You know what people never told me about life after college? That it kind of sucks.

I was really excited about graduating, since it meant I didn’t have to go to school anymore, I was in my early 20s, which meant I could still party and goof off with friends without people looking down on me for it and I thought I’d have a job, have a lot of fun and that things would be good. College, I was sure, was really just holding me back from the life I’d always wanted.

Unfortunately, I found out that the world doesn’t actually care if you went to college. I can only assume that they might just hate you more if you didn’t go. But you may as well not go, then say you did, since nobody, ever, in the history of the world, has checked to see if someone had really acquired a diploma.

So what does this all mean? That finding a job can be impossible.

Applying for a proper, well paying job on Craigslist is about as useful as writing your employment wish-list on a roll of toilet paper, wiping your ass with it and flushing it down the toilet. However, if you feel like you can sustain an adequate lifestyle by working for porn, tacos, a set of moderately worn down guitar picks or “interesting trades,” Craigslist is the place for you.

Some friends, who had degrees in things like sociology and business, scoffed at my own failures, saying: “That’s why you shouldn’t have gotten a degree in theater.” But soon, they discovered that they couldn’t find a job they wanted either.

Everybody I knew who did have a job, got one through someone they knew. Nobody, and I mean this without exaggeration, but nobody I knew found a job by simply looking for one and applying.

I went to bartending school. It was a two-week course. They gave me a certificate.

The only gig I could find was bartending during breakfast at a new Italian restaurant that wasn’t getting any business. I got the job because my mom knew the owner.

Eventually I quit. Then I bounced around for a while.

Video game tester (monotonous, depressing and low paying), video logging and transcribing (monotonous, depressing and low paying) and even working in the stock room of a furniture store (monotonous, depressing, low paying and back injuring). This was supposed to be fun?

But wait. What about the Alpha Students? What about the ones who took honors and AP classes in high school, got into the college they wanted, got good grades, had lots of internships, majored in something that was supposed to lead to lucrative employment and had parents who paid their tuition?

Well, it’s now five years later and most of them hate their jobs, don’t like where they’re going and are trying to figure out – in their mid to late 20s – what the hell they want to do with their lives.

The rest? They’ve been laid off.

But do you know who do have lives and jobs they like? The theater geeks, film nerds, Lit. majors and journalists.

Are they making loads of money? Not usually (though occasionally, yes). But they’re happy with their day’s work. They feel good about themselves. They like their lives.

I personally have had jobs where I’ve made decent money. But those were also the exact times in my life when I was the most miserable.

Do you know when I was happy? When I was going after something that I loved. When I was seriously striving for something that really, genuinely excited me.

And It doesn’t even have to pan out. You really, honestly, don’t have to succeed. You just have to try.

If you do, the result is a person who’s more confident, happier with themselves – and here’s the part that really surprised me – a person that employers actually want to hire. I mean, who wants to work with someone that’s nervous, sweaty and really, really needs a job?