• Carmen Miranda, University of Houston

Lost in the Rubble of Being a College Graduate



My last semester of college was bittersweet. After six years of living in coffee shops and gaining gratification from meeting deadlines, I had difficulty accepting my absence from scholarly responsibilities.


Being a student was a large part of my life, and the end of my tenure in college led to an identity crisis that included a lack of purpose and a rise in my level of fear.


Traveling to Charlotte was a breath of fresh air. Being from Houston, I was not used to seeing so much greenery and tall trees surrounding the city. Looking out the window from the Wells Fargo skyscraper in Uptown, I felt like I could see the edge of the earth. Then I realized this was the feeling I experienced as I graduated college.


As a college student, you embark on a grand adventure through an unknown jungle, half blind but fully committed. You follow the map through each obstacle, gather every resource you can find, and suddenly you make that one final stop and find yourself standing at the edge of a cliff with nowhere to go.


Except I was at Wells Fargo with executives from throughout North Carolina. We spoke with executives from Wells Fargo about deal breakers and what our generation expects from the workplace.


Even though we had just met the day before, I created a special bond with the entire community of like-minded individuals who traveled from around the country (and from Mexico City) to meet in Charlotte.


In my heart, I felt for the first time in my life that I could leave Houston for my career and relocate anywhere in the country.


Since I was 11, I looked after my special-needs brothers six days a week and worked three jobs throughout my entire college experience. My life has always been chaotic, but that was not the issue. The issue was that I became obsessed with chaos; yet now, a lack of it leads me to feel that I no longer have purpose.


As a first-generation graduate, I have put a lot of pressure on myself to do it all. However, I failed to realize that I have been stunting my growth by trying to always be available for others. As soon as I realized I was not stuck and could leave, time slowed down, and the world expanded. Suddenly, I felt a heavy weight lift off of my shoulders.


Allowing myself to accelerate in my career, I can help my family in ways I did not think I could do before. It is imperative to note that my realization is more mental than physical. Physically getting up and moving was not the issue. I know my mom fully supports me in whatever I do. But now, mentally, I do not feel guilty about putting myself first.


Landing a full-time job was the obvious next step, but I did not know how, where, or what was good enough. I had been scared to apply, and afraid I would get stuck in a job I did not enjoy. All this fear has been debilitating, but now it feels incredibly liberating to know I can have a career with exponential growth.


Having in-person conversations with people leading fascinating careers and bonding with other like-minded individuals throughout the trip to Charlotte made it real for me.


For once, I do not feel completely lost in the rubble of being a recent college graduate.


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