Before we start, CONGRATULATIONS!! You’ve worked your butt off, studied hard and now you’re onto becoming a post-college graduate! I miss the feeling of being a college senior and being filled with excitement as graduation creeped closer and closer and the idea of abundant opportunities always floated in the back of my mind. It’s hard to beat a high like that, when everything you’ve worked hard towards is officially coming to a close! But, alas, post-college graduate, you’ve made it to post-college life, and there are a few secrets that people don’t tell you.
Life after graduation is sadly, no fairytale. Well, at least for me it isn’t! I’m sure everyone has a different trajectory, but this is what I’ve learned in the past two years as a post-college graduate living in the “adult life”. Prepare yourself, because it may not be what you’re wanting to hear!
No One Really Knows What They’re Doing
That’s right, you read it, now read it again. From what I’ve experienced with my friends and myself, no one really has any idea what they’re doing. I certainly don’t. I never know if I’m “adulting” the right way or completely “adulting” the wrong way. But, because I’m an adult now, the adults I looked up to don’t necessarily tell me right from wrong anymore! In college, we may not have realized it, but we were all living in a bubble. College ends up giving us a community, a sense of belonging, a place to make friends, explore our interests, and to do it easily. After leaving that support system and that bubble we all lived in, the real world is SO very different. At least in college we had some sort of schedule/routine that we followed. We studied for classes, hung out with friends, we knew what to do on the weekends and alcohol was almost always free or much cheaper, we adopted our college schedule and that was our life.
After graduating from college, it isn’t like that anymore. If you find a full-time job right away, it’ll definitely be easier to transition from one schedule to another, but if you don’t you’re kindof floating around unsure of what to do next. Let me tell you this again, no one really knows what they’re doing or if they’re doing the “post-college years” correctly. Cut yourself some slack and take it one day at a time.
YOU Define Your Success & Happiness
Being happy doesn’t mean getting a full-time job and then hating going to work everyday. Being happy also doesn’t mean that you’re freeloading off of your parents because you’re too lazy to find a job. After college, I’ve felt the pressure to get a full-time job and become “successful” like all of my other friends who have full-time jobs. After graduating, I had a gut feeling that that path wasn’t for me, but my parents, my family, my friends and a whole lot of society were telling me this is what I needed to become a successful and happy adult.
Well, to that I say: “Suck it!”. Just kidding, that’s rude. But I do say that YOU define your own success and happiness. Although I am not going the normal route after graduating from college, I didn’t get a full-time job, I moved out of the United States and I’m working as an English assistant/teacher and getting paid a measly salary compared to the United States, I am happy with my choices. Some friends that I’ve talked to who have the full-time job, the new cars and have moved out of their parents home (things that I sometimes am envious of) have confided in me and told me that they weren’t happy. So, it doesn’t matter if you have a full-time job or don’t, if you can afford a new car or can’t, or if you’ve chosen a different path than corporate America; what matters is how you define success and happiness and how you’re going about to achieve it.
These Are Your Awkward Teenage-Years On Repeat
Remember those awkward teenage years? Yes, the ones when you were in middle school into high school, with the braces, the awkward haircuts, the cool or uncool clothes? Where everything during that time frame seemed to be some sort of popularity contest? Yeah… well, welcome BACK to those years. They’re not exactly the same, but at least for me, these are my awkward teenage-years on repeat. The only difference is that everyone has some sort of job, has a little more money to spend, and now we can all legally drink alcohol! I’m not sure how your awkward teenage-years were, but for me, mine were filled with a lot of questions, self-doubt, low self-confidence and just an overall sense of not knowing who I was so I tried to be someone that all the “cool kids” would like. It was uncomfortable and agonizing, and just thinking about it makes me feel all sorts of *blech*!
Life after graduation and I personally think, in your 20’s in general, will be a mix of your awkward teenage-years on repeat. You may start questioning what you’re doing with your life, if you’re being an adult correctly, comparing yourself to other college graduates and just the general sense of confusion. It’s ok. I’ve been there and I’m going through it now! It’s been two years since my college graduation and everyday I probably ask myself once or twice if I’m being a responsible, functioning and good adult. The answer always varies… because some days are good days and I think I am totally killing the game! Then, there are other days where I wish I could have stayed in college. The real world is hard and it’s rewarding. Don’t let the “awkward post-grad years” get to you, because everyone is probably confused.
Try Not To “Keep Up With the Jonse’s”
Like I mentioned before, if your post-grad years are quickly turning into your awkward teenage-years on repeat, it’s easy to start comparing yourself and trying to “keep up” with the cool kids. Heck, I’ve been there, trying to apply to full-time jobs, corporate jobs, jobs in the hotel industry (since I studied Hospitality Management) and general office jobs. I hated the feeling every time I sent in my application to another company, because I felt a little hopeless and a little defeated because it seemed like NO ONE was returning my emails. Even now, when I’m employed (albeit, in a bit of an unconventional job) and am enjoying the way my life is panning out, I still scroll through any social media outlet and feel a twang of jealousy.
Although I know that corporate America may not be for me and the last thing I want is an office job, I can’t help but feel a bit jealous watching all of my friends find prestigious full-time jobs, high paying salaries, start moving out and buying their own cars! It makes me feel like I need to keep up with them in some way, which means applying to jobs that I don’t enjoy doing, all to have a high paying salary, paid health insurance, a 401K and a LOT more money than what I’m earning now. Keeping up with the Jonse’s and comparing myself to my full-time employed friends is definitely not healthy. It skews my image of my definition of success and my definition of happiness. Try not to compare yourself, because each person’s path is very different!
So, post-college graduate, you’re out in the real world now! You may hate it a little bit, especially when you’re confused and have no idea what you’re doing… but here’s a little secret: No one REALLY knows what they’re doing! We’re all here trying to figure out how to be adults, pay our bills, set up a future, make money and find something that we’re passionate about! Welcome to the club!! (: Don’t worry, the awkward teenage-years eventually ended, right?
These years will fly by! Any other post-college graduates have advice for navigating through your 20’s? * Asking for a friend*