Disclaimer: I am not a professional psychiatrist. I am only someone who suffered through depression and found ways to mange it. Do not read this post as an article from a professional but as possible ways to find some meaning in dark days.
I graduated college over a year ago and this last year has been anything but magical. Many of us believe once we get our first degree then the world will open up to us.We’ll finally get the life we’ve always dreamed. But right now getting our dream life has become more difficult than ever before.
Many people have degrees, and you can no longer expect that alone to lead to the job of your dreams, or even some transition jobs. Fifty-three percent of college graduates are underemployed or unemployed, and eighty-five percent of recent grads have moved back in with their parents. It’s reasonable to feel a little or really depressed if you’re one, or both, of those statistics. I was. I am very independent by nature and having to move back home in my twenties felt very limiting.
So jobless, living with parents and without real guidance I felt hopeless, especially seeing so many people I know get their dream jobs,or at least a good step towards them. I have suffered through stages of depression most of my life and recently found substantial ways to manage it so I was not going to let these road blocks force me back into depression. I used some very simple, but effective ways to find meaning in my life and not let the burden of not having the perfect life defeat me. Here are some of the things I did and may help you.
Learn as much as you can about your dream job
The more you learn the easier it will be to go after it full force. Don’t just read books on career advice, but subscribe to blogs, magazines, or newsletters specifically geared toward your field of interest. Besides that, talk to people in your dream field. I can not express how useful linkedin is and how nice strangers can be when you express a desire for guidance. I learned so much from informative interviews with alumni of my college. If you have goals and direction it’ll make the transition year less stressful and very productive.
Another useful way to get advice is joining a club or volunteering somewhere related to your career path. For me, I want to become a full-time screenwriter-but also have interest in entertainment news journalism and freelancing-so I volunteer at the major film festival here. I have met so many cool people, but also received great advice and stories from people who share my dreams. Just working towards something and actively taking charge of your future, not just passively sending out resumes, can instantly snap you into action mode and that can get you out of depression.
Talk to someone about how you feel
You may feel it’s weak to tell others about your problems, but talking can heal you. Whether you talk to a family member, friend, or therapist it really helps you feel less burden by your situation. Even if that person does nothing but listen, sometimes it’s nice not to feel so alone.
Engage in more projects/join clubs/start a club
While you have all this free time why not take advantage of it? You’ll feel more productive and who knows what this project can become. You could develop a new skill that could look great on your resume or just a sense of satisfaction and self-discovery you need.
Get out more
Remember how you missed your parents like crazy while you were away at college? Well recreate that by keeping your social life intact. It could also lead to a better network which can lead to a job.
Set realistic weekly goals
Not getting your dream job can have nothing to do with your skills and everything to do with your approach. If you write ten cover letters and resumes a day, think about what percentage of those were actually good. Then ponder how many of those were on jobs you really wanted. If you’re producing that many a day then you’re probably half assing them. This isn’t that easy A course you took in school, it’s the real world and requires the proper nurturing to obtain a dream job.
Your aim should be to realistically set goals and timelines for your life. If you put “get dream job within the next two months” as a goal you may get it, but you also may not. If you don’t you may feel like a failure and that can cause depression. Instead, set goals like “make ten new network connections within next two months.” That’s easy with social media sites or just by putting effort into meeting people. By living in reality you can stop disappointment and treat life in a positive realistic manner.
Don’t stop dreaming
Why not plan your future now? Where would you move? What would you do? What would you buy? Dream big and dream often. Dreams can become reality when we believe in them enough. Being grounded in reality helps cope with depressing, but dreaming helps you cope with life.
Find other sources of income
While you’re still in the post-college transition phase there are still many ways you can make money without holding a 9-5 job. You can easily research it, but some quick ways are selling stuff, surveys, paid experiments, starting a small business from hobbies (Good at photoshop? Why not start a small business designing flyers for local businesses, or developing blog themes?). By making some money while still underemployed or unemployed it can make you feel less hopeless about not having a 9-5 especially if you have looming bills.
Life is beautiful no matter it’s current state so find some beauty through the cloudy days. But as always, seek professional help if depression becomes too much to handle. There is no shame in seeking help.