Here's the first in a sequence of autobiographical pieces I’ve been writing. This one, “Wild, Free, and Utterly Lost,” comes from the gut.
It was prompted by a twenty-one-year-old friend of my daughter’s who came to stay with us in London for a couple of months, while she tried to find what in the old days would have been a job—and now is a series of unpaid internships.
Watching this smart determined idealistic young woman’s bafflement at how to make a life—and a living--in the real world roused scary memories of my own first year out of college, and I realized how many twenty-something-year-olds I knew were struggling to make that transition from child to autonomous adult. The terror for a college graduate of not knowing what to do with your life is compounded by guilt at feeling unable to make good on your expensive—and bankruptcy-inducing--education.
The piece has only been out for a few days, but already I’ve been getting amazing readers’ responses. One recent graduate, Haley McLaughlin, wrote me, “Honestly, every day is an internal grapple with my own self-worth and place in the world, but I smile and tell the adults around me about the progress I’m making in my job-search and don’t discuss how much it’s getting to me…I found comfort in knowing that I’m not alone—something that my mom keeps telling me but for some reason is much more believable when I can actually read it first hand.”
It’s a crucial subject. I hope this piece can add to the conversation about young people’s mental wellbeing, about how colleges might better prepare students for what they want to do in the world, and maybe even about how to pressure businesses into paying new entries a decent wage.
Finally, I want to give Kate Nankervis a huge thank you for her bravery and generosity in being part of this piece. You can read Kate’s funny inspiring account of her ongoing adventures in her blog www.justsommer.com!