Post College Blues Part Two

The Turbulent Twenties. Isn’t this the stage a lot of us currently find ourselves in? Maybe you just recently graduated and have no idea what I’m talking about. Or maybe, you graduated over a year ago and understand precisely what this stage is. It’s a stage of confusion in your self-identity; a stage of wondering how to separate and individuate your college identity from this newfound, ever-changing professional identity.

I’ve tweeted and posted on Facebook mentions of a book I am currently reading. To be quite honest, this book has been my guiding light and salvation as of late. This masterpiece is called The Turbulent Twenties Survival Guide by Marcos R. Salazar.

Although I am only through the first section, I figured I’d post about it anyways. As I continue reading, I’ll post more ideas and thoughts I deem noteworthy.

Chapter One focuses mainly on one seemingly simple, yet complex question: Who are you after college? For the most part, we’ve found ourselves facing the reality that our view of ourselves, the world, and our place in it has been circumscribed by college and we’re now inadequate to cope with many of the challenges we’ll face. Soon after entering the working world, we quickly realize that who we were in school and who we were in class is often inapplicable in an environment that does not revolve around studying, writing papers, or taking exams. It is this lack of preparation that is making it so difficult for twenty-somethings to separate and individuate into our new post-college lives.

It is very clear that colleges are not fully preparing students for the new challenges of the twenty-first century. The result is a generation of young people who feel a sense of helplessness because our vision of self cannot effectively cope with the new matrix we’ve just entered into. (Amen.)

One critical aspect in determining our vision of self is that we are what we think. What can prevent us from accomplishing all of our goals is the idea that what we desire out of life is outside who we think we are and what we believe we’re capable of. If we think we’re not good enough to do something or that somehow we aren’t meant to be happy or successful, we will circumscribe who we are and continually prevent ourselves from achieving all the important desires we have during this period of life. This is especially easy to do after graduation because our confidence in what we are capable of can become seriously weakened.

This is why it is so important to separate from our old student identities, even if we are not fully prepared for our new lives, so that we don’t continue to have a vision of self that will limit us in accomplishing all that we want during our twenties.

The first step is building self-esteem.

1)       Self-Efficacy is confidence in who you are. When you have confidence in your capacity to think and act effectively, you trust in your ability to create and achieve what you desire out of life, and persevere with grace under pressure in the process.

2)       Self-Respect is your right as an individual. Giving up your goals and sacrificing who you are is the easiest thing in the world to do because, in reality, it takes a tremendous amount of strength, courage, and self-respect to honor your desires, to formulate independent judgments, to remain true to them, and to fight for your goals and passions when everyone else is telling you to be “practical” and stop dreaming.

3)       Self-Respect is the foundation of respect for others.

The second step is developing a solid sense of self. You can find my previous post about that here. If you don’t click that link, this post will seem incomplete. Trust me.

The third step is accepting yourself. This starts with acknowledging the reality of who you are at this moment. If you admit to yourself, “I don’t know who I am”, it doesn’t mean you are saying, “I don’t know who I am, and that is okay with me.” What it means is, “I don’t know who I am, and I know it. I may not like it. In fact, sometimes it makes me feel weak, but right now I am putting my judgments and feelings aside and just facing the facts.” By accepting the reality of who you are and what you are thinking and feeling, you will begin to develop a stronger vision of self.

Remember, you have the power to say “This is who I really am at this moment. I may not like it, but I am not denying it either. I accept who I truly am right now.”

Learning to follow and integrate these types of psychological principles int your life is not an overnight process. It’s something that should be seen as a lifelong journey that requires ongoing commitment to self-examination and developing a better sense of who you are.  By strengthening your self-esteem, you will begin facing postcollege life with greater confidence and optimism, and expand your capacity for happiness and fulfillment.

The next post in this series will discuss using the knowledge of who you are as a springboard for developing who you want to become during your twenties.

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