So you've walked across the stage, smiled so hard that your cheeks burned, and are in possession of the most expensive piece of paper known to man-kind. Congrats! But now you're flooded with fear. Fear of the future, fear of the unknown, fear, perhaps, of leaving the new life you created to return to one that you've outgrown.
The looming pressure of getting thrown into ‘the real world’ upon graduating from college is the physical equivalent to a lion den. It may sound absurdly dramatic but imagine this: your life has been measured in four month increments for four consecutive years. You operate solely in group-mentality - living, breathing and partying in a pack. You’re told that these should be the best years of your life, adding an incredible amount of pressure, ultimately learning to do EVERYTHING in excess.
So yes, it’s a strange time.
This ultimately leads to the creation of a human breed of stressed-sleep-deprived-weak-immune-systemed-party-goblins. All under the narration of a stream of stressful "real-world" talk.
The moment all the excitement of graduation fades, you might find that you're free falling into un-chartered territory. You're confused. You're freaked. You're still probably drinking a lot. From the failures to the fabulous, here’s how to survive (and thrive) in #postgradlife.
1. It's totally normal if you didn't have a job by graduation day (or still don't for that matter)
Job talk is the number one topic of conversation for last semester seniors. Coming in at a close second is whether you are going out tonight, because, why not?
Sure there are the handful of your peers who were spotlighted for the fabulous job offer they received back in February. Seriously though, who hires people that early? Don't get down on yourself if you’re on the unemployed train right now. Chances are, most of your friends have a first class ticket right there next to you.
2. Applying for jobs will become your full-time job.
If number one rings true then so will number two. You're probably already snapping at your parents like you're a 13-year-old again. Checking your email will become a daily source for dread thanks to those automated denial responses keep flowing in with the dedication of Niagra Falls. It’s cool, you only took tens of HOURS crafting the perfect cover letter ha ha ha.
It's all a part of the post-grad process. The most important thing you can do to lock down a job is SO SIMPLE it hurts: Talk to people.
Talk to everyone you know about your hunt, tell them about your skills and what you're hoping to find. You'll be shocked by how many people want to help you. Even if they can't give you a job, truly listen to their advice. Maybe they know someone who can help you and they don't even realize it. Online apps are crap, move on to your most important asset - your network.
3. Be Open to New & Strange Opportunities
For four years of your life, there was really only one clear cut path to receiving your degree. Sure, you could avoid one elective by picking another or getting a marketing internship as opposed to a communications one. At the end of the day though, you’re only allotted a few degrees of deviation before screwing yourself over.
The real world is far more forgiving. There are infinite paths to take that will lead you to your end goal. If you want something bad enough, you’ll get there. Take a trip with your family while you still can, accept the random social media job at the startup (hi!). Opportunity comes in strange ways.
4. Maintaining Friendships Takes WORK
It’s hard to imagine, that a mere month ago you were throwing back shots with all fifteen of your best friends in a kitchen the size of a closet. You “cheers’ed to lifelong friendships that felt effortless. Of course they’re effortless when you couldn’t escape them if you tried.
From here on out, maintaining those friends will take inconvenient phone call hours, unplanned FaceTimes, and “I miss you” texts. It’s not as easy as screaming down the hall or knowing you will run into each other at the same party.
Eventually, that annoying group text live streaming updates at all hours of the day will simmer down. Don’t let yourself get so invested in your new life that you can’t remember the last time you heard your best friend’s voice. If you want to make it last, make the effort.
5. Bills! Credit! Budgets! Oh My!
If you have the down time this summer, lockdown a general understanding of dealing with the real world. Talk to your parents, download the best apps, do some online investigating. These are the things we should have learned in college but didn’t. It’s better to start understanding before you get kicked off your parents' insurance, realize you have no credit, or have to file your taxes.
You’d think twenty-somethings could fend for themselves, right? I did. In reality, I preferred the idea of of throwing myself into a snake pit over immediately accepting the responsibilities of a law-abiding citizen.
It gets easier, just ask your mom. (No, literally - ask your mom about everything. They rock.)
6. Graduating Isn’t the End of The World
Contrary to popular belief, graduating college is just the beginning of your journey. Deep down, you knew that college was always temporary. Perhaps we’re so capable of letting go in the moment because we know that there’s an end date.
At times, the fear of change can seem paralyzing, but maybe there’s something to that. When you stepped off of that stage, sure you left your college bubble behind. But while you were busy looking back, you forgot to look at the entire world waiting right there in front of you.