Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Five Years, Lots of Debt, and No More Joy Stealing

I recently signed on to Facebook to find a message from the president of my high school senior class informing me and the other class officers that we should start planning our five-year high school reunion for this summer.

Wait, what?

I'm still coming to terms with the fact that I graduated college and now it's already time to revisit high school?

This, of course, got me to thinking: "What have I really accomplished in the last five years?"

I know what some of my classmates have accomplished since we graduated: A friend of mine is a student at UPenn and had an internship at Pixar (his younger brother also recently interviewed Jason Segel and got to be in the press room at The Academy Awards), a few of my classmates have done tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, several are married and/or have children, my own twin brother is a SEC Division I athlete, and a multitude of other former classmates are attending grad school in their chosen fields, traveling, etc.

Meanwhile, I (Stop here if you do not wish to read my brief, self-pitying diatribe) still live at home, work at the same non-science-related job I have had since I graduated high school, and am no closer to attending medical school than I was a year ago. END self-pity.

This is where I slap myself over the head and remind myself that I am actually part of the majority, and not the exception of all recent college graduates.

Most people my age still live at home and work at (often, low-paying) jobs that are not in their chosen fields (if you are even lucky enough to find a job) just so we can scrape together whatever we can in order to pay back the debt we accrued getting degrees that are supposed to allow us to get careers in the line of work that we want.

That confusing run-on of a sentence signifies just how ridiculous the whole situation actually is...but unfortunately, those are the circumstances for about half of all recent college graduates.

However, it is often easy to forget this thanks to social media, like Facebook, that allows you to post all of your wonderful success stories, adventures, and happy pictures (while conveniently leaving out anything that may be negative) and share them with everyone you ever knew in high school even if you never actually talked to those people when you were in high school, thus making you feel worse.

Another run-on sentence to describe another totally warped set of circumstances. But again, that’s my generation; it’s not right (or okay) but it’s certainly the way things go.

Here is where I, again, hit myself and the rest of my generation (or everyone, really) over the head with this reminder:

You (I) can't compare your (my) last five years to anyone else's. It will only lead to feeling unhappy and disappointed.

Instead, look at how you've grown as a person over the last five years. You may surprise yourself.

Sure, I'm not where I hoped to be five years after graduating from high school, but I really have no right to complain; I am healthy and happy, I have a roof over my head, and I have supportive family and friends. I have a better understanding of who I am as a person and what I want to do with my life than I did five years ago. I've learned a great deal both in the classroom and out, including the fact that I have a lot more to learn. I am braver, more appreciative, and also a little more cautious.

So, my challenge to you, whoever you may be, is to think back on all that you have accomplished in the last five years, both large and small endeavors. But don't compare them to anyone else's. Don't allow anything or anyone to steal your joy.

And, for goodness sake, just stay away from Facebook.

No comments:

Post a Comment