I recently attended my third graduation at my alma mater and the magic I first felt on campus when I visited the school is still there as an alumni. Whenever I walk on campus, I get this feeling of calm and this sense of being home. Things have definitely changed since I graduated two years ago including my spot in the dining hall being taken away to make room for the new entrance to the dining hall. Still bitter about that one! I had big plans for my life after graduation, and on graduation day I already started to doubt what I was going to do with my life. Being a college graduate means you have a reallllly expensive piece of paper and memories that will last a lifetime with hopefully a bit more knowledge than before! I graduated college two years ago and I am still working on trying to figure things out. However, here are a few things I wish someone had told me when I graduated.
First, everyone says congratulations when you graduate, but no one says they are sorry that your life as you know it is officially over. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but after college graduation it feels like you jumped off of a cliff and you have to find your footing again.
- Finding a job you like is not easy
When I graduated from college, I had already committed to a job back in March so that was a relief! But like many graduates, I was just thrilled to have a job that I wasn’t that picky when I was looking. While working my first job out of college I knew it was not a forever job or one I wanted to stay in for more than a year. I started to apply to other jobs in my field and some I got and some rejected me. It was a hard blow. I just graduated from college and was told I was smart and special from so many people. I got a dream job doing what I love to do, but it was only part time and the pay was a joke. I had to turn it down. I interviewed and waiting for 8 months to get a job with the state, only to be rejected because I was overqualified. After being at my first job out of college for more than a year, I decided to put in my resignation letter without a backup plan. My mother thought I was crazy, but I knew that I was getting too comfortable and if I stayed any longer I would never leave. I learned a lot from that job and had various different job titles and responsibilities, but it isn’t something I wanted to do forever. Word spread I was leaving, and one of my clients offered me the part time job I have now at the college. I learned right then and there that as long as you network, you will be okay. While in college, I worked retail and surprisingly it is something I am good at and I enjoy it. The last few months I have been balancing two part time jobs neither of which I went to school for. It is definitely not what I planned what I would be doing after college, but I am happy. A big thing to learn after college, is that life is not going to be like you planned. Now is not the time to be picky about a job. Maybe you are over qualified or you didn’t go to school for it. I think the only time you can be picky about a job is whether or not the pay is a liveable wage. I didn’t go to college to work retail again, but honestly it is the most fun I have had at a job. If you are looking for a job, just accept what you can get if money is tight. You don’t have to put it on a resume at the end of the day, but sometimes we just have to pay our bills anyway we can. But no matter what you do, you are going to be okay, I promise!
2. Moving back home after college is actually one of the best things you can do
Everyone’s first thought is that moving back home after college is a defeat. But actually, if you do it right, it can be the best thing for you. For years, you have lived in walking distance from your best friends, your social life, restaurants and your go to coffee shop. What you may not know, is the day after graduation everyone goes their own way. My dream was to move to the city of Philadelphia after college, but I quickly noticed that all of my friends moved out of the city that we called home the last four years. Granted, I was not planning to still be living with my parents two years later, but it is not a choice I regret. I know a bunch of people who moved home after college and are still there saving up money. I also have friends who moved out as soon as they could, and the realities of adulthood hit them hard. While everyone wants to go back to that independent life we had in college, we didn’t realize how expensive it is without the assistance of mom and dad. If you are planning to move back home, your parents will be in your daily lives more than before. You can no longer ignore their calls and use the excuse you were in the library. Luckily, my parents and I have an amazing, adult relationship with each other. I am able to do my own thing and come and go as I please. But the only way we are able to keep this living situation this functionable is because out of respect, I will send my parents a text to let them know where I am or if I will be home late. Your parents at this age don’t want to know where you are to say you can’t go, it is because parents worry. It is what they do! Avoid the fight and just give them a heads up what you are doing. You don’t have to give them coordinates of your exact location, but let them know you are running errands or grabbing drinks with friends after dinner.
If you are going to move back in with your parents for more than a few weeks after graduation, offer to pay for groceries or pick up a bill or two. I started to buy the groceries for the house and I would write my dad a check to put towards my phone bill or something. You can live at home to save money, just don’t become a leech while doing it. If your parents are nice enough to let you move back home, they are going to expect you to come home as an adult, not a kid waiting for dinner to arrive on the table every night. If you do little things for your parents like this, it helps them treat you like an adult in return.
Once you move back at home, set a deadline to move out as well as how much money you want to save before you get your own apartment. It is one of the factors keeping me back at home, because I am very Type A and like to know I have a safety net. I don’t want to live paycheck to paycheck and want to be able to buy a Starbucks coffee and not feel guilty. Bills add up fast, so create an amount you want in your savings that you won’t touch unless you desperately need to. It is one of the reasons I started working semi-full time in retail to make more money to put away.
3. Making friends is actually really hard
Like I said earlier, after graduation your friends are no longer in walking distance. My friends moved to different states and everyone just ends up in different places. Even if you get an apartment with a roommate, you will quickly learn that adulthood is really lonely. I feel like I was prepared for all of the post grad hardships, but this one. Now making plans with friends usually involves a month in advance notice. After work I just want to crawl up on the couch and veg out. But to break from this habit, I have to go out of my way to make plans with people if I want to be social. If someone from work asks me to grab a drink or do something social, I get giddy like a boy asked me out on a date. I still am close with a good number of friends from college. Some friends I see in person a lot and others have turned into a texting relationship. But we are all on the same page that we don’t like each other any less, it is just hard sometimes to keep up with relationships.
My best advice is to plan weekend trips with old friends. My college roommates and I went to Nashville in September and plan little trips in Philadelphia whenever we can. It takes a lot of work, but committing to long weekend trips is a fun way to get everyone together. Our Nashville trip was so successful, we all promised to do a big trip in the fall every year.
4. You will turn into a grandma
Remember Thirsty Thursdays? Yeah, well on Thursday nights you will be lucky if you have enough energy for a face mask before bed. I used to jump at any opportunity to go out or be social, but now I am relieved when plans fall apart. I went to popular bars my first year out of college and had a blast, but after a while when I walked in and saw drunk people I thought I was getting too old for this. For my 24th birthday, instead of my usual bar I went to a higher end bar and had fancy adult drinks with my friends. I realized then that I was starting to get too old for dollar beer nights. I have started to get more excited about grabbing tacos with friends than a night at a bar.
5. Your social media accounts get a little boring
And this is actually a good thing! In college, everyone would post pictures of their squad at the bar the next morning. With my first job out of college working with my town, I quickly learned how important it was to censor my social media. My posts on Instagram consisted more of cute work outfits and coffee than me holding a drink at a bar. On social media you post things to show off how you want people to perceive you. After graduation you want people to treat you like an adult, so let your social media reflect that.
6. Take a vacation whenever you can
Gone are the days when you have a summer, winter, fall or spring break. Hello to working 365 days a year! Okay, so it is not that bad! While there are no long breaks in the real world, there are days off because of government holidays. It took me a while to learn that you can plan a mini vacation during a long weekend and you should definitely take advantage of these! If you are lucky to have a job with vacation days, you will quickly learn that requesting a day off is like asking for a corner office at times. Getting a day off can be tricky, because you have responsibilities at work now, remember? Look at a calendar and highlight long weekends that you and your friends can go on a mini vacation. It doesn’t have to be far either, if you and your friends live far away from each other, pick someones house and make it a staycation! No matter what your budget is, you can find an adventure on any budget.
7. Find a hobby
Wake up, go to work, come home, watch tv, eat dinner, go to bed and do it again. That is basically what the adult, working world consists of. It can get kind of boring if you don’t add a hobby in there somewhere! I got a gym membership and had a weekly schedule of food shopping on Friday nights and trip to Target to walk around on Wednesday. If you can join a fitness class or just walk around Target after work instead of going straight home, it can help add some fun into day. Go out of your way to make plans after work, even if you do them on your own. I was looking for a creative outlet and this is actually how the Blonde Rosie Blog was made!
8. Life does not go as planned…and that is okay
I can’t tell you how many times I cried myself to sleep worrying about life. Am I doing something wrong? Should I have my own apartment by now? Why don’t I have more money? Adulthood brings a lot of exciting parts, but it also brings bills, adult decisions and responsibilities. When I graduated even though I was living at home, I tried to be as independent as I could. I bought my own car, have my own car insurance and paid my student loan. It quickly added up to more money going out to pay bills than I had coming in ugh. I saw people on Facebook brunching in NYC and all I had for breakfast was Special K cereal and a cup of coffee in a cat mug. There are engagement and baby announcements left and right on Facebook, and I can’t remember the last time I went on a date. I am struggling financially trying to save up for an apartment while I try to keep up with my monthly bills. I didn’t see my life going this way, but with all the bad that can happen, I also have the power to do whatever I want with my life if I work hard enough. You are going to struggle, and cry and literally pay for a cup of Starbucks with pennies at times, but you are going to be okay. Enjoy the process and and know that everyone around you is struggling too. It is actually how I met a lot of my friends after college, our mutual struggling in life.
I hate to say it, but the transition to the real world is a challenge. But after all of these challenges, I have learned so much about myself and learned that I can get through anything. If a new person starts working in your office, suggest grabbing lunch or a cup of coffee after work. Get the courage and be the first person to start up a conversation and try to make new friends. You may know a bit more about chemistry or business after graduation, but the best place to learn how to adult is by doing it. Heads up, you will fail, but the lessons you make are worth the obstacles. Remember how painful those 8am classes were? Welp, get used to having one every single morning because waking up for work is hard but your body slowly adjusts.
One of my favorite parts about this part in my life, is that I don’t know what I’m doing. But I’m okay with that! I like the unknown. For our entire lives we lived our lives around school and for once it’s up to us to make our own decisions. Make mistakes, sleep through an alarm and enjoy the adventure. I promise it gets better!
Congrats to the 2017 graduates and welcome to the adult club!