Your mentors warned you the job market was bad. Your professors said grad school was difficult to get through (and even more difficult to get into). Your relatives told you that your first job wouldn’t be your dream job.
But you thought you were the exception. You didn’t expect things to come easy, but you worked so hard to get to where you are now. You aimed high because you knew what you were capable of accomplishing. But now, many months after graduation day, you’re starting to see that maybe they were right.
Now they’ll say you’re a crybaby… that your participation trophies made you expect handouts. Although I think we can all admit that we probably didn’t deserve a medal for sitting on the bench in cleats eating orange slices when we were three years old, this is different. You made the investment and put in the work. You passed the classes, enhanced your resume with extracurriculars and spent your summers doing crappy work for even crappier pay to gain internship experience.
You did everything you were supposed to do—everything they told you to do—and where are you now?
Maybe you’re realizing your “dream job” isn’t what you thought it would be.
Maybe you’re regretting your cross-country move as you discover that making friends isn’t so easy when you’re in a brand new city all alone.
Maybe you’re back at your high school job, ducking into the backroom every time you see a familiar face.
Maybe you’re changing your LinkedIn headline to “Freelancer” as you fill out 15 job applications a day.
Maybe you’re longing for that undergrad GPA you were so proud of as you spend your Saturday nights prepping for your graduate level finals.
Maybe you’re trying to figure out plan b as you check the mail every day looking for a letter from your first choice grad school… or second choice…
Wherever you are, I am sure you are thinking that 22 isn’t really what you expected.
And I want to tell you that it’s okay to be pissed.
It’s okay to yell obscenities at your laptop when LinkedIn sends you an email alert telling you to congratulate your classmates on their new positions. It’s okay to roll your eyes when your boss asks you go grab her a coffee (as long as you don’t let her see you). It’s okay if your life today doesn’t look exactly the way you expected it to when you tossed your cap in the air, because 22 is not one-size-fits all.
So don’t feel guilty if you find yourself spending tough work days counting down the years you have left until retirement, even if you are in a position your friends would kill to have. Or don’t spend too much time feeling sorry for yourself as you Instagram stalk that girl with the fancy job title in NYC. The grass might seem greener, but it could just be the filter on her photos. 22 is a tough year for everyone, so don’t try to base your happiness off of your perception of others.
Things will get better if you let them. If you’re not happy with the way your life looks right now, make a change. Take a chance and make a move that scares you, whether that means moving to a new city or moving back in with mom and dad (arguably a little scarier). Reassess your goals, rediscover your passions and channel your time and energy into whatever is going to make you happy to get up in the morning.
You’re doing alright, and you’ll get through this.