Post-Grad World: Why You Should Stop Worrying About What Happens Next

by Nicole Christopher

College: The most beautiful, formative four years of freedom, self-realization, late nights, bad food, great people and better parties.

Tom Petty said it best:

“I've learned one thing, and that's to quit worrying about stupid things. You have four years to be irresponsible here, relax. Work is for people with jobs. You'll never remember class time, but you'll remember the time you wasted hanging out with your friends. So stay out late. Go out with your friends on a Tuesday when you have a paper due on Wednesday. Spend money you don't have. Drink till sunrise. The work never ends, but college does...”

The man hit the nail on the head, but it doesn’t all have to end the minute you accept your first job, settle into your first home or make your first big post-grad move.

The day I turned 22, I was a college graduate.

I had a full-time job lined up that was completely relative to my degree.

I was all settled back into my parent’s basement in the same small town I grew up in, and I was in a relationship with the same man I had been dating for seven years.

My I's were all dotted and my T's all crossed.

I followed the rules most of the time: Go to class, work, intern, graduate, get a job and start saving your money.

I worked hard, and I’m not even sure of what my goal was. (Success, comfort, accomplishment?) I honestly couldn’t tell you now because I was so focused on what was coming next.

I thought my plans were so important. I would dominate as a professional, be in a relationship, move out and live in the city. But the funny thing about plans: They don’t always work out (more often than not, for the best).

Today, I have no plan for what’s next. I have no care about what I should be doing to get ahead.

I don’t want to know what I’m eating for lunch tomorrow, who I’m going to spend my weekend with or where I’m going to go.

Yes, college may have ended; the real world came knocking at my door long before I was ready to answer, but why should I have to live the life I want part time, or sometimes?

You’re only young once, and that lasts longer than college. Everything is still in front of you; it’s all here now. Nothing has been taken away.

You have to create something of importance, not of importance to anyone or everyone, just of importance to you.

You want to stay at school an extra semester? Cool. It went by way too fast; enter the real world when you’re ready.

You graduated with an accounting degree, but you feel like teaching in Asia for a year? Do it. All of this will still be here when you’re ready to come home.

You worked your ass off for four years in school, and you don’t feel like settling for that first mediocre job offer?

Don’t! Believe me, the economy is on the mend. You’ll be fine.

It’s okay not to have it all together; you just need to be working toward something.

It doesn't matter whether it’s your dream of instructing at a ski resort, being a flight attendant or pursuing a career in your field of choice.

What’s important is filling your time with whatever fills you up — the things and the people that ignite a spark inside of you.

You wouldn’t spend money on something you didn’t want, so why spend time?

Why spend your energy on people who bring nothing to your table? You don’t have to be friends with everyone.

You can say no to the people you don’t want to associate with and to the social functions you no longer feel it necessary to attend and you can show up at the ones no one expected you to! In fact, I suggest you do that.

When you finally stop worrying about what will happen next or what people will say or think of your actions, you become the best, most liberated version of yourself. This is what post-grad life is for.

A wise woman once told me settling for love is like going home and getting into your fuzzy penguin pajama pants.

They’re comfortable and you know them well, but you’ll never know how good it feels to slip into that new pair of tight skinny jeans and go out, unless you try it.

Now is the time to open your heart up to new people and experiences that turn you on.

Society has a glorified idea of what it’s like to “fall in love.” Love is actually so complicated, sacrificial and honest.

You have to have your sh*t together to be in love, and that takes time; it’s not something anyone just falls into.

For now, go out on Friday night and dance with strangers. Stay up until 4 am with your best friends. Get the expensive bottle of wine every now and then.

Pay for concert tickets this month instead of your student loan. Buy a plane ticket to see an old friend a week in advance because you can.

It's too early to stop doing things for the fun of it, for the hell of it.

You don’t have to surrender to a life of routined early nights and dreaded earlier mornings. That’s what espresso is for.

So, here’s to filling your time with the things that matter to you.

Here's to creating, to growing, to forgetting about everything you’re supposed to do and doing whatever makes you happy.

Here’s to stopping on your pursuit to simply be happy and to appreciating the people around you because you chose them; they’re in your life for a reason.

Don’t apologize for your decisions and don’t worry about when everything will come together.

It’s better to have no idea what’s coming next than to wake up every morning having it all figured out.