A little over a year ago I (very begrudgingly) moved home in order to begin the post-graduate chapter of my life. Depressed and disillusioned, I sat and stared at the same punk rock band-covered walls I decorated at 14, sure that I actually knew less at that very moment than I did when I slapped that Fall Out Boy poster up there nearly a decade ago. After countless sleepless nights of confusion, regret and ultimately anger, I came to the sad, yet very real conclusion that after 22 years of living I had no absolute idea of what the actual hell I was doing.
I had done an award-winning job the past few years pretending like I had everything figured out, and that adulthood couldn’t be nearly as draining and difficult as everyone had made it out to be. After seriously considering getting my PhD in BS-ing myself and every poor unsuspecting soul who asked me what my plans for the future looked like, I strapped on my big girl pants and tear-stained college sweatshirt and picked my life up from post-grad struggle day care.
Though finally employed and making a risky attempt at adulting, at 23 I’m still very much trying to figure out how this whole “being a grown up” thing works. Although I’m still undoubtedly fumbling around (young adult novel and popsicle in hand) here is what I understand (at least so far). Listen closely and take this with you:
Take your time
You just survived 16 non-stop years of education. From eating glue to gaining the freshmen 15, from crayon masterpieces to 50-page theses, you’ve miraculously made it to this point, and that is undoubtedly something to celebrate. If anything, you deserve a hot date for one with some Netflix and an economy-sized bottle of Pinot Grigio. Use this intermediate period as a way to catch up on some much needed personal time.
Treat yo self
Just because you have yet to put your degree to use doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put an “f” in front of unemployment. Use some of that generous stash of grad money to take a mini trip with friends or reward yourself with a gift you always wanted but couldn’t quite afford (and probably won’t be able to in your new adult life). There’s absolutely no harm in enjoying one last summer before real world growing pains settle in, if you can.
Get ya head in the game
The hard truth lies in the fact that looking for a job is, in fact, a full-time job. Amongst the fun and carefree moments, this is also a critical point to be thinking about who you want to be, what exactly it is you want to do and where you want to do it. You worked your ass off day in and day out for four long years — don’t just pick a job to pick it or because the salary happens to look extra shiny. Pick something worthwhile, a career you’re going to love just as much in 30 years as you did on your first day.
You’re going to have to do bad until you can do better
It might actually be anatomically impossible for someone to work their dream job right out of college. Student loans and various other debts are a grim reality, and they’re certainly not going anywhere. Just because you have to work at a local restaurant or bar or pick up as many babysitting shifts as you can get your hands on doesn’t mean that the past four years were a complete waste. You have the rest of your life to build a career; there’s no time stamp on dreams, hopes and aspirations never expire.
Stop the comparisons
Our generation’s biggest issue lies within the accessibility and constancy in which we compare ourselves to others. Consumption of social media gives us immediate access to billions of lives within the click of a button. What we fail to realize is what we see via Facebook statuses and Instagram posts is a carefully constructed positively perfect outlook on a person’s existence. Behind the likes and the filters there are struggles just as burdensome as our own. Put down the phone, close the computer, and remind yourself that it even takes the Earth a whole year to orbit around the sun; just because it’s currently raining on your parade does not mean that the sunshine isn’t right around the corner.