Contrary to popular belief, spring is not the ethereal, whimsical time of year that the oh-so-predictable, romantic Hollywood blockbuster vehemently suggests. Precious springtime can be a vicious beast disguised as a delicate poem -- especially when you're a student about to graduate from college.
Springtime stress is so bitingly real that even though it has been half a decade since I set foot in a college classroom, my body still breaks out into stress-induced mega-hives the very moment winter subsides and the promise of summer hangs heavily in the air.
When you’re a college student about to abandon the sweet comforts of academia, spring serves as that strange, not-so-sweet spot — that anxious, airtight space between summer and winter — and it’s stressful as F*CK.
'Tis the season, when the air you inhale is thick with uncertainty and the looming, swelling questions about what the future will entail are suffocating.
It’s easy to find yourself in the throes of an endless panic attack, paralyzed by the terror that you will never find a fulfilling job or attain true happiness in this cruel, cold world.
So what's a girl to do when the senior year spring crisis hits her like a ton of hot bricks? Ask yourself the vitally important, soul-searching questions, naturally:
1. Is my major actually my passion?
So you spent the last four years dutifully studying the complex world of finance, yet the thought of spending the next decade crunching numbers in a cubicle fills you with an irrepressible, deep-seeded sense of dread... That’s OK! Don’t feel stifled by what you studied -- so many of the ultra-successful, fabulously-creative forces of the world never took a job within the realm of their college majors.
Dare to ask yourself what it is that truly makes you tick/fuels the passion in your heart? Are you more fulfilled discussing the correct way to execute downward-dog than you are breaking down the stock market? Well, that’s awesome! Why not think about becoming a yoga instructor? The world is YOURS, and there are so many ways to live.
NOTE: Don't beat yourself up if you're unsure as to what your passions are, exploring is the FUN part.
2. Is what my parents want for me, what I want for me?
A mentor once provided me with this golden nugget of truth: Parents mean well, but they certainly don’t know everything. I get it; you have an undying, almost biological respect for those who raised you (as you should). You're racked with guilt at the money they’ve pumped into your future and feeling under tremendous pressure to make it all worth it.
The desire to make our parents PROUD is practically in our genetic makeup; however, that urge to please can rush you into settling for that safe, secure job (you hate) because it’s what THEY want for you.
Remember this: One of the most beautiful parts of being an adult in the real world is now you have the power to map out your own life.
It’s time to get a healthy divorce from your parents’ image of happiness and instead manifest your own (it’s scary, but everything is -- get over it).
They might not understand why you want to be a writer, an organic soap entrepreneur or a professional dog walker -- but the wonderful thing is THIS: They don’t have to.
3. What am I willing to sacrifice to pursue my dreams?
It’s time to get real with your bad self. Close those pretty doe-eyes and pretend for a moment that your passion is FASHION.
Let's say that you want to be the next white-hot, ready-to-wear designer, a fresh-faced Stella McCartney for the modern girl; however, the thought of living in the sinful cities of New York, Paris or London is enough to make your skin crawl. The urban jungle simply isn’t for you.
This is when you need to dig deep and ask yourself one of the (many) hard questions: Is your desire to be a top-tier designer strong enough to sacrifice living in your preferred environment? How willing are you to live outside the parameters of your comfort zone? Would you be happier in a small, pretty town, owning a charming boutique instead? (...And that's perfectly OK!)
4. How much do I value my passion over a paycheck?
You’re about to start your life, and you're knee-deep with (what feels like) ENDLESS debt. You have student loans for DAYS and HEAPS of bills. In this crazy, ultra-competitive world, it can feel like every successful young thing is either unfairly well-connected or being bankrolled by mom and dad.
You don’t have a savings account, let alone a trust fund, and it feels damn well impossible to chase your dreams when you are under the gun to make MONEY, fast.
This is when you need to ponder what specific jobs will keep your bank account healthy -- without consuming you/distracting you from your ultimate goals.
PSA: I don’t care where the f*ck you went to school or how smart you are; never, ever, be above working as a waitress or a bartender.
Nightlife jobs are fantastic; they give you the awesome ability to make fast cash, while keeping your days FREE -- so you can use the precious daytime to work HARD on your fiery passion projects that you will eventually get paid to create.
5. Am I doing what I want, or chasing my friends?
After four years of living in extreme proximity to your BFFs, separation-anxiety can rear its ugly head when you’re about to leave college and enter the real world.
It can be extremely tempting to chase your college friends, housemates or boyfriend/girlfriend to the city they’re planning to build a life in.
This temptation can be a dangerous trap, leading to a path of extreme unhappiness. It’s imperative to ask yourself if where you’re moving/what you’re doing is what you want, or if your decisions are merely paralleling your friends.
The hard (but necessary) pill to swallow is this: You won’t connect with all of your college friends the same way you used to once college is over.
All too often you come to discover that your bond was the easily breakable mix of pulling all-nighters and sharing Adderall.
This is why you need to make sure you’re living where the f*ck YOU want to LIVE.
6. How long can I live at home before I lose my sh*t?
Moving back home: It’s a necessary f*cking evil. You need to rack up some money in the ol’ bank account and ponder what the f*ck you want to do with your life, sans the stifling pressure of having to make rent.
When you’ve been freed from the shackles of parental discipline for the last few years, it’s hard to go back to living with rules and parameters. You need to ask yourself what’s the longest possible time you can live with your lovely parents without losing your sh*t.