My Plan for You: Jobless, Homeless, and Disconnected
It’s pretty much a guarantee that if you graduated, you’re familiar with Jeremiah 29:11. It’s written in countless graduation cards, referenced by staff workers, and seems like the perfect verse for entering a new stage of life.
But it certainly didn’t feel like the perfect verse for me. Life after college was not at all what I expected. I’m not entirely sure what I thought it would be, but it certainly wasn’t being jobless, homeless, and disconnected from my friends and my faith.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord.
My plan was to live at home and work for a year to pay off my student debt before moving to a bigger city to pursue my dream job. I went to school in the same town I grew up in, so I expected my social life to stay the same. And while I wasn’t thrilled about living at home, it was practical. But things did not go according to plan, and after only a few weeks of being done with school I started to have some emotional breakdowns.
It makes sense to freak out a bit during big life changes. Graduating is like culture shock. For 17 years, you’re in this routine of going to classes 9 months out of the year, finding friends easily, and knowing your purpose as a student. Then suddenly all of that stops.
And it’s really weird. My life lost the consistency it had within the educational system and I didn’t know how to process that. Sleeping in, staying out late, and not having homework is great at first, but it starts to feel uncomfortable when you’re the only one of your friends with this new lifestyle.
To try to adjust with this uneasiness I began to structure my routine to mimic college life. Researching jobs and resume tips were my “classes,” writing my resume and applying for jobs was my “homework,” and as a volunteer for InterVarsity, I still participated in my extracurricular activities (although not in the same capacity).
I was clinging to the identity I had for the past 18 years as a student, but it wasn’t making things better. My desperation to hold onto my past only made me more aware of how clueless I was about what my future would be.
“Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.”
I did well in school, had great references from my previous employer, and knew how to ace an interview. I started out optimistic that I would get a job. At first I applied for jobs I thought I would really enjoy (don’t we all?) but got letter after letter telling me was passed over for someone more qualified.
Then I applied for jobs I could at least tolerate. I can’t tell you how many letters I received saying something like, “you were one of 58 applicants, and they had more experience.” I expanded to other cities, then to jobs not requiring a degree. I applied for everything. No one wanted me, and I didn’t know why.I felt like a failure. To make matters worse, I no longer had a place to live.
“Plans to give you a hope and a future.”
By the end of May (I graduated in December) I was out of money and my mom couldn’t afford to have me live at home without rent (she was also unemployed). So on top of finding a job, I had to find a place to live. No job, no home, few friends staying for the summer, and I was still trying to figure out who I was outside of my identity as a student.
It was during that summer that God showed me his faithfulness. Technically, I was homeless, but I was never without a place to live. I was incredibly humbled and blessed to have friends open their hearts and homes to me. In all of this inner and outer chaos, there was provision, peace, and a caring community. Throughout my couch-hopping, job-searching, identity-questioning summer, God was clearly teaching me that no matter where I go or what I do, he’ll take care of me. Knowing that God was going to take care of me gave me the push I needed to take the risks he was calling me to. Eight months after graduating, I finally got a job, was accepted for an internship with 2100 Productions, and had a place to call home.
I still struggled with my new stage of life. I was so glad to have an income, but I didn’t care for my job or fundraising for my internship. Working long days meant I couldn’t be as involved with my chapter or hang out with my friends as much. Starting my internship brought struggles to find a new church and new friends. I’ve realized these transitional phases of life are going to be more frequent. I can’t go back to my old college life, and that’s okay.
It’s hard to come to terms with the changes that happen after graduation. You’ll face disappointment, rejection, fear, and doubt. It’s difficult to not know if things will ever turn out the way you want them to. Although I’m now doing something I love, I still have a lot of doubts and insecurities. But I know that wherever I go and whatever I do, God won’t abandon me. Life after college is scary, but rest assured that God will be with you every step of the way.