It’s been nearly a year since I’ve graduated college. Like most recent grads, I’ve struggled with my transition to adult life.
It’s hard to believe that just one year ago I was living in academia in the middle of nowhere, upstate New York. I spent my days and nights planning, studying, writing, learning, stressing. In my spare time I’d just hang out. I napped, I socialized, and drank Starbucks every day. I goofed around and met new people. Me and my friends were always traveling to the nearest city to visit restaurants and things like that. On weekends we’d party hard, binge drink, take lots of pictures, and I’d hook-up with a couple “randos.”
Even though I had academic duties, I was always laughing and gossiping. I loved being young, free, and silly. I lived with my best friends and I loved every second of it. When that part of my life was over and I had to move back in with my parents, I didn’t adjust well.
I honestly can’t remember where most of my summer went. I wasn’t working I didn’t do much in my free time. In July, I decided to get a job. I started to work at a corporate gym. It wasn’t what I desired, but it was something. I was on the 4 a.m. opening shift, which meant I was delegated to wake up at 3 in the morning, endure a 20 minute drive, and unlock the door for a few people who would be waiting for me when I arrived. Unfortunately, I’d wake up at 3:30 and I’d be late opening the gym nearly every shift. I’d pull up to a bunch of angry people who missed 5 minutes of workout time. Then I’d sit behind the counter, groggy eyed, and I’d say “Hello, how are you.” to every. single. person. who walked in the door.
Sometimes. I’d drink tea and eat some yogurt. When I was really bored I’d sit on the counter and flip through a magazine. One time, a female member approached me and told me I would be terminated if she ever saw me sitting on the counter again. I stopped. But I always remembered to turn on the charm every time I saw the woman who threatened me. She didn’t like me. Needless to say, the gym fired me after less than two months. I didn’t take it well.
I needed to find another job. I took some time and ran off to New York City to visit my aunt for a week to regroup and figure out what I wanted to do with my life.
I’d heard that you can earn a decent amount of cash catering so I “Googled” catering companies in my area and e-mailed a couple of them. To my surprise, I received a response from one. A catering company/restaurant needed a full-time server for their morning shift. I was hired.
My “career” at the restaurant has not always been pretty. My co-workers put a lot of pressure on me to be quick, efficient, and excellent in customer service. I’d spend every day slicing bagels and asking repeatedly, “would you like coffee?” All while having a pregnant woman bark at me, “freshen up the coffees, wrap it this way, go help them over there, you’re doing that wrong, count the change the way I do it” or I’d have my angry co-worker calling me stupid, mocking me for being polite, and constantly making me feel bad. The poor management/mistreatment was beginning to wear on my self-esteem. I was 6 months out of college, and frustrated with no hope in sight for a professional job. I started to think that going to college was a waste of time and money.
After a couple of months I could barely handle the negativity of working in the restaurant. I needed the cash but I vowed not to take another dead-end job. I’d just keep going through the same issues again and again until I aimed higher. I had used cold-contact successfully once, so I decided to do it again for the sake of my career. I contacted my local newspaper/ad agency and asked if they were looking for help. I was asked to come in for an interview and was hired two hours later. It was the light at the end of my tunnel.
I started off as a data-entry clerk with some free-lancing opportunities on the side. Two months later, the editorial assistant quit. I picked up a few of his hours on the days I was in for data-entry. Those couple of hours have led to another full-day. Soon, I’m hoping to obtain a full-time position so I can quit food service all together. I’m slowly moving into a place where I belong.
It’s not what I thought I’d be doing. It’s better. Even though I was lost this past year, I eventually learned that if you don’t take action, you’ll never get to where you want to be. I’m grateful for these failures and lessons life has given me, without them I wouldn’t have progressed as well as I have. It’s not always easy, but it does get better.