Way too many people graduate college and almost immediately feel overwhelmed and underprepared for the real world that’s ahead of them. But then, they stay silent about their struggles because they say to themselves, “this is normal” and “everyone else has done it and somehow survived.”
Well I refuse to stay silent anymore. #Adulting is flat-out hard and nobody, not even school, prepares you for the real world. So to all the upcoming graduates, let me attempt to prepare you for some things that are coming your way.
1. Not everyone is going to see potential in you.
This was really hard for me to grasp. I think I’ve always been in an environment where people encouraged me, supported me and believed in me. However, when I stepped outside of the academic bubble where “self-care” and “brave spaces” were prominent, the world was not as kind.
It’s up to you to protect your identity. You have to know who you are and show the world that you matter. It can be easy to get swallowed up into the craziness of this world until you feel invisible. That’s why you have to find a community. I cannot emphasize this enough. Seek out people who will let you be you, encourage you and feed you spiritually and physically. Otherwise, you can get lonely, feel discouraged and go without free food.
I kid you not, these seem like small things but they’re really big changes especially because, in school, community was built-in and not something you truly had to seek out.
2. Bills. Bills. Bills.
The inevitable. They pile up like your roommate’s dirty laundry. I’m telling you. Bills are not a joke. Even if you were a business school student, nothing prepares you for the level of responsibility and will power it takes to budget and pay your bills on time. I’ve learned to update my budget every two weeks when I get my paycheck. And I set a coffee date up with myself the last weekend of every month to go through the list of bills that I owe and pay them off right there and then even it’s more than a week early. I don’t care. I need them gone and not collecting interest.
(P.S. If you’re relocating for a job or school, you’re going to have a ton of things to pay for before you even have the money to pay for it. Just another reason why budgeting is super crucial.)
3. Your friends are not a hop, skip and a jump away.
I really really took living in close proximity with my friends for granted. I had no idea that I’d be living on the other side of the country months after graduating. It’s so different to not see a familiar face everyday. It’s the little things like grabbing lunch at the cafe, running into each other on the way to class and impromptu nights out that make all the difference – the memories that you were unintentionally creating.
After graduation, friendship becomes even more intentional than it already is. And if the effort isn’t there, then you can easily lose your friend or at least the tight connection that you once had. I know this is something I’m actively working on getting better at.
You definitely have to take a good hard look in your circle and see what friends are worth keeping. You can’t be everyone’s friend anymore. Some people are going to have to go. There’s no more popularity contests, sororities or clubs. It’s all about true genuine ride-or-die friendships after school. You have to put in the work and find things to talk about other than classes and parties. And FYI if you’re not in the same state as your friends or alma mater, #FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) can be so real and pretty emotional.
4. Politics becomes taboo.
Liberal arts colleges tend to be very open and free spaces to talk about politics, protest for social justice and debate on the change we so desperately need in this broken world, but for most people, they become more concerned with their career after graduation than the world around them making it very hard for progress to occur.
People feel like they have to be ten times more careful to make a peep about anything of substance if they want to keep their job or get into grad school. This is the time where a person is tested about what they really care about. It’s extremely easy to fall into a trap where you don’t even watch the news anymore. Why? Well, there are no more structured dialogues happening. No Black Student Alliance events. And no protests outside your dorm room. Everything takes effort now.
Although the climate definitely changes post-grad, I’d highly recommend still doing the good work. It’s now where you have even more power (finances +influence) to make a difference in this messed up world.
5. You start to reevaluate your whole existence.
Life goes by so fast and so does college.
If you decide to take the summer off after graduation, it might not hit you right away that life has drastically changed. But if you take your next move, right after commencement, then you’ll start to feel the difference of living a new life and it will continue to hit you in waves.
And for that, I have some advice:
A lot of change will happen at once so the things that you can keep constant, do.
Do your best not to compare yourself to others because everyone has a different path to take. Everyone’s journey is uniquely made for them. And if we start comparing each other, then we stop enjoying our own journey.
Just do you, boo. Seriously. It’s tiring trying anything else.
So keep the faith, hold tight to your convictions, don’t compare your journey to others and never stop fighting for the things that matter. #youcandothis