First of all: I wrote this with the same title again because I noticed how many views my post has every day. I was thinking, maybe some of them are college students who are finishing or finished their courses and are looking for answers. Well, if you are, this post is for you.
I graduated 2011. Yes, 4 years ago. I was 20 years old. And after the ceremony, after the fireworks, the hype, I found myself on my bed: Staring at the ceiling and was asking, “Now what?”. What’s next? What should I do? College is over, my life isn’t. But I can’t seem to know where I should go. Or worst, where to start.
Opening your mind to the real world
Before finishing college, I knew I have goals. I had dreams. I wanted to be something because they said you can be anything. They said dream big and you will make it. But after college, reality bit. Hard.
I always dream of being an author. My first goal was to have a book published. But because I suck at finishing anything, that is still a dream and I have put it on the last of my list. I decided I wanted to be a writer instead. I applied for all the writing jobs I can find after college. Had some interviews everywhere but, guess what? Reality is far from the ideals in our head. No company wanted to hire me. I asked myself, “Why did they tell us we can be something, anything but in reality, it’s not supposed to happen?” Frustration grew, fear multiplied and all my dreams and ideals came crashing. What did I do wrong?
Guess what, I did nothing erroneous. My problem was, I expected too much. Too idealist mindset that I thought I can be something right away. The thing is, we can be something, and it’s true. But not that fast. After graduating, I was like a little chick in a big chicken world. My dreams have to wait. I have to push hard work and perseverance to get it. I have to want it so bad. And I have to wait because everyone who just finished college is an “entry level” job position, starting from scratch. But a little piece of advice: Whatever job you apply for, be sure it’s in the line of what you wanted to do.
In my case, out of desperation, I took a job I never thought that I will pursue: I became an Executive Assistant and a Marketing Assistant. Yes, 2 positions in one salary. But I didn’t mind. I was frustrated and very much disappointed. I just wanted to have a job. And so I did. And I thought, maybe I can figure this things now—this real world because I have gotten a job. I was wrong all along.
The so called “Quarter life Crisis”
I was 20 when I graduated. But most I guess is in their mid-twenties now (I didn’t go to middle school/Junior High school). And at this age, sooner or later, people go through the “quarter life crisis”. It’s the stage young people, like us, question our lives: Where to go? What to do? It’s when we start to panic: where is my life headed? It’s the time of depression, sadness, fear and all the negativity in one’s mind. Wikipedia (ever trusted. Thank you for making all of us graduate on time) Defines it as a period of life usually ranging from the late teens to the early thirties, in which a person begins to feel doubtful about their own lives, brought on by the stress of becoming an adult.
My quarter life crisis came early, after 1 year with the job I settled.
I started to doubt where I should lead with the career I chose. I always wanted to write. Although I enjoy my job, I felt an empty place inside me and fear started to show. When the hype of having the first job is out and the fatigue consumed, I began thinking. Will I will be like this forever? Where should I grow? Should I resign and get a job that I really want? What if I fail? What if nobody wants me anymore? So began questioning. And I began to be confused of my life. The year I worked, I went to the city and lived there. I became so depressed: Of not being sure of what I am doing and to be alone most of the time. I often felt like the adulthood is such a boring, lonely place.
At that phase, I was grumpy. I was angry at the world, unhappy and disordered. I over thought on what should I do. I wanted to quit my job but I can’t and I felt like I was the only one who felt that way. With everything that was going on, my waking point was when my then-boyfriend broke up with me. He didn’t understand me anymore. And I got to a point where my college best friend talked to me about how I changed, how I isolated myself. I can say it was one of lowest moment of my life. I never felt so discouraged and all the more unhappy. I said to myself, I think I hit rock bottom. I told myself, this is it. My life is miserable.
However, as soon as I saw the problem, I tried changing. I had the courage to apply for other jobs and asked my boss for resignation. But he didn’t let me. Although I didn’t “escape” my job, it was way better after. My then-boyfriend went back together with me and I was finally thinking, well, things are the same but my attitude about it changed. I started to talk with friends again; I started to be social again. And that is the time I realized: In the quarter life crisis, you need support the most. You need people who will slap you on your face (not literal or maybe literal), and say: “Get your shit together!” The fear will shrink when there are people around you who kept cheering you on.
So I made it. After months, I recovered from my crisis. I thought life was finally good. I got comfortable with my environment. I felt happy with my work friends and I was very much contented. Until I faced one of the most difficult things: Going abroad.
Leaving your comfort zone
I stayed at my job for 2 years and a half then something happened in the family. By the way, my mom lives in Japan and by then, I was in the Philippines. I often go to Japan to have 2 weeks to a month-long vacation. But this time, I was asked to stay. For good.
I was happy in my work environment already but I was shaken again. Adult life is full of twist and turns. I have to leave my comfort zone. Not only leave my job but my whole life. It was 1% exciting and 99% terrifying.
I said it before: moving was like leaping from a cliff. You’ll never know what’s ahead of you. If you will fly high or you will fall. What’s down below or what’s up above. It was a major decision. But I have chosen to leave. I quit my job, packed my things and went.
After graduation, some of you might be thinking of going away to other places. Some may want a scholarship abroad, or just a “new” life in a different place. Whatever is the reason, one thing I will tell you: GO!
Go and explore. Go and leave your comfort zone. Go and fail. Go and succeed. Go and learn. Go! While you are still young. Go! While you still have the energy and the focus. Go! While you still have the drive. We are young, if we have to make a mistake, now is the time. But, always learn from it and of course, don’t always make that an excuse.
Last that I can tell you is: NEVER be afraid to change careers. I know I have told you that I always wanted to be a writer but I ended up as an Executive Assistant and a marketing Assistant. It wasn’t bad at all. I have learned a lot of things! From the little to big stuff, I have learned it—especially when I made mistakes. I learnt and I remembered.
Changing a career is major. I went to Japan with little Japanese; Applied for some company. Fail a couple of times. Then I said, maybe I should teach English. I have zero experience in teaching but I got the job. I started to teach in a public school in Japan. And guess what? I loved it! I loved it so much.
I never thought teaching will be for me. I never dreamt of it. Not in a million years. But my college (Communication Arts) have taught me confidence and speaking to larger audience. And by teaching elementary, I can still use my art skills for craft. I am happier than ever.
Do not be afraid to try something new.Who knows? It might be something so awful that you have to quit, it’s okay. Just try something else. Or maybe you might love it and enjoy every minute if your job. Do not be afraid to change careers.
To wrap things up, all I wanted to say throughout is: DO NOT GIVE UP. It’s very difficult at the start and there are major decisions and crisis in between but do not give up. One way or another, you will find your way. Hey, I did! And at the time I was there in the difficult situation, I thought I wouldn’tmake it.
I also realized that, no body taught us what “real world” is because really, everyone is still trying to figure it still. I guess it’s just a trial and error. There is no perfect solution. You just have to try and figure out what will work for you best. Just put all the fear aside. Let your excitement overflow. Because, really, it’s exciting what is ahead! Life is what we make it, a very famous cliché said. Every decision we take, that’s how our life will be. So, decide to be happy. Decide to think that you will get through whatever it is and of course, never give up. Ever.