“We don’t stop going to school when we graduate.”
– Carol Burnett
First off: I can’t believe its been a year and a half since I graduated. I was recently talking with a friend of mine who I went to Spain with three years ago, and she said, “time has literally flown by, it seems like we were just there last year!”
My response? I couldn’t agree more. That’s why it’s nostalgic for me when I start to see graduation pictures crowding my Facebook feed. I start to think about all the graduates who will inevitably ask, “oh my god, what do I do now?” just like I did.
For those lucky few who don’t experience the moment of panic that life will no longer consist of sleeping in, Thirsty Thursdays and studying: I envy you. Realistically speaking, the majority of graduates are not ready or mentally prepared to just dive into the real world.
In the last year and a half since I graduated, I’ve come to learn and accept some important life lessons that make the transition from college to real life just a little bit easier and more enjoyable. Here are some of those tips:
- Never Stop Learning – This is by far one of the most important things to remember after graduation. The minute we stop learning, we stop growing, and then what’s the point of all of this? Take a look at my blog post, “7 Ways to Continue Learning After Graduation,” for fun and easy ways to continue to challenge yourself after school’s out.
- Be Ready for Detours – All through college I had my classes and life planned out. Each semester and even after graduation. My plan was to work for Teach for America and then go to law school. But, after they rejected me a month after graduation, I had to improvise. If you can accept now that your “life plan” will definitely have some detours, you’ll be a lot more able to adjust accordingly.
- Don’t Stop Having Fun – More than any other annoying 20-something, those who take themselves too seriously for the sake of “acting grown-up,” bother me the most. Who said after you graduate you can’t have fun anymore? Life is stressful, so you might as well make the most of it and have fun while it’s happening.
- Meet, Greet & Follow-Up – My boyfriend is my idol when it comes to networking and connecting with people. You never know who you might meet or who might be able to help you later on. Take a look at my blog post, “The 20-Something Stigma.” It addresses some great points when it comes to developing your professional career after college.
- Don’t Settle – I recently wrote the post, “The Choice: Freedom or Security,” where I addressed the concept of “settling.” I got a lot of feedback (good and bad) about my post, but still stand by my main point which is this: know what you want, and don’t settle for anything less. Granted, right after graduation you might not be able to walk into the job or lifestyle you had hoped for, but it’s important to make sure you’re at least moving in the direction of what you want.
- Keep It In Perspective – When it seems like the world is on your shoulders and you just want to crawl under a rock (which will happen, often) remember everything’s okay. Whatever the problem, you can handle it. Everything happens for a reason (or so I like to think) so stay positive and deal with the problem head on.
- Live Within Your Means – Racking up a bunch of debt isn’t the best way to start off your life as an independent individual. Personally, maintaining financial stability and knowing how to handle my finances is something I still personally struggle with. Find people who know how to manage money (friends, family or a financial advisor) who can help you get on the right track and stay there so you won’t be drowning in debt later on.
- Stay True to Yourself – After publishing this post, I felt that I had left out one of the most crucial life lessons: always stay true to yourself. No matter what else, understand what’s important to you and make sure that you’re living by those standards.
Thankfully, life after graduation isn’t as scary as most people make it out to be. It’s all about enjoying the ride, working hard and making the most of the experience. Happy Graduation, Grads!
~ Miss Soucie