This story isn’t going to go how you think it is. It isn’t going to be about a travel abroad experience or a volunteer program. Because those are the only two reasons you must be out of a job after graduating, right?
I’m here to tell you. Wrong.
I graduated this past May of 2016. The ceremony was typical — held on a mid-summer rainy day and lasted about six hours long. My parents were there, along with my beloved grandparents, and one of my best friends who also happens to be my cousin.
After I received my diploma that day, my career went into a stand-still. Purposely. I needed a break from the tough year I had had prior — packed classes, a three day a week magazine internship, endless blog posts and excruciating stress. I needed time to myself, and I needed it now. My summer after graduation was incredible — full of graduation parties, summer rooftop nights in the city, a trip to Florida with one of my best friends, and overall happy times.
It was when September rolled along that I realized my fun was about to stop. I needed to start looking for jobs. So there I went, everyday, applying to magazines far and wide. From September, through October, through November, my leads were endless. One meeting at People Magazine, one at Billboard, one at InStyle, the list goes on and on. I waited to hear back from many, and some I never did. The meetings that did go well were wonderful and I had been looking forward to marching back through those glass tower doors as either a paid intern, fellow, or assistant. As time went on, though, I realized none of that was happening.
I spent most of my days that fall in a sad stupor. I blogged just about every week, and pitched to various places, but I still felt incredibly stuck. Instead of sitting at home all day unconsciously sending in applications, something inside me told me to go to my grandparents house and spend my days with them. So I did.
Let me give you a little backstory on this: my grandparents are my second parents. Growing up, my mom and dad, a lawyer and a pharmacist alike, were rarely home. They spent their 9-5s (or longer) at an office and a hospital, unable to be with me everyday in my toddler years, or pick me up from school once I hit my elementary years. My grandparents stepped in and took their place. I was raised by them just as much as I was raised by my parents, and as an only child, I grew incredibly close to them all: I was the baby of the house. And I loved it (#sorrynotsorry). And my grandfather, (as well as my grandma, of course) has always been my world.
Little would I know that those fall months would actually be the most important months of my life. I would get up around 8, apply to jobs, get dressed and head over to my grandparents house for lunch. I would Snapchat with my grandfather, show him how to use Instagram, and watch him play solitaire just about every single day. Whenever I was asked about my job search, I’d kind of shuttered and admitted that it wasn’t working out just yet. My grandpa would reply to me in Italian, “non te preoccupa” — don’t get preoccupied, don’t worry.
I nodded at his response, but of course I was worried. My friends, at this point, had all began to get jobs, so I started to feel a little behind. For someone who was so career oriented a year ago from that time, it felt like I had lost track completely. But my grandfather’s words rang in my head in those moments of panic. So I tried my best to listen to them.
Finally, it was December. Being home for the first time in four years, my mother used me as her errand-runner during the week. We were busy getting ready for Christmas, doing all the food shopping, gift shopping, putting up our tree. It was almost Christmas, and I still did not have any kind of job set up my way. I cringed, hoping that 2017 would bring better luck. And then on December 21st, my world completely changed.
I got a call from my mother that my grandfather had had an accident and hurt his head. I felt sick to my stomach heading up to the hospital they brought him to that day. And even more broken when I heard my grandmother crying as I approached his room.
That Christmas week became a blur. Everyday would be more news about things going wrong with my grandpa in the ICU. It seemed like a nightmare that we were waiting to wake up from and never did.
It was a quiet Christmas day. We tried our best to still keep Christmas, exchanging gifts and having a small meal. But it wasn’t the same. It was never going to be the same. My grandfather, the one I had watched play solitaire everyday for the past few months, passed away two days after the holiday.
My world had indeed shattered, but suddenly, it all kind of made sense.
I believe that I was meant to spend those last few months with him. Maybe I hadn’t gotten those opportunities for one reason or another, but I didn’t care anymore. Those jobs, that I spent hours frustrated over not getting, became the best blessing in disguise. This was the first time I lost someone so close to me, and the first time I really realized how precious daily life is. I got to be there for him in his last few months alive, and I couldn’t ask for a better gift than that.
This article goes out to the career- frustrated girl. The one who sees every person developing and growing around her and feels like she’s stuck and she can’t get out of her funk. As a skeptic toward many intangible things, I was never really someone to understand the cliché, ‘everything happens for a reason.’ But after this happened to me, I now believe it more than ever.
So if you’re a recent post-grad, whether it be six months, eight months, one year, two years, and are still searching for your career path, I give you the words my grandfather once told me:
Non te preoccupa.