1. You’ll create a new identity. You aren’t a student anymore, and you need something bigger than yourself to motivate you every day. You need to find yourself in new hobbies, friends, beliefs, and passions. You can now dive into experiences that you may have neglected in college. You will discover the person who has been sheltered underneath a student label. The possibilities are endless and overwhelming. It’ll likely take longer than a year, but the first year is when you point your toes in a completely new direction.
2. You can read news articles and books for your own pleasure. Gone are the days where you had to analyze books chapter by chapter and write papers on news articles about inflation. You can now read novels with abandon and find news stories that sincerely interest you. This will lead to the formation of new opinions on science, politics, religion, literature and more that you may have not formed before.
3. There are no parameters for this part of your life. After 16 years of having people judge your performance with grades, suddenly, you realize you have no idea how you are doing in comparison to other people. Are you succeeding? In addition, no job is a guarantee after college, especially your dream job. As someone who changed my job six months after graduation, your whole world can quickly shift multiple times. But it’ll straighten out in time again. And in my case, it was for the better.
4. Care for others. Volunteer, become an active member in your community, or work for a nonprofit that does good work in your city. You will feel a sense of purpose caring for and interacting with the people who live near you. Although you may feel disconnected from college friends, you can find connections in children, adults, and elderly people who all have encountered change in their lives.
5. Some friends get closer, and some fade away. Not everyone can stay friends, especially with jobs and homes in different cities. The ones you make an effort to stay in contact with are going to be your lasting friends. Create events with your friends that you can turn into yearly traditions. Also, coworkers become friends in a whole new I-need-to-vent-about-this-work-related-thing-right-now kind of way.
6. Responsibilities are different, yet the same. Your laundry will pile up in heaps if you forget to get those coveted quarters and carry it down four flights of stairs. Sometimes you start to wonder how you ever had clean clothes in college when you had homework, jobs and clubs to attend. You’ll quickly learn all about co-pays, car payments, and daunting loan payments. Managing your money well becomes a priority.
7. You will understand your parents better. Hopefully, they had your back in college, and you definitely will understand and thank them for it now. They can understand that you no longer have countless roommates to see every day, nor do you have a school filled with built-in support systems. You can confide in them as a fellow adult in the real world, and that can be a relief.
8. Try to exercise and eat well. Sitting at a desk for eight hours a day is not the same as walking to a new class every two hours. Eat fries every day at your desk and never move, and you’ll be wondering where that lovely college body went at the end of the year. I’m learning to cook and eat better foods, and to use that 1-year gym membership that my college so kindly offered to us poor post grads. Being healthy does make your days go by with less stress and more happiness.
9. Find a new home or apartment. Decorate that tiny apartment and make it feel like a space you can live in. Cling to your roommate in times when it seems that no one else understands you. Be alone in a space that is your own, and realize that in ten years you will treasure these moments of solitude in a place you paid for out of your own pocket.
10. Settle down, but don’t stop dreaming. No matter what your grandparents say, this may not be the happiest point in your life. You’ll be happy, yes, but not completely sure of yourself or your future. That can be daunting and might make you want to pack your bags for Europe. Resist the urge to bolt. Settle down and establish a routine. This will be beneficial for your future stability, and jobs can always change. This doesn’t mean to stop traveling and living a vibrant life though. Keep living out your post-grad dreams.