It’s hard to believe that two years ago I graduated from college.
It’s harder to believe that I’m working in the industry I got a degree for.
For an art major, that’s what professional sociologists would call “A BIG EFFIN DEAL.”
I’ll tell you now, though: it wasn’t a cakewalk to get to where I am today. And there are still things I struggle with – including feeling like an imposter who will be caught at any moment by those whom Neil Gaiman called “The Fraud Police.”
However, I still want to write this post. It’s not just for myself. It’s for all of my friends who have just graduated college this year.
We see a LOT of things online about crippling student loan debt, lack of work, slow starts, and general all around hopelessness that defines us “millenials” (who came up with that word?) as much as annoying criticism and outdated optimism defines baby boomers.
I want to fight against that.
I would argue there’s still a lot to be hopeful for.
I graduated in 2012, and immediately went to my usual summer job of drawing caricatures at an amusement park. For a while I was ok, but thanks to a business slump, bad weather, and workplace drama, I quit my job and moved back home.
Then I jumped around part-time jobs, being a Subway employee, a lottery ticket seller, a cookie baker, a motel housekeeper, and a janitor at a coal plant.
All of these jobs occurred in a one-year span, and I had multiple part-time jobs at once. It was terrible.
I was one of those kids who, in high school, had one job for three years, and in college I had two jobs for four years.
So jumping around from job to job in one year made me feel extremely inadequate – like I wasn’t good enough to work one place for more than four months at a time.
Then, I met Marc.
We met and started dating in February 2013. In our first week of dating, we had our first significant event as a couple – a car crash.
Afterward we still stayed together, but things were generally crappy. I felt terrible for being underemployed despite how much I tried to build my portfolio and get a job and move out.
I was on Tumblr one day when I saw a post from Christian Beranek, whom I had not met before then. It read something like:
I’m looking for an artist for a new project. It’s a slice of life webcomic – and it’s a paid gig.
And I really really really wanted to send a portfolio, but then this started happening:
And that’s how I got this job that I’ve been doing for a little over a year now.
There are still times I struggle with making ends meet, and working on comics is not the only job I have had. I still freelance and I still work on other things besides comics.
But, with all of that said, I’m still technically employed in my dream career – making comics.
I am incredibly lucky and incredibly happy to be here.
Despite how difficult it can be sometimes, I do know this –
If I didn’t quit working in caricatures – a well-paying but ultimately awful job – and if I didn’t send my portfolio to Christian in spite of (or because of?) my fears, I would not be here.
It’s been hard. There are still the occasional nights where I wonder if I’m doing the right things – and I’m in my career field!
Then, rather recently actually, I came across a quote that went like this:
There is no right or wrong choice. There are only choices.
In that way, your future is limitless and open no matter what your circumstances right now.
There are no wrong choices.
Another thing to remember: it took me about a year to get into my career field. Some people get into their field right out of college. Some don’t get into it for another year, two years, ten years, TWENTY years. Some decide to change course altogether and do something else with their life.
None of these paths are right or wrong. They’re just a reflection of the choices those people have made, due to their experience, circumstance, and/or luck.
You’ll be ok.
I hope this helps you a little bit, recent grads (and maybe not-so-recent grads).
I also made a list a while back for recent college graduates. It’s what I wish people had told me for the first year of life outside of college. I hope you find that helpful, too.
Thanks for reading. You’re awesome.