So me and the homie* were talking last night about how unexpectedly hard knock this post-college existence has been. The shit's rough. And not just for spacey cats like myself who majored in impractical things like English and the study of Black folk. The aforementioned homie got her degree in Biology, which meant she really studied -- like numbers and shit. Interview after interview, we're learning the truth behind the age old adage "it's not what you know, but who you know." When you don't know the right people, it sucks.
Enter a new section on The Playground: Guide to the Unemploidz. This is basically all the stuff I wish someone would've sat down and shared with me this time last year:
[Note: These tips come from a very particular kind of college experience. I went to a small liberal arts college in the middle of the Southern California desert. It was like being at Camp for four years.]
1. DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE. A college degree sounds nice, and is filled with memorable experiences of clenched fists, red cups and weed-laced late night cyphers. But real talk: There ain't no jobs. We're in a recession. Unless you're part of the 0.12378800 % of folks who find their dream job after college, you'll probably end up doing something you don't expect. It's not always bad, but it's definitely not always expected.
2. SALLIE MAE IS A CRAZY BITCH** WHO WILL STEAL ALL YOUR MONEY and call your mother a whore. Ok, maybe not that second part. But f'real, loan repayment can sneak up on that ass real quick, especially if you're not playing your cards right. One helpful way to prepare yourself would be to carefully read all the information you're given about grace periods, consolidation options and deferments. Plan your job search and allocate your savings accordingly.
3. IT'S LONELY. Especially for folks*** who were blessed with a group of really down homies during college. The days of creeping over to so-and-so's room at 4am are out of the question. Expect your friends to be scattered all over the place. A good option would be to make sure you and all your friends are on the same wireless network so you have someone to vent to -- free of charge.
4. KEEP IT MOVING. Sounds simple enough, but it's easy to get discouraged when your plans either don't pan out, or they turn out to be a lot less glamorous than you imagined. If you don't already, start to keep a journal. I've found it to be really helpful in tracing how I've changed over the past year. It's crazy how your gut instincts are almost always right. Anyway, journaling is also good to just relieve stress, and it's a lot cheaper than therapy -- especially when your broke ass ain't got no health insurance.
5. RELY ON WHAT YOU KNOW. Whether it's moving back home or finding comfort in the folks who know you best, trust that the people you love will always have your back. If you're fortunate enough to be able to move back home, embrace it, don't look at it as the end of the world. It might be tense in the begining, especially when you're trying to re-adjust to mom's rules, but it's worth it. For me, it's definitely helped ground me and given me the freedom to take jobs I otherwise wouldn't be able to if I had to come up with rent and a car note.
If moving home isn't an option, again, rely on that phone plan. Throw in some text messaging, even if you usually hate on it. You really get to know who your real friends are when you're struggling, and while it's shocking to have to weed some folks out, it's so worth it to vibe with the folks who care.
Basically, over the past year or so, I've learned that school is safe. Safer than I ever imagined. What makes the transition from college to the real world so difficult is the fact that no one really prepares you. A lot of the people I know had been in school for the past 17 years, and the thought of not being able to rely on that network is scary. Academia is a place where our hopes and dreams are nurtured, and where we're taught that we're the cream of the crop. After that graduation ceremony, you start to meet the millions of other people who are just as talented and motivated, and have had more time to make the connections that count.
To think about it, I'm in no position to give advice. But the least I can do -- for my own sake, especially -- is document what I've learned and how I'm still struggling. Who knows, maybe it might just be useful to someone.
* This term refers to someone of esteemed friendship or profound insight, as in, "The homie Aaron McGruder said..."
* On the whole, I think of bitches as amazingly fierce/OVAH individuals. I use it as a tongue-in-cheek remark, a "term of endearment" even. Yet in this instance, I mean it in the least feminist of ways. However, it is not a slight against all women. I love bitches. But then there are also weak bitches, who are mean-spirited and have no concept of the power or beauty that a real woman holds. This can also apply to men and, in this case, that bitch Sallie Mae. If you're trying to police my language and uncover some deep self hatred, don't bother. I blame hip hop. And The Man.
*** People in the Bay Area use the word "folks" a lot. I probably use it more than the average person, but I mean, it's just the way I speak. You may also hear this word in connection with "the movement" and "this work", which basically refers to social jusice-y things that people of color do that make them inherently more down than white people.