So you graduated, you got a piece of paper that says you’re educated and is basically a fancy eviction letter in a leather folder. Or at least that’s how you see it. Maybe you got a crappy job that you’re trying to pretend is something you want. Maybe you got into your top choice graduate program. Maybe you didn’t get into grad school yet. Maybe you’re going to go travel because you can. Or you have no plan at all. Whatever you think you’re doing– it’ll probably change.
This time last year I was freaking out. I got rejected from all of my graduate schools, and was headed home for what seemed like forever. I felt like a failure. I had just graduated, and I had nothing lined up. I was expected to have some incredible job that would put me on the path to my dream career, or be in a top graduate school program, or plan some life changing Eat Pray Love style trip. I had none of this planned the day I graduated. I wasn’t just ending a chapter in my life; someone was forcibly shutting the book on me, and turning out the light.
A month later I got into the last program I applied to, and another month later I was moving out. Life moves fast.
Some of the people I consider to be the most successful didn’t do all that much their first year after college. Their undergrad didn’t highlight them on some newsletter. They weren’t offered their dream job. But they figured it out. They didn’t stop putting their resume out there. They kept applying, they kept working their crappy retail and food service jobs because what else were they supposed to do with their newfound free time?
Just because you don’t have a plan doesn’t make you a failure. If you don’t try at all, then well, you might be a failure. You worked your ass off throughout college, and just because some asshole you graduated with got a good job doesn’t mean you won’t get a job. Stop comparing yourself to those kids who got great jobs. Just stop comparing yourself to anyone in general. Maybe you should hop off social media right now (I’m serious right this second), because I promise you will be seeing a lot of those “OMG I got a real job!!!” announcements in the next couple of months.
I want to say that it gets better, but once the summer is over and school starts up so does the FOMO. It’s hard seeing all of your friends partaking in all the events you want to be at instead of whatever boring job you’re working. And it is really hard to see them all having fun without you. But that gets easier. It’s especially helpful when you delete your social media accounts for a couple weeks (I know, it sounds insane. But it is even harder seeing your friends being drunk and carefree when you’re wearing real people clothes working all day everyday).
Even if you do have a plan, even if your plan actually worked out, it is still a hard year. You’re constantly wondering if you made the right choice in your chosen graduate program or career path (TBH you did). You’re working you’re butt off, and you’re constantly tired even though you’re pretty much exclusively drinking caffeine these days. But you’re doing great. Yeah you’re job sucks, but it’s just temporary right? You can only be entry level for so long. Just work hard, pay your dues, and get shit done. Good things come to those who hustle, not to those who complain.
It won’t be an easy year. A lot of friends will be getting engaged, and you’ll simultaneously wonder if you’re old enough for wedding season, and if you’ll die alone one day surrounded by old newspaper clippings and your cats. And more friends will get puppies and you’ll curse your apartment complex that doesn’t allow animals (you should totally move). And worst of all, you’ll want to just rewind your life. You’ll miss the person you were a year ago (if it was anything like me, it was a drunk girl roaming around with a backpack full of Bud Light and a nametag that said Norbeth on the shoulder). But you can’t bring that backpack out to bars, and you can’t go back to who you were, or who your nametag said you were.
This upcoming year will be an adjustment. You’ll have to actually go out of your way for friends, food, and going out on the weekends. Goodbye to the days when all three were within walking distance. And while this year will really shake you to your core, it will help you grow into a fully functioning adult. You can’t live this easy college life forever, and even if you try to do you really want to be Van Wilder? People pity the kid who takes seven years to finish college. Don’t be that kid just because you want to play for a couple more years.
Just because you graduated yesterday doesn’t mean you have to have it all figured out. Hell you might never have it all figured out. Just keep working, and just keep your goals in mind. Don’t take the easy way out– it won’t be worth it. And don’t stress too much, the first year is the worst, but it does get better—just not instantly.