This is a question I've been asked at least once a day since starting my first job as a post-grad.
It's always funny having to explain to people I still have no idea what the hell I'm doing with my life or how I ended up in media planning and advertising with an English degree.
I sit there and think about where I was only two short months ago -- graduating next to my best friends. Fast forward to today, I'm one month into the “real world” and already have learned more than I could have ever imagined.
From my hour commute every morning that leaves me with plenty of time to think and reflect to my afternoons spent in the happiest of hours, I've never felt more liberated than in my independent, real-girl, real-world state of mind.
Although everyone warned me about the end of the fun and games in college life, there are some things I've come to learn and love about life in the fast lane.
1. There's no homework.
This sounds obvious, maybe even cliché, but there's really no homework. That means when the clock strikes 5, you become a free bird and you are only inhibited by the barriers you create for yourself.
There's no extra work and, as hard as the work-life balance may seem, you can use that extra time to pick up new hobbies and create memories that don't involve clocking in and out. Some people will lose that work-life balance because they complain about being too tired or too preoccupied with what's to come the next day.
My advice? Life is short. Your 9-5 job is only a glimpse into who you chose to be, everything else is on you.
So if you want to catch that SoulCycle class at 7, you can.
If you want to do nothing but sleep, you can.
If you want to meet your best friend for dinner and a drink, you can.
And you should.
2. You have real money.
Say "goodbye" to those automatic transfers from Mom and Dad every month, you don't need that anymore. That horrible job in retail or waiting on tables of customers who have just sent their food back for the second time? Those days are over. You're now here because you choose to be.
Even though you're now working for the man or maybe yourself, you have an income. It might not be six figures, it might not leave you with enough to go shopping every week either, but it'll be yours.
You can choose to spend it on that tattoo your parents swore they'd never allow. You can buy yourself dinner from your favorite place or finally take that trip you've been dreaming of (or at least start saving for it.)
This is your greatest step to independence and one that leaves you with a sense of responsibility that can't be learned with handouts from your parents.
3. No one has any idea who the eff you are.
Not only does this mean they won't ask you all the annoying questions about life since they last saw you like all the people from your hometown do, but they ask about who you are today. That means no baggage, no burdens, nothing about your past even matters.
No one cares who your friends used to be, no one cares about your exes. No one cares about anything you don't choose to share. And that is the beauty of no one knowing who you are.
You could have been riding the Hot-Mess Express yesterday, but you are polished and poised today -- and that makes all the difference.