Failure to Launch: An Introduction

Last month, as I huddled over an episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, I heard this line for the 1,754th time: 

“People come from all over the world to go to Columbia. You get into a place like Columbia, the world is your oyster.”

Despite having graduated from Columbia just one week prior, this world didn’t feel like my oyster. That feeling had, in fact, led me to Netflix, where one can queue up other worlds to escape into. I had reached the end of an important episode of my life and the next was still unwritten.

I didn’t have a job–and though I use the past perfect tense to make myself feel better, I still don’t. If the words of Tina Fey, and my college counselor, dentist, and several family members were to be believed,  something wasn’t adding up. I had to figure out what went wrong and what to do next. 

I still don’t have a clue. But what I have recently realized is that even at the most challenging universities in the world, you can take comfort in the fact that you’re acting out a template. Which is not to say it has been easy: you’ve lost plenty of sleep over assignments and taken classes that have tested your limits. But at the end of the day, you’re sticking to a script. Each step in the road, despite having its unique difficulties, feels inevitable. 

By the time you finish college, you’ve been funneled from one reputable structure to the next for the majority of your life. But when you finally make it to the finish line and get to throw your graduate cap into the air, there’s no one left to ask for guidance or permission. You alone are there to catch it. You’re free to write the next episode of your story, and that’s equal parts thrilling and terrifying.

Well, typically it is. When you graduate without a job lined up, it’s mostly terrifying.

After 21 years of following a syllabus, I could find no reason to stop now. As my final months in college came to a close, every impulse was telling me to find some other template to follow. Luckily, I came across something equally as comfortable and inevitable as the requirements of a pre-professional track: horoscopes.

I know what you’re thinking. I’ve heard it, said it, and thought it before. The belief that the position of the planets in relation to patterns flaming rocks millions of miles away has any influence over our personalities and life paths is absurd. But the study of astrology has been around for thousands of years, and the stars for much longer. Who am I to question the authority that comes with their permanence?

And yes, I’m aware that stars burn out. But not nearly as quickly or easily as a college senior. So why would I argue when an astrological assessment tells me that, despite my deepest fears and insecurities, I am destined to do something great? Destiny weighs far more than a diploma. Especially when that diploma has yet to earn itself an office to hang in. 

Though it’s rarely talked about outside of meme form, there’s a powerful and consuming feeling of inadequacy that comes with being unemployed directly after college. It can manifest in a number of ways: feelings of hopelessness, depression, lowered sense of self-worth. I personally didn’t tell anyone other than my immediate family that I was graduating college because without a job lined up, it didn’t feel like much of an accomplishment. 

There’s so many things wrong with that mentality, though. Firstly, I robbed myself of a lot of graduation gifts. And a good cake opportunity, too. But more importantly, the idea that everything I’ve accomplished this far is rendered null and void just because I don’t have my life figured out at age 21 is COMPLETELY absurd.

More so than horoscopes, wouldn’t you agree?

Nevertheless, something tells me I’m not the only person with this mindset. And I’m definitely not the only person in this situation, even though it often feels that way. That’s why I decided to start this blog.

I want it to serve as a template for those currently living without a template, which is a poetic way of saying “being unemployed after college.” Its title references the mascot of Columbia University, a lion, and the fact that I was born under the astrological sign of Leo. 

Clever, right? My horoscope says so. 

The ‘on the Loose’ aspect refers to the fact that for the first time in my life, I don’t have a schedule or track to follow. And that’s okay. Or so I’m told by people that have already made it through this phase in life, or those who have skipped it altogether. But those voices aren’t always the most comforting to hear from. So if you’re in the same boat, take it from me instead: it’s okay. 

I know it’s not typical to take advice from someone who has no answer to the problem you wish to be rid of, but–wait, actually it is rather typical. If you went to college and had an RA, it’s the same concept. And I should know, because–cw: jobs, resumes–I was a freshman RA for three years. 

I’m hoping that, for people who are currently in the thick of it, my weekly…wisdom? will come as somewhat of a relief. If one person reads this and thinks, thank God, so it’s true! I’m actually not alone in this, then my goal will have been met. If you’re reading this and thinking, whew things could be a lot worse. At least I’m mentally stable!, that’s fine too. As long as you’re reading. If there’s one thing to know about Leos, it’s that we live for the spotlight. 

Now, onto some logistics: I’ll be posting 2-3 times a week–Tuesdays, Thursdays, and once over the weekend. My goal is to address the many job-related topics that I’ve Googled, from the perspective of someone who doesn’t have all the answers yet. From time to time, I’ll also be writing about topics of interest to me other than myself: mental health, entertainment and culture, race and ethnicity, and more. After all, this blog is intended to serve as writing samples for j** applications. Eventually, I hope to be contributing to a publication larger than this one and in order to do that, I think I’ll need to demonstrate depth. 

Thank you for reading! Please like and share this post if you enjoyed it, and comment to let me know what you think. If you’re a currently unemployed Bachelor (of Arts or Science), I’d also like to hear about your experiences post-graduation, related to the job search or otherwise. 

In closing, thank you again for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you. 🙂

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