I am two years out of college. Actualizing that in my mind is strange. It feels like it’s been ten, long, unpredictable, and eventful years (but I definitely don’t look that way, wink*).
Generally speaking, my college experience was probably similar to most. I was always surrounded by friends, always meeting new people, and always planning and looking forward to the next big get together. Most of my meals were eaten in groups, a week did not go by where someone did not crash on our couch, I never woke up to an empty apartment, and there was always someone willing to play beer pong with you, no matter what time of day. We studied together, watched Gossip Girl together, abused our livers together, and laughed together- always so much laughter. I never felt lonely, never felt bored (unless I was in class), and never had trouble finding someone to share a memory with.
Graduating and entering the working world was a harsh reality shake. Looking back on my life after college thus far, I struggled. Before I could say, “cheers, we graduated!”, I was working a 9-5 job, eating my meals alone, being bored out of my mind, and not making many new friends. I spent more time in my car by myself than I ever had before and had less motivation to be social than I had before. Hanging out was no longer spontaneous and had to be planned, being randomly hung over all day was now much more painful, and skipping work was not nearly as easy as skipping class.
Since I am very much a mind-over-matter type of gal, at the time, I refused to believe that I was not happy. It was not that I wanted to go back to the college years, I just missed that family feel. I have an old soul so I liked the idea of growing up, but I did not like the idea of not having a steady support group to share it with.
On top of it all, single felt so much different than it used to! Single used to mean that I had too many options to choose from and was readily available for new ones at any moment. Now single felt like a synonym for lonely and a precursor to a spinster, old cat lady lifestyle.
As I said, it has been two years and I am only starting to adjust. However, I know I am not alone in this struggle. How? Because I see a lot more sad eyes in the working world than I ever did in college. I believe many people are struggling at this very moment, but without a known solution, we learn to deal with it instead of change it.
In college things just happen and outside factors are constantly pushing us forward. We flow to this party, drink too much, then flow home… the next day. We attend class, are told exactly what to do, do it, and then repeat. Our four years are planned in advance down to the very hour, we have a good idea what life will be like in the next few months, and we are not concerned with being unemployed or not having health insurance. As long as there is Plan B then there is nothing to worry about! (totally joking)…
In post college life, there is no set path. Anything could happen or nothing could happen and it is all up to you. It is up to you if you have a job. It is up to you if you stay in a job you don’t like of if you choose to pursue a job you do like. It is up to you to set your own goals, challenge yourself, and keep learning. It is up to you where you live, how much money you save, and who you chose to spend time with. It is up to you to put the effort into meeting new people, maintaining relationships, and creating a network of like-minded people. It is up to you if you chose to feel lonely or do something to change that.
There is no blueprint or case study. No one’s path will mirror your own. Nothing is guaranteed. So how are we supposed to know what to do?
Stay true to yourself and follow your intuition. Figure out what is important to you, and go after it zealously. Don’t get comfortable with mediocre. Cut yourself slack… if you are not making mistakes, then you are not trying.
I have made large changes in my life recently. For example, I quit a steady job to pursue writing, am selectively choosing a fantastic group of goddesses to surround myself with, have decided to be nothing but myself in every situation (especially with men!), and have made up my mind to fight for what I want (assuming I figure out what that is).
Although the future is unstable, deep down I feel a sense of peace knowing that I am not taking life lightly. Even on days when June gloom makes it hard to get out of bed, I feel my savings account slowly dwindling, and my love life looks like a huge zero on paper, I know I am growing and heading somewhere positive.
Growing up is hard! But if we do it together as a collective group of unique individuals, it really can be exciting to realize how much power you have on the outcome of your life.