on the night of my graduation from social work school and my 24th birthday, i cried like a baby. i laid on my bed next to my confused sister and sobbed. not because i was so happy, not because i would miss school - because i was completely overwhelmed and terrified by people’s expectations of me. i grew up with my family fawning over how “smart” i was. i have always been told to keep working hard in school, to get as much of the best education i could, and i would go far, so i did. i graduated from high school in the top 10 of my class. i went to a good college on full scholarship. i went straight to graduate school, worked hard for two years, and graduated with a good gpa. on the day of my graduation, my loved ones told me how proud they were of me, how i was going to do so much good in the world. while i was grateful for the congratulations and encouragement, i was also petrified. i was graduating into a nearly nonexistent job market. i wasn’t clear on what kind of job i wanted. i took those couple of months off to take care of my mom, then i started applying like mad for any non-profit job i was vaguely qualified for. since july, i’ve been applying, interviewing, reworking my resume, writing cover letter after cover letter... and getting rejected. it’s been discouraging, of course. i’ve cried, i’ve been angry, i’ve snapped at family members who ask for constant updates on my job situation when there are no updates to give. and then i reframed. maybe the full-time do-gooder non-profit job isn’t going to happen for me, at least not right now. so, decided to rewrite my goals. i got a job as a hostess at a restaurant, at which i can oogle celebrities and joke around with my coworkers and have a pretty good time. i moved out of the manhattan neighborhood i never felt quite “me” in anyway, and back to my brooklyn apartment, which i can actually afford! i’m volunteering for some non-profits, i’m enjoying having days off during the week instead of the weekend, i’m spending quality time with my roommates, friends, and boyfriend. and honestly - i’m happy. today i called good old sallie mae to ask about loan deferment. when i explained to the surprisingly helpful and friendly customer service rep that i hadn’t yet found a full time position in my field, and was instead working part-time at a restaurant, his response was “i’m sorry to hear that.” to which i replied, “oh, it’s okay. that’s the way it is right now.” don’t worry about me, sallie mae man. i’m doing alright. i don’t have that dream job - but who does? i’m 24 years old, i’m living in the greatest city in the world, i’m in love, i’m surrounded by amazing friends, i can see the skyline from my rooftop and i’m reading for pleasure again and i am so very happy.
so, to my dad, grandma, the sallie mae man, the alumni associations at my alma maters, and anyone else who may be concerned about my not having achieved that all-important full-time position in my field of choice: don't worry about me. yes, i’m an underemployed and overeducated member of the generation new york magazine described as “coming of age in post-hope america”, but i still feel like the luckiest girl in the world.