Well, I graduated from college last week by what straight-A students may call “the skin of my teeth,” so naturally, I am relatively behind on the whole job-search thing. I also haven’t posted to this blog for three months, but the involuntary hiatus was necessary for my successful completion of a BA with a solid B average.
Not so shockingly, I am lying in bed and sending out cover letters left and right to nonprofit organizations and online newspapers/magazines because those are the only two industries that could possibly keep the void at bay. With all this free time, however, I’m much more tempted to sit here and write aimlessly about nothing (but hey, everything is nothing, so yeah), but the looming threat of poverty in my aspirational place of employment, the DC metro area, is a marginally more effective source of motivation than, say, unpaid recognition in the blogosphere. (Holy shit, that word was not underlined in red. Way to step into the second decade of the 21st century, Microsoft Word.)
Among my many unemployed peers, there’s a sense of ironic camaraderie that I can only imagine will be cute for approximately five more days. Like, “HA! We just graduated from a top-25 university, and despite the four-years-hyped promise of evading the ranks of the unemployed, here we are! The millennial curse, amirite?! FUCK baby boomers for ruining the economy, man.” *Flash a peace sign*
250 words into this post, and I haven’t once mentioned my mental health. That’s how far removed I am from the shitshow that was every moment of my senior year of college until around March 10th. In order to garner understanding for the noticeable gaps in my resume, I’ve repeatedly cited “ideological flux” and “now-controlled mental illness” as both a reason for said gaps and a motivation to get involved in advocacy organizations. All of this is true, mind you, but it remains to be seen if passion can whitewash my limited experience and obvious lack of marketable skills.
I get the sense that no one really believes me when I say that I genuinely didn’t think I would graduate on time. The drunken conversations about lack of future plans lend themselves to much more sympathy than the ones I have with my parents around the dinner table now that I’m back home for a couple of weeks to regain my bearings. Even still, the undercurrent of pressure to find employment LIKE RIGHT NOW pulsates beneath my feet each time they touch the floor of my childhood home. Everything screams, “You don’t belong here any more” even if I theoretically do belong by sheer virtue of this being my childhood home. My room still looks exactly the same as it did in August 2013. Ah, complacency.
The other night, I had a strange exchange with my parents that revealed how much they underestimate my motivation to uproot my life and replant it in a big city. Their general attitude toward nonprofit organizations is one of condescension and, well, writing for a living is out of the realm of current possibility in their minds. This is all implicit, of course, but all I have to do is sit back and read the vibes. It’s a strange period of limbo to say the least, but I assume that most recent college grads experience it at some point or another.
My general ineptitude in the area of networking doesn’t help. Even LinkedIn is an intimidating place for someone with lackluster work experience and intense social anxiety. How the hell am I supposed to pitch my loosely strung together interests and sparse accomplishments? Like, “I have poems in mid-tier literary journals, repurposed articles from my blog on the Huffington Post, and a newfound interest in nonprofit work. Also, I write a mean feminist take down of any classic work of Western literature. Work something out for me, heralded king of networking LinkedIn.” Don’t even get me started on the prospect of interviews. I have one next week, and I’m already imagining all the possible ways to fuck up a greeting, not to mention my aversion to eye contact and flimsy handshake.
Ah, would that I were a lone-wolf computer science major.
But at this point, even having direction is a huge improvement for someone who didn’t think she would live to see the end of the year. The sheer relief of being done has honestly lifted the weight from my chest that kept me from developing a plan earlier. I am a person who has difficultly breaking down open-ended goals into doable steps, so despite everyone’s iterations of my potential, I tend to bathe in square one until my skin sloughs off. But that’s the beauty of finally being able to fight off the nebulous questions of the meaning of life; my job search exhibits some semblance of pragmatism for the first time in my life – more than I ever thought it could, honestly.
So to my like fifty followers, don’t give up the ghost. Try one more time to resurrect it. That’s all I’m going to say because I hate “inspirational” shit from mentally ill people in recovery just as much as I did when I was in the throes of staring down pill bottles and cars in garages. Notions of recovery have a tendency to downplay the previous severity of mental illness, and I never want to patronize anyone like that.
Just keep having days. They don’t have to be good ones, bad ones, or productive ones. They just have to be days. Maybe you’ll finish something you never thought you would. Even if it wasn’t to the best of your mentally healthy self’s ability, it doesn’t matter. Half-ass whenever you can. One-millionth-ass whenever you can. Any tiny accomplishment – like just leaving your room – can have a positive snowball effect, and even with the looming threat of relapse, the loosest and most short-lived grasp on a tangible goal is better than nothing. At least you know there’s something to work toward when, god forbid, the going gets rough.
So kudos to everyone with a mental illness is in order. You did it. You breathed another breath. Just keep doing that, and you might just wake up surprised by the hard-won visibility of recovery one day. Much love to you all.