Overcoming Graduation Fear

This journal has been a little quiet of late thanks to that lovely time of the year I like to call the ‘graduation rush’, as well as my own pressing deadlines that have had me resembling a freshly bitten zombie.

Sitting inside the very same hall my own graduation was held in had me thinking on how this time last year I was so full of excitement at entering a whole new world of possibility, but also overcome with a dread that I would never be able to find my place in the world.

Graduating from college with the prospect of job searching is a fearful time, especially with the downturn in the economy. When I graduated, I was so afraid that all I would be able to find would be a retail job at a book store. Every other job in my area of study seemed to want me to work for free as an intern or was just too far away with a pay rate that would barely cover my gas costs. I felt like such a loser living at home to save money on paying rent. I was afraid of being trapped at home never able to fulfill my potential and eventually losing myself to the malaise of a retail or office job doing something I found only half interesting just so I could pay the bills.

You’re not alone, graduates, everyone feels this way and I am here to tell you that the one thing you need to be fighting is Fear. If you are in the creative industry, I’m here to tell you it is not pretty. You will have to work even when you don’t feel like working. Particularly if you’re running your own studio or managing yourself as a freelancer, it will take time and effort and focus.

But don’t ever let anyone tell you it’s impossible.

If you have to get a job temporarily to pay your loans and expenses, don’t forget to dedicate a couple of hours a night to your craft and your organization. Take a weekend to work even if you’re feeling tired and just want to rest. Just because you may work slower than if you did your craft full time does not mean you’re making no progress at all. It may take longer, but it’s better than always sitting and wishing you had done something and regretting the fact you never took action for yourself.

Do not live your life by always asking yourself “What if…”

If you’re lacking in technical skills, try taking some online classes or night courses. If you don’t have the money, try looking up tutorials online, in magazines, or (gasp!) in that dusty old place full of old people that you never go to (aka. The Library). Nothing beats free knowledge and half the time you can learn exactly what you could from a class by reading a book, if you’re unable to afford the time and money it takes for training. There are some great e-learning courses available at SCAD and the Art Institute as well.

And just so you know, you don’t really even need a degree to write a book, work as a painter, or as an illustrator. These professions can be self-taught, though it is always helpful to have training to aid in your learning and to make connections in the creative community. In lieu of school (if you can’t afford it), why not try joining sketch groups, societies, clubs, or online communities? Having a degree does NOT make you automatically smarter or better than those who don’t.

On one final note, there is nothing at all wrong with living at home. Most of us feel ashamed at living at home, at first. I know I did…almost 30 and still at home! It took some swallowing of pride for me to do it. But really, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking the logical route and staying at home longer to save money so you won’t be struggling and living from paycheck to paycheck just so you can have a place to call your own.

This mentality can trap you in a way of living you don’t like just because you’re trying so desperately hard to preserve that little bit of space. Why do it if you have parents who love you and don’t mind you living at home so they can give you a chance at a brighter future? This really is one of the best ways to save money for the future. More and more people are doing it as the rate of students graduating with excessive loan debt continues to rise and entry level job salaries become less able to support the cost of living on one’s own.

The world is full of opportunities if you can overcome that niggling fear of the unknown, the fear of being unable to act, and the fear of your own skills not being good enough. You’re not alone in your trepidation.

The only one holding you back is yourself and the consequences of your actions.


  1. ban says:

    wonderful encouraging post but – my daughter just graduated kindergarten and now I’m imagining her moving out and getting a job … ahhhh, I’ll be one of those moms who doesn’t mind her daughter living at home 😀

  2. Angela Sasser says:

    hehe my mother is the same way. She’s having so much fun with me living here because I’m a ‘bad’ influence. We got to movies and bead shows and do lots together. She makes living at home bearable.

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