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What They Don’t Tell You About Life After College

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

 

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Shattering 5 Stereotypes About The College Experience

Next to the prestige and academic environment, college is mostly associated with wild poolside parties, spirited sports events, and casual hookups. And because of that image, a lot of students feel pressured into fitting this stereotype in order to survive school and graduate with a high social status.

Well, I don’t think that has to be true. It’s possible to have a fully gratifying college career without fitting the stereotype. Let me break it down for you:

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1) You do not have to drink or do drugs to have a good time in college.

Many people do drink and they have a great time in college, but it’s very possible to have a great experience without alcohol or other substances as well. I am big on “nights in” with my closest friends and I also enjoy dancing the night away. I can do both and still be sober, be social and be happy. It’s actually better, in my opinion, because I can remember my night clearly and know that I didn’t have to depend on anything but myself to have a good time. I get home after a party and I’m like “dang I’m fun.”

2) You do not have to join Greek Life to be popular in college.

Sororities and fraternities are just a couple examples of campus organizations that can provide a good community. Residence life, volunteer organizations, cultural and religious affinity organizations, intramural sports, student government, and many other groups can also provide a strong community and even a social status akin to that of a frat star (if you want that sort of thing). Do not think that there is one way to make an impact on your campus. Do what you love and through that you will find happiness and your niche on campus. I never joined a Greek community and instead became involved in a religious community, a scholars program and residence life. From those communities, I was named one of the top 100 students in my class and awarded with many other awards of excellence. I’m not using this as an opportunity to boast, but rather to ensure you that it’s possible and worth it to join or start clubs and organizations that align with your passions and interests and not just ones you think will contribute to your visibility on campus.

3) Spring Break does not have to be spent on a beach somewhere.

Go where your heart desires for your spring (or other) breaks. Take a road trip. Find community service opportunities. Go home. Amazing spring breaks come in all shapes and sizes. I went home for every spring break until my last spring break  when I was able to go abroad with my family for a vacation that was envied by many of my peers. Every break was super enjoyable and necessary no matter where I was. Besides, seeing all the same people from school amidst packed sweaty crowds on a beach doesn’t sound that relaxing.

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4) Going to sporting events doesn’t mean that you have school spirit.

My university had no football. I was a cheerleader in high school so I thought no football meant no school spirit. But we were able to find school spirit outside of sports, we found spirit in wearing school apparel, reppin’ our first year halls in the most competitive ways, coming together for school dances and concerts and uniting in solidarity for common causes. So even if your university has sports, know that you can embody the spirit of your school in other ways as well.

5) You do not have to find your significant other in college.

This is a major key. Everyone has a different path. Some get engaged their senior year and others get married when they are 30, some have a few different partners throughout college and others stay single. All of these options are okay. Do not compare your relationship status to that of others and, most importantly, do not compromise or settle in your romantic relationships. You deserve the best. If you desire a relationship, everything will happen and fall into place at the right time.

 

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There’s no right way to do college. Break some molds. Success looks different for everyone.
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10 Life Lessons from a College Graduate

The lessons you learn in college don’t all come from the classroom.

Here are a few lessons that I learned over my 4 years and I’m sure they can help you no matter what stage of life you’re in.

1. Do your research first, ask the right questions later.

They say that there are no stupid questions. Although, they are right (don’t tell DJ Khaled), educated questions do exist. Questions that when posed, the listener can tell that some thought or research  was put into it beforehand. In a classroom or team setting, these are the questions that make you stand out.

2. Giving in to peer pressure doesn’t help your peers, it hurts you.

A lot of my peers in college gave in to peer pressure early in their first year. Everyone else was doing “it”, whatever “it” may be, and seemed to be having fun so why not join, right? Wrong. Denying your values for the sake of popularity or conformity or any reason really is never a good idea. I saw my peers go through cycles of heartbreak, depression and disorders simply because they made decisions based on their desire to fit in.  Their “friends” weren’t there to pick them back up while they were down and instead they were at rock bottom all alone.

Always hold tight to your convictions. There are a lot of hardships that you’ll have to go through in life, but some of them can be avoided if you protect yourself from outside pressures.

3. The Wait is always worth it.

The most rewarding lesson I learned is that trusting in God requires waiting, but The Wait is always worth it. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Before college, everything came easy for me and then all of a sudden, things got harder and the competition got tougher. Everyone around me had internships with Fortune 500 companies, vacation homes, and engagement rings. Meanwhile, I was just sitting in my room trying not to freak out about having none of the above. But guess what? Freaking and stressing out are just ways to waste your time and emotions. Instead, I took it to God. I learned that His timing might look drastically different then how you would’ve planned it but it’s ALWAYS better. When I learned to do that, I had a real sense of peace and I was able to share that peace with others. At the end of the day, I was the one thriving in a Fortune 100 company. But it did not come easy. I still put in work. I went through the process of applying to many companies and utilized my network daily because waiting on The Lord does not mean doing nothing (James 2:14-26). It was not until the day I was moving out of my dorm room with no summer plans that I got the acceptance call with the perfect offer, the perfect co-workers and the perfect pay. I got God’s best for me when I trusted Him fully.

4. It’s okay to take time for yourself.

Take a nap.  Go off campus to eat.  Take a walk in the park.  Workout.  Journal.  Color.  Breathe.

Self-care is extremely important to your development and happiness. College is stressful and the things that come along with taking classes, such as work-study, activism, extracurriculars, etc. sometimes cause more self-harm then good so make sure to take care of yourself so you can serve others with your best self.

5. Dedicate time to your passions, not resumé builders.

Doing the things that you’re passionate about will be the most fulfilling to you. You will also be able to convey these things more accurately, easily and persuasively to others when talking about it. Why? Because you’re passionate about your passions, duh!

In college, I decided to dedicate most of my time towards my campus ministry. I sacrificed so much to make sure that we were reaching our campus effectively and growing spiritually as individuals in the process as well. Campus ministry doesn’t seem like something that will score well with job recruiters, right? However, I still decided that it was what I wanted to focus on. Campus ministry is what kept me grounded while on campus, it’s what gave my purpose and life, and it’s where I met my closest friends. And lo and behold, my University publicly recognized me for my work in campus ministry, which then forced recruiters to bring it up in interviews as well. This is the power of going after what you love and not what you think others will love.

6. Planning doesn’t solve everything and that’s okay.

Being a planner is a good characteristic to have BUT adding spontaneity and room for mistakes in your life is necessary for growth and added adventure.

7. Do not be a closet activist.

“Stand up, stand tall, and stand out. And make sure that while you’re standing, you’re standing for a cause.” Christa Nutor

Speak out about what you think is right. Act on it in whatever way you deem fit. But be prepared for both positive and negative feedback. And be humble enough to receive correction. This is something I’m still working on. Enough said.

8.Spend some time to figure out what you’re about. And then OWN IT.

I was kind of ashamed of my background growing up. I ignored my socioeconomic class. I put chemicals in my hair to get it straight like the other/white cheerleaders. The only things that gave away my Ghanaian heritage was my last name and the Kingsbite chocolate I’d bring to lunch occasionally. I grew a lot in college and then I became ashamed of that ashamed  younger person I once was. That wasn’t okay either. That period of my life before college allowed me to be the person I am today so I had to learn to embrace that too and now it’s part of my story.

Embrace all of who you are, including where you’ve come from.

9. Don’t let your GPA define you.

If you get straight A’s, great. If you get some B’s and C’s, great. Those letters and the resulting numbers in your GPA do not define you. Work hard, and I do mean work hard, but do not let schoolwork consume you. There’s so much more to your college experience than your grades. Spend energy investing in relationships. Your GPA will one day by irrelevant, but relationships could last a lifetime and take you places you never imagined.

10. Take risks with a side of caution.

Indulge in risks, they can really pay off. But while engaging in “risky behavior,” still practice caution. Be aware of your surroundings and environment. If something doesn’t seem like a good idea, don’t pounce on it. Take a step back and count the costs before making your decision.

I was recently climbing up to the Argyle Falls in Tobago. I’m not an outdoorsy girl so this was very different for me and the climb ahead of me was rocky and steep, but I decided it was worth the hike. Nevertheless, as I was moving forward, I calculated which rocks were unsteady or slippery, I looked around for branches that could help me up and I sometimes had to use some unique butt-scooting techniques to get me where I needed to go next. I’m sure I looked stupid and inexperienced, which I was the latter, but I wasn’t the former because I got to see the Falls and I felt super accomplished about the risks that I took that allowed me to see the result of my actions. That’s what it means to take a calculated risk. Impulsive decisions can be good too, but the probability of those successes aren’t as high so practice caution while taking chances that you believe could elevate your perspective.