After graduating from college in early 2012 (and using all but about 6 months of my Post 9-11 GI-Bill), I've had an interesting experience transitioning into the working world.
Well, interesting may be stretching it. Here’s a brief example of what I've been up to:
The World’s Longest Two-Year Resume
Over the past two years I have worked a few different jobs:
-Bank Teller at Wells Fargo
-Server at Applebee's
-Data Specialist at a mid-sized Market Research company
-Freelance writer and content marketer
-Work at Home Dad
-Indium Tin Oxide Imaging Operator for a flexible circuits manufacturer
In two weeks I’ll begin my seventh job in two years and have finally found a position that I’ll be able to keep for a while.
On top of changing jobs (like it was my job) I've moved all of my stuff four times (like it was my part-time job).
Add on top of these work experiences some other fun events from 2012-Present:
Divorce (from a wife of 10 years).
A new girlfriend and baby (now almost 10 months old).
The trying experience of losing a passport while in Mexico.
Serious consideration of moving to Augusta, Georgia; Pocatello, Idaho; or Virginia Beach, Virginia.
A short-lived stand-up comedy career (which ended when I was summarily ousted from the Mall of America’s House of Comedy for doing a 10 minute set on the Boston Marathon Bombings--the day after they happened--note to self: don’t do that).
The giving away of nearly all of my personal possessions (including one very bad (drunken) New Year's Eve decision to give my car away to a guy whom I'd never met and without getting any personal information from him--let alone money).
The much needed and logical detox and (ongoing) recovery from a post-Army booze and drug habit.
Countless hours of time spent studying abstract and applied mathematics and literary criticism with the goal of passing the preliminary actuarial exams (none passed yet), entering a graduate program in mathematics (not until next Fall), and writing the next great novel (only about 90,000 words of completely unoriginal shite so far).
The sale of the last 800 of what was once a collection of over 2,000 books (for nanopennies on the dollar).
Consumer Credit destroyed by the inability to pay the minimum payment of over $200,000 worth of college loan debt, the mortgage on a house I own in Georgia, and three credit cards that I maxed out while living a pretty cushy lifestyle until I learned what it was like to live within your means (much too late).
And, sadly, that's not the half of it . . . I could tell you about a practical joke I made on my 61 year old dad about how I’d been diagnosed with AIDS when, in reality, the “big surprise news” was that my girlfriend was pregnant; but, that might just make me sound like an ass…
Really. It goes on. . .
You, My Friend, are NOT in Control
The point that I want to make is that, no matter what planning I had or what goals I had while in college and preparing to enter the "real world," I never could have accounted for the loop life has thrown me in the last two years.
Sure, I could say that each job was a step in a positive direction--at least for the time being (though I could’ve been smarter about the job choices I've made given my goals). And, sure, I could say, "better late than never" on quitting the drinking and whatnot (though I've had to end pretty much all of my friendships in order to maintain sobriety).
But, that stuff isn't really what I'd call "lessons learned" over the last two years.
The overall point that I aim to make--the overall lesson--is this: the only sure thing is that there are no sure things.
Yep. It’s that simple.
Shit happens that’s sometimes our fault and sometimes beyond our control and we adapt; we overcome. That's what the military (Army for me) did for us--it afforded us this insight into life--insight about the world--that stuff isn't always perfect or pleasant but you gotta keep moving forward. A quick mistake is often better than slow indecision . . . and all that combat jazz.
In retrospect, these two years have been bad; but, they could’ve been a LOT worse… in fact, the greatest times of my life have occurred over the past two years (with a particular emphasis on meeting my girlfriend and having our daughter; although, sobering up and preparing to enter grad school are also on the list). So, though it’s been a tough few years transitioning from the Army to college and then into the workforce, I can’t say it’s been terrible--just not what I expected or planned.
Who Needs Control Anyway?
Sure, I've had to do a lot of stuff that I didn't really want to do (blah, blah)--I've had to deal with a lot of repercussions from bad decisions that I’ve made (queue the violins). And I’ve had to wake up a little bit, mature, and recognize the mistakes that I was making over and over while hoping for different results…
Indeed, introspection has been a big theme over the last two years and my biggest finding is that I am certainly NOT a genius. Quite the contrary in fact.
All of this puts me where I am now and I feel great about the future. For the first time in almost three years (when stuff started going south with the ex) things are lining up for me… the Universe seems to be looking out for me in 2014 and I'm more excited (and ready) than I’ve ever been--in fact, it's probably because the last two years have been so challenging that I am able to truly appreciate the good that is happening now. Perhaps control isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
How These Two Years of Shit May Help You
So, if you're worried about what life will be like after you graduate… don't worry too much. For however cliche it may sound, whatever happens... well… happens. It's how you deal with those challenges that really makes the difference (just as how one deals with the challenges of being in the service makes the difference between what kind of soldier, marine, sailor, or airman they are).
When I look at my daughter and think of how she'll see me--how her little blue eyes will look at me and what she'll think of how I've lived my life over the last two years--I feel pretty great. “Why?” you wonder. Well, because I've gone through these trying times and I've had the wherewithal to not let the downs get me too down; I know she'll never have to worry about how hard her dad works or if she's got the innate "stuff" to deal with a Universe that throws dice. I know that if I can get through the worst times coming out clean on the other end, she's gonna be OK too. And that's what really matters.
If you have any questions or wanna chat about how to deal with unexpected events or crises or if you're struggling with substance abuse and you need someone to talk to--someone to hear you out--feel free to drop me a line through my website: http://www.antonrasmussen.com/about.html If I don't have the right answer I will make sure that I find someone who does. None of us vets have to go through this thing alone (and shouldn’t anyway).
Remember, it's never bad to ask for help… one day someone may look to you with their little blue eyes and may count on you to get as much help as you can before it’s too late to show them that they too have the “stuff.”
About the Author: Anton Rasmussen is an Army veteran and George Mason University alum. Presently he works as a writer, researcher, and actuarial student. He’s also on a quest to complete seven major life goals at http://doamazingshit.com