Last weekend, more than 2,500 of you brought to a close your four (or five or six) years in college. Some of you are probably excited about what lies ahead, ready to grab the bull by the horns and take the real world by storm.
But if you’re not one of them, don’t worry — you’re not alone. I, for one, was pretty nervous about graduating from college — uneasy about the job market and the strength of my resume, anxious about student loans and terrified of all those unavoidable interviews to come.
I can’t say those concerns weren’t warranted, and I can’t say it wasn’t a struggle. They were, and it was. Heck, it still is. But it's taught me a lot — about life, about finances, and ultimately about myself.
It took a little while after graduation for me to find that first “real” job, but during those months of unemployment, I lost my precious grandfather. I consider myself so blessed to have been able to spend those last days with him, free from the constraints of work.
Life Lesson No. 1: Be tenacious in searching for your first job, but in the meantime, don’t forget to recognize and appreciate all the little blessings that come your way.
After Pop’s death, I began working as a copy editor at a book-publishing company in Athens, where a longtime friend of my family put in a good word for me.
Life Lesson No. 2: Be someone with whom others want to build relationships, and don't take anyone for granted. Through those relationships, people will begin to recognize your character and ultimately vouch for you when it matters most.
All day long, I would edit page after page of manuscripts written by economics professors and self-help gurus — and I was going insane. Like, smash my head into the keyboard, pull my eyebrows out, stage 5 insane. Although I was grateful for the work, I missed my family, and I began to doubt the direction my life was heading. So, I moved back home to regroup.
Life Lesson No. 3: Your family is your biggest ally, and you will always need your parents. If they offer their help, by all means, accept it. (My mom and dad are angels on earth. I love you both!)
I freelanced from home for a while, earning enough income to cover my student loan payments but not much else. The work was better but inconsistent, and I knew my parents were thinking they were never going to get rid of me. During that time, there was a lot of praying and a lot of crying going on, and most days I felt like a complete failure.
And then, I took a leap of faith and applied for the position I hold now. The job opening was advertised in the paper, but it took some stern prodding from my mom to convince me to apply. (I still doubt my skills and qualifications, and the thought of an interview still terrifies me.)
Life Lesson No. 4: Don’t allow your insecurities to hold you back. Yes, it’s scary — do it anyway.
I am now the editor of Connect Statesboro and the lifestyles editor for the Statesboro Herald. I take pride in what I do. Of course there are bad days, as with every job, and I still don’t have my life planned out, but I’ve come a long way, baby. I’m getting there, slowly but surely, and I couldn’t have gotten here without help at every step along the way.
Life Lesson No. 5: The people around you matter. Your ability to succeed is largely dependent on those with whom you live, laugh, work and love. Focus on the ones who help you see your potential, and weed out the rest.
Linsay Cheney Rudd is the editor of Connect Statesboro. Get in touch with her at email@example.com.