Graduating college, at first, pretty much sucks. Your life, which previously consisted of regimented schedules around school, sports, and extra-curricular activities is now completely changing. You’re on your own and the future is in your hands. It might seem scary at first, and you might feel like a child who is not at all ready for this, but you are, and you’ll realize it soon. To jump-start the process, I’d like to share some words of wisdom with you. If only I had known all of the below when I graduated college, maybe I could have jump-started the process, too.
1. You’re probably not going to see half of the people you were friends with in college after graduation.
Okay, maybe you’ll see people once or twice after graduating, but you’re about to start a new life. Not everyone can come. Be sure to make an effort to keep in touch with the people you want in your life, though, or else they will become a faint memory of the past, as sad as that sounds.
2. You don’t have to start working a full-time job right away.
Once the real world hits, it’s going to hit hard with a lot of strict policies about vacation time and stuff. You shouldn’t be in a race to get to the real world. After all, graduation is not a finish line, it’s the very beginning, actually, and everyone has different starting times.
3. You’re still going to meet new people after college, whether that’s a new friend, a new enemy, or a new S.O.
Although I once believed I would never meet anyone after graduating college, I was wrong. You can meet people at work, through mutual friends, at parties, and at the gym. Just because college is over doesn’t mean your only hope for finding true love is now in the hands Hinge and OK Cupid, even though browsing such online dating networks certainly won’t hurt.
4. If you stay in on a random Saturday night, you’re probably not going to miss out on anything.
You’ll realize it soon enough: same shit, different weekend night. If you can’t make it out one night, or you just don’t feel like going out, it won’t be the end of the world. Go out when you want to go out, and stay in when you want to stay in. It’s simple.
5. Just because you’re making money doesn’t mean you have to spend it.
You might be able to pay for a super-nice apartment while still having extra money to put toward groceries, the gym, and wine, but that doesn’t mean you should be paying for that apartment. Instead, save as much money as you can to go toward a new car or a starter home in a few years. It’s probably the most important thing you can do for yourself right now.
6. Settling does not mean the same thing when it comes to relationships as it does when it comes to your career.
In my opinion, getting experience (ANY experience) is going to help you climb the ladder faster than sitting around waiting for your dream job to come to you. You need experience to get your dream job. And you need experience to find out what that ideal dream job is. All experience is good experience.
7. Rejection is a good thing.
It would be weird if everyone wanted you to work for them, and it would be weird if you wanted to work for every company you interviewed at. Job searching is like dating; the connection has to be mutual, or it’s just not going to work out. Finding a mutual connection takes time.
8. Follow your passion.
Don’t think you are limited to doing whatever your college degree says you should be doing. The sky is the limit. If you find you want to go in a different direction, go in a different direction. If you find you want to continue doing what you’re doing, do it. Put yourself out there. Do something in addition to your full-time job. You can’t just go through the motions and expect greatness to happen. You have to work for it.
9. If you want to move, JUST DO IT.
Here’s my personal opinion: Now is the time. Sure, you can still move later on in your 20s and later on in your life, but you’re starting the next chapter of your life. Why stay put for the beginning of this next chapter when you know, eventually, you’d like to try living elsewhere? No need to delay what you know you want to begin. (Though if you’re delaying to save money and plan ahead, that’s a good thing, too.)
10. You’re not special.
You might be unique, and you might have skills that set you apart from the crowd, but in the real world, there are plenty of people out there just like you, and no one is going to endlessly award you or praise you for your successes. So learn from your mistakes, and then do the honor of patting yourself on the back for your accomplishments, if no one does it for you. This is adulthood. Welcome.
11. It’s okay to have no idea what you want to do in life.
If by the end of your 20s you’ve got it all figured out, good for you. But 99% of 29-year-olds probably don’t have it figured out. Actually, I feel like humans may never feel like they have it ALL figured out, but if you go with the flow and take life as it comes, things will work out as they should. Life never slows down, and it’s always full of surprises. Take them as they come.
12. Yeah, you might have just experienced four of the best years of your life, but the rest of your 20s — and the rest of your life — will hold some amazing years, too.
Never again will you experience the situations you did in college, but as you get older, those situations won’t be ones you want to experience anymore. If you told my recent-grad-self that one day I’d choose sitting on the couch in sweatpants drinking wine on a Saturday night over taking shots of vodka at the club, I would have laughed in your face. But now, I do sometimes choose wine and couch on Saturday nights. Keyword: sometimes.
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