Here you are, beaming and bright. Your degree polished and framed. Your class ring sparkling on your finger. The graduation ceremony is over, your parents have packed up and gone back home after showering you with praise and free meals for your four years of hard work (and by work we mean some questionable activities and just barely enough studying to get by..)
Since you started preschool, you’ve known what the next 18 plus years held for you. Although you made choices along the way, you’ve never fully been faced with a blank screen. The blank screen that is your post-grad life. You’re faced now with the reality of the same question you put off all year from every existing family member, relative, and random adult stranger that decided to poke into your life while you were serving them their double decker bacon cheese burger: “So what are your plans after graduation?”
At this moment in my life I was not completely lost, at least I didn’t think I was. I had a decent job lined up after graduation managing catering sales for the restaurant I had worked for all through college. It paid well and I had a nice affordable apartment with reasonable roommates. for 7 months I worked nine to five, Monday through Friday. I went home where I made dinner and watched Netflix. On weekends I went out to “grown-up” bars, far away from the college ones I had visited for the past four years. It seemed as though I had it pretty good. Soon though it felt repetitive. I wasn’t working on anything like school that promised something better in the future. I was still in the same town I went to college in, and it was still mostly populated by students. I was content, but bored. In my thoughts, my post-grad life would be amazing, constantly filled with activities and new connections begging me to work for them. I would be glamorous with designer clothes and a fully decorated bedroom, a super fit bod, and a rich boyfriend, because of course, without school I would have all this time and money on my hands. Surprisingly this was not what I received.
Many nights I would lay in my bed after work, with no motivation to take up a new hobby or project. I felt as though I was standing still. Nothing was challenging, nothing was new, I thought to myself that this was the rest of my full-time job post-grad life. I was forever going to be stuck in a hamster wheel. Being only 7 months into my real-world life, this might have seemed a pretty dramatic conclusion.
But there I was anyway, regardless of the fact that I might be being dramatic. In reality, if you are not satisfied with your life, you have a right to change it. Although, how to change it might be the more difficult question. Depending on your situation, a small change might be the answer: a lifestyle change, or a new project. Maybe you join a club! Meetup.com is a great way to find groups that share the same passions as you do. Bonus: it’s not filled with those college students you now loathe.
The answer to my quarter life crisis?: MOVE. Which is exactly what I did. What my body needed was a shock. A new challenge to get my mind going again. It was almost like being on the show Naked and Afraid (if you have not seen this show yet, it’s moderately amusing yet revolting at the same time. Watch it.)
There I was. Soaked in Southern Carolina culture with my Ann Taylor shift dresses and fully manicured nails. I plopped right onto a California beach filled with slow-talking, dread wearing, Volkswagen bus owning Cali chicks and dudes. Mind you, I moved with barely any money, no car, and no job. This is what most people would call a suicide mission. But easy is never fun. Hard isn’t always fun either. For the first two months I was drowning, in a jobless, penniless, transportation-less sea that was pretty dark and stormy. For a long time I thought I had made the wrong decision, I yearned for the quaint city of Charleston and the forty plus bars, and the ability to walk anywhere I needed to in under 20 minutes and especially my well paying job.
For most recent college grads the real world is a scary place, full of dragons, booby traps, bills, rent, and other money-sucking life-sucking attributes. At some point, you will feel as though you are spiraling down. You may have taken on more than you can handle, you may hate your job, you may be living paycheck to paycheck. This of course, is only natural. As a song I heard on the radio one time.. somewhere.. had said: “you can’t feel the highs in life, unless you’ve felt the lows.” You can never fully appreciate the accomplishments you make without knowing the long hard fight that came before them. Believe me, the fight will be long and hard. When the walls feel like they are closing in, here are a few steps that I take to keep my self together:
– Keep a Note Book.
A blank book is a great way to let go of things that might be clogging up your brain. whether it’s journaling, doodling, or just taking notes and making lists, it will help you make sense of what is going on around you.
This is especially true if you have an office job. Doing something outside, or something that makes you sweat will keep you from losing motivation. Go to the gym, super clean your apartment, or walk around the mall.
-Buy The Little Things
You might not be rolling in the dough. and you probably cant afford the new Ipad that you would sell your soul for, but buying small comforts can be beneficial to your stress level. Don’t give up the small things that make you happy. Get those $5 fuzzy socks from Wal-Mart. Get that $10 first season of Friends at Sears. Throw down the cash for that Vanilla Sugar candle from Bath and Body Works that makes your heart melt. Depriving yourself of the small comforts that make you happy will make it even harder to deal with your bigger problems.
Do all these things, and you might be able to keep yourself from combusting for at least one more month.