There is a very crucial transition period that begins right after you shake your University’s President’s hand and move that tassel to the side. With that one proud movement from right to left, you’ve started the unavoidable transition into post-grad life. You’ve allowed yourself to accept that this part of your life is over, and the next chapter is about to begin. Now, in that moment? The ugly crying has started. The hugs are being given left and right. The “I’m so proud of you!” and “Congratulations on achieving this!” are said over and over from loved ones. And you take it all in. You pose for the photos. You accept the *hopefully* thick envelopes with your name written on the outside. And you allow yourself to celebrate such an outstanding accomplishment. BUT THEN, you wake up the next day in your childhood bedroom, staring at the ceiling. . . and you realize a few things.
Realization 1: You have no friends. How does one make friends post-grad? Is there an app? Do I join a local support group? Where do people go for socialization around here? This may sound ridiculous, but it’s real. You go from living in an environment that constantly forces you to meet new people, network with different groups, and form bonds over common things like tacos and happy hour. But now? NOTHING. I’ve moved back to my hometown where the average age is between 64-73, and drink specials only occur on sunset cruises for the tourists. I find myself spending a LOT of time volunteering to drive my 13-year-old sister around, in hopes that at least her other little friends will find me “cool”. And I’m fairly positive even Netflix is becoming concerned with the amount of time I stay logged in. But on the plus side, I have now watched enough Food Network shows to know how to make this years Thanksgiving Turkey, and also are better informed on the “World’s Most Dangerous Prisons” to which I should avoid.
Realization 2: You are broke. Okay, not entirely. . like you will be able to eat and get gas. But still. No matter how well you thought you might have saved, or how much money you pocketed from graduation cards. . you are broke. In college, life seemed cheap! Those $1 taco days, and 2 for 1’s gave me an unrealistic expectation of what the real world is like. College students receive discounts on LITERALLY everything. And from the second we arrive on campus, the saying “If it’s free, it’s for me” becomes a method of survival. And when the money tree seemed just a little low, Mom and Dad were just a phone call away to save the day! But now? NOPE. I can’t even justify asking for money due to the fact that I am no longer able to categorize myself as a “struggling college kid” who needs to “focus on academics” and not a full time job to support herself.
Realization 3: You aren’t actually qualified to do much. Four years of blood, sweat, and tears to learn your field, and now. . they want you to learn more. Every job you look to apply at will ask for previous experience, and this includes the entry-level positions. While your high academic achievements, philanthropic involvement, and countless internships may seem impressive on paper . . they want more. And until you get that first post-grad job on your resume (to prove you are capable of accomplishing something) you won’t be sitting in that corner office sipping your iced french vanilla coffee and asking your secretary to hold your calls. Gossip Girl did not prepare me for this.
Realization 4: You can’t realistically have a 4am bedtime. Time is a flexible concept in college. My days never started before noon, and the nights never truly began before 10pm. I lived in a sorority house for 3 years with 30 other women, and we were in our own time zone. If you were awake at 1am and craving pancakes from Perkins, chances were at least 5 other individuals within a 40 foot radius were as well. But now? NOPE. For starters, both of my parents are productive members of society and the work force, meaning they do normal things like eat dinner at 7pm and fall asleep shortly after in preparation of rising with the sun. There’s also the issue of the local Perkins here closing its doors at 8pm. . a foreign concept to me, who consumed most of my breakfast foods at my university’s Perkins between the hours of 1am and 3am. Now I have to settle for frozen pancakes and use the flashlight on my phone to maneuver my way through the kitchen when the 1am cravings hit.
Realization 5: You’re going to feel lost. For four years life flowed. It made sense. It was planned. But now? OPEN BOOK BABE. In college I did what was expected. I did what was “normal”. I went to classes (well sorta, but thats a topic for another post..). I made friends. I worked my butt off to get killer internships and jobs for my resume. And I applied to and accepted admission to grad school this fall. But this break in between leaves you feeling unproductive and lost. Post-grad life doesn’t have deadlines, or rush parties, or the stress of making sure you make it back to campus before parking becomes literal hell. It doesn’t require you to manage your time both socially and academically, or think ahead to when your next visit back home to see the family could be. No. Post-grad life is wide open. The possibilities and opportunities are endless. And it is positively terrifying.