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When I read Brian’s article about recent college grads feeling miserable, I, like many of you, knew exactly what he was talking about. But then this column came out, and told me that everyone who is unhappy must have “settled” and that since we “settled,” now we will be settlers for the rest of our lives and doomed to misery. As someone who has recently graduated, found a job, and began life in the real world, I feel obligated to respond to this outlandish claim.
It’s A Job
There’s a reason they call it going to work and not going to play. You can have the greatest job in the world, but you’re still going to have to wade through bullshit on a daily basis. A teacher may love making an impact their students, but do you think they really love grading hundreds of papers of kids who can barely put a sentence together on their weekend afternoons? A new musician may love creating and playing their songs, but do you really think they love running around big cities peddling their demos trying to get a bite from a record label like a back alley drug dealer trying to get a high schooler hooked on crack? A history major may love leading tours at a museum, but I highly doubt they love spending their weekday afternoons yelling at kids to stop using the statues as monkey bars and the paintings as Kleenex. The point is, for every great thing there is about a job, there is more than likely a laundry list of work that you put up with because you’re the new guy and someone has to do it to keep the business running.
It’s A Compromise
Once you’re fortunate enough to reach the point in your life where you have job offers on the table, there is still a compromise to be made. More often than not, your decision is based on the following:
• The work you do
• The work environment
• The salary
• The location
• Your long term goals
Now, if you would tell me that I could have a job doing what I love, surrounded by a supportive group of 22-25 year olds who love to go out and party every weekend, with a nice paycheck near the bar scene of a big city that would put me on the fast track to being a CEO one day, I would have taken it in a heartbeat. Too bad that job doesn’t exist. Instead, I ended up in a job doing work I love with a ton of opportunity to advance later in my career, but am the only person at my office that doesn’t either have a family or isn’t the age where they should have a family. The salary is good, but I took a pay cut from other jobs I was qualified for to end up here. And while I don’t live in the heart of big city, I moved to the suburbs where making the trek downtown is a possible, but painful, task. Even though I took a job I love, I had to make a sacrifice in my social and financial experience to do so, and that sucks sometimes. And if you don’t think money matters in your happiness, I’ll let Daniel Tosh prove you wrong.
It’s Not College
This is the big one. Going from an SEC football school to the real world was a huge life changer. Instead of getting hammered at the bars 4 or 5 nights a week my last semester, I now have Friday, and if my already miserable postgrad hangover goes down in time, Saturday nights to go out. Instead of being surrounded by beautiful coeds my own age everywhere I turn, my daily surroundings consist of a large woman who likes to talk about her tight dresses too loudly and a Russian lady who cusses out her husband on the phone every day at work. The friends you used to spend every night with are now scattered all over the country and can be anywhere from still in school to married with children. Football season is a blessing and a curse. Instead of getting cheap student tickets to watch my team play right down the street from my house, I have to fight the alumni ticket market to be able to see a game that requires a 200 mile drive both ways.
Until being a perennial undergrad that never ages past 21 becomes a viable job, recent college graduates have every right to feel miserable.