Originally published on Feminspire and cross-posted here with their permission.
You wake up late after either going to bed far too early, or when normal people are getting up to get ready for work.
You don’t shower or change out of your pajamas. You plop yourself down on the piece of furniture nearest to your television or laptop charger. You eat a bagel or a piece of toast, but let’s face it: that bagel is just a vehicle for the jar of Nutella that will suffice as breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
No, you haven’t been recently dumped.
You’re one of the 53.6% of unemployed recent college graduates.
It seems that in today’s world, four or more years of hard work could lead to, at best, a minimum wage job or job you are vastly overqualified for that is completely unrelated to your field of study, or at worst, moving back to your parents’ house to face an unending stream of days spent on Facebook.
No matter how you sugarcoat it, being unemployed or underemployed sucks.
Depression and monotony can become your only companions.
But instead of letting unemployment consume your life, you can navigate your way through a rough situation without losing faith in yourself.
1. Do Some Soul Searching
Things may not be working out the way you thought they would once you became a graduate of the class of 2012.
But instead of wallowing in “what if” and wishing you could change what is out of your control – like the economy – focus on how you can start a path to a positive future.
For instance, if you have a Masters in Nursing, take advantage of a job that may pay a little less, but gives you the experience you need on top of your education.
Now is as good a time as ever to rethink your priorities.
What truly makes you happy? Who are the people you care most about? What or who is holding you back from reaching your full potential?
You may cry, but it’s better to explore those feelings while you have the time.
You don’t have to make a life-altering change.
Going to grad school, making a career change, or joining the armed forces might seem like plausible solutions to your crappy situation, but take your time to list the positives and negatives of any and all decisions before making them.
2. Read and Write
Those season-long marathons of America’s Next Top Model aren’t going to watch themselves, but the catty fights (probably) aren’t enriching your knowledge of the world around you.
Try reading a book or newspaper for an hour each day that you might normally spend watching TV.
Even a magazine or romance novel will engage your imagination, and keeping your mind active will help fend off boredom and the depression that follows.
Keeping a journal can also be a better use of your free time.
Writing regularly will also improve your cover letters and job applications.
3. Interact with People
Despite being one of 1.5 million unemployed or underemployed Bachelor’s degree holders under 25, it can feel very lonely not having classmates, college friends, or coworkers always around.
A long phone call or Skype session with a friend can fuel the rest of your day!
And feel free to tell them you don’t want to talk about your job prospects, or even though you’re happy for them, their new employment.
Explain that you’re trying to stay positive and motivated, and steer the conversation toward how they made their application stand out.
Social interaction offline is also a good way to get out of monotony.
If you don’t have friends close by, take a moment to think about your usual hang-out spots. The gym or a coffee shop offer unlimited social opportunities, as well as bulletin board listings of local groups and organizations you could join.
Your new job might be just around the corner, or it might be awhile until you finally get there.
Keep filling out those applications, try some of these ideas to help weather the storm, and most importantly, try to stay positive.
Lauren Slavin is a 22-year-old freelance journalist and aspiring cat lady currently living in Bloomington, Indiana. She is an award-winning student journalist, and the former editor-in-chief of Towson University’s student newspaper, The Towerlight. When she isn’t pretending to know what the future holds, Lauren enjoys reading entire novels in one sitting and drinking too much coffee. If you need cat video recommendations, e-mail her at [email protected].
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