If someone could tell me where the past year and a half went, that would be great. Yep, I’ve been in the industry for a whole 18 months! I’m definitely no expert, but I’ve learned a lot. When my good friend Chelsea (author of Creative Little Bird!) had a few questions for her internship class, I didn’t realize how eye opening it would really be.
If you could go back to 2007 and ask me where I’d be in five years, I’d be talking so fast you’d never fully understand, but you’d know I was excited about my future. I was going to be graduated from the best journalism school in the nation, writing copy for brands like Budweiser and the St. Louis Cardinals at a huge, beautiful office in St. Louis for big bucks. I’d be living the life in my loft apartment in Kirkwood, walking my dog every day and having an endless among of time to spend with my friends and family.
Now, here I am, five years later, nearly crying at how wrong my predictions were. Yes, I did graduate from Mizzou’s prestigious school of journalism. I have a job. I live in an apartment, and I do walk my dog a few times a week. But it’s not my dream loft or dream job, and i’m too wore out to see friends by nightfall. The friends that I’ve kept, that is. But is it really a disappointment, or just the reality of my generation?
Have I short changed myself? Have I let fear get in the way of my dreams? Or was I wishful thinking from the start?
Who knows. What I know, is that I’m not the person I set out to be. Not implying I’m a negative version of my once hopeful self, but I don’t see myself living up to the potential I set out for when I walked across the stage at my high school graduation. I feel as though I’ve become one of many – the dreary, post-grads just trying to get by, still relying on mom and dad and anyone else willing to lend a helping hand, a shoulder to lean on or a devoted ear to listen.
I look at my dad, who started as an installer at 18, and has worked his way up through a fortune 500 company with little to no college education, while I am struggling to show off my strengths and make my value known. Here I am, attempting to be “independent,” while my dad was responsible for himself and my mother at a younger age. Here I am, baffled by the thought that people my age are raising children and buying houses, while I’m struggling to find $10 to see the Hunger Games before pay day. These colleagues and friends are mature, responsible, and reliable. Where does that leave me?
Don’t be mistaken, I am extremely grateful for the life I live. My loved ones are healthy; I made it out of college without debt; I’m gainfully employed. I have friends and family who love me, a boyfriend always available for encouragement and a dog who curls up to me when I need it most, but I can’t help but think something is missing.
Who knows – maybe i’ll find my missing piece at the bottom of a glass of wine, the last bite of an ice cream cone, or even lying on a beach somewhere in the sun. but when I do, you’ll be the first to know.
It’s incredibly hard to believe that a year ago tomorrow, I graduated college. Three and a half years of finals, papers and projects all cumulated to that very moment where I crossed the stage. That being said, I’ve complete year one of adulthood, if you will. I figured I’d document some things I’ve learned.
It’s not easy. How I long for the days of 11am classes, Thirsty Thursday’s at Harpos and afternoon naps. The 9-5 world is just that – business, 9-5. Or, like most advertisers, closer to 8-6. Sure, the whole paycheck thing is awesome, but the free time isn’t close to being comprable.
Work isn’t perfect. Like most proud J-School grads, I expected some $50,000 glam job doing social media for a powerhouse like Budweiser or Old Spice. That didn’t happen. My first job was not a good fit for me at all, but I learned a lot. Will I go back to media? No. Did I really need to know the inner workings of a cow’s digestive system? No. But it’s experience, and an interesting conversation piece.
Respect is earned. I can’t emphasize that enough. It probably doesn’t help that I have a baby face and look like a 16-year-old without the acne, but you have to work very, VERY hard to gain respect out of college. Just because you show up with a degree doesn’t mean you’ve earned your stripes.
Living on your own is not what you did in college. Sure, I had an apartment, I had roommates. I had to buy groceries and pay electric bills, but that was all highly supplemented by my parents. Being on my own now, I realize the importance of budgeting and free time. Laundry doesn’t do itself, trash does not get taken out automatically, and you have no idea how grateful you are for your parents until you’re no longer living with them and calling them up to install a shower head for you.
B-Averages no longer cut it. To give myself credit, I was an A-B honor roll student. However, in the real world, that missed comma or misspelt word that would have gotten a few points off now can cause meetings with your boss, client, or worse – HR department. Practice makes perfect is no longer the motto – get everything right the first time by double and triple checking your work is.
Responsibility is nice. I wasn’t allowed to have a dog as a child, teen, or college student. Now, living on my own, I was able to get Yadi. Yes, he’s a damn handful, but I enjoy being responsible for him and myself. When you have to count on yourself, you quickly learn to appreciate what you do.
Life goes on. I had a breakdown or two that I wouldn’t ever see my friends after graduating early. That’s false. Keeping your relationships is just as important as landing a job. Are their things I miss about college life? OF COURSE. But all in all, I’m enjoying the grown-up life.