I’m 20 and Unemployed | Graduation & Growing Pains


It’s been three months since I’ve graduated college; although, it seems like a longer time ago.

I remember how I dreaded the idea of graduating. While most seniors applied for jobs at career fairs and counted the days until graduation day, I wished that time would turn back, stop, or that someone would wake me up like the past four years were just a dream and I’m back as a freshman.

I didn’t want to graduate, I didn’t want it to end yet—not because I loved school so much but because it’s become my comfort zone. I didn’t want to be an adult, I didn’t want the misery and the problems that come with it; so being a college student was the last strand I was clinging onto before falling into this dark hole called adulthood. It’s ironic, isn’t it? We couldn’t wait to grow up when we were younger and now that we’re older, we wish to turn back time.

I guess it’s the magnitude of expectations instantly thrown at us as we step out of university, diploma in hand, that petrifies me. Like, the rest of our lives have to be planned out right away and not having a job or security means failure. It just screws my mind how we live in a society where it dictates you the norm. And when you’re not in with the program, you’re considered a loser, a bum, or that nothing’s gonna happen with your life.

I don’t want the rest of my life to be fixed as what’s customary. I want my time in between. I want a time for myself before getting a job; I want to find myself, as cliche as that might be. Because even though I know what I want, I also know there are multiple other things I wanna be too.

After graduation, I went to this four-day filmmaking camp; I’ve always known I wanna make films. In those four days I got a glimpse of the film industry. It is competitive and hectic but it is also exhilarating and creatively fulfilling.

And I knew that this is what I wanna do. Even though it is hard, the possibility of either failing or succeeding gave me fuel, and that was how I knew this is where my heart lies. There was a bittersweet feeling as I was doing it and I wouldn’t want to give it up.

And then, just like a blink of an eye, it was over and I’m back to reality wherein I’m expected to get a 9 to 5 job with at least a minimum wage salary. I couldn’t tell you in words how horrible it feels. All I could say is it feels heartbreaking to know what you want but couldn’t get there.

I come across different types of people adulting, and when I ask them if they love what they’re doing, most of them say, “No, but it pays the bills.” Most of them say they’re doing it so they could do what they love eventually but get stuck in a routine anyway, until they’re too old to make it happen.

The thing is, I’m 20 years old and, though I am uncertain of many things, I know I don’t wanna be like them, not yet. I don’t want my passions and dreams to perish as I submit to adulthood. I know there are endless possibilities out there. So I wanna see what may be in store for me, I wanna do the things I couldn’t back then, make mistakes and learn from it.

After graduation, I see my friends working a job that looks like they enjoy. One is pursuing her dream as a flight attendant, another is a news producer at a big media company, while others have writing positions—as they intended.

While I’m enjoying this privilege I have, allowing me to focus on my passions and find myself, there are times when I can’t help but feel jealous of my friends thriving while doing what they love. Meanwhile, I’m here, stuck and frustrated, feeling useless, and still unsure of where to start or even how to figure everything out!

But then, every time the green-eyed monster appears, there’s this part of me saying that it’s all gonna be okay.

No, I’m not employed and it’s okay.

It’s okay I don’t have it figured out just yet. It’s okay that I’m slowly starting; what’s important is that I know what I want, I know the things I want to accomplish (no matter how many they are), and I know I won’t give up to get it.

And everytime I feel like I’m being left behind, I have this quote—a mantra, if you will—to help me by, “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” I have to remind myself that I’m still young and just starting out—hell, I haven’t even started—and there are times I may feel like I’m in a rut but if it really is my passion and if this is what would fulfill me then, without losing sight of my goal and working hard to get it, it would fall into place.

I have to remind myself that, yes, I may not be where I wanna be at just yet, but I’m slowly learning and I’m slowly moving forward to reach my goal; I won’t have the time to do that if I’m at a four-walled office right now.

It doesn’t have to happen all at once. A chapter just ended, I shouldn’t be in a rush to finish this next one. I also have to remember that I am lucky to have this gap time and luxury to start doing what I love; most people aren’t so lucky and I shouldn’t take it for granted. Most of all, I know that it’s not about the money when you pursue what you want. As actress, Ms. Cherie Gil once said during film camp, “Do what you love and the money will follow.”