How do you deal with the intellectual and social lull of “Post-Graduate Depression”?
by Michael Diliberto
I’m sure that I am not the first one to use this term. Or the first to feel this way. But it’s been nearly a year since the conferment of my master’s degree, and ever since then, I’ve been feeling a little out of sorts.
I’ve decided to call this my “Post-Graduate Depression.”
Here’s the issue: for almost two years, I was surrounded by really smart people. Really smart people who I enjoyed being around. We interacted nearly every day and worked on projects together that pushed the limits of our cognitive abilities, our communication skills, and our patience, and in the end, we did some great things. We worked hard, barely slept and in the end, I would do it all over again in a minute. My time at grad school was a life-changing experience, in a good way. I learned to be more analytical, I learned that I like finance (who would have thought!) and most of all, I learned how much I thrive on intellectual stimulation (a lot).
The issue occurred once school was over. Suddenly, the intellectual stimulation of being surrounded by dozens of smart people was gone, and I for one missed the interaction greatly.
I didn’t actually realize how much I missed it, however, until this year’s trip to South By Southwest. For the first time in a long time, I was once again surrounded by smart people actively engaged in solving problems.
Let’s take some pills
Sadly, there is no easy cure for Post-Graduate Depression. There are a number of things that I do to keep my brain active and help “decompress” from events like South By Southwest. (I also postulate that South By Southwest is a temporary cure for Post-Graduate Depression, in and of itself.) I listen to TED talks while at work, I read as much as I can and I make a concerted effort to surround myself with other smart, like-minded individuals.
When I was in school, we were required to contribute to discussions on a weekly basis. I’ve gone back to this same schedule now, except the discussions are out in the open, on sites like and the discussion boards of . I’ve even set reminders for myself on (one of my favorite task tracking sites, by the way) to post to discussions and write blog posts (like this one) to keep my brain working.
So what’s next? I’ve been spending some of my time consulting, mostly with very early stage entrepreneurs. Someday, I’d like to make that a full time gig; I’m pretty sure my brain would be happy to have that much use.
For now? I’ll see you at South By Southwest in 2011.