I spoke to a friend this past weekend who started her first “real” job since graduating from college. She asked me a question that I struggled to answer shortly after my own graduation — “There’s got to be more to life than this, right?”
Without a doubt, graduating college students are unprepared for the transitional months of becoming a self-sufficient, productive member of society.
College by nature is a social setting – you complete projects in groups, live with others, engage in clubs, etc. You don’t have to search very hard to find someone who’s willing to do whatever you have in mind (just hang out, go to the bars, check out a new organization, the list goes on and on).
But adulthood is quite the opposite. Yes, we go to our workplaces where we have the opportunity to interact with others, but at the end of the day we all head home to our individual lives and responsibilities.
So, I think recent graduates suffer from a self-purpose crisis — different from a quarter-life crisis — as the reality of monotonous work and chores combined with the sudden and shocking seclusion reveals itself.
We become defined by our careers and nostalgically long for the days where we could pursue our passions whenever and with whomever we chose. It’s only once the memory of our collegiate glory days begin to fade that we are able to find meaning in our present routine.
I told my friend all this, to which she promptly responded, “So what did you do?”
And that part of the story is easy to tell. After graduation I lived in Boston where I had a job I loved, co-workers who were my best friends, great roommates, and my family nearby. I immersed myself in my work and felt like all I did was work, eat and sleep. Clearly, there was something missing.
So I decided that there was more to life and I owed it to myself to be truly fulfilled, not just professionally. And I walked away from it all, turning my life upside-down, and moving to DC, to a new a job, without my coworkers, my roommates, and my family, (but where, I do have to admit, I have a great — but in terms of size and quality — network of friends).
I’m slowly learning what it’s like to leave my work at the office (a healthy work-life balance is something my office encourages), and my nights are filled with industry events, DC explorations and other misadventures with my friends.
I don’t know whether it was simply the passing of time or my relocation, but I found that I haven’t been asking myself recently whether there’s more to life.
But enough about me. If you’re a recent college graduate, have you experienced what I’m describing? Or was the transition a smooth one?