post-grad problems: my paycheck doesn’t match my passion

We sat there slumped, wallowing in defeat, sitting in our usual red chairs at our usual Starbucks. These chairs had supported us through 5 years of studying, resume writing, and interview preparation. We are lucky, Shannon and I. We graduated and found jobs in our fields almost immediately. Slowly, but surely, we were successfully on our way to building our careers. Yet weeks into our new jobs, we sat feeling as if we’d lost 10 years off our young lives. Was this it?! Did being a fully-fledged adult equate to being miserable full-time and content part-time?

Surely not.

We were spoiled. We were just too sheltered to properly adjust to the demands of the professional world… that had to be it, right?

Still, my intuition screamed this is wrong.

I graduated with a job in a competitive field, yet I ended work days feeling resentful and apathetic. Shannon was similarly overwhelmed from banking- a starting point for her future in finance. Existential crises culminated and consumed us when discovering the culture and the practices of our fields were far removed from information in college tests or class discussions.

I am good at my job. It is a job notorious for making a difference and earning a nice retirement. It held appeal to many, including me. Once working in the field full-time, the idea of staying with this particular profession for the rest of my life became increasingly overwhelming. My family was swelled with pride over me. So why didn’t I feel the same? Why didn’t I enjoy the job I was good at?

Many graduates have pursued careers that weren’t their first choice. This certainly isn’t my dream career. I want to be a writer, a seemingly implausible and impossible career. I adore books and the enchanting magic of their writing. They brought me safety and inspiration unparalleled to the company of close ones while growing up. Shannon loves art- she much rather labor over a canvas or Photoshop than the confines of her teller desk.

We sat in our usual red chairs, emphatically sharing how we wish we could chase our dreams, never looking back. Just discussing the possibility of our dreams brought a significant lightness to our beings. Perhaps our initial sorrow deluded us, perhaps it sobered us. Regardless, we found ourselves asking each other: what work would we pursue if poverty was inescapable; what work would satisfy and stimulate us for decades?

Isn’t that the reality? After the comfort of money becomes a routine paycheck and cruel dependency, we’re ultimately left with how we feel about the work we dedicate our lives to. Like it or not, our commitment to work is a lifelong marriage. And what is a successful marriage without love?


So with haste, we began applying to publishing and MFA programs. We choose struggle over stability, passion over pensions, figuring it out over having it figured out. We embark on this journey illuminated with a rejuvenated sense of purpose.

unnamedJessica Varsames is a 23-year-old Hudson Valley native with big city dreams. Her life’s mission is to be known to the point where Microsoft products no longer recognizes her last name as a typo. She enjoys obsessively browsing real estate out of her price range, imitating Fetty Wap, and forcing her dogs to pose with her for Snapchat selfies.

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