Ah, college…the days of beer pong and glorious freedom that you thought would never come to an end. You survived the Freshman 15, the sophomore slump, the junior year study abroad, and the never-ending bar crawl that was your senior year. Now that you’ve walked across the stage and gotten your diploma, you might feel a little lost. You have no rubric for this next chapter in your life. You can’t study for the real world. But it’s okay. You’ll be alright. While you’re out there in your freshman year of “Holy *%#@ I’m A Real Adult Now University”, just keep these things in mind.
1. The real world is different, but not so scary. Yeah, you’ll probably have to be at work earlier than you ever would’ve dreamed of being awake in the morning in college. You can’t go out six nights a week with your best friends and still get away with it. Your best friends will probably be on different sides of the country, and you’ll no longer be in that magical bubble of the universe where you can call them up last minute to grab Chipotle or make plans without a huge amount of planning and effort. The nights of drunkenly jumping on the bed with your best friend and carving your names into the window (sorry UMD) are done. But you’re finally contributing to society in a way that is meaningful and fulfilling. You’re meeting new people at work and most of them won’t suck. You’re making money and still learning a ton. It can be pretty awesome.
2. You will lose friends, but the ones that matter stick around. Graduation makes it clear which friends were good-time drinking buddies and which friends are your ride or dies. When you’re no longer living five minutes from everyone, you soon find out who’s going to pick up the phone and call and who’s going to fade from your life.
3. You will feel completely unprepared and wonder why you’re even trying. This isn’t a constant feeling but sometimes it will hit you that you’re at the age when six-year-old-you thought you’d be married, own a house, and be successful (wah). Just remember that nobody has it all together; some people are just better at faking it.
4. You will see pictures of your friends’ youngest siblings doing all the things you did in college, and feel EXTREMELY OLD. Pair this with the fact that you no longer understand 99.99% of pop culture references and slang (what the hell is “on fleek” anyway?) and you’ll feel like you might as well just park yourself in a nursing home and wilt away.
5. You will also feel extremely, embarrassingly young at times. See: being the youngest person in your office, not knowing how to iron your work clothes, still getting carded everywhere.
6. It’s okay to be different. In college, you were probably told to follow your passions and find something you love to do (as long as that meant majoring in finance and making a shit-ton of money right out of graduation). Understand that you don’t need to live a cookie-cutter life. It’s cool if you want to follow the crowd and do what everyone else is doing IF that is something you genuinely want. If not, take ownership of your life! You only get one, and you’re not getting younger. Now is the time to take chances, be a little crazy, and chase and create the life you want.
7. That being said…everything you do requires some amount of work. This lesson sucked for me. I grew up used to being pretty decent at everything I tried and I’d get easily discouraged when I found something I wasn’t immediately awesome at. Don’t be like that. I’m finding now that I have so much to learn and it’s exciting to think about all that I can work towards and achieve. Just remember that everything requires a bit of sacrifice and elbow grease. How boring would life be if everything were handed to you on a platter? (HA JK, trust fund babies, you have it made. Trade lives with me? K thanks.)
8. Enjoy the ride! In the immortal words of Monica Geller: “Welcome to the real world. It sucks. You’re gonna love it.”