The Young Life Crisis, the feeling of being jobless and inadequate

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It’s 2:41 a.m. As Jon Stewart’s witty sarcasm fades from memory and the steady buzz from my daily 12 cups of coffee finally starts to wear off, it isn’t sleep that hits me.

Instead, my mind races with the What if’s and the shoulda, woulda, couldas that tag along with being a recent post-secondary grad.

What if no one will hire me? Should I have chosen a different major? Is it possible that giving my all wasn’t enough to set me apart from the competition? Would things have worked out if I had jumped on the first job opportunity I came across, even if it meant moving across the country alone?

Tack on being an aspiring journalist without solid job prospects in a field that’s slowly dying during the largest recession in recent history.

Yeah, sleep ain’t in the cards for this girl anytime soon.

My insomnia-filled nights are full of an unsettled sensation. And, for the first time in my life, I can’t seem to shake it.

Welcome to the Young Life Crisis (YLC). Even if they don’t admit it, I guarantee almost every new graduate has at least had a flash of one. Maybe multiple. You might even be living and breathing it right now, like I am.

It gets stronger with every rejection email, or after yet another interview you thought you nailed. And with each similar, yet slightly unique, cover letter you craft. Or with the slight pang of jealousy that jabs you when you hear someone you went to school with is now living happily employed after.

Don’t lie about the feeling. Acknowledge it. It’s the first step. Trust me.

After two years of pouring myself into an amazing communications program that I’d dreamed of since I hit adolescence, I emerged a smarter, savvier writer and professional. I grew as a student and a person, meeting instructors and friends that have had huge roles in shaping who I am. I wouldn’t trade my education for all the Post-Its in the world – and if you could see the stacks of multi-coloured stickies I have plastered in novels, on computer screens and intermittently dispersed in notebooks, you’d know that’s big deal.

While I’m a firm believer in chasing big dreams, I’ve tried to stay realistic about my education and career. I never lived with the delusion that as soon as I ripped off my cap and gown, The Globe and Mail would be begging me to be a regular columnist.

But now that I’m nearing completion of my book learnin’ days and the ominous Real World calls my name, life isn’t looking quite like the picture I’ve had in my head all these years. I was always aware I would have to work my way up in the industry I’d chosen, but somehow I figured the ladder would be a little more helpful, a little less daunting, with a diploma in hand.

I think that’s the definition of a YLC, really: realizing that post-college life doesn’t look like what you thought it was going to.

So, how is one to cope with all the qualms, concerns, and occasional triumphs of a YLC? Well, personally, I’m writing a column about them here on the Incubator. Keep reading and we’ll try to figure it out together.

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