College Vs. Real World: How Your Friday Night Game Plan Epically Changes Post-Grad

by Stephanie Hayman

The concept of college nightlife is a beautiful thing. Everyone is always eager to end class and begin the weekly Friday routine: try on a million outfits before settling on a desired look, listen to blaring music while sipping vodka sodas or tossing back a few shots, and then finally head out to the local bars to see what kind of trouble you can get into.

Though one may be drained from a tough week of exams or work, a Friday night in college was the Maserati of weekdays: something that was revered, highly-coveted and desired.

Staying in on a Friday night was the ultimate sacrifice, and come Saturday morning brunch discussions, you sorely regretted gaining those few extra hours of sleep or finishing a handful of slides on that PowerPoint presentation.

Fast forward a few years: College graduation has come and gone, and you have now settled into the routine and somewhat monotonous 9-to-5 work life. Tests and books have been replaced by reports, relationship building and corporate culture.

Gears have shifted, priorities have changed and most likely your social life has taken a subsequent decrease. By the time Friday night rolls around, after you've clocked a total of 40 hours in the office and allotted extra time for commuting to and fro.

A Friday night rager may be one of the last things on your mind. The social stigma of staying in may begin to seem like more of a desirable invitation that warrants a weekly RSVP of "yes."

The typical Friday night of the quintessential 21-year-old college party animal can and will morph into a 20-something, young professional's definition of party: one glass of wine and catching a few Z's.

Sometimes, the fight to gain enough stamina to go out after a week of work is comparable to that of a Saturday morning hangover as seen by the scheduled play-by-play of a typical Friday:

Friday Night, 8 pm

College Party Animal (CPA): Finishes dinner and hops into the shower while blasting electronic music. Looks at a total of five different outfits laying on the bed that have been pre-selected as bangin' contenders for the night's events.

Puts on makeup, dries hair and continues to check text messages and social media outlets for any hints as to where the party is. Checks with roommates and friends to make sure similar outfits aren't worn so everyone stands out for a balanced Instagram pic taken later on in the night.

Young Working Professional (YWP): Finishes dinner and hops into the shower, which will most likely take 20+ minutes for venting and relaxation purposes. Lays on bed while still in towel, and goes back and forth between getting too comfortable and realizing that another minute on this bed will result in falling asleep.

Finally sits up and texts friends to make sure everyone is still on the same page about going out, and trying to feel out whether the possibility exists that they might bag pre-determined plans.

Friday Night, 9 pm

CPA: Hair is perfectly coiffed, heels are on and the liquor bottles and mixers are ready for consumption. An energizing playlist is on loop; friends have arrived and the common room is blossoming with good vibes and excitement.

Selfies are being taken like they're going out of style, the feel-good buzz is taking effect and a list of key destinations have been acquired. Phones are charging until they hit 100 percent, while each individual has enough mirror time to make sure that not one physical detail is out of place.

YWP: Has migrated from bed to desk, still in towel. Opens closet and takes a look at a variety of sexy outfits, but opens drawers and finds one that trumps all of the rest: a tank top and sweatpants. Puts those on and decides to brew a pot of coffee for a little jolt of caffeine.

Texts are being received incessantly as everyone is trying to figure out what to do and wear via a group chat. Wishes that "bed" were the final destination settled upon. Starts getting too comfy, so decides to do 100 crunches while waiting for the coffee to finish brewing.

Friday Night, 10 pm

CPA: A handful of taxis have been called for a 10:30 pm pickup, and everyone is getting their last tequila shot or swig of gin and tonic in before the taxis arrive.

Lipstick has been reapplied to perfection; more perfume has been sprayed for good measure, and the one-way ticket to the nightlife express has been cashed. Let the fun begin!

YWP: Everyone is supposed to meet at the local Starbucks at 10:30 pm, where the designated driver will caravan to the local bar scene thereafter, but a final location cannot be decided upon. Coffee has been consumed; hair is dried and two outfit choices are hanging up on the dresser.

Before exerting the effort to put mascara and eyeliner on, feet are being dragged to look for a way out. One friend can't make it until later and wants to push the meet-up time to 10:50 pm.

You are now racking your brain for excuses as to why you can't attend, and are slowly about to bag this whole thing and curl up in bed with a bowl of ice cream.

Friday Night, 11 pm

CPA: Everyone is in all of their glory, cozying up to prospects at the bar and getting drinks for free, oozing sexuality, flashing sweet smiles and dancing like the night is going to last forever.

Someone puts a $1 bill in the automated jukebox in the corner, and suddenly everyone is rocking out to "Wasted"... as they are getting wasted. Strangers have become new friends, everyone piles into the two-stall bathroom to primp and wait for one another, and you feel so young and alive.

Drinks and dollars are flowing, the music suits the mood and you are such a happy-go-lucky drunk and feel that your Monday through Thursday stress in school is being feverishly rewarded right in this moment.

You know the night will continue with plenty of laughs, and end with a ceremonious 4 am slice of pizza before you head back to the dorms.

YWP: After the designated driver backed out and you collectively realize how exhausted you all are, the plans have been canceled. You are thanking your lucky stars that the mascara was never applied and the sweatpants were never taken off.

The lingering buzz of the coffee has prompted a trip downstairs to the freezer, where a rewarding bowl of ice cream has been scooped (whipped cream added for good measure). Luckily, "Forrest Gump" has just started; you have grabbed your favorite fleece blanket and are now cozying up on the couch just living life.

You are so relieved, content and relaxed that this seems like the ideal treat after a harrying 40-hour workweek. An ice cream-induced coma will set in at about 11:30 pm, and you will be dreaming like a little baby.

In a few years, even the mightiest of CPAs may graduate to level of experienced YWPs. When you hit your mid-20s, relaxation and sleep are equitable to partying.

Oh, how the tables have turned.

Photo Credit: Anthony Tripoli