I am just one of many recent college graduates who are now trying to navigate the real world; and let me tell you, it is not easy.
When we begin our college ventures, we are young, eager, and motivated students. We might lose a little of that along the way, but we never stop learning, never stop growing, and never stop changing. That is what college is supposed to do to you. So many of my peers and friends have said that the experiences they had in college changed them for the better. Personally, I couldn’t agree with them more. It wasn’t always easy, but those four years were easily the best years of my life (so far, I mean I’m only 22). Then graduation came, the majority of my friends moved on with their lives, and I was left to try and figure out the next step alone.
Let me tell you, it is hard being the one who still has to figure things out. Many of my friends have graduate school, service programs, or jobs lined up to occupy them while they plan the next step. Unfortunately for me, I do not. This leads us to life right now; something that I like to call a “quarter life crisis” or a “post-grad rut”. I’ve been in this rut for a few weeks now and it has done absolutely nothing productive for me. So, if you are a recent college grad and have your life together, please share your keys to success with me. However, if you are like me and are struggling to find something after graduation, this is for you.
1. Realize that graduating college does NOT make you a grandma
It is the strangest thing, but it’s like college ends and all of the sudden, you get tired really easily. Getting up for work everyday is hard so you opt to stay in instead of going out as much as you used to. Combine that with a recent college grad’s hurting bank account and you’ve got yourself a problem. When your friends start to describe you are a “hermit”, then you know you need to make some changes.
Look at it this way: in college you were in class for however many hours a day, you worked a part-time job, you spent countless hours in the library doing work, and yet you still found the motivation to go out and do things multiple nights a week. Wouldn’t it make sense that if you take out school related tasks, you would have more time for your social life? Somehow it doesn’t. I understand that the real world is harder than school, but my point is that graduating college does not give you the right to act like your youth is over. Let me paint you a picture: I spent my Saturday watching one of those Harry Potter marathons on ABC family and my dad said and I quote “so…this is what a typical Saturday night looks like for a college grad huh?” Not okay. There is so much to do if you look for it. Life does not have to become all work and no play.
2. Start to Accept Change
You don’t have to necessarily like change, but you need to accept it. I will be the first to say that I hate change. It seems like you just start to get comfortable and then everything shifts. But that’s how the world works and it’s best to roll with it instead of getting left behind. I have found that the easiest way to deal with change is just to keep looking forward. If you find yourself reminiscing too much, you get stuck in the past and it stops you from moving forward. You cant spend all of your time thinking about how things used it be; focus on making the future even better. That becomes your motivation and it gives you something to work on.
3. Start to see that lacking a definite plan is not necessarily a bad thing
This can actually be a blessing in disguise. If you are still figuring out what you want to do, then this time is perfect for you. This time can be spent exploring another interest, taking more classes, interning for prospective jobs, networking, etc. etc. What you do in this time could completely surprise you and send you on a completely different path. I just have to reiterate that we are still young! Don’t waste time by worrying about an unclear future. It just means that you have to try a bunch of different things to get you to where you will ultimately be. Not to pull out a cliché, but it’s true that the journey is more important than the destination. It’s all about perspective and how you choose to spend your time. If you are spending all your days waiting around for something to happen, then you’re not doing it right. Time is a beautiful thing; if you have a lot of it, do something productive.
4. Have a little faith and make the effort
Again, not to pull out another cliché saying, but everything always works out! It might not always make sense, but everything you are doing now is leading you somewhere. It is so important to remember that. It is easy to get stuck in that rut and think to yourself that you aren’t doing anything with purpose. Everything has a purpose. Everything is leading you somewhere. Have a little faith.
Lastly and maybe most importantly, you have to make the effort in every aspect of your life. In college, you had a constant support system of friends around you. Now, it’s going to require some effort to keep in touch and maintain those relationships. It is shocking but phone calls are not completely obsolete; give them a call from time to time. A good conversation with a friend can be the best medicine for getting out of a rut. Next, you have to make the effort to find a path. Again, life isn’t going to give you a designated path to take. You have to search for it and work for it. Persistence is key; just keep working hard and everything will pay off. At the end of the day, you get what you put into life. If you are unhappy with something, change it. If you are stuck in a rut, motivate yourself to get up and do something. Make the effort. Do something. The worst part about being in a rut is the feeling that your life is stagnant while everything else is moving around you. Don’t let that discourage you; just keep trying and you will get there.