Two days ago I read Brian’s column on a recent poll that concluded 55% of recent college grads are “miserable.” It pissed me off. Like Stan in the third verse pissed off, or Bobby Brown wailing on Whitney pissed off. (Oh calm down, she’s dead now anyway.)
I should clarify: The article itself didn’t piss me off, nor did the theories or comments.
The 55% of you postgrads who are miserable pissed me off. The 55% of you who got a degree in something you don’t love, in an attempt to get hired for a job you don’t like, so you can work nine to fives in a cubicle that you despise all in the heart of the town you always dreamed you’d one day travel away from.
Why are you in this unfortunate situation? One of the commenters blamed it on the education system, another on greed. A few even blamed it on generational differences. (None blamed it on alcohol, however.)
I agree. Though I do think…no, I know it’s way simpler than that: more than half of you are miserable simply because more than half of you settled! C’mon ’90s babies, aren’t we supposed to be the bratty generation? Generation Y, Generation Me? The stubborn, entitled, narcissistic generation? And yet here most of us have settled for less than we originally wanted, opting for a degree in business though we love music, or applying to KPMG because “no one makes money teaching English.”
“I do.” –Rosetta Stone creator
Okay, “because no one makes money from teaching *chemistry.”
Stupid jokes aside, I get it. A lot of you have student loans to pay off. Two-thirds of you in the graduating class of ’11, to be exact. But what doesn’t add up is that many of you two-thirders would supposedly rather be fucking miserable while paying that debt off relatively quickly, than happy, or at least content, while taking a little longer to do so.
So you settled.
Not just with your career choice. You settled in other ways in your postgrad life, too. Raise your hand if you’re dating someone who you honestly can’t envision spending the rest of your life with. Good, I hope he or she saw that and are asking why you’re raising your hand right now and an awkward conversation ensues. Just don’t pull a Kramer.
Also, and not to be sexist (this is about to be sexist), raise your hand ladies if you’re with him solely because he was your first. Of course not, that’s ridiculous. Wasting your days having settled on someone who deep down you know isn’t “the one” is borderline more insane than most CrossFitters (been saving that analogy, Bolen). The point being that just as insane, is making a compromise when picking a career path that isn’t “the one,” and for some people could potentially induce self-destructive behaviors.
Has The Office taught you NOTHING?
I was recently watching Silver Linings Playbook for the fifth first time and Robert De Niro delivers one of the best monologues of his career in it. God forbid clips from a new movie be allowed to remain on YouTube, but here’s what he said:
Let me tell you, I know you don’t wanna listen to your father, I didn’t listen to mine but I’m telling you, you gotta pay attention to the signs. When life reaches out with a moment like this, it’s a sin if you don’t reach back. I’m telling you, it’s a sin if you don’t reach back, and it’ll haunt you for the rest of your days like a curse. You’re facing a big challenge in your life right now, at this very moment, right here…I’m telling you, don’t fuck this up.
I’m just saying, if you settle now it’ll be tough discontinue that pattern later, and if you think you’re too busy to shake things up now but you’ll have time in the future, let me let you in on a little secret: you will likely be just as busy in the future as you are today. You have graduated college and life is reaching out to you. Like De Niro says, it’s a sin if you don’t reach back and it’ll haunt you the rest of your days like a curse—kinda like sports do to Seattle.
But what do I know? It’s not like I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express last night. Maybe I just watched the final rap battle in 8 Mile one too many times. (Did I mention I’m an Eminem fan?)
Well what I do know is that that other 45% of college grads are not miserable, and hell, maybe they’re actually happy with where their lives are going! Maybe they’re not in their corner office just yet, but they will be because they are engaged with—and love—what they, not anyone else, chose to do.
They didn’t settle.