Congrats Grad, Now What?
I’m twenty-one years old. So I know everything and nothing all at once.
I graduated with a degree in journalism five months ago. I’m currently living in the same city and working as a barista in a coffee shop where I run into students I went to school with.
“I didn’t know you worked here!” they say. “What are you still doing around these parts? What’s your plan?”
I change my story every time someone asks me:
“I’m saving up until I can move across the country and find a job in radio broadcasting.”
“I’m just waiting until my lease is up so I can go on my long-awaited trip to Vietnam.”
“I’m working here until I’m not.”
“I’m writing a screenplay and a memoir and I wrote half of a song once, so...”
On my off-days, I reply, “Who the hell knows! Here’s your sugary coffee milk, bye!”
There’s something that recent post-grads don’t hear very often: it is okay to not have a solid plan.
The truth is I’m trying to figure my life out financially (and emotionally) before throwing myself into anything. Despite popular belief, I’m not afraid of my future or unmotivated at all.
I feel that’s a common misconception the baby boomer generation has about millennials. While they sit and use a single index finger on their too-big smartphones, I’m mustering up tons of ideas and interests that I’m excited to put into action—but it’s just not my time yet. I still want to travel, meet new people, and eat weird food without being bound by school or a full-time job.
Not everyone is like that girl who walked into a full-time editing position at The New Yorker after graduation, or that dude who can afford to do anything he pleases because his parents paid off his student loans. It’s very possible you don’t have the money to pay for grad school after college had its way with you (and didn’t even have the decency to spoon you afterwards).
If you’re a bit of a mess, I get it. I’ve been compared to Kristen Wiig’s character from Bridesmaids on multiple occasions, the one whose car is constantly breaking down and plans keep going to shit. However, much like the actual Kristen Wiig, I’m making money and supporting myself. Not as much money as a degree-holder can ideally make, but money nonetheless. Even so, I’m constantly worrying what other people are saying:
“She graduated and now she’s working at a coffee shop?”
Yes. That’s the truth. Them’s the facts. But I work hard and I get paid well. I genuinely feel fulfilled with the work that I do. It sounds dumb, but getting compliments on my latte art sends me over the moon. The first time I made a rosetta in a cappuccino, I felt like Beyonce when she emerged from beneath the stage at the Super Bowl.
The point is, I walk into work and feel relieved. The best kind of work is work that doesn’t feel like work.
So, it’s okay to feel a little lost. Just remember to take time to be creative and explore your interests to keep generating ideas for your future. I started doing yoga last week, I’m playing my guitar more, and I’m trying to write every single day—even if there’s nothing particularly interesting to write about.
Everyone’s post-grad experience is different. Getting to where you want to be can take some time. Keep your creative energy fresh. Read a book, draw a picture, get crafty, watch a documentary on a topic you know nothing about, go for a walk, write everything down, listen to a new band.
And in the words of Beyonce: This is your shit. Bow down, bitches.
Feature image/ painting by Kirsten Samanich.