7 Ways Your Social Life Is Bound To Change After College Graduation
I never thought I would become that guy.
The guy who leaves a party at 11 pm because the new season of "House of Cards" was recently added to Netflix. The guy who requires at least eight hours of sleep to prepare for a big Saturday at IKEA.
The guy who ignores friends' calls because he knows they want to go hit the bars while he just wants to stay in with a good movie, snuggled between his two cats.
Who am I anymore? Who is this stranger in the mirror staring back at me? It may be getting older or the stresses of a full-time career, but it's safe to say my social life took a 360-degree turn once I walked off that stage with diploma in hand.
For four years, I had an environment that made it easy for me to maintain friendships within the campus bubble, living in the moment, enjoying human connection and interaction with new and like-minded people.
People you will get to know better than your own siblings. People you spend so much time with, it would be difficult to imagine living your life without them.
As a post grad, I found it difficult to maintain the friendships I assumed would last a lifetime, but that was the least of my worries as a student.
Friends eventually took jobs in other cities, career-mode kicked in and we had to put our social lives on hold while we got other areas of our lives in order.
At this point, I can't tell you if this change was for better or worse, but I can tell you about the seven ways your social life will change after you leave college:
1. More Effort, Less Time
Gone are the days when you can walk over to a friend's dorm, meet conveniently on campus for lunch or enjoy a party within walking distance of campus.
Making friends and keeping them is hard enough as it is, and with a full-time job and other "grown-up" responsibilities, it becomes even harder to maintain the strong bonds that can easily weaken over time.
Some of your college friends won't be in your life forever and others will. Just know it will take more effort to keep your friendships from slipping away from you.
My biggest regret in life is sharing great memories with close friends I met in college who are no longer part of my life.
There were no fights and no fallouts. Just slow, unplanned separations from people I now feel I can only admire from a distance.
2. More Pets, Fewer Humans
The more time you spend around humans, the more you realize how great it is to have a pet.
When I'm out with friends or part of another social gathering, I often think about how nice it would be to curl up in bed with a good book, a cup of coffee and rain pounding against my bedroom window with cat on lap.
While at home with my pets, I'm never judged, annoyed or bothered by friends getting drunk and asking for rides home. Pets won't take advantage of you, break your trust or leave you stranded in a McDonald's parking lot at 3 am (long story).
I've learned over the years that I can tolerate certain people in small doses. Having an active social life is important for my well-being, but sometimes, it's nice to take a step back and enjoy the comfort of your own thoughts and company.
3. Quality Over Quantity
In college, I met a ton of people in a short period of time, and two years after graduating, I can count on two hands how many people I still keep in touch with.
Fast times and fast friends were great while it lasted, but I now value a small, close circle of friends more than many, fragmented relationships. As clichéd as it sounds, good friends are hard to come by.
Many friends have come and gone over the years, and there comes a time after college ends and the dust settles when you realize who your real friends are.
Do not mistake friendliness for friendship. Those who may seem kind and trusting on the outside may turn out to be self-serving and manipulative and on the inside.
People's true colors will come out after college, so keep your friends close and your real friends closer.
4. Adapt To Change
Good things won't last forever. You will lose touch with some friends; others, you will grow closer to. Just know that time, distance and your career will put stress on your friendships and social life.
Find a healthy work-life balance, make new friends and take chances.
If you hold on to the past and how things used to be, you will miss out on great opportunities to meet new people, see new places and experience all that post-grad life has to offer.
Change is a good thing, and without it, life's triumphs and victories would not be nearly as sweet.
5. Social Media Separation
Social media is an important part of my social life. It's a way to stay in touch with friends without the commitment of picking up my cell phone and having an actual conversation.
One thing I realized after graduating is my social media habits changed drastically as I had less and less time to spend on it.
I made the mistake of relying on social media too heavily in an effort to hold on to the friendships I made little effort to salvage. Don't make the same mistake I did.
Pick up the phone and make the call. Set aside time to see your friends in person. Catch up. Stay involved in each other's lives.
Before I even realized what had happened, it was already too late. Time flew, walls were slowly constructed and the only thing I'm left with is status updates and photos of former college friends who were once something more.
6. Different Times, Different Tastes
In the span of four years, so much can change in your life. The constant need to go out and party every weekend loses its novelty, and as you grow older, your tastes and interests become more refined.
At 25, I no longer find it acceptable to stumble home drunk at 4 am and sleep until 2 pm.
Your social life will always be there when you want it to be, but your goals and aspirations can slip away from you if you don't strive to reach them each and every day.
Have your fun along the way, but find a healthy balance that allows your social life to keep you sane and keep your goals on the brain.
7. Family As Friends
As you transition from college student to working adult, you will come to find that your parents are pretty cool people.
I could have never imagined going to a party or bar with my parents just a few years ago, but now, I'm not ashamed to admit my parents are more fun than I am.
It's like discovering I had two best friends for the longest time, but was too blinded by my own insecurities to realize it sooner.
They were young once, too. They've made the same mistakes, loved and lost and crossed the same lines that weren't meant to be crossed.
Hearing their stories and sharing some of your own will fill a void that may have been previously missing from your social life.