I Graduated College One Year Ago And I Still Don’t Know What I Want To Do

It was exactly one year ago this May that I graduated college. How is life for me now? Eh…you could say I think about my college life often. Living with my best friends on the beach for four years were some of the greatest times of my life. But college ended and I moved back into my parents’ house 3 hours away from where I went to school.

Living at home the past year, I learned more about myself than I did during my four years at school.

“Start looking for jobs now. I don’t want you to go through what I went through when I graduated college”, my boyfriend said to me during winter break of my senior year. I knew what he was telling me was solid advice but at the time I wasn’t motivated at all to start looking for jobs. To be honest, at that point I didn’t even care that much. My plan was to work at the gym I started working at the summer before my senior year. I thought working part time at the gym would be perfect for the summer. I could make some money, take advantage of the free gym membership, and still enjoy the summer season. Well guess what? I STILL work part time at the gym. Yep, it has been 11 straight months of working part time Monday through Friday at the front desk of New York Sports Clubs.

You might be wondering why I am still at the gym after all this time…sometimes I wonder that too, but I am going to be completely real with you. I look for a full time job almost every day. Now here is the hard thing about looking for a full time job – you kind of need to know what you want to do. Do I know what I want to do? NOPE. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in history, so everyone thinks I want to go into teaching but I’m not sure teaching is for me. I think I want to get into editing and writing? Maybe marketing or PR? Maybe communications or social media?

The one thing I do know is that I’m not exactly sure what I want to do so applying for full time jobs is a challenge because I don’t want to work 9-5 five days a week doing something I dread. It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I am a 23 year old college graduate who does not know what she wants to do. I felt a huge sense of societal pressure to find a full time job as soon as I graduated from college but that hasn’t worked out for me. I apply to jobs and some don’t respond at all. Others respond saying they aren’t interested. One even responded within hours after I submitted my application saying they wanted to set up a phone interview. That was almost a month ago and after sending a follow up email about the phone interview (about a week after the first email they sent me) I still haven’t heard back from them. My best advice about the job search is to stay positive, network with everyone and anyone, and don’t put as much pressure on yourself as I did.

Living with my parents is SO not the same as living with my best friends. But I can’t complain because it’s actually a pretty good deal. My parents don’t make me pay rent, I eat all their food, and they don’t care if my boyfriend sleeps over. The worst part about moving back home is that all of my best friends from college live in New Jersey so I am a good two to three hours away from them in Connecticut. Being far away doesn’t make randomly meeting up for lunch or happy hour a possibility at all. We all try to meet up for the weekend once in a while, but it is difficult to get everyone together. I am thankful for group texts and social media for letting us stay relatively updated on each other’s lives because lets be real, life gets busy and we don’t get to talk every day like we used to.

So it may have taken some time, but I have adjusted to living with my parents, being away from my best friends, and I finally accepted my job situation. But where does that leave me?

Am I happy with my life? Right now – sitting on my bed with my cat cuddled next to me – yes I am happy. But was I happy this past year after graduation? Hell no. There was a period of a few months were I felt extremely low. I felt lost, insecure, and unsatisfied (most of it having to do with my job…there was a time I felt embarrassed to still be working part time at a gym). These feelings transferred into my relationship with my parents and my boyfriend. I was unhappy with myself and I was taking it out on them. After working out my problems and accepting where I was in life my relationships improved. Then it was time to work on my relationship with myself because if I wasn’t truly happy with myself, I couldn’t be truly happy with anyone else (cliché, I know, but so true).

My uncle gave me a few meditation CDs and I started listening to them once in a while. Now I listen to them multiple times a week (I try to listen to one everyday but like I said before, life gets busy and sometimes you just don’t have time). Meditating everyday or just a few days a week has helped to alter my state of mind. Now I can easily shrug off little things that I would get so mad over in the past. Meditating has also helped me to be more rational and clear headed which have had a positive impact on all my relationships. Next, it was time for me to have a focus, and for my focus I chose crossfit. I always enjoyed working out and in the past year actually I got myself into the best shape of my life, but now it is time to become an athlete. I want to be better, stronger, and faster than I was yesterday. Giving myself a focus like crossfit makes me feel great because I am doing something purely for me.

Life after graduating college is hard. The past year has been difficult for me but I am finally finding my footing. I have learned being happy in the real world doesn’t mean having a high paying full time job like I thought it did. What I want for myself now is to have a rich life. I don’t mean rich in a monetary sense, but rich in a satisfying, balanced, full, and well-rounded way. I want enjoy my time with myself and others. I want feel fulfilled with myself and in my relationships. My life is still a work in progress, but unlike before, I feel present for the journey.

Kristen Malm

Kristen Malm is a twenty-something year old Monmouth University graduate with a B.A. in English. After living on the Jersey Shore for 4 years, she is back home in CT looking for what to do next. She is obsessed with coffee, Gossip Girl, and brunch. She is also a seasonal (spring & summer) sushi and fro-yo addict. Kristen has joined in on the crossfit trend and may or may not become addicted…we will see (she probably will). Kristen enjoys history (it was her minor in college), traveling (she went to Ireland with high school classmates and England with college classmates), and watching MMA (there is just something about the anticipation of a person possibly getting knocked out…). She cares for her cat like its her child and loves listening to Spanish music even though 99% of the time she doesn't know what they are saying. Follow her on Instagram @kristenamalm !

12 Comments
  1. I completely agree with being happy with what you are doing, but don’t give up looking for that full-time job (possibly even your dream job). I graduated two years ago this month and just got a decent full-time job this January. Yes, I had a crappy full-time job immediately out of college, but it could barely pay my bills (I live by myself and have since I was 18). It will happen, don’t give up!

  2. Hey! I’m actually in a similar situation as you. I graduated from college about 7 months ago and still have no luck finding a job with my degree. I received a B.A. in Communications with a PR focus (of which I have yet to find an employer or even internship that will hire me). I have picked up freelance gigs here and there but my main source of income is at a clothing store I’ve worked at since I was 18. Sure I’m on the management team but tell that to my parents, of whom I live with, to take that as a college educated individual’s success. Although I consider myself lucky and appreciate living at home for now, the search for a career & the pressures endured in the journey can weigh me down… often! But as a reminder I keep telling myself that is exactly what life is- a journey. And as cheesy as this all may sound- Keep Positive. It’s the only way you’ll survive.

    1. You will find something!! After months of writing for several blogs and freelance editing I was offered an amazingggg full time job in my field that I couldn’t be happier with. Hard work truly pays off – I promise! Trust me, I felt the weight of all the pressure about getting a job and you almost have to let that go to move forward. Believe in what you want to be and you’ll get there. 🙂

  3. You guys’ are all so inspiring! I too graduated exactly a year ago this month and have struggled this past year finding my way and my peace.I could tell you a list of reasons why but reading this was great though! Change can be scary and it can be hard at times, but one thing that I just thought of today is that change is not necessarily a bad thing, and that it’s OK to embrace it. Stay positive ladies! You’re an inspiration!

  4. I’m going through this right now. I graduated six months ago and I have no clue what to do. I was with a temp agency because I thought that would be a good way to see what I liked and didn’t like, but I don’t like the inconsistency of it. My question is, how do you figure out what you what to do? I majored in Sociology, but I don’t think I want to do anything in that realm. The only passion that I really have is traveling (i’m interested in the culture, the feeling of being in a new place, sightseeing, and meeting new people), fitness, dance, and food. Does anyone have advice on figuring out?

    1. Hi Araceli,

      I think we are going through the same situation as I have no clue what to do more than one year after graduation. I majored in anthropology and though I enjoyed the experience during college, I’m not sure if I am going to pursue it as a career (like pursuing master’s or doctorate). And same as you are, I love traveling, culture, meeting people from different backgrounds etc.

      I’ve been talking to people (friends, relatives) seeking for advice but all they’re saying is that I am still young and I should stop worrying. For the past year, I’ve been traveling and enjoying my hobbies but, recently, I am starting to feel that I am wasting a lot of time. Although I really planned to take a short break after graduation, I did not plan and expect that it would last this long. I don’t know what happened to the “short break.” Now, I am planning to look for a job but I am stuck thinking what kind of job do I really want.

      Well, I haven’t really answered your question but I just want you to know that you’re not alone. I hope we’ll figure it out soon enough.

  5. This is a great article! I love it! I just graduated in May 2015 and now I’m living with my mother. I have been searching for full time employment, since I moved back to LA. I don’t now what to do with my life. I majored in Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts, which is basically media, but I’m not sure what to do with it or if I want to do anything with it. I thought I want to be a writer for entertainment, but I am discovering I don’t want too. Right now, I want a full time job, so I have money to go explore the city and meet people, so I can figure what I really want to do. Anyway, I’m glad I’m not alone.

  6. If only I could meet all you awesome people, and we could come together to discuss more options than just our current, sucky situations of only semi – independence. My problem is ruminating on the skills that I don’t have, that, over 9 months later, have left me more confused and low than I’ve ever been. Everyday I try to learn to accept that I have to work my way up, but I don’t have the mental capacity to learn right now. I graduated with international business with an emphasis in marketing, but I truly struggled through the program and would’t have gotten through it without the massive amount of test-banks that are largely available online if you look hard enough. So I feel in a way that I don’t deserve my degree. Anyways, I don’t adapt and find it hard to form my own opinions, 2 wonderfully awful traits employers are “definitely” looking for. I’ve always had doubts, but man, after being uprooted so many times in my life, going to school in San Diego, and then my parents moving away to Washington state, where I now live with them, has given me some brutal whiplash. But right, the free food I never take for granted.

  7. This May will make a year since I graduated, and reading this blog and the comments has helped so much!
    I worked as a student at my university all through college, and the head of my department asked me to stay as a part-time employee after graduation with the plan to transfer me to a full-time position that they were planning to implement. I took the offer, because I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I hadn’t planned well at all or been job searching and networking like I should have. Well, the budget committee didn’t approve the new full-time position and due to budget cuts, said that my part-time position had to go. I was given 2 days notice. That was in November.
    I JUST got a part-time job at a local library. My B.S. is in Public/Human Services, so I guess at least I’m involved in a public service 😉 The truth is, while I have a heart for helping people, and I loved my journey to my degree, I have no idea what role I want to play or even what best fits me. I struggle so much with self-doubt and not feeling like I have enough life experience. I also hardly remember a lot of the important things from my classes… :/
    I’m finally just trying to take things as they come and not be so hard on myself. I’m living at home and my parents are very understanding and supportive, which I am SO grateful for! My extended family is definitely not so understanding…
    All my friends have moved away and started careers, marriages and families. It is a daily struggle not to feel bad about where I am in comparrison, but I trust that (as a follower of Christ) God has a plan, and even this weird place I’m in serves a purpose.
    I am so glad to find others who have been in the same situation and actually understand! I hope you all get to a happy and successful place and wish you all many blessings!

    1. Good luck girl! I’m also trying to figure out Gods plan (since I thought I knew what the plan was but that came to a screeching halt right after graduation).
      Have you read any good books lately about the struggle? I’ve been reading Lacey Sturms The Reason but I’m looking for further resources.

  8. Wow. My life is exactly the same as this except a little more complicated. I actually don’t know what I want to do with my life either. It’s been a little over a year since I graduated with a degree in psychology. I really had a hard time knowing my interests in college as a result of depression and some psychotic symptoms… so psychology was just a random major that I chose based on personal reasons. Like your story I also started meditating but I started that sometime shortly after high school. It has taken about 6 years of constant meditation to find some of myself and who I am. I meditated during school, during homework, during reading for classes, while walking to class and even during class. I couldn’t control my internalized emotions back then but now I am a lot calmer. Now I regret going into psychology because it didn’t truly align with my job interests. And now I’m stuck doing a part time cashier job that I got really lucky with getting. I don’t want to stay there forever! But now what to do…I feel like I chose the wrong degree and it is difficult to explain at interviews.

  9. I seriously can’t even say how much this article and its comments mean to me! I graduated May 2015 with a degree in music business and after having two office jobs as some pretty dream worthy companies, I just decided I wanted nothing to do with the 9-5 office life. I was crazy anxious every day, crying before work, sleeping at my fiancée every night because I couldn’t sleep alone.
    I’m now back in retail at Whole Foods and pet sitting to save money for our wedding next April. I live in Nashville and pay rent and bills and just trying to get by at this point – I haven’t even started paying my student loans back yet.
    I also job search every freaking day. Instead of scrolling Facebook like most, I scroll through the Indeed and Craigslist apps -_-

    All that to say, you ladies aren’t alone! Good luck with your journals and don’t forget to take it one day at a time <3

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