This is one of those rare posts about my personal life. I feel like not enough people write about life after college these days. I knew there were other bloggers who had just graduated, but their posts were happy, shiny and full of vacations and other fun things. My Facebook feed was full of people I had graduated with bragging about their new jobs. No one was saying anything about how hard it was or how much unemployment sucks. I found myself wondering if it was just me who was struggling, but eventually I realized that it wasn’t just me. Other people just weren’t talking about the shitty stuff and neither was I.
If you don’t graduate with a job lined up, life after college can really suck. I started applying for jobs well before I graduated and had a few interviews, but I didn’t find anything. Graduation was an anticlimactic event for me. I was going from a world where I knew exactly what I would be doing everyday to the hells of having nothing to do but try to find a job.
After graduation, I went home for a few weeks. My parents were remodeling, and I needed to pack up my old room. I knew that I was going to be living in Seattle, my aunt and uncle had offered to let me stay with them, so I wasn’t busy applying for jobs during that two weeks, but I still felt a strange restlessness. I couldn’t enjoy my last two weeks of doing nothing with no responsibilities because I was incredibly uncomfortable not knowing what I would be doing down the road and not at least attempting to figure that out. It was a strange feeling.
I packed up my stuff, stashed most of it in my parents’ garage and moved to my aunt and uncle’s house in Seattle. My room wasn’t ideal, but it was free, and I was surrounded by familiar supportive faces. Once I got settled in, I focused all of my attention on finding a job. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do so I applied for anything that sounded interesting, from retail to copywriting. My goal was to apply to a job everyday, and it ended up averaging out like that, but there were depressing days where I couldn’t find anything to apply to. I’d go to interviews regularly, but nothing ever panned out.
At this point I felt like I was unhireable. Despite my degree, I felt like no one would hire me because I had so little traditional work experience. I felt like kicking myself for spending my time designing knitting patterns and writing this blog instead of getting a part time job or internship. “Maybe I should just stick to knitting,” I began to think, even though I have no desire to be a full time designer at this point in my life. I began to ramp up the number of patterns I was writing. I figured that if I acted like a professional designer while I was looking for work, I could eventually end up with a decent income from patterns if I was unemployed for years. It was a low point for me, I felt like I was failing as an adult, but I was trying to stay proactive.
One day my old roommate sent my a link to a job listing for an associate editor position at a cake decorating magazine. She had saw it when she was looking for herself and thought it sounded like something I would like to do. We had had many conversations about what kind of jobs we would like when we were still living together on campus so I popped into her mind when she initially read the listing. I applied and interviewed. It was the first interview where I left feeling like I had presented myself well and like I would be happy doing the job for a long time. Much to my excitement, I got the job! I love my new job, and I was relieved to be done with the job application process. Nothing made me more miserable than applying for jobs and finding out that I wasn’t good enough for whatever reason.
After working at my job for awhile, I realized it was time to move on to a new application process. I began apartment hunting. This was particularly daunting for me because I had never looked for somewhere to live before. I went from living with family to student housing to living with family again. I had no idea what I was doing, and I was completely intimidated. So what did I do? I asked for advice on Twitter and, I got tons of it. Katie who had recently moved across the country emailed me, and we talked about apartment hunting. Her advice made me feel a bit more confident. My friend Lauren from my college knitting group also replied to my plea for advice. It turned out that she was looking to move somewhere she could live with a roommate. That was a wonderful coincidence, and we teamed up to look for a place together. It was a lot easier convincing myself to go to open houses when I had someone to accompany me.
Apartment hunting wasn’t as bad as job hunting, but it still wasn’t fun. There was a lot of competition in the neighborhoods we were looking in. The first open house we went to had 20 or 30 people standing on the front lawn fifteen minutes before it was scheduled to start. Some of the places were gone by the time we called. Some landlords didn’t reply to calls or answer emails. It was frustrating, and I was worried about time. My parents had offered to drive up my furniture, but I couldn’t ask them to drive through the mountains in the winter when there will be snow.
We went to one open house for the adorable upstairs half of a duplex and got lucky. It was so cute that I forgot to worry about the fact that I might have parked illegally (I’m still not sure if that really was a parking space). Despite the closet sized kitchen, we thought we could make the duplex work. Along with a bunch of people at the open house, we asked for applications and filled them out. By pure chance we ended up handing the landlord our applications and deposit first.
We got lucky and got the place. We still have to do the settling in stuff which isn’t always fun, but I feel like I’ve made it through the tough stuff of life after college. I’ve got the big things figured out, and I have an idea of what the future looks like for a decent chunk of time. I have business trips, knitting retreats, and holidays to look forward to instead of a whole lot of nothingness. And of course, worry-free time to watch tv shows, drink tea, and knit. It’s nice.
Life after college sucks, but it gets better eventually. I’m lucky to have had so many people like my aunts, uncle, old roommates and even blogging friends step in and try to help me. This summer was rough, but I can’t imagine what it would have been like without support. So, thank you, everyone who has helped or offered me advice. I appreciate it.