“A guy who likes to look good in an understated way and also wants quality. He doesn’t want to feel too self-conscious in what he is wearing. He doesn’t want to feel that what he is wearing is too precious.”—Frank Muytjens, J.Crew head of mens design, on “the J.Crew man”
It’s easy to complain about not having a full-time job as you leave your alma mater, diploma in hand. No salary means scraping up rent, food money, and play money (plus money for postmodern luxuries like cell phones) from parents and a couple part-time jobs. At first I was totally uncomfortable with this state of floating (mind you, this “state” had lasted all of two and a half weeks). Where the hell was I going? Between work, I was planning my days around sunbathing, consuming various brands of potato chips, and crafting clever tweets.
I’m not sure when my lightbulb-on moment happened, but I had some generic epiphany that I’m sure most early-20s wanderers have. Basically, I realized that I should use this time to do a few key things I’d deprived myself of during college that would ultimately make me happier, healthier, and a better candidate for real-world living. Let’s take my final semester of college, for example: I held three jobs, took 22 credits (totaling eight classes), held positions as editor-in-chief of our college’s paper and vice president of Student Government, and applied for over 40 full-time jobs.
While for the most part I accomplished these things with ease, a lot was let go of in the process. One week I was so dehydrated from caffeine-overdose and all-nighters that my feverish body rejected food, sleep, and all liquids sans water and Gatorade. It was only fitting that midweek I was presented with the President’s Leadership Award, which should be renamed “President’s Award for Sleep Deprivation Survival.”
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change a thing about my time as a productivity addict. It was incredibly satisfying, and now makes me feel a little more deserving of my “time off.” Since summer began, I’ve been on a self-improvement kick: I cook almost all my own food (silly, I know, but I was living of a sodium-rich meal plan for four years) and use mostly organic, locally grown ingredients; I sleep eight-plus hours a night (up from an average of three); I run a few miles at least once a week; I’ve revamped my online portfolio; and I’ve shifted my position with J.Crew to be a better fit for my schedule, skill set, and location.
I’m hoping this time off will turn into my “time in-between.” I want this to be a transitional period, and I want to stop viewing it as something negative. Sure, I’m not making six figures or changing the world, but it’s certainly worth enjoying this freedom while I have it. If college was a full-time job and history repeats itself, my next job will have me hospitalized for exhaustion by week three.