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Title: Graduating wasn't as liberating as I had hoped.
Posted: August 19, 2010 (01:42 AM)
While I was still in school, I was frustrated that the intense demands of my coursework made it difficult for me to pursue many extracurricular interests and hobbies. It wasnít so much that I had no free time (which I used mostly for partying), but that I had no mental energy left to write or read about other things. I thought graduating would solve this because I would no longer have 200-400 pages of assigned reading every week, and my mother really sold me on the positives of post-graduation life. I envisioned a life that was socially much less exciting, but one that would allow me to pursue my interests by taking classes and writing at home while working and earning a living.

Unfortunately, the only thing that turned out the way I imagined it is my social life. The reality of loan debt hit me very hard, and it has only been in the past few weeks that I have come to fully understand my financial situation. Originally I thought my debt was around $20,000 USD, but it turned out to be roughly $45,000 USD. Over the course of the summer I had three dental appointments which incurred bills totalling about $1100 USD, and I also need to get my wisdom teeth extracted, which will cost somewhere between $1200 and $2000 USD. I desperately need to buy a car, because living in San Diego without one literally borders on being impossible.

This is all occurring while I have been making an income of $0 USD because getting a job turned out to be much harder than I thought it would be. Even with a BA from the most prestigious public university in the world, I found myself getting very few calls from employers I applied to. I managed to get a few interviews, but I was not hired by two marketing firms, two 24 Hour Fitness clubs, and one high school. What I thought was my best lead - a non-profit human services agency for which I have already volunteered two summers with - still hasnít called me, even though I just finished volunteering my third summer with them.

The good news is that I have finally been hired. I managed to get a position as an instructional assistant for a special ed teacher with the National School District, about twenty miles north of Mexico. The hourly rate is relatively high, about $15.50 USD. The problem? Itís only a part-time position, just three hours a day. That comes to about $230 USD a week before taxes. My parents donít want me to worry too much, and theyíre helping me out by letting me live with them and eat their food, but when I try to divide $45,000 by $230 I canít help being just a little depressed. Before graduating I thought a job would give me some discretionary income, even if it wasnít much; Iím not even sure if Iíll be making enough money to pay for my necessities.

Obviously part of this has to do with the fact that Iíve only landed a part-time job, so Iím hoping to pick up another part-time job. I have a pretty good lead from a friend who I volunteered with, though he says heís been pretty busy lately and a mutual friend of ours said that heís bad at responding to texts. Even if I do get another part-time job, the hourly rate will most likely be lower, probably pretty close to minimum wage. The real problem though isnít that these jobs donít pay enough; itís that the cost of everything else (especially the cost of living) is outrageously inflated beyond what these jobs pay.

If I were making close to $400 USD a week from two part-time jobs that would be a lot better than $230 USD, but I donít like the idea of spending the next six years of my life paying off loan debt, the next twelve years living with my parents, and having almost no discretionary income for any of it. So instead of reading about sociology, learning about writing, taking improv classes, working out at the gym and going to clubs, I mostly think about additional ways of making money. There are online survey sites, but these are unreliable and sometimes scams, and even when theyíre legit, they tend to be extremely time-consuming for extremely low pay. I noticed thereís a tab on my online Wells Fargo account labeled ďbrokerage,Ē and Iíve been wondering what thatís about.

Iíve heard some people say that these days itís better to start your own business than to work for someone else, but I have no idea what I could possibly do for a business. Iíve been learning a bit about making money through blogging, but according to what Iíve read you need to find your ďniche,Ē and I just have too many interests and theyíre too varied. Thereís a lot of self-help literature about making money by blogging that are very explicit about the doís and donítís. I know that I want to write and at this point there are non-review things I want to write. If money werenít a factor I would probably be content to just write without much regard for all the rules and guidelines Iíve been reading.

But I donít even want to do most of this, besides the writing. I donít want to spend my time and energy working on and learning things that I donít have much interest in. I want to spend that time learning the things that interest me and developing myself the way I want to. I want to have a little discretionary income so I can actually buy things for myself. Unfortunately my financial situation doesnít really permit that.
[reply]

fleinnUser: fleinn
Title: Re: Graduating wasn't as liberating as I had hoped.
Posted: August 19, 2010 (01:58 AM)
..welcome to life, man :p

No, seriously, you're not in a very stressed out situation, you have a good opportunity to go on interviews and search for a job. If you also want to move away, you're a lot freer as to where the job is, too. So you're actually quite well off. :)
[reply]

radicaldreamerUser: radicaldreamer
Title: Re: Graduating wasn't as liberating as I had hoped.
Posted: August 19, 2010 (02:39 AM)
I don't have the opportunity to move away.
[reply]

bluberryUser: bluberry
Title: Re: Graduating wasn't as liberating as I had hoped.
Posted: August 19, 2010 (03:36 AM)
it sucks right now. there's no other way to put it, really. if you were going to do it anyway then now is the time to go for a graduate degree, though if you weren't, using more school as an escape would be kind of dumb. you're being smart asking around though, I've always gotten jobs through people I know and I've always been compensated very well for my age/position/whatever. that's not a coincidence.

we graduated at a shit time and just have to deal with it. it affects me, too: too many people are taking advice like above, so grad programs are much more competitive. plus budgets are being cut. it kind of forces you to look a bit lower on the list than somebody with similar credentials would have five years ago.
[reply]

GenjUser: Genj
Title: Re: Graduating wasn't as liberating as I had hoped.
Posted: August 19, 2010 (09:41 AM)
I have a Masters degree from the best school for my major but I need to do two special internships for a total of 6 months of free work before I can get licensed. Even worse I had one set up for this summer but they canceled it on me less than a week before the start date. I only just found a replacement for it this week.
[reply]

GenjUser: Genj
Title: Re: Graduating wasn't as liberating as I had hoped.
Posted: August 19, 2010 (09:45 AM)
My point is the world is fucking everybody over right now.
[reply]

zippdementiaUser: zippdementia
Title: Re: Graduating wasn't as liberating as I had hoped.
Posted: August 19, 2010 (09:58 AM)
I think if you browse my blog you'll see at least thirty or forty messages where I mention having no money, living with my parents (who thankfully are awesome and really fun), not being able to afford the keeping of a girlfriend, and having no job.

The good news? I'm no longer there. And you won't be there forever either. The reality of the situation is that things, as Boo says, suck right now. But you'd be shocked how things look up when (and I'm gonna say it though it seems cliche) you follow paths that your heart tells you are right.

When you're satisfied in your soul, nothing else seems to matter quite so much. Things just... happen... that you want to happen.

I mean, here I am, with a movie I'm actually proud of going to Cannes in May. And I did it without having a job or any prospects. I just believed it would happen and I kept my eyes open.

Okay, and I worked my ass off, too. But it never felt like work.

I've watched you on this site for a long time, Rad. You have spirit. You'll make it. I'm not worried about you.
[reply]

fleinnUser: fleinn
Title: Re: Graduating wasn't as liberating as I had hoped.
Posted: August 19, 2010 (11:53 AM)
Sorry to hear that, radical. Doesn't sound very lovely. But just make sure you live through it, instead of simply exist. You know...
[reply]

Felix_ArabiaUser: Felix_Arabia
Title: Re: Graduating wasn't as liberating as I had hoped.
Posted: August 19, 2010 (03:46 PM)
I guess this isn't the topic for me to boast how I recently got a job promotion and a 10% pay increase.

Well I did. And any success I've had post graduation I've attributed to deliberate planning and setting goals. If you know where you want to be in a set amount of time, and you have an idea on how you plan to get there, no obstacle will be too high for you to overcome. You just have to be positive and get shit done one way or the other.
[reply]

NightmareUser: Nightmare
Title: Re: Graduating wasn't as liberating as I had hoped.
Posted: August 19, 2010 (05:12 PM)
I wrote a novel a while back, one that turned out to be a three year long endeavor. While I was in the process of writing it, I often envisioned documenting the final sentence, and suddenly overwhelmed with this sense of accomplishment and gratification.

Turns out, it wasn't quite what I thought it would be. I was proud of myself, yes, but after that fleeting moment I felt almost as overwhelmed as I had when writing it. I started to focus on all the relationships I neglected, the cost of printing it and the credit cards I had increased because I was only working part-time to get it finished. I was starting to get bogged down in editing and looking for publishers and reading rejection letters.

Even that was years ago, now. And the debt has faded, I've reconstructed the emotional bridges between I and those I ignored for three years, and have a few potential leads.

And in the end, I still have my novel. I'm far more proud of it now than when I had finished it, because that is the one thing that won't go away and I didn't have everything else tainting my pride.

Not everyone can say that. I'm incredibly self-conscious, and have the horrible habit of comparing myself to others. When someone drives by with a nicer car, or walks by with a gorgeous girlfriend I get that slight sting of jealousy. Eventually it settles, and I think to myself "They may have that, but I bet he hasn't written a novel". In truth, they may have, but that accomplishment is still there.

Though I can't entirely relate, I imagine graduating college is the same sensation. There's a lot to deal with when you first get out and a lot of debt, but that can be paid off. No one can ever take your knowledge away from you. It takes a different type of person to earn a degree, and endure something for four years and see it through.

All the...scars I guess you would call them--like debt, stress and pressure to find a job--soften, but the attained goal never does.

The point is I think long-term accomplishments only inspire long-term liberation. It will come, and only intensify as the years pass.
[reply]

bluberryUser: bluberry
Title: Re: Graduating wasn't as liberating as I had hoped.
Posted: August 20, 2010 (12:10 AM)
I guess this isn't the topic for me to boast about how I recently got a job promotion and a 10% pay increase.

Well I did. And any success I've had post graduation I've attributed to deliberate planning and setting goals. If you know where you want to be in a set amount of time, and you have an idea on how you plan to get there, no obstacle will be too high for you to overcome. You just have to be positive and get shit done one way or the other.


coincidentally, I was offered a full time position where I work when I graduated. instead, I'm probably giving my two weeks notice by the end of August.

also, it's really not that simple. no amount of planning can account for everything - you've just had a run of good luck, same as I'd generally say I have. it's nothing more. the opportunity that I'm leaving my job for only came up a week ago, and ultimately by chance. nothing I did or didn't do would have changed that.
[reply]

honestgamerUser: honestgamer
Title: Re: Graduating wasn't as liberating as I had hoped.
Posted: August 20, 2010 (03:22 AM)
Life is a combination of luck and skill. You can prepare all you want and bad luck can screw you, or you can do no planning at all and good luck can make your life play out like everyone else's fantasy. I've worked hard to prepare for what I want, to set benchmarks for myself and to do the things that will help me to reach those benchmarks, but tomorrow I could wake up with cancer or I could get paralyzed in a car crash or I could walk into work and find out that I misplaced a check and I've been fired...

That's fatalist, I guess, except that ultimately there's something to be learned from it all. We may not be able to predict what luck will do for us, or what it won't. But we can try our best to plan and prepare and we can hope that luck swings our way. Even if it doesn't, we're most likely better off taking charge of our lives and pushing for what we want than we are sitting around and hoping that luck favors us.

Not saying anyone that posted is doing that, but I thought I'd throw in my two cents.
[reply]

radicaldreamerUser: radicaldreamer
Title: Re: Graduating wasn't as liberating as I had hoped.
Posted: August 20, 2010 (06:25 PM)
Well, the good news is that I don't need to start paying off my loans until December. That might give me enough time to save up for a computer and a car before that. Once the loan payments start though I will probably put at least 80% of my income or more toward loan repayment.
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