or university that life would be so hard or look so different. I went to university and got an education; but after graduation, this is not what I ever imagined. Life is stalled – I spend my days seeking and searching for validation and acceptance from employers.
In addition to being in a weak position due to not having a stable flow of finances, I feel like I’m missing out in so many areas of life, especially with social activities and travelling. I see the life I want but need money to make it happen. I wish I could afford this training and support, but I need to balance my finances. Also, so many of my friends are now married, having babies, and buying houses that I feel as if I don’t measure up.
I know this sounds dark, but this has been my life for a while now; because this is what people see when they look at me, their vision of my life is beginning to define me. People don’t see all the amazing aspects of me other than the “unemployed” label and think of me as lazy. People tell me to just suck it up – their generation went through it too – I’m too picky or too entitled.
Instead of focusing on the “problem” I’m in – I wish people would see how hard I have worked and would help me move forward – not in the way they want, but ask what I need and what would help me. I wish people would ask me about how to pursue my passion, and the action steps I can take to get there.
Telling me I’m stuck isn’t helpful. I want to find ways to make money, stop drifting, and contribute to society. I am the farthest thing from lazy – just need support to get me moving – I don’t see myself as a drifter.”
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this story was triggered by my walk with a friend along the beach, when we came upon a piece of driftwood. This story was spawned from that random piece of wood that had become stuck on shore. The story is a composite of the narratives of many young people who I’ve connected with through my blog, school, sports, etc.; they are looking for support to get moving. I thought I would write this story to share their collective experience with others. Hope you found some comfort in their story.
One of the ways we can nourish ourselves is by connecting with others. There are many people who are reading this post who are in a similar position. My invitation for you today is to write an encouraging message to the young person in this story, as if they were someone you know.
Thank you for reading and your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! Since this is a space of emergence, I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments section below. By sharing your story with others, you give them permission to do the same.
See you at the beach!
Read more stories of New Grads on Talent Egg - Student Voice.