Thinking back to the last four years of my life, my main responsibility was to get decent grades, and to graduate. Spoiled by the luxury of even going to a University, I didn’t worry too much about the aftermath of graduating and tried to soak in as much fun as I could. I got a small dose of reality with part-time jobs and taking care of my shared apartment, but suddenly it was time to move my tassel from the right to the left, pack up my stuff and go back home. Except this time I wasn’t going home just for winter break, I was moving home permanently. And all I could think about while riding that U-Haul back home was: “WHAT THE F**** AM I DOING TO DO?”
I have been living at home since May and I still get hit with waves of nostalgia for when I was living in a bubble where the real world wasn’t quite so close. The day of my graduation party was the day I began to panic. While everyone was celebrating the occasion, I was getting tipsy on boxed wine; the more that people asked me, “What are your plans for after college?” the more I realized that I had none.
The more people asked me, “What job are you going to look for now?” the more I realized that I had no clue. After four years of education and social experiences, I had no idea what “the real world” was supposed to look like for me.
I quickly realized that life after college was not going to be easy and these first few years would probably teach me a lot more about life than college ever did. This adjustment was a difficult one and I started feeling trapped between wanting to go play flip cup and also wanting to have a husband and a house by now. I missed college and all of the people in it, I missed the freedom and the confidence I had. The real world is one full of uncertainty, of questions and of dreams still buried deep inside my brain, eager to run free.
I landed a job. But I still wasn’t happy. I lived with my loving parents. Yet, still wasn’t happy. And all these questions in my mind started tumbling out all at once. Why did I work my butt off eight hours a day and feel no sense of accomplishment afterwards? Since when did I go to sleep by 9 pm. on a Sunday and still feel exhausted the next morning? Why was I not happier? I had a job didn’t I? My anxiety rose through the roof and I felt panicky almost every day. I lived for the weekends and felt depressed on Sundays already trying to make up excuses to not get up. And finally after a while, I realized why I was so miserable: Expectations.
We expect that things will be easier than they actually are. We expect that life will work itself out. We expect that we will be happy even if our jobs don’t fulfill us. We expect that we will make the best of everything and will be strong through tough times. But sometimes, you need to break down in order for things to build back up. And sometimes, you need to let go of your stress and of all the things that are making you crumble. Life after you graduate is a hell of a scary and uncertain ride and it will make you question yourself in ways you never did before.
This transition has helped me realize that you can’t plan anything in life. You can’t even plan to be happy sometimes. You just have to live and breathe through it, and know that something good is going to eventually come from the tough months or years. You are not alone and I promise, you are not the only one confused or scared about your future. You are ok and you are going to eventually be better than just ok. We will all just have to wait and see, and get through these winding roads together.