When Celebrating Your Accomplishment Leaves You Feeling Like a Failure

Here's the thing. I spent the last year of my life working my butt off for this moment, which is why I'm a little frustrated by the fact that I feel like a complete and utter failure.

When I first moved to Washington DC, or should I say Maryland because I was way too broke to afford DC, I had no idea how difficult my masters program would be. The classes were simple enough and so was adjusting to my new schedule of working two jobs while attending school full time. It was the constant voice in the back of my head that kept reminding me that graduation wasn't attainable until I had 6 months of time to work for free. In essence, somehow I was expected to complete my masters internship, which doesn't pay, while survive in one of the most expensive cities in the United States. Did I mention I knew nobody?


Most of my classmates lived in group homes, with fiancees or family. Meaning their bills were split by many or not their worry at all. I on the other hand came to DC with about a thousand dollars, half of which was gone by the first of the month. Within a few weeks I found two jobs, figured out the city, but couldn't quite figure out how I was going to finish my masters without being able to have a job at the end.

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This is when I entered a full panic mode. While I instagrammed all the parts of my new life that were pretty and fun, on the inside I was stressing about every bill, every month that I got closer to having to take that course that required I be free during the hours I usually was at work. For months I completely avoided the situation, ignoring emails and hating all the women in my program who had boyfriends to support them through all of this. Then something major happened, I decided to stop avoiding the thing that was tormenting me.

Instead of trying to find a way to avoid my problem I decided to make a solution. What was my problem exactly? Well I needed to complete my practicum (which is six months of time) by working close to full time while being compensated nothing. Oh, and the cost of tuition that came with even enrolling in practicum courses. So basically I needed money, a lot of it. At least enough to help me survive for the months that I would have to fully commit myself to my classes and training.

Now if you know anything about me, you'll know that I have a habit of spending money on stupid things. I don't have designer purses or even name brand trash bags, but I do have a lot of plants and cat toys and super cool stuff I found marked down 70 percent at Target. So my plan had one simple step, stop spending so much damn money and take every minute of overtime I could get for the next year.

For a year I worked my ass off at my law firm, coming in early and staying till closing. I saved everything that I didn't spend on rent or other necessities. While I was still having fun I wasn't spending like I used to, and within a year I had saved enough to help me survive for the next few months. My friends and coworkers couldn't believe it and neither could I. But I did it, I had the money so I quit my jobs in hopes of starting the process I had so long ignored.

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Except here I am, on day one of unemployment, and it fucking sucks. Yeah I have money in the bank and a purpose for why I'm still in my pajamas, but there's something that feels good about having a reason to wake up early in the morning. My practicum doesn't start until next year, so from now until then I have to not only find a place to intern but plan for a few extra months of no income.

I'm a second generation American which means I grew up hearing that hard work leads to success, which makes it hard for me to picture a successful future right now that I'm in bed while all my former coworkers are in the office. I should be scanning expenses and answering phones, but instead I've spent my morning on Instagram and talking to my cat.

Grad school is hard, in ways that none of those pamphlets will ever tell you. Nobody talks about the long nights you spend wondering if all of this is worth it. Loan reminders enter my inbox weekly and friends who decided to just enter the workforce after college always look so much more carefree. I mean, I would totally kill to come home and not have to write a paper!

I'm sure in a few days this new routine will feel more normal, but for now I'm going to go back into full panic mode while I look for part time jobs and have a long talk with my cat about why I think we need to get outside more.


So tell me, have you ever felt anything like this? As a twenty something (or more), how do you deal with the pressure to do it all when it seems impossible from where you stand?

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