Postgraduate Depression

You know the classic story of the hero? He, or in this case she, accepts a challenge, goes through obstacles, faces a crises and recovers to reach her goal. Well, readers, my crisis is over. How do I know that my crisis is over? I woke up this morning and felt like I had something to say. For the first time since I returned from my summer job a month ago, I wanted to write.

Postgraduate depression is a real thing. It’s akin to First-year Loneliness Syndrome most college students go through. It’s probably the same kind of “freaking out” that all people go through anytime there’s a major change in his or her life. Postgraduate depression can be described as a prolonged feeling of “What am I doing with my life?” with the resulting echo being a hollow “nothing, nothing” that fades into the nights of Netflix binge watching and an old friend you graduated with from college, procrastination.

I got so discouraged that I deactivated my Facebook and started calling/emailing my friends that I wanted to keep in touch with (crazy concept, I know). I didn’t want to see day after day that “everybody” was getting great jobs or going to great schools. And I was just sitting here, with an empty bank account and empty days ahead. I know that social media is a farce, that people create ideal versions of their perfectly pictured lives to display for the public; but even so, I couldn’t help but think that I wasn’t making progress.

I spoke with a friend recently who is moving back in with her parents soon in order to save more money. She also felt depressed, like she was moving backwards. But we decided that just because we feel social pressure to get perfect jobs, move out of our parent’s homes, and start our “adult lives”, doesn’t mean that we’re failing at life if we’re not doing those things immediately. Everybody has their own path. Whether it takes you four or six years to get an undergraduate degree, you’re still working toward your goals. Don’t let people make you feel bad for taking time to figure out exactly what you want to do, or for working through obstacles like a lack of resources. The important thing is that you do have goals and that you persevere.

I use my sister as an example all the time. She graduated from college two years ago. During the past two years, she has continued taking courses to fulfill prerequisites for graduate school and made progress into her intended career by becoming a nurse assistant. Now she works at Duke University Hospital and is most likely entering PA school next fall. That’s progress. Who cares if it took two or more years? She has gone through countless setbacks, but has steadily worked toward her goal; no one can say that she has been sitting around doing nothing.

Some people would still judge her for moving back in with her parents this summer, but like I said, everybody has their own path. Until you know everything about what a person has or is going through, you can’t judge whether they are “failing” at life. People forget that college students are graduating into a different economy nowadays. It used to be that people could move out and start a career right after college, but I’ll be lucky to get any job that allows me to start paying back my student loans this year. So I say, screw those people; you do you. I may not have any immediate plans, but I do have goals for graduate school, working abroad and more; and I don’t have plans to give up, no matter how long it takes.

Beck

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Dear Professor

Dear Professor,

If it’s possible to be a completely different person from one month to the next, I can say with confidence that I am not who I was last semester. The reason I know I am a different person is because of those two small words, “with confidence”.

But first, I want to apologize. I’m sorry for letting you and myself down. I’m sorry for not being able to finish my assignments on time and not performing to the highest standard. I’m sorry I had to work during the semester. I’m sorry I was homeless. I’m sorry I wasn’t reliable and doubted myself. I’m sorry things turned out the way they did.

I’m also not sorry. I’m not sorry for the things I couldn’t control. I couldn’t help that I needed to work to afford to stay in school. I couldn’t help that I lost my job and didn’t have a place to stay. I couldn’t help that I was spending two hours every day commuting instead of doing work. I couldn’t help that I found a place to live too late in the semester to give me time to catch up. I also couldn’t help that my course of study required me to take five classes, two of which were capstone courses, complete a practicum, and study for a huge standardized test.

I’m tired of being sorry. I’m tired of regretting my actions and feeling bad about my failures. Because I learned from them. Who I am is not what I have done. I am not a failure. I am an intelligent, capable, responsible student. I have fears, but I don’t let them stop me from trying my hardest to achieve my goals. I have confidence in my ability to be not only a good student, but a successful professional. Failure is giving up when things get hard. I do not give up, no matter what. That is who I am.

You once told me that teachers make poor students, but I think teachers must be good students in order to learn from past mistakes and grow as individuals and professionals. I may or may not teach in a high school classroom, but whatever I do, I will be a teacher, because that is who I am. I don’t need a license to invest in those around me and help them grow. As you said, I have a lot to offer the world. I may do one thing or many things in life, but what I won’t do is limit myself because one person told me I couldn’t do it.

Sincerely,
Beck