They say that college is supposed to be the best four (or five, or six…) years of your life. They say that, once you’ve left the glitz and glamour (or dark basements parties) of college, your life becomes a trip to suburbia: marriage, two kids, a house with a lush lawn and a white picket fence.
Boring. Predictable. Monotonous. Post-collegiate life can be defined by these three words.
But it doesn’t have to be. The key, my friends, is balance.
When you don your cap and gown, receive your degree and walk across that stage, your ascension into adulthood begins and the days of homework are over (for the most part). Many people see this as the end of fun, adventure and the end of the line when it comes to truly enjoying your everyday life.
I’ve found the opposite to hold true; my post collegiate life has been wholly enjoyable, taking me on adventures and journeys that best my years in academia. And I owe it in part to the fact that when I was in school I knew how to balance myself between work and play.
School was, for me, about both enjoying my last few remaining young-adult years while obtaining a quality education that would prepare me for the future. I was enrolled in college twice–once for my undergrad degree and once for my masters–both instances required measures of balance. I wanted to have fun and get that real “college experience” that everyone raves about while being careful not to flunk out.
I was able to balance my work and life by staying both on task and in the moment. I knew what I had to get done to do well in my classes, but I also made sure to set aside enough time for myself and my own hobbies.
I found my balance when I was in school, and you should do the same to better prepare yourself for the future. But your balance might not look anything like mine. I liked spending time alone and with friends, a mix of staying in and going out during my free time–my balance was truly a balance; if yours isn’t don’t fret or succumb to the “you have to go crazy during college” mindset that a lot of people seem to fall into. It’s your balance, find one that makes you happy, whether it’s reading comic books on your bed when you’re not doing homework or hitting the bar every Friday night with your best friends. The most important aspect of college–and life–is that balance.
Life after college is remarkably different than life during it–that’s something few people will disagree with. But different doesn’t necessary mean harder, mean more stressful, or mean worse. It simply means different. But the mantra of staying balanced–finding time for your interests and hobbies as well as your work, has stayed true.
The key to finding that balance in your career post-college is finding it four years before that in school. Once you’ve established who you are, what you want to become, and how you can thrive with a proper balance you’ll be able to perfect it again when your career is beginning.
So, what is a simple start to finding this balance? One word. Routine. Begin having a set time of the day set aside to deal with paperwork, bills, resume writing, or replying to your future child’s teacher. You can do this by taking 10 minutes and thinking about when you need to be available to friends and to have that much-needed “me time.” Then, find that time of the day where you can work relatively disruption-free and let others know that you need that half hour to Get. Things. Done. This can be after a meal, class, work, or whatever. Set the routine and it makes going out with friends or settling down for a book before bed. I suggest getting it completed earlier so you have your evenings free… but whatever works for you should be fine!
Finding that balance and discovering who you are can allow you to thrive in your adult life–I personally find my post-collegiate life to be much more exciting that my college years. I’ve experienced much more, grown as a human being, and never lost sight of my personal balance.
Don’t look at college simply as a time to party or a time to learn–look at it as both. Enjoy yourself and find out who you are and where your balance is.