At long last, you are done. You did it. You went to school and you managed not to drop out no matter how much you wanted to during those days when you had to stay up all night cramming for an exam that you had vowed to prepare properly for at the beginning of the semester. You gave education four years of your life and you feel she should be grateful—more grateful to you than you are to her. In those four years you could have dropped out and become the next Zuckerberg. Probably not, but you could have. If there is anything you have in abundance, it is potential. You may not realize it, due to your other abundances of laziness and demotivation and love of sleep, but you have it. And what did education sacrifice for you?
Finishing school is everything they said it would be. Freeing, but also frustrating. More frustrating than freeing. It has been two months, and you are tired. And confused. Your 60k salary and dreams of retirement at 40 are nowhere in sight.
Every morning you receive emails from BrighterMonday and Careerlink. You spend the day going through them, picking out the ones you are qualified or could be qualified for. Again, an abundance of potential. You rework your CV to fit the jobs you are applying for. You modify the cover letters. You try to remember what they taught you in school about selling yourself. You regret not attending all those career fairs. You regret not networking. Hell, you don’t even really know what that means or how to do it. Are you supposed to walk around telling everybody what you can do? What can you do anyway? Most of the things you have on your CV aren’t even true. Ati proficient in Microsoft Office. The last time you opened Excel was during computer classes in primary school. You are not sure what a spreadsheet is.
What happened to your dreams? Passion? Hope? You don’t know. In their place is fear. Fear of tomorrow. Fear of having nothing to show for your efforts. Fear of having to rely on other people to hold you up for the rest of your life. Fear of life’s randomness—what if you never find happiness? Never make a mark, even a small one? Never find out what you can do? You were supposed to be one of the successful ones. Your family does not lack. Your parents have gone out of their way to give you everything you needed to be…someone. The obstacles in your way are small. But here you are, watching today milk you of all optimism and knowing tomorrow was coming, and she would be no better.
You take a break from the existential crisis that is slowly setting in by binge-watching a series or two. You get yourself a snack from your parents’ fridge and avoid thinking about how you might never own a fridge the way things are going. You scroll through Twitter and find more depressing stories of unemployment. People have really been out here tarmacking for six years and you are complaining after only two months. You don’t know whether you should feel better or worse. You go back to your series.
With night comes the rain. It patters on the ground outside gently, like it is still deciding whether to increase or not. You listen to it, looking for answers. It patters on. When your mother brings up the question of your future, you want to tell her that you don’t know. You want to tell her that you are afraid and that you wish you were one of those people who find supreme success at 23, but that life didn’t hand you those cards. You want to tell her that you are not sure what success means anymore, that you are not sure whether you can achieve the kind of life that she wanted for you, the kind of life you wanted for yourself.
So you tell her that you have been networking and applying for jobs and that you are working on it. You tell her that you saw those links she sent you about job opportunities in the UN. You tell her that you are hopeful and that there is this one job that you are sure you are right for. You ignore her hesitant smile and try to move to another topic. She does not believe you but tonight she will not push. She says okay. Her ‘okay’ buys you time.
Time. That’s what you have, you realize. If nothing else, time. You don’t have to be someone right now. You don’t have to have it together right now. You don’t have to have that 60k salary right now. But you have time to do the work. Time to be better. Time to work with what you have. Your mother’s okay means that she is not kicking you out on the street or anything quite so dramatic. Right now, at this time, you have everything you need.
You go to bed with hope next to you. You want her to be there when you wake up, every day. Because without her, tomorrow will be there, in the morning sunlight, to greet you with a sneer on her face.