The Subliminal Graduate Fear
Each year many students graduate from universities with some form of qualification. Completing what they think have been the most significant years of their lives and commencing their next chapter. However, to look forward at this point requires a quick look back. Throughout the 20 or so years of our educational journey, we are taught numerous subjects, slowly specialising in the ones that are supposedly most interesting to us. This would be false. We specialise in the ones that are most likely to get us a job. Yet we don’t realise the magnitude of what we have done. As this realisation comes into fruition, there is an internal confusion, a turmoil cultivating fear.
In a 2018 Monster poll, 38% of U.S. respondents said they were most afraid of interviewing while 33% might not even make it that far because they’re scared their resume might go “into a black hole on the Internet” when applying to jobs. Other fears come toward the end of the job search process, which includes negotiating salary (16%) and being turned down for a job offer (13%). To fear the one action that you’ve working for the majority of our conscious lives does sound stupid when you say it out loud. But as you can see, the fear is real.
The average person will spend one-third of their lives at work. When you think about what you want to commit your life to, what all that learning up to higher education has been for, finding the perfect job would seemingly be a priority. Yet we come to dread the old phrase, ‘You are what you do’. Our perceived identity of ourselves is tied to the position that we are searching for — locked into one, for the rest of our lives, unable to shake off the trace. We quickly forget we are more than just a job; in fact, we are sophisticated, well-balanced individuals with diverse skill sets and curious interests. An understanding of the self is required to silence this fear through journaling, travel, or meditation.
Actively seeking out what makes us… Us is paramount.
The fear of the unknown, the endless pit of knowledge, knocking on the figurative door of our next chapter. When there is obscurity, our negative feelings and thoughts create mental blocks giving rise to expectation. We try to form an idea of what something could be like without actually doing it, simulating the experience, leading us to end up looking out into the world and projecting our expectation onto it. When finally, we commit to the job, our hope outweighs reality, and we fall into a disheartened slump. Yet again, the world could not compete against the manifestation of our minds. To get caught up in the infinite depth of our minds is to lose ourselves entirely. We do have to exist in reality, and there is no better way to do so than to fail and learn.
Fail fast, learn and use the experience to bolster the eventual success.
Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern that many conflicted with — continually doubting our achievements, the internal fear of being exposed as a fraud lingering in the background. Seeping into the mind, it can drag even the smartest and most competent of us into a dark hole of despair. We belittle ourselves, the voices within tearing the colour from the world as we continue to sink. To fail to realise that we are not that special, would be a disservice to ourselves, everyone suffers from this syndrome at some point in their life. This syndrome is equivalent to self-doubt; to overcome it is to embrace it. I’ve got a dedicated article on that here.
Each fear that we have can be tamed, but ultimately they fall into two overarching nemeses of the human mind — the fear of starting and the fear of failure. Somehow we force ourselves into believing that the right thing to do is not to start, so failure is never an option. A cycle that when ignited, is virtually impossible to stop.
I know the feeling of playing out the scenarios in my head, each one ending with rejection. I understand the constant form filling and psychometric tests will drive anyone crazy with each one potentially ending in defeat. I recognise the anxiety of the phone buzzing with an unknown number, unsure whether it’s an automated, inhuman, response. I remember the emotions of not understanding why anyone didn’t want to take a chance on me. I know what it’s like to look into the endless pit and want to be swallowed up, scared to take a chance on myself.
Finding ourselves at this point, balancing on the edge of our self-belief, tipping into the abyss of fear has only one remedy.
A mindset shift.
An outlook of life which is certain the world requires the uniqueness we have to offer, it needs our flavour of the story. One thing that we can safely say is, we are all as individual as a fingerprint, and the only option is to face our fears. While the road is bumpy, full of rejections and laborious form filling, we must maintain the belief in ourselves.
Starting now, with what we have and what we know.
We are the creators of tomorrow.