It’s time to be honest about what it’s really like on the other side of Uni. Professors, parents, hell even society as a whole has tricked us into thinking that with a little bit of hard work (and thousands of dollars in student loans under our belt) we will make our dreams come true. We often have this expectation that right off the bat, we are going to walk into our career. I mean, that’s what the past four years were for right?
But for the post-grads still bussing tables, working the same job you’ve been working just to get by, and going on countless job interviews, life after college doesn’t always go the way you plan. You can practically hear the Friends theme song here “so no one told you life was gonna be this way *clap* *clap ** clap* *clap*”
It’s been two years since I graduated and trust me, I am not even close to where I thought I’d be.
I went from working an internship “for the experience” to being unemployed for two months followed by a receptionist job at a law firm that unexpectedly turned into a legal assistant position. Getting fired, taking a job I didn’t want (because I felt like I had to), and then finally working in the type of job I wanted in the first place (two years later).
Not quite the track I thought things were going to take.
It was a challenge adjusting to life after college.
There were plenty of lessons I had to learn the hard way.
If you’re not quite where you thought you’d be after you left college, here are 6 things to know to help you navigate the post-grad blues.
1. You’re not the only one who feels this way
The uneasiness, fear, and longing- these feelings are practically universal. It’s easy to forget when friends post about their awesome new jobs on social media or about how much fun they’re having in their spare time. But in reality, your friends have dealt and are dealing with the same after-college struggles as you. So speak up about it. Be honest about how you’ve been feeling and watch as your friends open up too.
2. Embrace the uncertain
Remember when the commencement speakers at graduation talked about how “the possibilities are endless” and “the world is your oyster” and all those other greeting card cliches? I hate to regurgitate those same sappy speeches, but they had a point there. This time in your life can be anything you want it to be. Don’t you realize how awesome that is? You don’t have to work towards one thing for four years like you did in college, you can change your mind, do something different. Hell, you can take a flight to France for the heck of it! (provided you have the money for it of course). Let this unfamiliar time of your life excite you instead of worry you.
3. It’s okay if friendships grow apart
This might be one of the most painful things about life after college. You and your college friends are no longer crossing paths in the plaza or hanging out every Friday night at your favorite bar. You’ll each be living in different towns, caught up in your different work schedules. You might text each other once in a while or meet up again once every few months, but there’s a good chance your friendship won’t be like it used to be. AND THAT’S OKAY. don’t feel guilty for growing apart. It’s not your fault, it’s not their fault, it’s just the way it is.
4. Maintain a healthy work-life balance
Going from working part-time to going full-on full-time, 9 to 5 takes quite a big adjustment. Making the change from having variety and breaks throughout your day to having to work for eight hours straight is difficult. When your work-life balance is out of whack, burnout is inevitable. On a previous Lavender Life post, I shared tips to avoid burnout and manage your work-life balance.
A healthy work-life balance involves routines and healthy habits (I know, adult things, eww). Once you figure out what works best for you and your new schedule, post-grad life will be that much easier.
5. Learn from your failures
Things aren’t going to go the way you expect.
You might get rejected from your dream job
You might accept the wrong job
You might get fired
You’re in the “real world” now and the real world is full of mistakes and failures. Take it from someone who experienced the worst of the worst after college: your failures are lessons that’ll help you later. I would have had no idea what type of job I wanted until I experienced ones I didn’t. Getting fired was painful but it propelled me to try harder in my next job.
After college, you’re going to fail- just appreciate the lesson learned and move along.
6. Be a wildflower
There’s a quote I remind myself when I’m feeling down, lost, stuck, or worried.
“Be patient with yourself, nothing in nature blooms all year”
After college, we often struggle with expectations about where we should be in our careers, what we should be doing, how we should be feeling. When we aren’t meeting those expectations, it’s easy to feel stuck, trapped, like “this is how it’s going to be from now on, huh?” But instead, you need to take a minute, get out of your own head and realize that where you are in your life right now and how you’re feeling right now is temporary. Things are going to change, opportunities are going to come around, you’re going to get used to your new routine. Like a wildflower, you’re going to bloom- just give it time.
Reality check, you’ve only been in your twenties for a couple years. You’ve still gone plenty of time. This is your opportunity to question your passions and explore the possibilities. This is your time to cherish the memories while looking forward to all the good that’s still to come.