The feeling of graduation is probably one of the most liberating and exciting sensations you could experience as a 20-something.
It’s right up there with owning your own car, getting married (if you’re into that) and watching a complete season of "Game of Thrones" in a week.
When I graduated a year ago, I really had no idea what I was going to do with my life. That diploma was supposed to mean something, and it totally does.
It reminds me of all those long hours in the library and crying after I did terribly in a class (but liberated when I kicked butt the second time around).
It meant pushing in my field to come up with the best story I could write and talking to people I knew would help me achieve my goals, even if I was terrified of them.
It showed me that even though I didn’t think I was good enough, I really was because I passed, and I have passion for what I do.
My diploma reminded me of terrible decisions I made outside of class, and waking up the next morning hungover, but I knew I had to get to class anyway, because YOLO and all that.
But my graduation ceremony reminded me of all my friends I made in college, and I knew I would probably not see some of them again for a while.
One year later, it’s funny, but we still keep in touch.
After graduation, you realize nothing will ever be like college.
Those parties, the classes, your friends — it sounds like high school, but college is one of those things you become nostalgic for.
It's a long, four-year memory of the best time of your life, but where do you go from there?
Here are four options all recently graduated people face:
1. Go back home.
Hey! Don’t feel ashamed, so many people do it. And, some do it for years. Going back home is no biggie, but rather a blessing (and sometimes a curse).
On the upside, you probably don’t have to pay rent, hooray! On the downside, your parents think you’re 15 again and say things like “My house, my rules.”
Remember: savings account.
2. Getting a job/internship/something to occupy your time.
Some of you might already have something set up for after you graduate, which is extremely rare and awesome. You’re like a unicorn, but most of us are just horses without the fairytale horn.
But, what are your options if you don’t have a job but are still unwaveringly ambitious? You could get another internship.
A lot of people will knock you down because it’s not “a job,” but an internship is mad-hard work, and when they have an opening at that company, you'll more likely to be the person to fill that role.
So, who’s winning now? BAM.
3. Travel the world to see your future.
We’ve all heard about the woman who quit her $95,000 job to sell ice cream on a remote island.
Well, I’m not her. I wonder, does she have loans to pay? How much money does she have saved up? Does she eat ice cream every day?
Traveling can be an experience well worth taking a year to do, but let me tell you, life is not a vacation, and you didn’t get a college education for nothing.
But until you stumble into a paying job, why not travel? Trust me, you’ve earned it.
Remember all the days of stressing and worrying about getting things done on time and doing tasks well to impress your professor?
Well, it’s kind of like that in the job world, too, so until you've heard back from jobs, you might as well celebrate yourself!
Do you, boo boo, because if you don’t take the time to recharge (which definitely includes sleep), you might as well drop down in a ditch (or just make it a camping trip).
4. Move on over.
Moving is somewhat like traveling, but you’re in the mindset to get serious after spending some time on a warm beach in Aruba.
It’s time to fly the coop again and get out there! One of the best ways to so is to find a job in another city.
New city, new adventure. It’s honestly the truth.
Moving is so exhilarating and not knowing whomever you’ll meet or what the city will be like is such a rush.
In the past year, I lived in three cities and I loved every minute of it. Even the struggles — I loved those, too.
If you think about it, the year after graduating is a very confusing time, but that’s half the fun.
After that, a lot of things will be planned and you’ll have so many responsibilities. It’ll just be too hard to even explore the city you live in.
You can always go back home, or go back into electrical engineering or whatever, but isn’t it time to try something new for a while?
It’s really okay if you don’t have it all figured out. No one really does.
The thing is, no matter what you do, know that you’ve accomplished something.
Just because you don’t know what’s next or you have a crappy temp job does not mean you’re a failure. I’m literally speaking from experience.
During the past year, I’ve had two internships, one crappy job, multiple freelance writing jobs and finally, an actual job I can be proud of.
It takes time, but remember, you raised the bar for yourself when you earned your diploma.
Let the haters say what they want to say, but know the world is your oyster.