It’s a weird feeling, watching everybody go back to college after you’ve left. The college is continuing the exact same way it always has, but your life has completely changed. The good news is that while there are plenty of things you can’t avoid, you ultimately decide whether you’re going to make your life a happy one. Some things to remember:
No job is beneath you
You go to college to get an education that prepares you for a good paying job. But that doesn’t mean that you’ll be handed a job immediately after graduation. Sometimes you don’t go into your ideal job, yet you still need to pay the bills. And sometimes that means taking any job you can find.
Treat that job like it is your dream job even if it’s the worst position you’ve ever held. Work hard and take away everything you can from it. See it as an opportunity to hone different skills, connect with different people, and develop yourself into the person you want to be.
Marriage and kids is entirely up to you
This goes both ways. If you decide you don’t want to get married or don’t want to have kids, that is entirely your decision. There is an enormous amount of pressure to do so, but don’t just do it because you’re expected to. And if you want to, but aren’t ready yet, wait. The time will come when you are ready.
Likewise, there’s nothing wrong with being married and having kids young. If it’s what you want, don’t be made to feel like you’ve ruined your life by pinning yourself down. Yes, things change significantly, but you’re still you. I got married at 25 and had a baby at 26 and even though I felt like it was the right age for me, I was among the first of my friends to do both.
Life is much different than it was before, but it’s still amazing. And I’m still me. Wife and mama are large parts of my personality now, but they aren’t my whole being.
Hang on to your friends, but expect to lose touch with some
You will lose some friendships after college. There are people you saw every single day who you probably will never see again after graduation. You know who some of them are (at least three popped into your head immediately after you read that, admit it) but others will come as a surprise. It probably won’t be a malicious thing either, just a lack of upkeep on both ends.
Friendship requires cultivation and you only have so many hours in the day. So though some will naturally fade away, you’ll need to put the effort into maintaining the ones that remain. Stay in touch on both the big and small and make plans to see each other.
My best friend lives 855 miles away and sometimes it suuuuuuuuuuuucks, especially when we had four years of seeing each other all day every day. So we text stupid things to each other constantly and look forward to our visits for months at a time.
It isn’t as easy as it was when we shared a room and ninety percent of our classes, but we don’t have that option anymore. So we make the best of what we have.
Also, don’t feel like choosing different paths or being at different points in your lives means that you can’t be friends anymore. I see so many things online about how when your friends are posting ultrasounds and engagement ring pictures, you should make new friends. And there’s nothing wrong with branching out and making new friends. But don’t assume that because your friend had a baby, you’ll never see them again. You might need to adjust your expectations (its own blog post for a different day…) but your friend hasn’t become a different person because she popped out a baby. If a friendship is important to you, make the effort.
You’re only going to get older, so eat a vegetable
It’s awesome when you can spend $15 per week on groceries, but not when it means you’re living off Mama Celeste pizzas and white rice. It’s incredible how quickly your body decides it’s done eating like a college student post-college. I hit a wall about six months after graduation and realized I needed to get some veggies in my life or my body was going to rebel.
It’s worth it to spend the little extra money and get some vegetables to throw in that rice or pasta. Take a little while on Pinterest or your favorite blogs to find some simple, healthy recipes using fruits and veggies you already know you like.
My favorite trick is to toss spinach in anything I possibly can. Pasta? Blanch it in pasta water and toss it in. Smoothies? Hide it among the apple and peanut butter. Crockpot recipe calls for two cups? Tossing in four.
I’m not always good about eating well or exercising, especially when I’m stressed out. But when I actually do, it makes such a huge difference that I wonder why I don’t make the effort all the time.
The world doesn’t owe you anything. Nor is it isn’t out to get you
It simply doesn’t care. This one is probably the hardest to learn, but it’s also the most freeing. People are concerned with their own lives, they aren’t breathlessly watching your Twitter feed to read your newest blog post or see if you screw up. Chances are if you do screw up, very few people will actually see it. So you need to put yourself out there and make of life what you will or you won’t ever move forward in life.
The earlier you learn these things, the easier it is to blend them seamlessly into your life. I’ve struggled with all of them to some extent, and realizing it has made me a more mature person.
What would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments!