This blog is a collection of a young woman's random thoughts, many tangents, and occasional
short stories and novel excerpts. Stay tuned for plenty of bull and brief moments of brilliance.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Graduating: Some Tough Love and Unsolicited Advice

Advice to those Graduating College this Year

I’m going to start this off by telling y’all one of the biggest truths about post-college life that no one says:

Being an adult sucks. Sometimes.

Here are some hard truths about graduating you need to hear that I wish someone had told me.

1.        Take the first job you find post-graduation, if only to get some steady income. You’re not too good for anything. Yeah, maybe you didn’t think you’d be a full-time waitress months after graduating, but at least you can put food on the table. You don’t have to stay at that job forever either, just get your feet wet and gain some stability.

2.        Don’t spend any graduation money you get on random stuff. Seriously. Don’t spend a single penny unless you have to. That money can come in handy as you’re trying to find work and can be a security deposit for a new apartment in a new city. You don’t need to blow a grand on something cool. You’re not a kid anymore with a huge amount of disposable income. The same goes for anyone who get a sum of money upon graduating age! Save that! I know more than a few people who that saved from financial hardship only months after graduating.

3.        You are unlikely to find your dream job upon getting your diploma. Accept that. You may be lucky enough to but the average graduate is going to struggle. Take solace in the fact that everyone else around you (for the most part) is struggling too.

4.        Learn to budget and budget well. I know people who are much older than me who still struggle with this. This is the perfect time in your life to start. Look how much you make a month and then at all the bills you have for a given month, subtract all of that, throw at least $100 into savings a month, leave a bit of a cushion for yourself, and divvy up the rest. Yeah I know, it sucks, but like any new habit you have to learn the new behavior. You’ll thank me later.

5.        It’s okay to make a huge change after graduating; don’t feel like any relationship or friendship is going to keep you in the same city forever if that’s not what you want. Don’t stay in your college town just because you’re scared to make a change. If you love the town you've called home for four years, by all means stay, but don’t stay out of fear of breaking free. You’ll feel stuck soon enough if it’s not what you really want.

6.        Transitioning a romantic relationship from college to the “real world” can be harder than you thought, especially if one of you is still in school or one has already graduated. Moving your life from “college dating” to dating with two full time jobs is more different than you’d imagine. Take a deep breath, communicate until you’re both blue in the face, and take it one day at a time. Graduating can also be a great time to take stock of your life and figure out who should go and who should stay.

7.        For some people, especially people who particularly loved school, life without grades can feel stagnant. Before, you always had something to put up next to your life and judge how you were doing. “Doing alright” is a lot harder to discern after graduating. I’ll give you a different kind of report card instead:

·        Are you paying your bills? All of them? On time too?

·        Are you saving, even a little bit?

·        If you’re not in your “dream field,” are you working toward that? Or are you okay with where you are?

·        Do you have at least one good friend you can lean on throughout this post-college life?

(If you’re doing/have at least one of these, you’re doing fine, trust me.)

8.        You will know at least one person who seems to have their shit figured out so well it actually hurts to watch on Facebook/Instragram. They landed a great job post college and have time to have a fabulous night life on top of that, or they got married and had a kid within a year. Either way, it’s tough not to judge your life compared to others. Don’t do it! Know that at least one person you know will look at you and think, “Gosh, she seems to have it figured out.” The scary truth is none of us have it figured out, even the people you envy on social media. We’re all struggling in our own ways.

9.        If you didn’t in college, start taking care of your body! Start watching what you eat and/or working out, even little by little. By your mid-twenties you’ll start feeling your metabolism slow down and it’ll be scary. No more late night pizza binges without feeling horrible the next day…

10.        If you want to take a couple years after school to find yourself and work smaller jobs in order to work toward your dreams, do it! Take a look at your life and your goals upon graduating and figure out what works for you. As long as you can pay your bills, you’re doing fine.

11.        Try to become financially independent as soon as you can. Luckily we’re legally allowed to stay on our parent’s health insurance until 26 (thank God, I’m still riding that particular gravy boat), and you might honestly need this as you create a cushion for yourself. But as soon as you are able, try to get on your own cell phone plan (or at least pay for yours) and try not to borrow money. There will be times you will need help after graduating and trust me, your parents will be much more willing if you aren’t sucking them dry the entire way through. Plus, you’ll start feeling like more of an adult after being independent. I can’t stress this enough! Yeah, the first apartment I could afford on my own may not have been amazing, but I appreciated it because it was mine and I worked for it.

12.        Your first major financial or medical emergency after graduating will be terrifying and it will always come at the worst possible time (right between jobs, after a big debt has been paid off, middle of the holiday season, etc.). Take a deep breath and look through payment plan options. You’ll feel like you’re drowning but if you take it one step at a time, more than likely you’ll be okay. It’ll make you appreciate all your parents did for you growing up even more too.

13.        Always make time for fun. Some parts of adult life feel so serious and as you stop understanding slang and your teenage siblings tell you that you’re not cool anymore, you’ll feel old once or twice. Life post-college is stressful, yes, but it’s not all bad. Find joy in the little things and give yourself things to look forward to.

14.        Being in your twenties is a weird time in that people all around you will feel like they can have input in your life, almost more so than in college. When are you going to get married? Kids? A house? A better managed 401K? It will be annoying and overwhelming. Smile, laugh it off, and tell people you’re doing your best. Know your family is only trying to help even if it is maddening.

15.        For the most part, it gets better. Trust me. You’ll fall and stumble more than once but the best thing you can do is embrace the struggle and lean into it. No one has life all figured out, so don’t be too hard on yourself to have all the answers within 30 days of walking across that stage. Get to know you and everything will be okay, I honestly promise.
From graduating
To struggling

To sort of "making it work"