By: Janna Adams
I am graduating in two weeks and I am freaking out.
How did I get here? There’s no way it’s been four years. I was just hanging up my FRIENDS poster in my dorm room for the first time yesterday.
But I just bought my cap and gown, and I’m scheduling my graduation party for the day after I walk up and receive my diploma. Even more absurd, I recently signed a lease to rent my first house with three other people. A house. What is that? Moving out after graduation wasn’t always the plan, but it feels like my life has done a few somersaults since I first smiled for my university ID and no one told me my hair looked like an advertisement for static cling. Personal growth was not on the top of my “Figure Out While in College” list, but I guess you don’t really get to choose when you start discovering who you really are.
Upon completing these necessary steps toward adulthood (screaming) I have also come to realize that I am not at all prepared for “the real world.” Sure, I now have a home address that I didn’t memorize when I was seven, but still. This doesn’t seem fair. I’m assuming there are other people out there in my current situation–one foot in adulthood and the other desperately trying to fit into my size 2 sparkly jellies–and so I have compiled a list of terrifying but somehow comforting realizations about entering and growing in post-college life, which I will split into three different posts as to not throw all of my substantial fears at you all at once.
First issue of business: I have to find a job. A real job. A job where I don’t have to answer praise with “my pleasure” or “thank you, I’ve actually worked here for eight years so that’s probably why I seem so qualified to serve chicken to you” (if you haven’t gotten the hints by now you either live in New York City or under a rock). But anyway, a real job.
Here’s the issue: I do not know how to be a professional. Let me clarify: I know how to seem like I am a professional. I can write you up a list of reasons right now as to why I’m qualified to write brochures for your trendy yoga studio. I’ll write circles around you. I’ll do downward dog poses extreme justice with the English language. But if you were to give me that job, Official Downward Dog Writer Person, I would probably hyperventilate into a bag throughout my whole first day, wondering if I’m cut out for such a position (pun not intended but still worthy of appreciation).
In other words, I’ve never been given a real job doing what I love, and I’m not sure if my little heart can muster up the confidence to know I’m good at it until I’ve proven it to myself. I think this is at the heart of the word professional–you’re good at it, and you know it. You have no fear. This is the difference between a professional and me: I have all the fear.
But I don’t necessarily think afraid (or in more adult-terms, anxious) is a negative attribute of an aspiring real-job-seeker. If you use it correctly, fear can take you a lot of places. Fear motivates you to challenge yourself. If you start out thinking, “I’ve never done this before,” you have to pull out the part of you that replies, “So why not try it?” The worst that can happen is rejection. So it doesn’t work out, so what? If rejection is your biggest fear, be grateful for the opportunity. It’s not every day that people are given a chance to pursue a career they are passionate about, so if you receive that opportunity, embrace it. This means embracing the fear.
Everyone is afraid of not getting what they want, and it’s warranted: a lot of people don’t get what they want on the first try. It took me four times to get my learner’s permit. Four times. I felt like the biggest failure. I thought I would never be able to drive, and now that I’ve been driving a car that I own (am paying off), I think back and can’t believe I ever doubted myself. Getting yourself past the fear is the biggest part of the battle.
As Official Downward Dog Writer Person, when my first brochure receives the praise it deserves, I will beam in response and confidently, and professionally, proclaim “my pleasure.”*
*Disclaimer: I am not a yoga brochure writer, but if this post inspired you to hire me as one, my contact information is at the bottom of this post.