Not everyone can move out immediately after graduating from college. That’s a matter of fact. At the time I began writing this (a year ago?) Thought Catalog published an article stating that 85% of new college graduates move back in with their parents. Bleak, right?
Not entirely. When I said that not everyone can just move out immediately after graduation, I meant it. But not for the reasons you give yourself, like “I don’t have a job,” or “I have loan debt.” No. The people who can’t do it are in their own way. You have to want that freedom like a Death Row inmate. You have to forsake common sense, you have to drive blindfolded, you have to side-eye your friends when they say, “Bro, you don’t have a job. The fuck are you thinking?”
So where do you begin? Well, you know how a pathological liar can will their lies into truth? You need to do that. Your lie? That you have no other choice. You’re like Simba or Bambi or some other parentless Disney animal that has to make it on their own. What the fuck is “Mom & Dad’s house”? There is no “Mom & Dad’s house” anymore. All there is? Future you, chilling in a sweet ass pad and eating Mac ‘n Cheese every night (if that’s what you want). Commit to future you. Do it or die.
Moving out with no plan and no income sounds extraordinarily romantic, and it is. It takes brass balls to have that kind of sickening self-confidence. But I don’t want to demean the people who refuse to do it. The truth is, while slightly heroic, people who move out with no fucking idea what they’re doing are irresponsible, to a degree. They’re impulsive. They’re a touch unrealistic. I was one of them, and hell yeah – I paid the price by moving out with, “HAY WORLD, GUNNA TRY U. WHAT’S CON ED? LOL” as a life plan.
Just kidding. I know Con Ed better than I know some of my siblings. I wasn’t a complete dunce. But! My only plan was “Don’t move home.” And yeah, I incurred some credit card debt (pennies in comparison to my student loan debt), but I’m still alive and still not living in “my old room” (you know, that familiar place those people you sometimes chat with on the phone keep referring to that is still ‘just the way you left it’?).
For some of you, it may be too late. You may be in your parent’s basement right now, eating leftover Sheppard’s Pie and thinking, “Fuck. That’s me. How’d she know? This is some kick ass Sheppard’s Pie.” But for those of you who are in your “transitional period,” for those of you who are crashing on your friend’s couch because you really, really don’t want to move home, for those of you that are thisclose to throwing in the towel, here’s how to get your deluxe, Mac ‘n Cheese-scented apartment in the sky.
1. Balance. Someday, you’ll meet successful people who have everything you want, and there’s an 89% chance that they’ll seem like assholes. Maybe they are assholes. But acting like an asshole at this juncture is not in your best interest. You should be willing to work hard. You should be loyal. You should be kind. You should be equal parts confident in your ability and willing to pay your dues.
2. Have good friends. If you’re a college graduate and you don’t know that you need good friends in life, do everyone a favor and go the fuck back home or wherever you came from. You’re in for some hard times, babe. There’s a big diff between having a bad day and drinking a bottle of wine with your biggest supporter, and having a bad day and drinking a bottle of wine by yourself. Slippery slope. Do not dispose of friends; they are the best assets you have.
3. Pool your other assets. Yay, you graduated! Here’s a card from grandma with $50 in it. Buy yourself a shot, chief! Okay, that’s it. That’s all you get. Take the rest of that graduation money, the rest of your part-time earnings, and the money you got from selling your books on Amazon; save it. You have your whole life to blow your money on unnecessary shit, but now is not the time.
4. Don’t be tempted by your parents coaxing you to come back home. They want the best for you most likely, and if we’re being real, moving back home to be an adult child is pretty enticing. But if you’re enabled too long, you’re going to unlearn what it’s like to be independently responsible for yourself. This will not bring you any closer to being a person who gets to meet strangers at bars and take them home for the night just because you can.
5. Learn how to cook. It is infinitely more affordable than eating out 24-7.
6. Apply for a credit card. Aim for a card with an extremely low limit by being upfront about your income. A $2K limit is ideal. The amount of debt you incur during this time should be minimal and paid off rather easily. Once you’ve been approved, be cautious. This is an “emergency only” card. A pair of Jeffery Campbell wedges or taking someone hot to Eataly is not an emergency (plus, Eataly is kind of annoying). This card should only be used if you’re about to keel over and die from hunger or you’re $200 short on your security deposit for a new place. I would advise to have no credit card at all, but you need to build credit one way or another. Just… don’t buy something if you would never spend real money that way (the point of a CC is to pay it back with interest — don’t forget that).
7. Pick your destination. Where do you want to live? Go there. Locate your friends in that town/city and see if they know someone who wants to sublet a room or a couch, even. If you don’t know anyone in your preferred city, hit up Craigslist and find a sublet (if you don’t have the means to move into an apartment on your own yet).
8. Make money. Making money isn’t exclusive to landing a fulltime job with health insurance and a 401K. Scour Craigslist with the voracity of a dick pic-sending U.S. Senator, hon. Do a focus group. Sell your body to science. Take up a part-time job at a bookstore. Always be making money.
9. College (for reasons I can’t explain) decides that when you’re done with it, you should follow a particular path. Don’t. “The path” is more like a winding road, with forks, and um… cul de sacs, and grass, and you can walk or jump or skip down whichever you please. We’re all going to die to someday. Take the path that will pay you now so that you can get hired somewhere better later.
10. But be aware that life isn’t some Reality Bites marathon. K? You want to be financially dependent working as an XYZ? Do it. I know you can, but you’ve got to get this stupid fucking idea out of your head that one singular job is going to swoop in and save the day. The only thing college promises you is a piece of paper and a bunch of debt. You’re not entitled to anything else. And that is not a bad thing.
11. Be humble. You don’t deserve an apartment in a chic hood, or a job that makes your friends jealous, or anything you thought was in your reach as a student. You’re starting with a blank slate, and someday you’ll prove yourself and earn what you’ve worked for. Today is not that day, but start working on that like, yesterday.
12. Know that your situation won’t be permanent unless you let it be. Any work you do now; free, underpaid; grueling… will lead to something better (I can elaborate on how in another post). Just know that suffering is not without its merits; it’s really the only way to get into a better position. You’re young and resilient and you have the time to figure out what your strengths are when you take all of these scrappy jobs. Once you know what your strengths are, you can utilize them to have leverage at the next hundred places you interview, and on and on. For now, just focus on three things: adding something (ANYTHING) to your resume, making friends and making rent. The rest of the chips will fall into place.
13. Know what you’re sacrificing. Plenty of you are probably years out of school and living with your parents because you feel you have no choice. I don’t know that you have no choice — it just really depends on what you, as a person, value most. Freedom? Opportunity? Fiscal responsibility? Paying back your debts ASAP? The two former are what drives me. The latter isn’t so inspiring. I have loans, but perhaps I’ll die before paying them. Who knows? Will the 1% go bankrupt if I take my sweet time clearing my debt and, a better question — would I give a shit if they did? The answer is definitively no. Ask yourself what’s most important to you in that scenario and you can figure out the rest.