You must have it all figured out. You will graduate with an average GPA, rest for a few weeks, go on a job hunt spree and land a job at a company in the concrete-laden parts of the city away from home, because you are now ‘old enough’ or ‘mature enough’. Heck, you are now a professional, and apparently, that’s what professionals do.
Don’t get me wrong, chances are, if you find out about my background and my age, you wouldn’t bother finishing this article anymore. I’m no corporate biggie, I’m not an above-average person, I don’t even have a savings account to boast about. I’m painfully average, and in a world looking for ravenous animals ready to rule the jungle, it is very hard to pretend not to be one.
Again, don’t get me wrong. I didn’t apply for a job pretending to have been given a college graduation award—those medals they pin or put around your neck, those smooth certificates they hand over just before you descend the stage. I initially planned to at least get one upon entering college, but a lot has changed, mostly over bottles at the most uncomfortable hours of the night. I decided to let go of those awards years back. I was ready to just sit around during graduation day while listening to other people talk about their achievements. I was ready for all that but in one condition—I will never sell out as a writer.
After almost four years, just before graduating, I was offered a job at a publishing company. It was a huge opportunity for me because I have always dreamt of working for a magazine. It was, by all definitions, the opportunity of a lifetime for a college student who just wanted to be independent at the soonest time possible. As days, months, until a year passed, I was still working for the same magazine. But something didn’t quite feel right.
For several years, I had been forcing myself to accept the fact that I would have to leave the country to join my relatives abroad. My mother thought it was for the better and though I did not love it, I did not hate the idea either. It was an open option—an invitation to something more for the pocket. After a year and four months in the publishing industry, I decided to leave my job and find out what I truly wanted to do with my life.
Did I want to leave the country because I wanted to earn more for my family, or because I would be more comfortable failing on my own? The arguments were beginning to come out, and defending myself out of reality would only make it worse.
I was unemployed for a month after I resigned. From average to something above average, I was somewhere beneath the acceptable line of what I initially hoped for. I was not able to save up. I had no clear direction for my career; I had no plans here or abroad. I wanted to be a novelist, a chef, a coffee shop owner, an extraordinaire, a once-in-a-lifetime, but I was none of any. After four years of being average in college, I ended up being the same kid. This time however, I wasn’t doing it over bottles, there was no hazy vision of what was in front of me, no downer to keep all the thoughts intact—I was a twenty-something year old, certain that that was it.
I’m speaking to you from a perspective of someone, who had a taste of failure, success, nonchalance, and burnout. After college, there have been so many distractions, so many options, so many paths to choose from, so much angst, so much pride that everything just shuts down. You will spend so much time thinking, wondering, and figuring out what to do with your life, you end up not doing anything at all. I’m not saying you shouldn’t weigh your options, but at least weigh everything on the value of yourself and not what others would probably think about you. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone. You don’t have to promise yourself you won’t sell out, because the moment you think about that, you’re already setting yourself up along that way.
You may just be turning twenty, twenty-five, or even going on thirty, and I may not be the best candidate to tell you this, but trust me. You may think you’re giving people a favor by staying true to yourself at work or wherever, the truth is, you’re giving yourself one.