Less Excitement Is Better

I thought I was ready to be famous right after I graduated college. Or, if not famous, at least successful. I thought, “I’m a smart guy with big ideas and skills. I’m ready to dive right in and start taking care of business.” But that’s not what happened. I struggled to find work for a bit and eventually landed a job grading papers for an online university. That part-time online job lead to another job for that same online university – this time full-time and on campus – overseeing a group of other paper-graders just like I’d been. It wasn’t the sexiest job, the demands weren’t too high, it was nothing like the hard-hitting comedy writing position I had envisioned for myself.

And you know what? That’s good. I needed that time to get focused and to really figure out who I was and what my passions were.

After four years in college – maybe more if you go to grad school – you get impatient. You think, “I’m ready for the training wheels to come off.” But here’s the thing: training wheels are useful. Just ask your five-year-old self. Those extra two little wheels saved you from a bunch of scrapes and tears when you were just starting out on a bike.

And make no mistake: you are just starting out. It’s easy to think of your education as the first step of joining the working world, but it’s not. It’s prep work. You know how, in recipes, they’ll say, “1 onion – diced” but they’ll never say anywhere in the recipe that you have to sit down and dice that onion because it’s just assumed you already did before you start doing the actual cooking? That’s your education.

So, a little bit of time in a not-so-sexy role with limited expectations is not a bad thing. In fact, I’d say it’s the best thing. No, you won’t get profiled in the New York Times for playing it safe. And yes, you do want to be challenged, but don’t underestimate the challenges of post-college life and unguided mental development. In school, were you to realize something about yourself – like a new academic interest, or what kind of lifestyle you’d prefer to lead– there would classes and majors and clubs and organizations right there to help you adjust. Outside of school, not so much.

My advice: take your time. Take a job – whatever job you can get that utilizes at least some of your skills – and work to build the support structures that had always been built-in before. There will be plenty of time to be wildly successful later. Now is time to adjust.

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