Nothing like doing free work for the benefit of someone else to help you pass the time! (Kidding!). Looking back, I remember my first two years of university: snatching up every opportunity I could to desperately make contacts in a competitive industry with the hopes of being noticed. I candidly remember also trying to stack up a virtually non-existent resume, and working tirelessly to gain these “new skills and insightful experiences” as advertised. But after graduation? I hate to break it to you, but sometimes this doesn’t change. Though it totally sucks because everyone is in his or her “build self-empire” phase, it actually can be quite rewarding. Sometimes we just don’t take advantage of all our resources in post-secondary (I know I didn’t), and that extra bit of experience can make all the difference.
2. Traveling (if you can).
Get lost. Seriously. A change of scenery will open you up to new experiences. Sometimes, all we need is a new room to come home to, different people to interact with and, if you’re Canadian like me, a nice hot beach with sand sprinkled between your toes in the middle of February. And staying away from our own little worlds we’ve built for ourselves online can help, too. It’s not easy to warm up to the idea of leaving social media, smartphones and laptops behind — especially when everyone on Instagram NEEDS to know the location of that magnificent picture under Kaieteur Falls — but if you can get past the idea that life is so much more than a constant social competition, disappearing for awhile becomes much more fulfilling.
3. Trying something new.
Which leads me to my next point…for those who cannot travel why not just do something new? Tired of the same restaurants? Try a random Pho joint. Bored of your personal circle of friends with the same tired jokes? Try venturing out to places alone and meeting new people. Smile more often and be more friendly. Strike up a conversation with a stranger at a café. Go to a free concert and scream your lungs out with people you’ve never met before. Do something you otherwise would not have done in your less-than-crazy, routine-based schedule back in college. Dare yourself to create something. Live life passionately. I promise you, you won’t regret it.
4. NOT forgetting about my peers.
No one ever tells you this, but the minute you step off that stage and throw your graduation cap in the air, you actually have to put in some major effort in keeping up with the friends you made at university. Like serious effort. Remember that tutorial every Wednesday with the professor who spits when she talks? Yeah, no more of that. Which means no more studying for that class. Which means no more conversations about dreading that class. Which means less conversations in general. Unless, of course, your friendship is built on more than just mutual classes (I hope). Everyone is on his or her own personal trajectory and thinking about their next move. The minute we step out off that graduation stage, we enter our own personal worlds filled with fear, hope, anxiety and desire. To each person, this can mean something entirely different. It also means that there is no longer a dependable routine. In fact, the only thing that might remain the same is social media activity, but even then…make sure you have your friends’ contacts saved in your phone. Text them once in awhile, and actually follow through with brunch.
…if you can. I remember creeping an incredibly talented artist and illustrator on Tumblr whose clientele involves musicians and artists like Childish Gambino. He once mentioned in a blog post that the two years following graduation from any institution are the most crucial. It’s true. Many companies are often looking to hire recent grads for virtually any dingy, run-of the-mill, underpaying job, and who better to do it than the 20-something year old with the shiny new piece of laminated paper and a thirst to get into their field? Although the job might completely SUCK and you will not be valued the way anyone who works hard should be, take it. If it’s in your industry, take it. Even if it’s not, take it, and work towards your dream job on the side. Even if it means working a really crappy 9-5 at a call-center while shooting short films on the weekend — trust me, if it can sustain you while you work towards reaching your goals, it is worthwhile.
6. Enjoying the journey.
This is the first time in probably 16 years you haven’t had to do something school-related in the Fall. Embrace it. Now you can properly enjoy pumpkin spice lattes, fall fashion, reading for fun, dark lipstick, Netflix, and watch youtube tutorials without feeling bad about it. Just because school is over with doesn’t mean you’re finished learning. The hard work begins now, yes, but so should appreciation. After all, you’ve accomplished an area in your life that not everyone is able to. Appreciate you.