PCLD: Let’s Talk Post-College Blues

All right. This will be my first semi-serious post, and for this reason, I will attempt to step up my game on the little doodles. There’s nothing a pregnant cat in a penguin t-shirt cuddling a 10-day-old puppy can’t soften. Right? Or this…

Anyway, to keep this rolling in the right direction, and away from cracker-nibbling rodents, let’s move on to my late night, earth-shattering epiphany. (Please note: my epiphanies are more frequent than the time it takes for new episodes of House to show up on hulu.com. Still.)
I’ve recently come to the conclusion that pretty much every young person I’ve come in contact with these days–in particular, my crew–has been negatively affected by college. It’s not college at all. It’s the after college that seems to destroy people. And if an undergrad happened to go to grad school, this mental disorder was only prolonged until after that degree. I thought it might be more helpful to set this disorder up in a way that might be accessed as easily as any other WebMD definition. 
PCLD: Post-Traumatic Life Disorder
Much like a premature version of a “Midlife Crisis,” PCLD can be classified as a mood disorder that interferes with everyday life and occurs following the anticipated graduation from any post-secondary education. PCLD is characterized by one or any of the following categories:
This category is normally defined by those “fresh” out of college or post-secondary schooling. After a number of years confined to a rigorous routine of responsibility, one might find a false sense of solace in abstaining from anything academic or related to his or her field of study.
“I’m just going to take a break”
  • Feelings of detachment
  • Emotional “numbness”
  • Little to no concern for future
  • Lethargy
  • Weight gain
  • Lack of interest in field of study, or former interests
  • Minimum wage job(s)
  • Heavy drinking, followed by a need to “just dance
  • Sense of stagnancy without the will to change
  • Caffeine dependence
  • Facebook
Negative Self-Realization
The definition of this category relies heavily on the lingering insecurities of adolescence. It is largely found in those who pursue degrees in the arts or similar creative studies. As creators, it is common for those with PCLD to experience symptoms directly and/or indirectly related to their creations, such as feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, and a need to change goals in light of negative self-discoveries; PCLD commonly takes the shape of feelings and actions associated with early adolescence. This category is also referred to as Regressive Post-Traumatic Life Disorder.
“I don’t know what I want.”
  • Hopelessness and self-blame
  • Search for an undefined dream or goal
  • Lack of confidence
  • Sense of making the “wrong choices
  • Indecisive
  • Nostalgic
  • Interfering, and often unwarranted, fear of failure
  • Depression
  • Nick at Nite
Defensive Frustration
The last category of PCLD is the most actualized. Hardly a resolution, these symptoms often surface in the latter stages of PCLD, typically in response to previous categories’ symptoms. If the pendulum were, for instance, swinging downward in the other categories, this is the most erratic, upward swing of PCLD, characterized by a hyperactive ego, which follows a low, often depressive, state.
“The world is my goddamn oyster.”
  • Sense of freedom from rules and life limitations
  • Exaggerated responses and reactions
  • A tendency to be overly defensive
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Inflated sense of self
  • Irritability or outbursts of anger
  • Hyperawareness, or paranoia
  • Impulsive and often masochistic life decisions
  • Heavy drinking
  • Insomnia
  • Sports

Without being funny, I’d like to explain myself. I’m pretty sure the time frame for the once-typical “coming of age” has been prolonged. Unfortunately for most, the decision is already made. You’re going to college right after high school. Your other option is to go against your parents, society, your peers… If you don’t go, you are looked down upon. C’mon. We’ve all eyed up the “Votech” kids as if they were of below-average intelligence. I have since changed my opinion.
Once you find a school, you must then choose what you want to do for the rest of your life. Key words here: rest of your life. It’s like a death sentence. From the moment you were hatched, the hopes were instilled: you can be anything you want, even president! Big dreams create high hopes, which are then introduced to the “real world” of low odds and let down. Next step: PCLD. Am I right?
I’m not here to knock education or academics. I’m not even sure what I’m knocking. I just know that the majority of my peers are struggling to find jobs, struggling to know what it is they really want, and feel as though they are the only ones out there experiencing it. NO, please know that you are not. There are a gazillion kids with degrees and no hope for a future.
I guess my questions are simply (ha!):
  1. Will the majority of us ever know what we want OR be happy with what we have?
  2. Is the previous question linked to the infinite realm of possibilities?
  3. Are we just a bunch of spoiled babies?
  4. Are we “spoiled babies” because of the false hopes that were instilled in us? Who is to blame?
  5. Is there a job that is completely fulfilling, while remaining so for the longevity of working life?
  6. When will the education system STOP making studies about money and more about skills/intelligence?
  7. When does PCLD end? Is there a cure?
  8. Will Dr. House and Cuddy ever get back together?


  1. You see, I think that when we are at university (I'm English so we say university for college…don't judge) we are SO structured. We have purpose and aim. We are going to a point in time (graduation). After university I failed to give myself another short-term goal. I was like, 'Right, now I'm going to do this one thing until I'm 65 (70 now they've changed it).'

    I despair at the state of what goes on in my line of work everyday and I hate to think what I'll be like in another 40 years. Right now I think there must be something more for me. I am not happy. Did going to university put me on the wrong path? Did my lecturers give me a false sense of hope about what my career would be like? Is it my age and I'm just faced with all these people questioning me about my life choices and when I'm going to have babies that have made me question my future? Or, like you say, am I just spoiled?

    If that made sense to you, I'm impressed. I guess what I mean to say is, 'I know where you're coming from.'

  2. 1flychicken says:

    Abi… it made a lot of sense. Unfortunately for all of us, I think we're in an awkward generation as far as education goes. I mean, those before us had less opportunities. Is it possible that we have too many? If we all have nearly boundless opportunities, we're all fighting for the same jobs with same degrees/experience (for the most part). Blah.

    Don't get me wrong. I appreciated the encouragement, but I'm at the point where I'm not sure we should be encouraged at all skill/intelligence levels. I've seen plenty of kids skate by with work that shouldn't have enabled them to succeed in college. Also, I'm in the arts so this “work” is also up for debate. How do you teach/grade art? Ah, that's a whole other barrel of apples.

    I'm sorry that you aren't happy, though. ): So many of us are not. It's a shame…


  3. Elizabeth says:

    I have to say, I think that for me, 2 things have been key– people and intuition. Do I love my job? Nah. But I really like going to it because I love the people I see there.

    I had two job offers and made the decision to take the lower-paying one with less pressure and nicer people. Slacker decision? Maybe. I justified it by acknowledging that the one I took has “Writer” in the title.

    So, would people be happier with their careers if they followed intuition in the direction of good people? I don't know. Does anyone even have the option really? And what societal pressures keep people from following their intuitive path?

    See what you did here? Just more and more questions! I like it 🙂

  4. 1flychicken says:

    Elizabeth… I don't think it's the slacker decision at all. I commend your decision!

    I totally agree, though. People are key. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if everyone has that sort of mentality. Not in the negative way it could be taken, but many people aren't that interested in others, you know? As a means of fulfillment, I'm saying. Does that make sense?

    For me, I'm the type of person that relies on others for my happiness/success/fulfillment (my bad, I know!) For me, your situation works. Hell, I was in a lot of mediocre jobs, and the last one… I nearly got stuck in due to the “family” there.

    You were lucky to have the option, but still, commendable for following your guts. (: Thanks for posting (and making me think even more about these questions!)


  5. This is an excellent post — simultaneously truthful and witty. Figuring out your niche post-college is definitely a challenge. So far, the best cure I've found is just embracing the adventure and holding on to that collegiate sense of possibility, as much as possible.

  6. 1flychicken says:

    Thanks, OMD. (: I'm working at that right now… embracing the adventure. At this point, I'm lucky enough to have found a creative job in my field. All luck. But in the meantime, I think the bottom line is maybe we need to relax and be patient. Patience was never my thing. d:



Comments are closed.