If you Google “life after college” or anything related to being a post-grad, tons of self-help websites and survival guides appear. And even though I write a column about being a post-grad, I can’t help but find this to be incredibly annoying. Apparently, being a post-grad is the new black. Since when has being a post-grad become the new self-help market?
I’ll be the first to say that yes, of course life outside of college “ain’t no crystal stair” (thanks Langston Hughes!), but I don’t think some blueprint manual needs to be force-fed down our once matriculated throats. Even though a lot of these sites claim to be “resources” instead of manuals … I don’t see the resources available. Unless these websites can get us jobs, give us new friends, find us apartments that aren’t infested with termites, and set us on the right path to repay student loans, then those resources … well, they mean nothing.
I guess what bothers me so much about all of these “how to survive as a post-grad” websites is that it makes us post grads look so collectively lost and confused. And not only does it make us look like we don’t know what we’re doing, but it makes us appear like we aren’t making the right decisions. But what I really think is going on is that due to the lovely economy (please note the sarcasm), post-grads are in the media a lot more than before…so of course, self-help gurus want to turn their attention to each year’s most recent batch of needy meat.
In all honesty, if someone handed me a book on how to be a proper little post-grad girl, I’d be pissed. Even though I can get behind some self-help books, I just don’t feel like “self-help” necessarily applies to a group of people who are still figuring things out. Especially when there are a million different ways each of us could go. What ever happened to mapping our own ways? Learning from our mistakes? Figuring things out for ourselves? All this “What to do when you’re a post-grad” crap makes me feel stifled, like if I don’t follow these directions then I’ll ruin my whole after college existence and be doomed for the rest of my life.
I think we can all agree that this post-grad existence isn’t easy. Between the soul searching and coming to terms with the fact that we’re really on our own now, things can get confusing. And scary. And stressful. But that’s for us to figure out on our own. We made it through college (not to mention the 12 years of school before that) so I’m confident that we don’t need some old people at a publishing house to tell us how to make it now.
It’s not going to happen over night, and yeah, that kinda sucks, but there is no harm in going down your own path.
So, here’s to post-grad journeys that just go with the flow and don’t follow some self-help book’s 12 steps. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to navigating this time in our lives so don’t let those frauds make you believe there is. Whatever you’re doing, if it’s right for you, then it’s the right thing to do.