Today marks the end of my first post-college year. I’ve been through the hardest and most confusing year of my life. I first thought that this is the worst year ever. I felt that I’ve hit rock-bottom and there’s nothing lower than that. The only question that went through my mind day and night was “Why?”. I kept wondering why this is happening to me. And why me?? I mean look at everyone around, they’re all busy doing something useful in their lives. I am not a lazy undetermined person who just wants to stay at home all day watching TV!! I am a hard worker who wants to accomplish something. But as everything else that happens to us in life, this was just another experience. It was a massive bump in the road, but it wasn’t for nothing.
I’ve already mentioned in a post before the story of how I ended up like this. Today I want to talk about what I gained from going through such an experience. A year of unemployment right after college sounds like a nightmare that a person can get nothing good out of. But I did. I’ve learned maybe the most important lessons of my life so far.
I’ve spent the majority of this year in solitude. You can imagine how hard it can be to transform from an active college student with a fairly good social life to an unemployed isolated adult. No you can’t! You can’t unless you’ve been through it, or something similar. It messes with your head. It makes you depressed and unable to think clearly, or sleep peacefully, or want to wake up in the morning. It was a psychological turmoil. I can’t write about my emotional ups and downs in details because it will take me a whole post to do so, but I can only tell you what I got out of it.
A break for my mind
I was very busy during the last year of college. Most of the day was spent in classes, and at night I would stay up till late hours to study and finish required projects and papers. I rarely had time to relax. And even during my free weekends I’d probably go out somewhere with family or friends, and that somewhere is probably a crowded place because I live in the city. I was so used to the fast noisy busy city life, which made my staying at home kind of a trauma to me. At first I didn’t know what to do with my time. I have no schedules and no deadlines to meet; I have no structured days. It made me think about our lives and how we live it. This was a break for my mind. It allowed me to see that there’s more to life than being busy 24/7. It taught me that we need to relax and have fun. It was good to take some time off the stressful days. I had more time to do what I like, and even learn new things. I started catching up on the books I had on my to-read list, enhanced my poetry-writing skills, learned baking and improved my cooking, started learning Italian, and of course started this blog.
Another thing I was able to do is reflecting on my life. Given lots of free time, I had a chance to do a lot of thinking about how my life has been so far, the wrong decisions I made, the mistakes I learned from, what I really want to do with my life, and what should be my next step. It was a spiritually rewarding year.
Peace with my person
I spent most of the time alone (I didn’t have any other choice), and that allowed me to get to really know myself better. You think you can know who you are from others’ opinions of you, but that could be far away from the truth. We all have some kind of a dark side that we might not be aware of. Spending our time being busy working or hanging out with other people doesn’t give us the chance to confront the dark depths of our personality. By hanging out with myself I was able to make peace with my person. It wasn’t easy at first, not the least, but eventually we became best friends.
More understanding and less judgmental
Being an unemployed fresh graduate put me in an awkward position. When my friends ask me that annoying question “so what do you do now?” the only answer I have is “nothing!”. But that’s the short answer; the real answer is a long story that I can’t keep telling every time someone asks me that question. This taught me that sometimes we don’t know what others might be going through; we don’t know everyone’s story, so we shouldn’t make assumptions based only on what’s apparent for us. I learned that I have to be more understanding and less judgmental of others.
Things we take for granted
Losing almost all the things I cherish in life was one of the difficulties I faced this year. However, it made me appreciate every little thing I have and every small blessing I’ve been given. There are lots of things we take for granted in this life, and I had the time to look around me and observe these things and be thankful.
Finally I would say that as much as this year was hard, it was a fruitful experience. What comes to my mind when I think about it is a quote from Batman Begins movie that says “And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”