10 Hard Truths You Learn The First Year After You Graduate College

Khánh Hmoong
Khánh Hmoong

I definitely didn’t expect to be where I am a year after graduating college. I thought I would have a bit more figured out. I thought I would be on a more direct path in life. I thought at the very least I’d be in the field I wanted to be in, making plans to move out of my house, have some money saved. But none of that is true, and it really isn’t true for most people in my position. We expect so much from life and from ourselves after college that when it doesn’t happen, we feel defeated.

I have no idea when anything is going to actually happen for me. But now that I’m at this point in my life, I’m embracing it. I’m embracing the chaos, the uncertainty, the unknown. If you don’t, if you have high expectations for your future, nothing will ever be good enough. Because nothing will ever turn out the way you want it to. So here are 10 things to keep in mind in the years after you graduate college.

1. You won’t have your dream job.

Unless you have crazy connections or an internship at a place that you love beforehand, chances are you are not landing your dream job. You are fresh out of college, you desperately need work, and you have little to no experience. So there’s no possible way you can step into a publishing house and become one of their best editors (*sigh* I wish). Every job opportunity you have is a stepping stone to help get you to that fantasy job. Don’t be discouraged just because you aren’t there right away.

2. Or your dream salary.

This differs for some people, but realistically when you get an entry-level job right out of college, you won’t be making nearly as much as you would like to be. After college, that first paycheck will seem huge. You will feel like the richest person on the planet. But you quickly come to find that those paychecks are hard to save and way too easy to spend.  

3. You’ll most likely still live with your parents.

After having freedom for four years, away from parents and rules and expectations, you’re suddenly an adult thrown back into your childhood. And you’ll be forced to stay there… for a while. I thought I’d be living with my friends or in my own apartment, enjoying the perks of adulthood. But nope. You’ll be back fighting with your Mom about chores and be greeted with an array of questions every time you come home. Not to mention it’s pretty impossible to have one night stands. (Maybe that’s a good thing?)

4. You won’t have as much money saved as you anticipated.

I pretty much thought I would have thousands saved up by the time a year passed after graduation. Oh how naïve I once was. This isn’t college where your parents can transfer or send you over some money or you can use their “emergency” credit card or whatever. You actually have to start paying for shit yourself, and if you have student loans, you’ll take an even bigger hit when it comes to saving. I’ve saved nothing in a year. Like, nothing. And that’s fine, because I will.

5. The real world sucks a lot more than you thought.

When you’re in college, you are always envisioning the real world. You can’t wait to just be finished with school, classes, studying, and blacking out every weekend. You look forward to being a real adult where you go to a fabulous job from 9-5 and go to work happy hours where rich guys in suits buy you cocktails and invite you back to their penthouse and you have the freedom to do what you want because you’re an adult. NO. The real world is a cold, harsh place. And you are just thrown into it completely blind and unprepared.

6. You’ll never really be ready for what comes your way. 

You’ll never be prepared for a big change, an epic decision. You might think you’re stuck for a while but something amazing and unexpected will come along. And just because you didn’t see it coming doesn’t mean you should run away from it. Like I said, I didn’t expect to be where I am at this point in my life. But I am, and my next step might be just as random and unforeseen. I’m not going to let the doubt of the future make me cower from it. You just have to roll with the punches.

7. Dating is nearly impossible.

When you were in college, the dating pool was an ocean. You were surrounded by young, attractive people in the same stage of life, who most likely had the same habits as you. They were everywhere – walking the streets, on campus, in bars, everywhere. You hit a brick wall out of college. How do you meet someone who is a blast to hang with, is genuinely nice, and is close to your age? Not to mention with a good job and on the right path? All of those dating apps are a little terrifying when it comes to finding a real boyfriend or girlfriend. So you’re left to trolling the bars. Which can be even more terrifying. So… you feel pretty helpless and totally convinced that you’ll never find someone.  

8. You feel completely stuck. 

You feel like you should be doing more, seeing more, be somewhere completely different. You feel like you’re in a rut, like you’ve officially sold out and are now working for “the man” like everyone else in the world. After college, while trying to find yourself and discover what you want to do with your life, it’s impossible not to get a little stuck. It seems like everyone around you has their shit figured out while you’re just lost, floating in limbo. It’s okay. This is normal. And you won’t feel stuck forever.

9. You’re officially a lightweight. 

You went from drinking almost every night of the week (heavily) to barely at all. You find that about a year after college graduation, you can barely hang after a few beers. Your college self would be extremely disappointed. What’s even worse about suddenly becoming a lightweight are the hangovers you experience. I used to be able to crush a bottle to my face and wake up the next morning ready to do activities (or drink more). Now after a night of binge-drinking (I sound like a Mom) I can’t move from my bed for a full 24 hours.

10. This is all totally fine.

If you don’t have a sick job, a good salary, an apartment, a boyfriend, and tons of cash saved with your life on track, don’t stress. You have no idea how many people are in the same situation as you. Just because you had this grand scheme in your head for your future before you even graduated doesn’t mean it’s actually going to play out in reality. Be patient and trust that things are going to work out as they should. They always do. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Kelly Bishop is an avid reader and writer who hopes to one day work with these passions full-time. For now, she blogs for websites like Thought Catalog, Huffington Post, Elite Daily, and Talk Space.

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