Is Post-College Happiness a Myth?

I started my new job today, and I honestly can say that I feel the happiest I’ve felt since I graduated. I knew that a change and a full-time writing job would be good for me. But I didn’t realize what a profound impact these things would have on me. Change itself is an instant energy boost. You’re out of your comfort zone. Your body and mind have to be more alert. Combine that with the fact that I finally resolved this issue of “I know what I want to be doing every day but I’m not doing it”which caused some serious emo-ness and you have a recipe for an instant happiness boost.

I normally am not the biggest fan of change. I get pretty comfy and can just coast along for a while. But with this comfort comes boredom and maybe some laziness. So sometimes a shock to the system is completely necessary. Today I went to “work” (aka my office aka our spare bedroom) and I sat quietly by myself and wrote for eight hours. I stopped to eat lunch. I ate tuna fish. It stunk up the “office” and no one complained or rolled their eyes or burst into the office kitchen going, “Okay! Who is eating tuna fish! God!” And it was beautiful.

Now that I’ve made the transition from one job to another, I realize how empowering it is to have a job that you really, truly want to be doing. I used to think I was okay with doing a job I didn’t live and breathe for. A job that I liked, and where I liked my co-workers, but didn’t really have an intense, fiery passion for. Now I know I was completely wrong. A job like that is the most dangerous kind of job. At least if you HATE your job, it creates some kind of feeling. It gets you fired up about something. A job you don’t feel much for one way or the other gets you used to feeling apathetic, and that spreads to other areas of your life.

I would come home every day and just lie in bed, not feeling much. I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t sad. I just…was. I was existing. I was glad to be making money and glad to be near family and friends, but I knew I hadn’t worked so hard in high school and college to feel…not much. I wanted to get up every day and go, “Yes! Awesome!” Don’t get me wrong, I know work is work for a reason and there are some things that aren’t so fun. But I wanted feelings of passion and excitement.

After my work day ended today, I felt energized. I wanted to write. I wanted to sit on my porch even though it was hot and sweaty. I wanted to do things even though we got in late last night from the Mumford and Sons concert (amazing, by the way. This is a video I took of “The Cave”. Bad video quality because we couldn’t see much, but sound is amazing and worth it). I DEFINITELY wanted to watch the new episode of Teen Mom and count how many times Amber calls Gary a fat ass.

Knowing what you want to do with your life and not doing it makes you feel crappy. It’s a nagging, gnawing feeling deep down. Doing something about it makes you feel better. Actually getting to do the thing you want to do makes you feel great. When I knew I wanted to write full-time and wasn’t doing it, I felt frustrated and mad at myself. When I was applying to jobs, I felt a bit better but still aggravated. Now that I’m writing full-time it feels like this tension has finally let up.

I think I used to believe that in the years immediately after college you have to be okay with being mild to moderately unhappy all the time. Or maybe not even unhappy, maybe just not really outstandingly happy. Now I’ve realized I was wrong. You owe it to yourself to try to find a way to become happy, even if it takes a little bit. You also owe it to yourself to be honest about what would really make you happy. Even if the answer scares you or your parents or your boyfriend or your favorite professor. You have to be willing to try that risky thing or that new thing or that low-paying thing, because if you don’t you’ll always wonder, “What if?” and then you’ll come home from a job that makes you feel “meh” and you’ll wonder where this deep, deep unsettled feeling is coming from. You’ll try to soothe the unsettledness (not a word) away by buying things or decorating your office or going out a lot. You’ll try to fix it by getting a dog or a boyfriend. But it’ll still be there and it’ll keep you up at night. And it won’t go away until you’re honest with yourself and you give that thing what it wants and you make yourself happy.

This is turning into a full-on rant, but today was a day of post-college revelations and I wanted to share.

Have you had a revelation like this recently? Do you think you can demand to be really, truly happy in the years immediately following college? Or do you need to pay your dues to be super happy later on?



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  1. I will actually be starting my sophomore year of college in 2 weeks. I started out as a business major, but my real passion is writing – so I changed to journalism. I guess I am looking forward to furthering my writing and become better, but I can’t really muster up any passion for college. Weird, compared to everyone else, who seems to love it and can’t wait to go back. Not me, I just want to write full-time and live in a metropolitan city.

    I don’t think I’m “too good” for university or anything, but I don’t really enjoy it as a whole. I’m not a party animal, and I feel like it is almost exactly like high school, in terms of people. I hope this year will be better, but I’m just going to throw myself into writing and see how it goes. I don’t know what else to do.

    Good for you for striking out and doing what you really want to be doing. I am looking forward to reading more from you!

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