If you’re graduating college this spring, I’d like to start by sending you huge congrats! Let’s propose a digital toast to you and all of the times you drowned yourself in espresso to survive those long nights of stuDYING. It’s almost your time and you just can’t wait to be done. I was there once, so I know about every anxious bone in your body. I also know there are some things about post-grad life that I wish someone would have kept it totally real with me about before moving the tassel to the other side.

So that you don’t have experience the mental catastrophe that I did, I’ve decided to give you the 411, inside scoop on premature adulting — life after college.

You’ll have a lot more free time

With the absence of final exams, 20-page papers and extra club meetings and activities after class, your planner suddenly reads: OPEN AVAILABILITY. With this free time, it’s natural, especially if you’re an introvert, to want to hibernate until your life has some sort of value again. But sitting in the house all day thinking about this sudden transition period isn’t going to help. (That actually results in multiple meltdowns.) Instead, find something to take your mind off of your newly-found free time, whether that’s reconnecting with old friends, honing a new skill, or branching out of your comfort zone to network. Don’t let time just pass you by while you binge-watch shows on Netflix and Hulu all day.

Finding a job is a job

If you’ve already got a job or some kind of plan lined up after school, congrats! You’re awesome. But for those of you who are still waiting to get that call back from companies you applied to weeks or months ago, don’t wait up. And I don’t mean that to sound negative or harsh. It’s just real, and it’s okay! A lot of post-grads struggle to find their first career after college. Finding an entry-level position can be hard, especially when a majority of them seek a candidate with at least 3-5 years of experience. It’s pretty tough to face the reality of this rejection when you’ve spent the last 3-5 years of your life preparing for this exact moment. My advice: Don’t be afraid to talk to people regarding your job search, keep applying (someone will say ‘yes’ eventually), consider post-grad internships and/or freelance work, and keep doing things to stay polished on what you learned in school.

Moving back home will be a major adjustment

You’ve been away for 4+ years now. So, if you’re moving back home with your parents, good luck. All of a sudden, the freedom of doing whatever you want, whenever you want will be limited or gone. You’ll be back in your high-school bedroom, hoping your mom doesn’t burst in while you’re on the phone, reminding you to clean. But compromising your freedom for a while can come with some pretty cool benefits. If your parents are gracious enough, you’ll get to sleep somewhere rent-free for a while. So, be smart and save some money! This will also give you and your family a chance to spend some quality time together before going off to adult. As much as they nag you, they will definitely miss you when you leave. Neither you nor your parents will be here forever. Embrace the moment!

Photo: wordstream
Photo: wordstream

It doesn’t get better, but you do

You’re going to go through a lot mentally. You’re going to wonder what you should have done differently. You’re going to wonder how different things are going to be in the future. You’re going to beat yourself up about mistakes you’ve made. You’re going to ask yourself a lot of questions about who you are and what you want out of life. You’re just going to think…all the time. Stuff is going to happen that you’re going to have to deal with because you don’t have homework, class or meetings as an excuse to put off your emotions anymore, and unfortunately, it doesn’t get any better. You get better. You start to deal with things like an adult. At first, you’ll throw temper tantrums like a 2-year-old because life isn’t anything like you expected it to be. Then, you’ll start to realize life isn’t what happens to you, it’s how you react to it. Thus, when you switch your perspective into a positive mode, you begin to experience the positivity of life. And that, my friend, makes room for growth and happiness.  

Accept your personal journey

With social media and the pressure of society, it’s going to get really hard to accept where you are in your life without comparing it to where others are. As a PR/Media Specialist grad, let me tell you guys something about social media. The goal is to post the good, happy parts of life and sweep everything else under the rug. So, don’t let the idea of digital happiness and success allow you to think others aren’t experiencing moments of sadness and failures as well. The acceptance comes from knowing where you are is exactly where you’re supposed to be, despite what the rest of the world is doing. If you believe there’s a plan for your life, you’ve asked God, the universe, or whatever you believe in to help you get there, then don’t stress. Don’t try to control what you can’t. Instead, control what you can and flow in the direction of the current. You’ll get there when it’s time.

Don’t lose sight of your dream

It’s going to get pretty easy to sacrifice your dream for something that gets the bills and student loans paid monthly. I’m not saying everyone should quit his or her job and fly across the country to pursue whatever, but remember why you started college and know it’s not going to happen overnight for everyone. Even if you’re going to be working somewhere that doesn’t necessarily fuel or spark the passion inside of you, do things that will in your spare time. Just because you don’t have your dream job yet doesn’t mean you have to stop working toward your dream. With all the free time you’ll have, spend at least an hour every day actually learning about what you want to do, doing what you want to do, or talking to people who do what you want to do. Don’t get comfortable with the security of just having your bills paid and become miserable. Do something that actually contributes to your dream, even if it means sacrificing or putting in the work after work.  

But what do I know? I’m just a post-grad with big dreams and a pen. Perhaps your life will be absolutely perfect after college, and this post does nothing for you. Maybe you won’t have to experience any of these things, but for those who find themselves able to relate, my final piece of advice when the thrill of graduating is gone and you’re staring adulthood right in the face is to stop and breathe. Everything will be fine if you keep breathing.  Remember, breath equates to life. Peace and love to you and your journey.

Writing for the love of culture, all things true, and whatever her soul clings to. Day is a young, black Mississippian trying to connect us all through the creativity of storytelling. Follow her on Instagram @sayheyday to receive updates on her upcoming website. 

What are some things you wish someone told you before graduating college? Be sure to let me know in the comment section below!

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