Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Blank Slate

I graduated from the College of William and Mary on May 17th, 2009. It rained that day. It rained during freshman move-in in 05 too. If you were to ask me what I remember most about that day, it would be hard to answer that question. It was a blur of rain, droopy mortarboards, speeches, last chance pictures with friends, diplomas, ceremonies, proud parents and accomplishment.

I've been in school for the past 17 years of my life. From Kindergarten up until graduating from college it has been nothing but papers, exams, life lessons, deadlines, classes, and textbooks. What did these 17 years of education prepare me for? Life. Apparently. Kindergarten prepared me for grade school, grade school prepared me for middle school, middle school prepared me for high school, high school prepared me for college, college prepared me for the real world. You have no idea how much I was I was saying college prepared me for graduate school... 19.7% of college graduates in the class of 2009 have jobs right out of college today. 19.7% in America. I'm in that huge percentage of unemployed and scared graduates. While you are in college, your professors prepare you to change the world. Your graduation cards congratulate you telling you that the world is your oyster. Go out and do big things! You can be anything you want to be in life you just have to dream big and work hard.

Right. Today, I feel like I have this big blank slate. Its a whiteboard...full of possibilities. I can do anything I want with this whiteboard. However, there are some limitations. I can only write with a partially dried out purple Sharpe between the hours of 3pm and 6pm during spring. Oh yeah, and I can only write in Sanskrit. That is the limitations the recession is placing upon today's young and eager graduates. The only work available is government work where you have to be really smart and in some fields, super fit to get the job. Also, you can not be shady, ever, not in your silly high school past or recent college experiences.

So my blank slate has limitations. I suppose my life does as well. I can't afford graduate school. I didn't apply early enough. I could have become a police officer, however I wouldn't have past the fitness requirements because I was born with loose ligaments in the shoulders and they dislocate at a whim. Newspapers are bailing out left and right and no one wants to hire a young inexperienced bright eyed journalist baby. They want adults on their playground. I can't do anything with business because that is not in my realm of education...also...I'm horrible at math. Hello Sanskrit.

I'm putting all my eggs into one basket. The hope and dream that I'll be able to do volunteer service for a year in Philadelphia. This is not the cop out it may seem to be. I won't get super religious in this post but I will admit it in type: I'm called to service for a year. Whatever that means to you. Its fine...I'm the only person who really needs to know what it means. Basically I'm trying to find any possible job I can on the Eastern Shore of Chicken Factories Virginia. This job will allow me to put a small dent in my massive credit card debt from being a Pell Grant student with $500 a semester in textbooks. I might even have to sell my car to help pay bills. My car has been giving me a lot of trouble lately anyway. This volunteer position would allow me to have free room and board, free health insurance (with a small co-pay), $4,700 some odd dollars after a year of service to pay off student loans, loan deferment for a year, spiritual growth and social work/practical sociological experience in Philadelphia, PA and surrounding areas. Oh yeah and a $100 stipend which due to toiletries/etc can't be used to pay massive credit card debt.

It is an incredible opportunity which will give me time to figure out if I want to pursue sociology in a professional school environment, out in the world, or shimmy back to my original passion-journalism. Law enforcement can rest on the back burner as well. It would be a year of experimentation. Ideally I'd like to do some international volunteering as well but I might just be eligible for one year domestic service and then I need to find a real job. The downside is when I emerge from this life changing experience I will be completely and utterly broke and potentially car-less. Which means I'll be living with my parents and hoping McDonald's is hiring while I search for fellowships or newspapers jobs.

The future is incredibly complicated. I'm scared about it. Scared more than excited.

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