The melancholy of 21-year-old me, born in 1999
March is already coming to an end, and I’ve been feeling the arrival of spring through cherry blossom buds colored in faint pink and warm sunlight that shines all over my body. Usually around this time of the year, I would’ve been excited about “pulling my spring-colored dress from the closet” or “wearing heels barefoot”. However, that’s not the case this year. Since the beginning of March, I’ve been having butterflies in my stomach. I would suddenly wake up in the middle of the night. I would also get stricken by melancholic thoughts even when I’m on a date with my beloved boyfriend. Even while I’m writing this sentence, I feel restless. I don’t have the emotional bandwidth to enjoy flowers and look forward to cherry blossoms. It’s truly sad to be unable to enjoy the arrival of spring.
I’m pretty sure I know what the cause of this feeling is. It’s not hay fever or my unsuccessful attempt to lose weight. It’s job-hunting. People born in 1999 or 2000 might understand what I've been feeling. Apparently, the recruitment publicity season officially started in March.
When I first started attending college, my friends showed me a video, “Recruit Rhapsody,” as if to tell me it reflects my near future. The video is about “the protagonist who is an ordinary college student. Her friends started acting strange these days. She finds out that they are crazy over so-called “job-hunting”. She eventually also falls into the spiral of Japanese style job hunting without fully understanding what that entails (cited from the video description).” The video almost came off as a creepy scary movie to me, as the protagonist panicked by comparing herself to others and became mentally drained in the desire for a job offer. To be honest, I thought this story was irrelevant to me. But now, it seems that my turn has come. I often see my classmates from junior high school wearing business suits and talking about something serious in trains. (As for me, I’m usually on my way to shopping or a date, so I try to hide myself to avoid getting caught by them.) As people say, job-hunting is not “someone else’s business”.
But to be honest, I don’t think I can adapt well to wearing a plain black suit, tightly tied hair, and above all, to this excessively systematic process of job searching. The job-hunting manner book distributed by my university’s career center includes a column about appearance, which specifies the length of skirt, rules about makeup, and black-only hair color etc. It’s so stressful to receive emails from the center almost every day, and I truly regret signing up for that. If new graduates can’t find a job, they’re labeled as failures and even though there must be various ways to search for jobs, we’re only taught the standardized way. Do we really need to adapt to this system in the first place? If I ignore my identity and get a job offer by pretending to be someone else, how can I thrive at the company? Will I last long there? I’ve been thinking about these things since the beginning of March.
For now, my conclusion is to take my approach to job-hunting. There have been several times where I felt peer pressured to change who I am but each time I resisted in my way. Based on the experiences, I can say that yielding to peer pressure is way easier than resisting it. However, it’s important to pause and reflect whether that’s truly the path you want to take. No matter how hard and draining it is, it’s worth it to stick to yourself.
Yoshida, M. [youmahotube] (2013, March 9). アニメーション「就活狂想曲」Recruit Rhapsody [Video]. Youtube. <https://youtu.be/M6rb6kknj3A>
Graphic by Emily Mogami
Translated by Mutsumi Ogaki
Edited by Emiru Okada