The other day, I watched the movie Post Grad with Alexis Bledel from Gilmore Girls fame in the spirit of my upcoming graduation. The movie opens on 22-year-old Ryden’s (Bledel) graduation day, the day she’s been looking forward to all her life. She has plans to get a job in publishing and she couldn’t be more excited because everything is going according to plan. However, things start to fall apart when she doesn’t get her dream job and her entire life plan is thrown off track. The rest of the movie follows Ryden as she stumbles through the post-grad world in search of a new path. I went looking for this movie to reassure myself that plans don’t always work out and that’s okay – but I came up with a few lessons of my own instead:
1) Don’t be too attached to your life plan.
If there’s one thing that Post Grad shows well, it’s that obsessing over a specific plan can be dangerous. It’s good to have aspirations and to work hard towards your goals, but having a backup plan and accepting that things don’t always go as planned is vital to your mental health.
2) Don’t be afraid to go home.
Ryden had to move home when she was passed on for her dream job and couldn’t afford the rent for her dream apartment. This is generally portrayed as a failure, but there’s no shame in wanting to move back home or closer to home after college, especially if you’ve been far from home for a while. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be near your family.
3) Don’t settle.
In a hilarious montage of job interviews, Ryden tries desperately to find employment. However, she seems to only be applying for jobs that she’s not qualified for or not really interested in. She even spends a couple days working in her dad’s luggage store in the mall and then as an infomercial production assistant for her neighbor. It’s fine to take some time to try and figure out a Plan B career path, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should kill time at a job that you hate or don’t really want.
4) Your life will not be fixed by a guy.
I cannot emphasize this enough. Probably the most important thing to keep in mind after watching almost any movie these days is that all of your problems will not be solved by falling in love. [Spoiler] At the end of the movie, Ryden ends up getting the dream job that she’s wanted all along – the job that was the ultimate goal of her grand plan. However, something still feels missing and she realizes that she’s been in love with the boy next door this whole time, and now it’s too late because he just left for law school at Columbia. So, Ryden quits her job, packs up her stuff, and heads to New York to be with Adam. Which is probably one of the strangest movie endings I’ve ever seen – she literally shows up at Columbia and moves into Adam’s dorm room with him. His dorm room. When you think about it, this is the worst possible life lesson that movies insist on perpetuating. But…
5) Do what’s right for you.
When Ryden makes the radical decision to drop everything and go to New York, her dad gives her his blessing, saying that he was happy she was taking a risk for once instead of being tied to a strict goal-oriented plan. Even though her decision was kind of crazy, it was part of Ryden figuring out who she was and what she wanted. So if moving home, or packing up and moving across the country, or taking some time to travel the world is what you feel like you need to do, then have faith in that feeling and don’t second-guess yourself.