“Welcome to the real world” — or some variation of this. This is the phrase you’ve jokingly said all senior year. You’ve heard these words thousands of times by now from everyone 23 and up. They’re meaningless to you. You’re still the carefree fun college student you’ve always been. Those people who say the real life sucks only think that way because they suck. A full time job is exciting. Getting off the booze fest and actually getting some sleep is exciting. Loosing that college drinking weight is exciting! Everything about graduation and moving out on your own to a new city for the first time in your life is exciting! And it really was for me too, for about 2 weeks.
Graduation hit and there were tons of parties, celebrations and well wishes. Everyone’s congratulating you and talking about how far they think you’ll go. Maybe you have that first job lined up (for me It was a sales position with a very reputable company that shall remain unnamed for legal reasons). Maybe, if you’re lucky, you have a 2 month summer abroad trip all lined up and ready to go. Or maybe you’re flat broke moving back into mom and dad’s house to bar tend at your local bar for another 2 years of life. Unfortunate if you’re the latter.
Whatever your plan is, I can guarantee you still aren’t prepared. No warnings, pieces of advice or “welcome to the real world”‘s could have prepared me for what was about to hit. I was still that happy go lucky FUN college girl, remember? I was different! Happy!
I moved into the only studio I could afford on my $35,000 income in Chicago where I wouldn’t be shot walking home, a 215 sq ft studio in Wrigleyville. The rent was $790 a month and included water and heat. Knowing what I know now, that was actually a pretty decent deal. I invited all 12 of my college girlfriends to “pregame” in the apartment the first week I moved in and regardless of no air conditioning or the fact that the bottom of my bed resided in my kitchen, everyone still loved the place. I was in the city! A month after graduating! I was happy!
Then work started. When taking the job, I didn’t fully grasp what an “inside sales rep” meant. I saw the base salary of 35 K, uncapped commission, based in Chicago, and I said yes without taking time to think it over. The first day consisted of me burning myself with my iron trying to get the wrinkles out of an ugly blouse and running to the train in 90 degree heat without having brushed my teeth. Two words, Hot. Mess. Little did I know I would be thrown into one of the worst jobs out there for a slightly insecure 22 year old college grad. I was cold calling absolute assholes trying to sell them advertising for an App they’d never even heard of. I was hung up on time over time, called the C word, bawked at like a chicken and screamed at on a daily basis. Don’t get me wrong, some of the same people who started in my sales class are still at that company and really make a ton of money selling ad space to stay at home mom photographers and nail salon owners. I, however, knew my life calling was not to be hung up on by some snotty receptionist at a dentist office in Baltimore, Maryland, only to have to call her back 4 more times that week. I started and quit my first job within 3 months. I am a survivor of cold calling.
The happiness I felt at graduation truly did not come back to me until the week after I quit that job. While there were other factors playing into my depression during those three months that still linger around, the job itself was actually detrimental to my health. I encourage anyone who feels this way to get out of the situation ASAP. I had so many people tell me I had to stay 6 months or else no one would ever hire me again (pa-lease). Even when I’d explain that I would cry in the bathrooms at work and that I’d go home after work and have to drink half a bottle of wine before I could calm down from the horrendous days, people still criticized me for quitting. The anxiety I felt in college about balancing social events, a part-time job, and school was literally an ant hill compared to this colossal mountain that was my now full time job. I could have gone on strong medication or I could have made a career change and actually have a chance at enjoying the only life I had. I saved up enough money to last me 2 rent checks and I quit. I have never, not even for a second, regretted my decision to leave that job (even when my then manager reviled to me that she and tons of other people still cry on the job, because it’s normal, DUH!!).
So here I was, a now in-debt college graduate who took a shit job making 80+ cold calls a day with a monthly rent due and no job. “Welcome to the real world” had finally set in..