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16 Things I Learned in Unemployed Post Grad Life

Since I graduated, my life has been an extreme roller coaster of both joyful success and disappointing sorrow. Here is what I learned along the ride.

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1. Success comes in many forms.

I have had many fantastic experiences and adventures in the past year and half, yet I still have not been hired for a full time job. I have been discouraged more times than I count, frustrated that all of the internships, grades, and work have not manifested themselves into a job. However, I have had the most adventurous year of my life. I moved across the country to be an unpaid intern for my favorite non-profit, learned the art of letterpress, traveled Europe by train, and met some amazing people along the way. Success for me right now means adventure and relationships - not a salary, and I am extremely grateful.

2. You are not the first to struggle.

Early twenties are notoriously hard for a reason. Loans come. Interviews are scant. You are finding yourself. Everything is up in the air. But know you are not alone. Everyone else just doesn't share their disappointments on Instagram.

3. Long distance friendships are not natural.

Technology has given us extremely high expectations for communicating with friends in another state. Between Skype, texting, email, calling, and social media there is always an avenue to communicate. However, life happens, schedules fill, new friendships form, and just because texting is always available does not mean it happens. But that being said, when you are intentional and driven to keep your friendships, they will continue on.

4. Your career cannot be your identity.

It is necessary to find avenues to express yourself and find meaning outside of a job. Jobs comes and go, but finding a hobby, pursuing a passion, or volunteering your time will enrich your life and help you see beyond a career.

5. You are your own best advocate.

In post grad life there are no grades on the line. No professor to tell you to update and send out your resumé. Either you will be at the top of your game in your field because you put in the extra hours, or you will coast by with what you already know.

6. You are not better than any job just because you have a degree.

Since I graduated a year and half ago, I have had no less than SEVEN jobs. I have done everything from selling peaches, freelancing, to bussing tables. At first I thought I was above it all and deserved better. However, my talent does not mean guaranteed employment. I have tried to view every job as a stepping stone towards my dream job.

7. Networking is a real thing.

The idealist in me didn't believe it at first, but the majority of jobs are filled through personal connections. Set up meetings and email that fourth degree connection. You have to start somewhere.

8. Live life right now.

It is extremely easy to go through life always pursing the next step, the new job, the big move, or new relationship. But when our only focus becomes the future, we forget we have the chance to passionately live today. If I had only focused on my lack of stability and job, I wouldn't have driven 9 hours by myself to be an extra in Pitch Perfect 2. Excuses don't make for good stories.

9. Dreams are not practical; they are vital.

When it comes to job applications and life in general I live by a Wayne Gretzky quote, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." Someone has to get the dream job, the lead role, the music contract. And it could be you. I have applied to dream companies and jobs probably out of my skill range, and one day I will accept an offer. Yet life is not a Disney movie. Dreams don't come on the first attempt. I have heard 'no' more times than I can count, but that doesn't stop me from persisting. Because in the pursuit of my dream, I become closer to who I want to be. Dreams require discipline and hard work and will most likely not come right away. Be prepared for a struggle, but that doesn't mean you should give up.

10. Make friends with those that disagree with you.

Your viewpoints are just hypothetical thoughts until they are challenged. The "other side" has a name. "Those people" have a story. And complicated issues are not argued with loved ones, but are forced to be discussed in love. Get out of your comfort zone and reach out to someone vastly different than you. You'll find, in the end, we all just want to eat junk food and binge-watch TV.

11. Be an adult even if you don’t feel like one.

Start "adult" habits now. Save money. Get a gym membership. Go the dentist. You are making the new habits you will keep for years.

12. Know your parents as an adult.

You have grown up and view the world differently now. And chances are all that advice you rolled your eyes at in high school, will be readily welcome and valuable.

13. Take a step back from social media.

When you have no friends in the new town you just moved to, it is not productive to reminisce on old Facebook photos or be jealous of college friends on Instagram. Instead take a small step towards finding a new community where you are now.

14. Be confident, or at least fake it until you make it.

Unfortunately there is no instruction manual for post grad life. However, knowing yourself and being confident with what you have to offer, allows others to see your potential, even if you don't always see it in yourself.

15. Failure is not poetic.

Failure molds us. Makes us stronger and refines us. But when the thirty-first rejection email comes, my life doesn't feel like an inspiring Starbucks sleeve quote. The light at the end of the tunnel is dim. But we press on, because well we have to. And deep down we know this too shall pass.

16. Life is full of mistakes and that is OK.

You won't always make the right choices in life, but all you can do is make the best decision with the information you have. And in the end that is enough.

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