No longer being in college is a lot like having PTSD; you cannot understand how you are expected to go about living a normal life knowing what is out there. Also, you have a deep-seeded distrust of the Vietnamese. However, all of the doubt and insecurity of post-college life is wiped away the very instant you receive your first real paycheck.
Now, you may be thinking, “but I already have a job. I work at Urban Outfitters/SafeRide/the Psych Department/etc. I’ve already had my first paycheck!” However, saying that your work-study/summer/still-in-school job was a real job is like saying that “It’s Thanksgiving” is real music. It’s not! It is the auditory equivalent of being dick-slapped by a Sasquatch, and your job is as legitimate as the lemonade stand that the creepy neighborhood kids set up. You know, the ones that you are pretty sure planned to poison the town.
However, receiving your first real paycheck is like turning eleven and learning that you’re a wizard (still waiting on that fucking letter). It doesn’t matter how much it is for, or what you did to earn it. Because this check is yours! It is a validation that four years of
drinking studying has transformed you from the wholly dislikable scumbag of your youth into a functioning member of society!
Now, if you are anything like me, you are painfully handsome. And also, when you were still in school, you fantasized about what you would do with that first glorious payday. I, for one, imagined buying a Ms. Pacman arcade machine, or a hitman to kill off everyone who has ever been a threat to Morty Schapiro’s continued occupation of the #1 spot on the list of most BAMF individuals. However, it turns out that Ms. Pacman machines are a bit more expensive than I had been led to believe (fuck you, Google), and there are no people currently in the running to overtake Morty’s badassery.
Now, your parents will want you to do something stupid with that check, like pay rent or invest in your future. But FUCK THAT! You’re an adult and you don’t need to listen to them anymore! YOLO!
At the same time, however, you don’t want to spend it all on booze, no matter how tempting it may be to buy several hundred dollars in crappy alcohol and then dive into it like Scrooge McDuck.
You are going to want to buy something tangible. Something that will be around for a long time, so that you can enjoy it all the time and be reminded of that one moment of validation that vindicated your otherwise pointless life.
That is why I spent my first paycheck on a vintage French poster from STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. I may be struggling to pay my bills and I may be digging for my meals in my neighbors trash, but at least every time I come home from work, the glorious figure of Lando Calrissian is there to remind me what I am fighting for: the freedom of Cloud City, and of course, another paycheck.