Optimism out of spite

In less than a month, I will walk across the stage inside the Bank of Kentucky Center, hopefully without tripping, and shake Dr. Votruba’s hand. After this, I will ride my horse, a 1991 rust-kissed Geo Prizm, off into the bright afternoon sun toward some of the worst job prospects for college grads in years.

It would be easy to accept defeat or lament upon how my English degree might ‘do me no good.’ And, to be honest, for a while I did just that. I had accepted that despite the economy’s often mixed signals, it probably ‘just isn’t that into me.’ I didn’t jump out of the funk until I began noticing (or should I say re-noticing?) a truth that has never failed to repeatedly materialize throughout my life ‘- there will always be someone who works harder and has it worse than me. Chances are, this person isn’t going to mope, either.

In fact, a lot of the motivation to buck up and look on the bright side came from a series on NPR called ‘100 Days: On the Road in Troubled Times.’ For the series, journalist David Greene is traveling the country for Obama’s first 100 days in office and creating human interest pieces about individuals affected by the economy (not that they’re hard to find). The one that caught my attention focused on soon-to-be and recent college graduates in Georgia called ‘The Real World: We’re Not Looking Forward to It.’ The reactions varied greatly. Some had the same hopelessness I had been feeling. Others, though, had decided to use this economic situation as an opportunity for any number of things ranging from further personal development to just having a good, if Spartan, time.

The theory? If you can’t get full-time employment, you’ll still get part of the time to do a lot of things you may not have had time for in school. And the best part? A lot of these things are free, like spending time with family and friends, checking out any books, movies or music you’ve missed out on from the library and volunteering (something that can even contribute to the prospect of future full-time employment). Those three ideas are just barely a taste of a way to use that time for the better.

I’m not trying pretend that it won’t be hard for most, if not all of us grads, that a lot of people aren’t really suffering (because so many are), or that it might not be quite a while before my four-year degree has a monetary pay off. But, if the economy is going to be downright mean, I’m going to be optimistic just to spite it.
To check out ‘100 Days: On the Road in Troubled Times’ Click here.