You will have a sudden and intense urge to have a cat. Once the newness and excitement of your new “big kid” job wears off, you will realize how lonely you are at your apartment after work. In school, your nights were filled with friends, homework, and wine—and you rarely felt lonely. Now, you find yourself daydreaming, posted up on your couch sans bra and halfway through a box of Franzia, when you realize what you need is a cat. Any cat will do. A furry little ball of love (and hatred—let’s be honest) to join you as you watch back-to-back re-runs of The Real L Word—your furry friend silently judging you through their half-open eyes as they nap the day away. Getting a cat is your first jump in to adulthood; no parent or RA or roommate can tell you that it’s not a good idea. But, you will find that the smell of their litterbox will permeate your apartment right when you’ve had your friends over to sit down for dinner. Bad idea or not, a cat will feel like the perfect companion to your new adult life. They only bug you when they want to be fed, and you can be alone without feeling so lonely.
You will realize (the hard way) that friendships—just like real estate—are all about location, location, location. In college, it was a five minute drunken walk to the party, to your best friend’s house, and to the bar for some Monday night vodka sodas. Now that you’ve graduated, your friends are scattered across the state, the country…hell, maybe even the world. There isn’t (much) of a chance to run in to them on the street or while you do your grocery shopping. That impenetrable loneliness you feel? It isn’t because you aren’t loved; it’s because now plans take planning, and most of the time it’s easier to stay in your neck of the woods.
Your wardrobe will change. Gone are the days when you could roll out of bed, re-adjust the messy bun that you slept in for the past two (okay, three) nights, put on your favorite cozy sweatpants and the sweatshirt you stole from your high school boyfriend and call it a day. Now that you’re an “adult,” you’re expected to do something called dressing “business casual,” whatever the hell that means. You will learn that the real world’s version of college sweatpants are leggings and tall boots, with maybe a nice sweater to seem put together. No one has to know that you did your lipstick and mascara in the parking lot thirty seconds before your morning meeting.
You won’t drink any less than you did in college; you’ll just drink the wine right out of the bottle after you get home from sitting in traffic at six p.m. Since there most likely won’t be friends around to sit with you while you do the real world version of homework (stalking your middle school crush on Facebook and stalking your fellow post-grads’ LinkedIn profiles), you will sit with your previously mentioned cat and wonder why drinking isn’t as fun alone.
It’s no longer funny or cute to drive your beat up car to work. Trust me—I’ve been the new employee who walked to the other side of the building after happy hour with co-workers to avoid them seeing me get in to my 2002 Volkswagon Bug that has a missing headlight and no working air conditioner. Bite the bullet and take advantage of that recent grad discount; lease yourself a new car and feel like you can take on the world.
Health insurance is now something you pay for, yet you still can’t understand what it’s covering. Your parents offer no further explanation, and some days you hope you get another kidney infection and stay in the hospital just to (almost) meet your million-dollar deductible.
Any amount of excessive coffee drinking is still acceptable in post-grad life. However, if like me you worked at Starbucks and drank yourself to death with blonde roast and don’t enjoy it any more, pretend you do. Nothing says you’re the weird new kid like bringing a large diet coke from McDonald’s to your 8 a.m. meeting (trust me, I’ve done it.)
Your alarm is no longer an unfriendly suggestion to maybe get out of bed. Your college professors could miss you for a day with little acknowledgement; your work probably can’t. Sure, there are sick days, but they now come with the expectation that you will “work from home,” discouraging all of your plans of playing hooky and going to TJ Maxx at 2 p.m. in your pajamas on a Wednesday.
Even two weeks of paid vacation is nowhere near the month long Christmas breaks you had in college—which were filled with week-long Netflix marathons, Christmas cookies, and having your parents fill up your gas tank. Nor can they compare to your summer vacations, where you spent 20 hours a week “working” at an internship and the other 148 hours switching between napping, partying, and looking through your childhood room for various treasures such as your 7th grade diary and your My Chemical Romance t-shirt collection.
Despite the fact that you are $60,000 in debt from student loans, barely making it on your entry level salary, and (possibly) still living at home, you have accomplished something great. You’ve “made it,” as they say (whoever they are). You can finally be taken seriously (most of the time), and you have the degree to prove it. So, go get ‘em, girl. You’ve got this.