If I had a dollar for every time someone told me to “enjoy it while I can” in college, I may be able to afford the Whole Foods trips and Soul Cycle classes in which I convince myself I’m not too broke to indulge.
I took the advice from my elders to “soak it all in during my college years” half-heartedly, never truly believing I would miss college life that much.
I would shake my head at those people, smile naively and respond with the optimistic enthusiasm that only exists in the mind of someone still completely oblivious to what “real life” entails.
I would confidently reply with, “I’m going to thrive in the real world; I’m used to handling a lot on my plate.” Or, “I’m honestly over college; I’m ready for this next step.” Hah! Talk about eating your words.
Well, listen up, you sunny, naïve, college senior. This is your future-self reporting on your so-called “thriving life,” and I’m here to report that, newsflash, no one is ever ready.
No matter how prepared or eager to take the leap into the real world you think you are, the reality is, most of us aren’t nearly as equipped to handle the real world as your job experience or shiny college degree may lead you to believe.
As you attempt to settle into this new “adult” life, you'll realize there are certain things that just no longer exist once you fall into the category of "college grad."
They go without warning, and before we know it, we’re real-life adults, missing the 20 things that disappear the moment you enter the real world:
The ability to spend upwards of four hours on Pinterest, or any social media channel:
Gone are the days of pinning different variations of Sangria and mimosas and aimlessly scrolling through Instagram, willing your lecture on neurotoxins to be over already.
The need for themed attire/costumes:
I know themed parties exist beyond college. But, certain costumes, like spandex shorts in 10 shades of neon, six pairs of animal ears and that belly-dancing skirt with the bells, no longer have a place in your closet.
Drinking on Mondays without judgment:
College seems to be the one four-year phase of your life where it is socially acceptable to not just drink on Mondays, but get out-of-your-mind-oh-my-god-where-did-I-wake-up-wasted on Mondays.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are also fair game. Any day, any place. I mean, it’s Wine Wednesday, Thirsty Thursday, or 5 o'clock somewhere, right?
Living in yoga pants:
You may have been one of those fashionista types and actually put on real pants for class, but my college wardrobe consisted of one brand and one brand only: Lululemon.
I lived in yoga pants, and if it wasn’t yoga pants, it was soccer shorts. If it wasn’t soccer shorts, it’s safe to say I was probably in a bathing suit and not in class at all.
The real world means real clothes. My once-flourishing Lululemon love affair is now just a weekend side fling.
Living in the same house as, or within a .5-mile radius of your best friends:
Every night is a giant sleepover with all your besties, and there is always something to do and someone to do it with.
Nine-to-five jobs and the responsibilities of the real world make us cherish how frequently we got to see our best friends and do random, weird things with them at all hours of the day.
Spontaneous road trips:
Last-minute Vegas weekend? Sure, why not? Because class doesn't really matter, but that whole job thing does.
Abnormal sleep schedules:
Whether you went to bed at 3 am and woke up at 1 pm, took naps every day from 2 pm to 6 pm or even if you were in class, sleep was pretty much always an option. Your sleep schedule was yours to dictate.
Turns out, napping under your desk at work is frowned upon.
While we’re at it, let’s tack on winter and spring break. An additional newsflash: Unless you work in the school system, it turns out Columbus Day isn't a real holiday. I know, I was shocked, too.
Overwhelming social life:
In college, there was something going on every night of the week -- at your house, down the street, at the sketchy karaoke bar downtown. If you wanted to go out, someone was always down to go with you.
Fast-forward a few months post-grad, and going out to dinner on a weeknight suddenly seems like the social event of the season.
The ability to stay in on the weekends without feeling antisocial:
Since your overwhelming social life mentioned above is absolutely booming, chances are you have already gone out or drank during three of the weeknights, so taking Saturday night to relax and stay in is totally normal.
After a workweek, however, most people are gearing up to let loose and stay in with some sushi, froyo and the latest season of "Parks and Rec." This makes you feel even further removed from the crazy college kid you used to be. And, by "used to be," I mean five months ago…
Learning about things that will have no relevance later in life:
Sure, we complained about 'Intro to Buddhism' or 'Geographical Catastrophes' at the time, but learning is fun, and you'll realize you miss the process of it all.
You’ll also realize how good you would have been at trivia if you had listened more in class.
What kind of time? Time to workout, run errands, stalk people on Facebook, relax, anything! I thought I was busy in college; the real world is next-level busy.
Three-day weekends, every weekend:
If you're anything like me, you made it your job to ensure you had class and all other forms of responsibility packed into Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
That left you three straight days to do whatever your heart desired: yoga, run, drink, tan, etc. I almost started to believe Friday was a part of the weekend. Ah, such foolish college thinking -- not to mention, terrible preparation for the real world.
Teams, sororities and frats:
Whether you were on a sports team or in a frat, the unique bond and camaraderie that comes from a group like that is hard to replace and find outside of school.
For those who stay in the same area post-grad, this doesn't apply to you. For the rest of us, there were creature comforts of our college towns that aren’t available in our new cities.
I find myself missing Santa Barbara and Isla Vista staples like Juice Ranch, Sam's To Go and Super Cucas almost daily.
Not knowing what to do with your life and being okay with it:
When people asked you what you wanted to do with your life, it felt okay to not be able to give a concrete answer. As if that label as a “student” gave you license to still be exploring your life options and path.
I know we don’t have to have it all figured out right away, but being okay with your uncertainty regarding a career direction is something that disappears pretty quickly.
Time to waste without feeling guilty:
As your free time diminishes with a 9-to-5 job (oftentimes longer), you feel as though you have to use every opportunity and every waking moment to be productive. Gone are the days of sitting on the couch, doing nothing for nothing’s sake.
Knowing your purpose:
At school, you have your niche, your group, your clique, your hobbies. By the time senior year rolls around, you have your routine on lock and a solid friend group in place.
Once college ends, you're a freshman again; only, in the real world, you're confused and uncertain of how everything works.
Why didn’t I use these when I was a student? Is it just me, or are student deals so much more prevalent and noticeable the moment you’re no longer a student? Where are the struggling-new-adult discounts?
Directions on where to go next:
Life up to college graduation is a lot like a board game. You follow the path of where to go next, from elementary, to middle, to high school and, eventually, to college.
Life is a perfectly laid out roadmap directing you where to go next, all the way up until college graduation. At this point, the road map evaporates, and we’re left to forge our own path and create our own direction.
I’m not saying all of us post-grads are doomed; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Sure, we’ll stumble and fall. Hell, we’ll eat sh*t and fall flat on our faces. But, we’ll get right back up and eventually find our lives falling into place, complete with new luxuries.