Written By Christine Gleim - Christine is a recent college graduate trying to find her place in the world. First and foremost she is a scientist, but she loves to relax and create through writing. She can be found with her nose in a mystery or science fiction novel, obsessing over a show on Netflix, or out on a long walk. Twitter: @just_3_words
The other night on a whim I decided to watch Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. While it is not a film that I would highly recommend to anyone, there was one scene in the middle that made the entire film for me. In a rare serious moment, Zac Efron’s Dave bears his heart to Alice (Anna Kendrick). The two of them were discussing their place in life and where they had thought they would be. Dave asks, "You ever get that feeling that you're not good enough to get what you really want so you're too scared to try?" As someone who has recently graduated from college and is not where she pictured herself to be, I realized that I have been struggling with the same thing.
During my junior year of college I decided that I wanted to pursue a master’s degree in forensic science and began to work toward this goal. At the same time, it seemed that the universe began to conspire against me. College had always been a challenge for me academically, but it became especially difficult that spring. Organic chemistry II was the first of three classes that would make my final three semesters especially stressful and academically discouraging. I spent hours studying, visiting tutors, attending extra study sessions, meeting with professors, and yet nothing seemed to help. I cried myself to sleep nearly every night as I prayed that God would help my work to pay off, to be able to study diligently, and to be able to remember what I had studied. Though I passed all three classes in the end, the final outcome was not what I had hoped for.
I took the GRE and applied for graduate school during my senior year. I was very aware of the fact that the grades in those three courses would not be a good reflection of my abilities as I began to apply. I struggled with feeling like I was failing; failing myself and those who believed in my abilities. I feared I would not be accepted and my fears were realized when I received the rejection letter. I was disheartened and unsure of what to do next. It was like watching my dreams go up in smoke, knowing that I was the one who dropped the match. It seemed to be yet another thing that I had worked hard for that was not going to come to fruition because I was not good enough. It seemed to me that despite everything I did not work hard enough or study hard enough or was not smart enough to achieve what I wanted.
I was nervous about what life held after graduation as I walked across that platform and received my diploma. I had imagined graduating to start a summer lab job and then be heading off to graduate school in the fall. Instead I was entering postgraduate life with no job and no graduate school prospects. I had a sort of backup plan, but as summer progressed that to fell through. I was left once again scrambling to put together ‘Plan C’. At this point I was finding it hard to believe that anything would work out. Not long after graduation, the one thing that I thought would actually work out fell apart too. I felt as though I was left with nothing.
About a month after graduation, I started a retail job so at least I had money coming in. I was spending hours every week searching the internet for laboratory jobs in the fields of forensic science and biology. I filled out applications. I heard nothing. It has been nearly five months since I graduated and I am still searching, applying, and hearing nothing. I have expanded my search to include writing jobs related to science, but that has not yielded much either.
I spent my summer seemingly trying to drown my troubles in countless cups of coffee and ink spilling onto the pages of diaries. My shorts got shorter and my heels got higher. I went shopping more than I probably should have expanding my wardrobe, my library, and my film collection. I guess I was trying to find more ways to escape a reality I no longer enjoyed and felt that if I could at least dress like the successful, stylish woman I wanted to be maybe I could figure out how to get there.
I struggle to find any passion or motivation or diligence to continue searching and applying for jobs. As much as I want to find a job in my field, I am often reluctant to put in the time and effort necessary. It is so hard to work hard toward what you want when you have a year and a half of previous experience that tells you that you can do your best and you will receive little to no return. You can study as hard as you can and still receive a 44% on an exam on your twenty first birthday. You can take the professor’s study suggestions and improve your exam score and still see your class grade drop. You can get the courage to admit how you really feel and he will still walk away.
I have been told that I know what I have to do to get where I want to be. But the truth is I don’t. Sometimes I am not even sure I know what I want anymore. As someone who is naturally passive and shy, I fear that I do not have the personality to “adult” well. Like Dave in the film, I am afraid that I am not good enough and smart enough to get what I want so I am afraid to try.
Now this is the part in the piece where I am supposed to reveal the “eureka moment” when I figured out how to find my passion and motivation. This is the part when I am supposed to share some sage wisdom that helped me find my path and that will help others who feel the same way find theirs. I am sorry to say that I cannot offer any solution. I am still doing a lot of soul searching as I continue to hunt and apply for jobs.
All I have to offer is to say, don’t give up. These last five months have led to in one positive result. I have learned a great deal about myself. I have learned that though I have always considered myself without passion that I do indeed have some. I have learned that though I try to pretend that I don’t, I feel things deeply and that is okay. I have learned how to be a little more emotionally transparent with those close to me. I have identified my flaws and though I have not quite figured out how to conquer them, I no longer deny them. I have learned to accept the darker parts of myself. I accept me for who I am. As cliché as it sounds, I have learned to love myself.
I am writing because it is something I can do. I am getting to know me and maybe by doing this, I can discover how to reach what I really want.
So don’t give up. Cry if you have too. Let your heart break. Admit to your best friend that you’re scared and sometimes feel directionless. Focus on being there for those that you care about so you don’t become too focused on yourself. Do the best you can at work even if it isn’t a job that you find truly fulfilling. Find something that you are good, even if it seems to have nothing to do with anything that will advance your “real life”, and devote some time to it because it will remind you that you can do something.
I don’t have any answers for myself or to offer you, but I won’t give up so please don’t give up either.