6 Sobering Reality Checks I Got During My First Post-Grad Year
I am 11 months into my post-grad life, and I must admit that sometimes it can be really hard. It is not the same cookie-cutter, fun-loving life you may see on TV or YouTube. I am happy to have a stable full-time job, a side hustle, and hobbies to do outside of work. But just getting to this point was hard. In the last year, I’ve been thrust into a lot of unexpected transitions, and here are a few reality checks I quickly had to learn to roll with in my first post-grad year.
1. Your days are not always consistent, and you might experience a let-down period.
The let-down period is that small time in between very fun weekends, and times where you might feel like you’re in a mini-funk. This is entirely normal, especially because after graduation you feel like you’re expected to live such full, busy life. If each moment isn’t Instagram-worthy, sometimes we wonder if that day was wasted. Truth be told, on some of my early post-grad days, I had the time of my life going to comedy shows, eating yummy food, and dancing the night away. Other days, I might be stuck inside, wondering why I wasn’t more productive. Each day serves a purpose. Use the more low-key days to write down what you are looking to accomplish in the upcoming months. Use the down time to put together potentially cute, but affordable work outfits, or to learn new recipes and get cooking. Don’t let seemingly simple days pass you by.
2. Job searching is NOT easy.
I sent over 150 job applications last summer alone. Unfortunately, you have to be prepared to not hear back from the majority of places you’ve applied to. I can’t lie; it really stings. Some companies will invite you back for a second interview, but then not even bother to reach out if you didn’t get the job. Wallow for a bit, and then pick yourself back. Go to recruiting events. Use your career center at your college for résumé and interview help. Spruce up your LinkedIn page. Scan your emails for any updates on potential job opportunities. I learned that many things aren’t certain, and jobs can fall through. Still, there is something out there for all of us, and we just have to be persistent to find it.
3. You will lose friends.
I have lost some friends over the past year. Some friends unexpectedly disappeared, but some of the friends I lost were necessary losses. But I realized that I was changing, and the interests I used to have weren’t necessarily the interests I have now. It’s hard, but sometimes you just don’t connect with some of your friends the way you used to. It doesn’t mean that you or the other person are bad people, it just means life happens and not everyone who enters your life is meant to be there for the long haul.
4. And the friends you do have won’t be accessible every day.
I had to learn this the hard way. In college, I got so used to talking to the same person (and group of people) every single day, and expected that I would always have someone to talk to or text. Once you graduate, a lot of people’s priorities shift. You might have friends who are also on their daily work grind, or in intense graduate school programs, or spend the majority of their time with their significant others. I struggled with this a bit in my early (albeit quieter) days of post-grad life. I came to the realization that the people in my life don’t love me any less just because they’re less accessible, and I used this as motivation to volunteer more, join a book club, and invest more time in my side hustle.
5. You have to learn to put yourself first.
Recently, I was in a situation where I was incredibly uncomfortable. I went to a party when I was feeling sick, and I just felt detached from everyone around me. I knew early in the day that I should have just gone home, but I talked myself into going out because I thought that was the thing to do. WRONG. So very wrong. I ended up feeling sick, and exhausted from being out too long. I’ve learned that you should always pay attention to your gut instinct and your comfort level. Yes, it is important and even rewarding to take risks in both professional and social environments, but there is no shame in spending a night in or doing your own thing. The beauty (and scary part) of being a post-grad is that you get to manage your own time and pick the people you spend that time with.
I learned that I like to be in bed before 10:30 PM unless it’s the weekend. I learned I need at least half a day of quiet time and reflection on the weekends, whether it is spent just watching Netflix or writing in a coffee shop. Those moments contribute to making more me a more productive and happy person. Create a list or have a talk with a close friend about what things you need to do to make yourself feel good.
6. You can’t be afraid to quit.
Some people associate quitting with failure. I associate it with getting to know yourself more and opening the door to new opportunities. I used to beat myself up about job-hopping in my early post-grad months. I had it in my head that the only way to be happy was to have job stability as soon as you graduate. That is not the case. It turns out, you can quit gracefully and use the aftermath to reflect on what you really want. Quitting can be an important lesson on what really works for you.
Maybe you want a job that is only 30 minutes from your house. Maybe you love commuting, because it is the only time you have to read. Maybe working 50-hour work weeks is suffocating for you. Maybe you hate working 9-to-5 at a big office in midtown. Any of these scenarios are perfectly acceptable. But I believe that you shouldn’t stay in an environment that is toxic to your growth. Don’t stay in an environment where you feel like you are constantly being mistreated, and mismanaged. Don’t wait for a breakdown before you realize that you need to get the hell out of the place you should’ve left months ago. Of course, it’s best to have a plan before you quit, but I learned to give myself permission to leave a toxic work environment if it’s really necessary. Learning to do you in the best and most responsible way possible is what post-grad life is all about. I am learning that slowly, but surely. And I am getting better at embracing the journey ahead.
Krys is a post graduate who loves writing and living in a big city. She is a born and bred New Yorker who secretly loves going to baseball games as much as she does writing events. She has previously published in Thought Catalog, Elite Daily, and The Caregiver Space.
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