It’s now May, and I, a senior, am still unemployed. Oh, the horror! The travesty! Cue the embarrassment, the failure, and every pitiable emotion you can imagine someone to feel with every dreaded “What are you doing after graduation?”
I thought about writing this senior column months ago, and how I intended for it to be gushing about my time at Penn and at The Daily Pennsylvanian, sprinkled with some dry humor and wrapped up with some neat bow that paralleled a satisfying end to my time at Penn. Instead, I sat at my laptop, and realized that the only thing consuming my thoughts was my yearning for the semblance of a secured future to validate my Penn experience. I fooled myself into thinking that satisfaction and fulfillment was entirely dependent on an illusive, mystical job offer.
Sure, I have been cracking unemployment jokes all year to hide how embarrassed I am and to hopefully divert people from feeling any ounce of pity. Is this a healthy pattern of behavior? Probably not. Did it lead to my most sobering moment in the middle of a Franzia-flooded BYO? Yes, ironically.
At this final BYO with my friends at the DP, the seniors took their turns going around the room and imparting final goodbyes, feelings, and advice. When my turn came, I stood on my chair and had a moment to look around the room and collect myself and my thoughts. In that moment, surrounded by these people, I was transported back in time to a frenzy of memories that took place in that crazy, hectic newsroom of ours.
I remembered the pride and satisfaction at the end of a long and tireless production, as well as the following spontaneous 2 a.m. tomfoolery of watching nonsensical Youtube videos, and the not-so-great times where my stress would drive me to a point of nearly quitting. There was not a single night at 4015 Walnut St. where I recall feeling like a failure. I became my best creative, collaborative, hard-working self thanks to this special bunch who taught me what it means to pour heart and soul into something that matters.
“So I don’t know what I’m doing after graduation,” I told them. I could not think of a punch line. All the woe-is-me jokes I used to crack were not coming to me. Instead, I said what I would have wanted to hear if I was another unemployed senior in the room or anxious junior about to become a senior: “And that is okay, because I’m still right here with all of you, and this is a great place to be.”
My friends on the 134th Board can probably be the first ones to tell me if I am wrong, but with them, and among them, I have never been a failure. I have found something I truly loved, but more importantly, something that gave me a purpose.
When you’re a senior, Penn’s culture teaches you that a job offer is what your years at Penn have all been for, that you only did college right if you have your foreseeable future signed away with the swish of a pen. No one reminds you to appreciate and be proud of all you have now — the people, the peers, and the achievements that have gotten you to this point. I have made peace with the fact that my future is still unknown at this point, because my present is pretty awesome.
I like to think that no one is entitled to purpose, fulfillment, or success (or at least let’s pretend that last one is true). I seized whatever opportunities came to me as a freshman, and ended up on a whim joining the most impactful community in my life. Only by being present did that lead me to my purpose.
So what am I doing after graduation? I don’t know. I’ll let life, chance, and ambition find that out for me — they’ve gotten me here so far, and I sure am lucky to be where I am now.
CAMILLE RAPAY is a College senior from Dobbs Ferry, NY, studying Communication, Fine Arts, and Cinema & Media Studies. She was on the 134th board of The Daily Pennsylvanian as the Video Producer. She also served on the 133th board as a Design Editor.
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.