After graduating last May, I’ve come to realize that being an adult is not at all how I thought it would be. It can be very messy and confusing, and there have been times that I’ve felt completely derailed from the direction that I wanted my life to go in.
Fortunately, I’ve also come to learn that those feelings are totally normal for this phase in life.
We are all just figuring things out as we go, and if you stay positive, you are in for a really fun journey. With that said, here are five things I have learned so far about adulting as a recent grad.
1. Starting Your First “Real” Job
About three months after graduating, I landed my first big girl job. I always had this image in my head of feeling like a HBIC in a really stylish blazer sporting a Michael Kors bag that I could finally afford. Of being really successful right away and shining bright like the star that I am.
That image was a mere mirage of what it actually felt like to be completely green in a corporate setting with very little experience, a truckload of responsibility and an assembly line of one tight deadline after another. On a good day, I managed to get by with only about three panic attacks. The rest of the time, I constantly felt like I was drowning. Not to mention the fact that I eventually started to feel like a pest for the endless amount of questions I asked my boss.
Though this job turned out to be a terrible fit, it taught me a lot about perseverance and helped me figure out exactly what I don’t want in a career. I also learned what type of setting is and isn’t right for me, which is very important when you are exploring career options.
2. Moving Back Home Kinda Blows
Sure, you love your mom and dad. You’re grateful to have a place to come home to while you figure out your life and make your plans to pay back your steaming hot pile of student loan debt. But nothing compares to the freedom you have in college. Coming home at 4am with no judgement, watching Netflix in your underwear all day without being called out for your lack of motivation, and getting drunk at 3pm on a Wednesday because you’re done with classes and duh, it’s Ying and Wings at Murphs.
While being at home certainly has its comforts and I can boldly say that I have the coolest mom ever, I do miss the independence and the freedom of knowing that I can make my own decisions without anyone else’s input. On top of that, there is this weird and unshakable cognitive dissonance stemming from being comfortable at home, but being afraid of getting stuck in that comfort and not moving on quickly enough. But since being a 30 year old cat lady living with mommy isn’t exactly what I picture for myself, I have learned to be very careful about financial and career planning so that I’m setting myself up for the best possible future.
3. Running Into Old High School Friends
This can either be really exciting or awkward AF. Whether you’re lucky enough to have achieved the success that everyone envies right out of college, or you’re stuck working a restaurant job that has nothing to do with your major and you literally want to die (that was me!) it can be weird moving back home and running into people you went to high school with after you’ve spent so much time growing apart.
For some of them, you may be really happy to see and the feeling is clearly mutual. Some of them you may be really happy to see, and it’s painfully obvious that the feeling is not mutual. And then there are some people who you immediately want to run away from, but you’re in public so you have to pretend that you don’t see them and make yourself look busy or distracted. In this case, most likely, they are avoiding you too and it’s comforting to know you are both on the same page.
4. You Never Know If You’re Doing It Right
There is no trick to adulting the right way. You pretty much always feel confused and wonder if there is more you should be doing or if you should be further along in your life. But don’t fret. As long as you are applying yourself and always making an effort to move forward, you will be just fine.
5. Thinking You Need to Have It All Figured Out Is The Biggest Lie You Can Tell Yourself
I always assumed that once I was a college graduate, I had no excuse not to have my life planned out. I was going to get a job in my major, save tons of money and move out as soon as I could. It turns out that life usually has other plans, and you will be much happier if you just roll with it. No one has themselves figured out at 22 or 23, and if they say they do, I can 100 percent guarantee that they are lying to you. The caterpillar phase between college and being a fully functioning adult is all about trying new things. So dive into life headfirst and absorb all of the beauty it has to offer. Take risks bravely like the fierce lioness that you are. If your head and heart is in the right place, I promise, you will always land on your feet.