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Today marked the four-year anniversary of my graduation from college. I still remember the odd feeling of not being a student, not going to classes or internships, not planning what classes I'd take or preparing for them. In theory at least, the only thing I would have to leave the house for was work. Heck, I could've stayed and earned a second Bachelors Degree by now! Oh well.
According to my original (and optimistic, it seems) post-graduation plan: by mid-2008 I was to have been working in the media in New York for 3 1/2 years, perhaps at the second job of my career, or promoted at the first... and probably having moved out of my dad/stepmom's basement into a roommate thing. I'd stay in New York for another year or two, until the student loans were paid off and I had decent savings... then continue my career in Florida or California, risking a pay-cut but taking the better weather. Oh yeah, and I still have my fifteen-year-old second car.
Well, it's always fun exploring alternate histories (I am a fan of Sliders, after all), but here's what happened by mid-2008 in reality:
For a long time, nothing at all. September, the latest month by which I expected to find something, came and went uneventfully. I sold my first car and put my dad's even-older Supra back on the road, which proved to be a financially-catastrophic decision. As my wallet grew weaker, my monthly loan payments grew heavier that first year (I had to start repaying as soon as I graduated); without so much as a bank teller job, the only thing I could do to keep up was work full-time plus OT at Wendy's - the cornerstone to my thrilling multi-dimensional paradox. I hated working at my high-school job while my degree was collecting dust, the job became depressing and sapped more of the energy I needed to look for better jobs, but if I didn't work as many hours there as I could then I couldn't make the payments on the loans for the degree that was collecting dust. Late 2004 is the only point in my life where I was actually depressed.
After eight months of stagnating and spiraling downward, the Lord threw me a wake up call and I began to consider moving to Florida and starting over in 2005. I lifted myself out of my depression and decided that I would commit every ounce of energy I could to a job search in and out of New York... if nothing happened by September, I could choose to leave secure in the knowledge that I did everything humanly possible. I suspended all my personal projects and distractions and succeeded in getting more job applications out, but replies remained rare and by the beginning of June (13 months after graduation), I found that I couldn't write the cover letters anymore... my emotions had run around my logic and made the call: I didn't want to work in New York anymore. At this point, I couldn't help but think that if my career were a computer program, it would've said "(not responding)"... my career had locked up and needed a reboot.
Oh, well. Too bad, so sad.
I moved the date up to mid-July and didn't regret it... even though my goal down here was to just get a FT job, then get back to my career, I started at my first TV station less than a month after the move. There was also the church, the volunteer camera position was a major factor in my decision... even if it didn't pay, it was something media-related I could do. John at the church soon started me on editing and directing. The wounds could finally heal and my depression be forgotten. In the first six months, thanks to high-turnover and the need to train the new people at the station, I'd mastered all the Production Assistant responsibilities. After another six, I began gunning for a promotion.
Then, 26 months out of college, my career locked up again. "(not responding)" click click oh great, now the mouse cursor isn't moving
In the strict career-I-got-the-BA-to-pursue sense, that's where I remain today. I'm still a PA at my first station and a cameraman/director/editor at the church. While I still consider myself far better off than I was in NY, all progress is a trickle at this point and I'm unfortunately having to consider another reboot to get things moving forward again. Why didn't I get a law degree again?
Recently, though, a career I hadn't considered presented itself. In college, I discovered a love of reading and a motivation to write that I allowed to get buried under the concerns of the day... that part of me was rediscovered early last year and with it I established what I pray may become a second career. Toward the end of this year, when that first book is finished, I'll have to reassess my future and decide if the career I picked in 1996 is still the one I want in 2008. I don't like standing still for very long and, if I still want to go for director somewhere and continue getting my education's-worth, I'll be searching aggressively very soon. (if not for the book, I would've already passed this point)
Anyway, four years. This may not be the future I saw myself in, but who ever really knows the future anyway? It's in God's hands and the best thing I can do is pray for His blessing and guidance. Though I'm not sitting on mountains of money, I am happy. Where will I be in another four years? I'm not making any predictions.
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