When Taylor Swift penned “Blank Space,” the 2014 anthem for the crazy teenage girl inside of us all, she gave us this now infamous line: “I’ve got a blank space, baby, and I’ll write your name.” Some have suggested that this “blank space” Swift refers to is more of a figurative concept because she cannot physically write the name of a future sugar daddy on her heart. That’s a fair assessment, but I would venture to say that Swift is, as always, speaking to her generation and referring to the literal blank space on the schedule of millions of unemployed college graduates. For graduates of the College of William and Mary, that blank space is May 18, 2015 (and the rest of our lives?), and it is coming in roughly two weeks. Employers, if you’re out there, look no further than the unemployed graduates of the College’s class of 2015. We’ve got a blank space, baby, and we’ll write your name, do your laundry, get your car, whatever you want, okay?
It’s an interesting thing, graduating from the College without a single plan set in place. I, like most people, define myself based on what I am doing in that exact moment. I’m a student from Sunday through Thursday, Beyoncé from Friday through Saturday, and an intern or just sleeping at other various points throughout the year. How can someone define him or herself without any basis? Essentially, who even am I without 1,000+ things to do every day? Well, I’m glad you asked.
I am not quite sure yet, and that is the benefit of my upcoming unemployment. I’m not Zoe the underpaid, overworked newbie at [insert illustrious company]. I am Zoe, and that’s about it. Instead of worrying about Excel spreadsheets, in three weeks I’ll worry about whether I should sleep until noon and which job I should apply to that day. Although unemployed, my options are still very much open. Unemployment can be a new beginning.
Additionally — and I may not have the facts to back this up — I would make an educated and hopeful guess that the competition for entry level jobs is about to get low like Lil’ Jon and the Eastside Boyz. Thank you to everyone who is officially employed, because you are making room for everyone else. Some may say that you all have already taken every desirable position, but that argument is resentful and shortsighted. Consider the employers’ position instead. There are employers who are equally as late to the hiring game as those of us without jobs. Now, their boss is hounding them to fill those empty positions, and their stress is building up. At this point, they are ready to hire just about anyone. This is quite lucky for us because we aren’t just anyone — we are graduates of the College of William and Mary.
We’ll come in as position fillers and then impress the socks right off of our bosses once they realize we can actually do the work as well. I’m not worried because I know some recruiter is out there desperately looking for love in all the wrong places, and I will swoop in at the right time and get the guy — I mean the job. Freudian slip.
This past year, most of my conversations on campus have started with “Do you know what you’re going to do next year?” or “Do you have plans yet?” making it seem like my value is determined by a job. I’m guilty of asking those questions too, of course, but mainly because I’m nosy. I’m tired of feeling like the measure of success for my undergraduate career is what I plan to do next. With this mindset, we easily forget just how difficult it is to get a diploma, especially from the College.
We didn’t just hang around for four years, we worked really *expletive* hard, and earning that piece of paper means more to me than anything. Of course, we must consider how we will put our diplomas to use, but we should also reflect and admire ourselves for this big achievement.
I’m not trying to suggest that unemployment is cool because like, “Yeah bro, forget the man.” Not at all. I recognize that prolonged unemployment is stressful, often detrimental and that people have bills to pay. I have student loans and expensive taste, okay? I completely get it. What I’m saying is to consider Taylor Swift and think of unemployment as your personal blank space. Now that you’re finished with school, it’s time to fill that blank space any way you’d like with your degree in hand. After all, if you graduate from the College without a job, you still graduated, and that matters.
Congratulations, class of 2015. We did it.
Zoe Johnson is a Confusion Corner columnist who is underpaid but not overworked.