1. Maintain Some Continuity
Wholesale change is always hard. Everyone reacts to change a little differently. Some of us maintain a normal facade while freaking out on the inside, some of us complain to anyone that will listen, and some of us curl up into the fetal position and lose any and all of our previously sufficient decision-making capability. When going through a big season of change, you should try to hold on to something familiar. Stay at your college job for a few extra months, hang out at your old bar, keep some of your old roommates if you can. Four years is a long time. Don’t feel bad about weaning yourself off gradually.
2. Stay Busy, but Don’t Overdo It
Get an entry-level job, be social, and pursue your dreams because life is short. But set up good habits for yourself. Don’t become a workaholic to make up for the hole in your life. You don’t want to be sitting around doing nothing, but it’s almost as bad to swing to the opposite end of the pendulum. Keep your life in a healthy balance. You don’t have to always be doing something productive. Sometimes reading a book, hiking, or even sitting around all day binge-watching Netflix can be great for the soul.
3. Don’t Be That Guy
It’s great to stay connected with your friends that are still in college. Visiting them, texting them, even grabbing lunch with them are all great things that you should do. But when you’re hanging around your old college so much that people think you’re still a student, take a good look in the mirror. That chapter in your life is over. Living vicariously through your friends that didn’t graduate with you can be unhealthy and inhibit your growth in your new phase of life.
4. Don’t Let it Get to Your Head
When you’re in college and your Great Aunt asks you about your life, it’s easy to hide behind the pretense of school. Tell her about all the great assignments you’re doing, how much you’re learning at your internship, and how your Intro to Philosophy class is helping you see the world around you in a different light. But there’s an invisible threshold when you graduate. Those answers just aren’t enough anymore. You’ll tell that same Great Aunt about how sweaty you get at your minimum wage coffee shop job and how you found rats in your apartment bathtub. She won’t say anything mean but you can just tell from her face that she’s disappointed. Well, guess what? Your Great Aunt didn’t have it figured out when she was your age. In fact, if you really think of it, she probably still doesn’t really have it figured out. And you know that kid that graduated with you that always posts about how successful he is on his Instagram? Believe it or not, he doesn’t have it figured out either.
5. Don’t Try to Rush Your Life
If you want to get married and have kids young, that’s fine if that’s your plan. But if it’s not and you’re just trying to skip this stage of life, don’t bother. Your early-twenties are supposed to be a little confusing and a little unknown. It builds character. If you choose to skip a step in life, you might just end up regretting it later.
6. Don’t Have a Quarter Life Crisis
You’re young, confused, and looking for anything to grasp onto. No one will blame you when you break down crying watching a gum commercial on TV in the middle of a Buffalo Wild Wings, or when you start dating that 18-year-old boy from your hometown with those blue eyes that just moved into his first dorm room, or even when you buy a bright yellow 2006 Nissan on a whim with money you don’t have. Life after college is difficult and uncharted. But, if you can, muster the self-awareness to recognize your vulnerable state and find a trusted friend or mentor that you can run major decisions by. You don’t have to go through everything alone.
7. Don’t Let Fear Paralyze You
Once you graduate from college, you realize how little it actually prepared you for the real world. You can zone out in class and still get an A, you can form study groups with a bunch of people who are way smarter than you, and there are available members of the opposite sex literally everywhere you turn. Well, post-grad life sometimes is a little less comfortable. You have to work hard and be persistent to get a job, keep a job, and get promoted at said job. You have to muster up a little of chutzpah to talk to that girl who reads Jane Austen novels in the corner of your favorite coffee shop on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And guess what? Sometimes, that job you applied to online that you thought would be perfect for you won’t even email you back. Sometimes, that girl at the coffee shop isn’t the least bit interested in you. I mean, she was just minding her own business reading a book. What were you even thinking? Rejection is part of every life, but it’s the way we handle that rejection that distinguishes those lives. Don’t take it personally, get back up, and challenge yourself to find something even better because you’re worth it.