What’s next? Don’t ask
Her authentic degree arrived in the mail, replacing the fake degree handed to each student at commencement a few weeks ago. So where does she go from here, you ask? Has she been applying for jobs? What type of job is she looking for? Where is she looking? All of these and many more little pop quizzes face the graduate any time she is near another adult. Her response is polite, somewhat practiced at this point, and pointedly vague. She is adept at avoiding the question while convincing the interrogator they know everything by the end of the conversation.
I’ve more or less learned to refrain from asking too much or repeating the same questions within a 48-hour period. Spouse, not so much. He doesn’t query about his own daughter’s progress — he follows up on every one of her closest college friends, from the gaggle of girls she shared living arrangements with during the past four years to the few friends from high school that she still keeps in touch with. It goes something like this.
Spouse: So… does anyone have something lined up yet?
Second Born: Grad One and Four have summer jobs. Grad Two isn’t sure what she wants to do. Grad Five is moving into her apartment next week to be closer to her new dream job. And, well, you know Grad Three.
Do we know Grad Three? I get them all mixed up. It seems like each time Spouse asks (I don’t have to say too much — his curiosity keeps me out of trouble and in the loop), things have switched around. Next thing you know, Grad Four could be opening a tattoo parlor and Grad Three might decide her creative writing major would be more beneficial if she takes a summer course in accounting to better understand why she’ll never make any money with a creative writing major.
Then there are her local friends who have jobs or boyfriends or both. Second Born is just starting to arrange get-togethers so they can catch up and trade stories from their final year of awesome and atrocious professors, wonderful and weird roommates, and endless exams and projects. We usually get a Reader’s Digest version of these visits.
This question and half-answer game about the others is just a ruse on the part of my occasionally clever husband to give his daughter a chance to clue us in on her next move, figuratively and maybe somewhat literally. But we also meant it when we said she was not expected to be on her own the minute she graduated. That had been her plan until she realized taking a full load her last semester meant that putting her all into the job and location search would have to wait.
Shortly after graduation, Second Born and a carload of The Grads took a road trip to a fellow grad’s graduation party. It was what you could call their last hurrah prior to a lifetime of workdays and responsibilities. She returned just as Spouse and I were set to leave town for a few days to attend the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ conference. That meant she’d have the house to herself for three days — three whole days with nobody asking about her plans or anyone else’s. Heaven.
The right job and location will come. It might not happen overnight — or over several nights — but it will happen. So, to anyone out there who comes across a new college grad, instead of the same old inevitable questions, tell them about your first job, your worst job, your first dumpy apartment, or your own apprehension when it was your turn to enter the workforce. Give them the benefit of your experience and welcome them into the club of uncertainty and not always getting it right the first time. We’ve all been members.
Congratulations to all graduates, from college right down to kindergarten. Remember, first grade is a whole new world… with better scissors.
— Janine Talbot
Janine Talbot, an award winner in the humor-writing category of the 2016 Annual Column Contest of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, writes a weekly humor column for the Journal Tribune in southern Maine. An empty nester since her two daughters had the nerve to believe it when they were told to follow their dreams, Janine lives with her spouse of 30+ years, who often forgets that his actions are fodder for her column, and two and a half cats. She blogs at www.momofmanywords.com.