1. First and foremost, you have to accept the reality that it’s now Fall, you’re not enrolled in courses, and won’t be enrolled in courses ever again. This is obvious but often shrouded in profound denial, hence why it’s called “shock.”
2. Try, for the first serious time in your life, to cultivate a healthy routine. Remember twice sophomore year, six times junior year, and four times last week you said you’d quit smoking after college? And eat a salad without removing the lettuce? This, right now, is the youngest you’ll ever be. Remind yourself of the sobering fact that if you don’t start trying to outlive your expectations right now, you probably never will.
3. Learn the very delicate art of “floating.” Participate in a potentially-harmful-but-probably-worth-it research study that ends with a $400 check. Drive your aunt and uncle to the airport if they’ll pay you $10. Do everything you can to keep your bank account from foundering. It’s an exhilarating way to extend the excessive post-graduation grace period in which unemployment is mildly (but not really) tolerated.
4. Accept that your parents will never stop worrying about you. You thought it would end by now, right? ABSOLUTELY not. Reverse that logic, because it only gets worse from here on out, which, as we’ve known our entire lives, is a good thing and a bad thing.
5. Start reading for leisure. I know it’s a clichéd way to act like an adult, but it’s one of the very few hobbies that can become self-indulgent without being self-loathing. Words bear influential power and are readily available all the time. Don’t underestimate one of life’s greatest pleasures.
6. Cut back A LITTLE BIT on the boozing. As the modern adage goes, you’re only an alcoholic if you maintain the same proclivity after college. Well surprise, here you are. Getting plastered and yawning in Technicolor all over your room on a Tuesday afternoon don’t harbor the same swag they did during school, so keep it to a dull roar from now on. It’s not as bad as you think; it’s not like I’m telling you to stop drinking altogether because…
7. DO NOT stop drinking altogether. That’s a ridiculous notion supported by your parents to convince you to regret the bad habits you’ve made over the past four years. Despite the sporadic nausea from their excess, those habits provided you the memories and friends that make college so hard to leave behind.
8. Make a valiant effort to stay in touch with college friends. This might’ve been easy in the weeks immediately following graduation, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult as time goes on. Many still live at school to work full-time or finish up a few remaining credits, so you can visit them to feel five months younger again. Yet many have moved back to faraway lands virtually inaccessible on a postgraduate budget. Make visiting these people a recurrent treat once you have the appropriate funds.
9. No matter what, keep yourself busy. You don’t have to build houses to feel productive. Create a blog, collect belly button fuzz, whatever. The more work you force yourself to do, the more you intrinsically enjoy more work—that’s what the kids like to call a “life hack.”