The Dos And Don'ts Of Post-Grad Life

by Emily Leah

This recent Elite Daily post was chock full of tips to help us Gen-Yers become functioning, real-world adults. Clearly, Miss Arohie Chopra has been killin’ it in her #postgradlife, and her article offers the survival tricks to prove it. Not me.

I, too, have been living in a new city with a big-girl job since my graduation four months ago (it's been that long?!). At this point, I have not decoded any of the DOs behind post-grad success, but I have definitely learned a ton of DON'Ts. So, in lieu of actual, solid advice like Chopra's, I offer my collection of DON'Ts to fellow Millennials in the form of a what-not-to-do guide in the real world.

Here's to hoping that you won't make all of the same mistakes I have made. Or, if it's too late for you as well, rejoice in the fact that you're not the only one. Then post about it in the comments section, and we can take a cyber Fireball shot together to celebrate our collective genius.

DON'T sweat the small stuff.

It was my first night in my new apartment, in a new city, with no roommate or friends, at 2AM. I thought I was alone, until a giant, flying cockroach-esque palmetto bug joined the party. Cue full-blown panic attack - over the phone to my mother, of course. After a good hour of hysterical sobbing, screaming bloody murder, and vowing to move back home, I finally pulled myself together and pounded that sucker to a pulp with the business end of my brand new Swiffer.

In hindsight, the monster bug was obviously not a life-or-death situation. I promptly forgot about the whole thing the next day. (Or I would have if my little sis back home hadn't listened in on my phone call, recorded the entire meltdown, and posted it on Facebook, but that's beside the point.)  The moral of the story is that many new challenges come with the real world territory, and most of them are way more important than a bug. Try not to freak over the small stuff.

DON'T stay stuck in college.

This general mantra covers a lot of don’ts, such as don’t go back and visit college every other weekend. When younger members of the fraternity you frequent ask if you graduated or not, it becomes clear you have a problem letting go.  One or two visits for homecoming, or to visit your bestie in grad school is fine.

Road trips to your alma mater every weekend are not okay. Also, don’t limit your social circle to your college friends. Make friends with new coworkers, new roommates, and the people you meet at bars. "The more the merrier" is key in boozing, brunching, and pretty much all post-grad weekend activities.

A final word on moving on from college, don’t try to keep reliving college romances. They are as dead as your themed party attire. So you and that guy from school, who continuously treated you like dirt, ended up in the same city? I feel sorry for you! That's an unfortunate coincidence. But you were stupid enough to hook up with him, yet again?

I'm just ashamed of you now. How did you manage to graduate if you clearly learned nothing the last four years?! It’s going to be okay, though. Even if you did make the same mistake of falling for the same old college assh*le, don’t you dare spiral into an emotional black hole of Dunkin Donut holes and Leona Lewis. Rent “He's Just Not That Into You” from the nearest Redbox for a quick and painful refresher, and pull yourself together! This is #postgradlife. You're in a new city, you have an awesome new job, and there's a whole new dating pool for you to dive into – get out there!

DON’T say no to dating proposals.

Lip Stiq

Don’t turn down an invitation for dinner or drinks, ever. When a guy asks you "to go grab a drink after work," you always say yes (and if you're cheap like me, you always let them pay!). There's literally zero harm that can come from 45 minutes of small talk with a semi-stranger. Even if you two are as incompatible as Kris Humphries and Kim K. turned out to be, hey, a free drink is a free drink!

What were you planning to do with your Wednesday night anyway? Watch TV on your living room floor and work on your "mY aMaZiNg CoLlEge YeArS" scrapbook? Yeah, that's what I thought. Really, don’t ever stay home alone on a night when you could be out. You'll have a way better time being a social butterfly than you would watching reruns of “Sex and The City,” over and over to the point where you quote Carrie Bradshaw. Get yourself a DVR, record your shows for a hungover Sunday morning, and go be young and fun while you still can!

DON'T hook up with your coworkers.

When you decide to go be fun, it's fine to include work friends as part of your social circle. But don’t hook up with coworkers. I get the temptation – you spend every day together; you're clearly both smart and talented to work at an awesome company; he whistles in that kind of cute (extremely annoying) way every time he walks by your cubicle.

And six SoCo and lime shots are dangerous territory when you're celebrating a hard workweek. But come Monday morning, when he's stopping by your desk every 15 minutes and somehow the whole office knows exactly why, you're going to regret Friday's DFMO big time. If, for some reason, you just can't resist and you have to hook up with a coworker, make it an intern. Hopefully they won't get the full-time offer, and you never have to see them again!

There are plenty of other workplace don’ts I have quickly discovered. For example, don’t expect to work easy 9 to 5 hours as a post-grad. You're living in a fantasyland if you think that's going to happen. At the same time, don’t become a workaholic. Take the breaks from work you deserve, or else, you'll become one of those office zombies with their eyes glazed over, who forget how to interact with other humans.

Additionally, strive to maintain a sense of composure and sophistication when you're fraternizing with coworkers, even outside the workplace. Don’t blackout when you're drinking with coworkers. It is possible you could end up vomiting at your coworker's apartment while another coworker holds your hair back. If you end the evening passed out on the hosting coworker's couch with your shoes on while slurring, "It's totally fine, I'm just gonna take a nap here for a sec," you can expect to hear about it at the office on Monday…and Tuesday..and pretty much every day for the next few weeks.

All jokes and silly anecdotes aside, here's one final important don’t to help you succeed as a young 20-something in the real world: don’t be discouraged. I can't speak for all Gen-Yers, but I know I'm some combination of overwhelmed, lonely, lost and thoroughly embarrassed half the time, and it's hard. But the other half of the time I feel independent, triumphant, and excited about my future, and you should, too. As young writer Ryan O'Connell put it:

"Remember that you’re young and that the world is your oyster. Everything is possible, you still have so much to see and hear. You went to a good school and did good things. Figure if you’re not going to be successful, who the hell is?"

Top photo courtesy Post Grad