Advice from an unmarried and unemployed graduate: Be your own kind of success

They said study hard, get good grades, graduate, work and then get married. And if I did everything exactly in that order I would be a successful woman, wife and mother.

They filled my head with this stuff from a very tender age. Being an obedient child I followed everything I was told. I studied hard, I stayed out of trouble at school, I played with students who had also been socialised into the same ideology as I had been. I remember there was some poster that was actually in classrooms with steps that went up in ascending order beginning with a young girl in primary school holding books, then high school, then enrolled at university, then wearing graduation regalia, then working in an office and then in a wedding gown.

If only I had known what I know now – that the world is cruel, very unpredictable and there is never a one-size fits all life.

Here I am now, a University graduate – exactly 3 years and 2 days after graduating and I’m unemployed. Growing up they made it look so easy to graduate and get a job, but they forgot that times and situations change. On average per month I apply over 20 jobs and I never get a response. I always laugh with my friends about how my email sent box is just full of job applications. At first I was frustrated about it but now I have come to peace with it – it’s not that there are no jobs. Jobs are there, that’s why I have all those applications in my sent box BUT a) most of them are advertised when the company/organisation has a candidate for the vacancy already, b) nepotism – if you don’t know anyone you are screwed!

What frustrates me is the family and societal expectations and the ideologies that were rubbed onto us whilst very young. It is depressing to know you followed all the rules by the book so as to obtain the results you were promised but then you end up with not what you were told to expect. I look around me and I see the naughty, mean, arrogant, stubborn and not so hardworking nor intelligent former classmates and schoolmates doing well and living better than me. I am talking about those students who were constantly in the headmaster’s office and being suspended regularly with some of them being expelled or dropping out of school. They are all employed, business owners or married to rich guys. And some of them don’t hesitate to laugh at you when you bump into each other, rubbing salt onto the wound by asking how come you still unemployed, living with parents and unmarried. They even remind you how you missed the fun during school days by studying too much whilst they never put any effort, dropped out of school or failed and yet turned out better!

As if that is not enough, there is the issue of getting married. The very same society that taught me to study, graduate, work and then get married now puts pressure on me to get married. Grandmothers constantly reminding you that they are old and about to die so they want you married. But hold on! Were you not the same people who told me to work and get married after I get a job. How can I just wake up and rub off all the ideas that were rubbed onto me from the very minute I began to hear and understand. Yes, every girl wants to get married at some point in life, but with the situation in the country where do they expect the guy to get the money from, worse still they would expect a wedding, since its now a must to have a wedding. With the rapid upsurge in the use of social media, every minute someone I know is getting engaged or married and that will be used against me with the “Look this so and so daughter’s got married, look at the pictures, I want people to come gather at my house too because my daughter is getting married!’’

Is is like a competition now? Do I get married for other people, or do I get married because I feel am ready for it? No wonder the divorce rate is high because people are having all these lavish weddings under pressure from family and society.

I am sure any young woman, an unemployed graduate and unmarried can relate to my story. There is so much pressure and expectations from society on us. I believe there is no formula for life. This has all led me to a certain perspective of life. Yes there are general rules that govern life like be kind, and be humble. But any other “rules” – especially “rules” to be successful, I don’t follow. Success is YOU, success is what YOU decide it is to YOU. We are all different and success means completely different things to different people. What worked for you will not necessarily work for me, what works today will not necessarily work tomorrow.

Be your own kind of success!

Source: Tatenda Murinda