I recently took a part-time job at a Corporate Coffee joint (which shan’t be named). Yes, this might be a terribly embarrassing way to use my top-notch honors degree, and yes, I’ve spent quite a lot of time agonizing about it and feeling unnecessarily ashamed. Coffee-slinging was not on my list of post-collegiate goals, but it’s honestly an ok job to fill the time between now and grad school. Not impressive, but certainly not terrible.
Being out of school for almost a year and not planning to go back until 2012 (16 months! Argh!) is difficult for me because so much of my identity has been tied up with academic achievement. It seems especially difficult for high-achieving folks to be without a goal or measurable success, even if it’s only for a brief period. If I’m not a stellar student, then who am I?
I assume that I’m not the only one here who feel enormous pressure to always be doing something very impressive. After all, when someone asks me about myself, I’d much rather say that I’m a student at [Prestigious University] working on a thesis in [Fascinating Topic] than that I work at Corporate Coffee and make just above minimum wage.
But fuck that noise. The pressure to be impressive probably won’t go away, but it’s important to remember that being impressive is not the most important thing there is.
When I think back on what I have actually done since graduating, I feel good about it. I took care of my dad full-time while he was battling complications from his transplant, and I stayed by his side as his condition continued to worsen. Because I did this, my mom was able to continue working full-time to support the family and made it possible for my brother to continue going to his expensive-but-totally-rad private high school. So yeah, I’m actually pretty proud of myself.
Readers: is your post-college life living up to your (probably high) expectations? Any thoughts on dealing with self-criticism when things aren’t so stellar?