Avoiding Identity Crisis as a Jobless Graduate

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PictureIf you’ve just graduated college or will be in the coming weeks, let me congratulate you. No matter what anyone says (ahem, Mr. Stephens), earning a degree is an achievement regardless of the degree or how long it took you to get it.Most of us have been there. Took those hair-pulling philosophy exams and wrote those harrowing English papers, so we know the effort that goes into surviving college. Although you’re not exactly graduating into promising circumstances in this bleak job market, don’t let that stop you from moving forward. It’s no shock that many grads who come home jobless face tough challenges including bills, uncertain living situations, the job search, and what might be worst of all: self doubt.

As a jobless grad, you’re not alone and you’re not the only one who’s having an identity crisis after months or years of trying to find a job. So what do you do in this situation? For starters, you don’t sit home and watch Grey’s Anatomy reruns all day while eating peanut butter out of the jar. Here are some more productive uses of your time.

Stop questioning the validity of your major Don’t go there, not for even a second. Doing so will only lead you down a dark road where you find yourself thinking maybe you should have considered that computer science degree even though you can’t stand the words computer and science in the same sentence. Picking a major is not a decision made lightly, so own it, trust yourself, and remember you picked it for a reason.Doing something is better then doing nothing If you’re frustrated due to lack of job prospects, find out where you can volunteer or look for internships in a field of your interest. Consider the Corps or Teach For America and other volunteer programs. And while a lot of people stick their noses up at unpaid internships, remember that many of these internships are beneficial and can provide valuable mentorships, training, references, and networking opportunities.Develop your skills Despite what you’ve heard, your twenties are not about finding yourself. Your twenties are about developing yourself. After college you should have some sense of what you want to do and the goals you want to achieve.  According to this Forbes article, 80 percent of life’s most significant events take place by age 35, so it’s important to make this decade count.  Jump on opportunities when they knock on your door. And when they aren’t knocking, go out and find them.

Make a plan The last thing you want to do is float aimlessly through life. You know it’s bad when you wake up and forget what day it is!  Set a timeline and make some goals for yourself. Want to write a novel? Start by writing a page a day. Set your goals small at first and when you feel confident enough, begin to increase them.

Having doubts about yourself is normal. Just don’t let this slump affect your future. Remember, there’s always room for talented people who have something to offer. And if you can’t find room, then you make it yourself.

This post was previously published on WetFeet.com and has been re-posted with permission.  Our mission is to equip job seekers with the advice, research, and inspiration to plan and achieve a successful career. Follow WetFeet on Twitter at @WetFeet_Career.