You’re finally here, graduates!
The time has come to place the mortar board on your head, feel the sticky sweat pool at the nape of your neck in a crowded gymnasium and have everyone tell you how proud they are.
Yes, it’s time to graduate and lose the part of ourselves that has been a student since we were tiny tots. It’s a great feeling.
You’ve accomplished something through a great deal of hard work and sacrifice.
It’s paid off, and now, you’re free to live the life you want.
Or, are you?
While you’re finally free of the stress that has weighed on your shoulders for the last few months, and you’re finally clear of the almost-graduate realization that real life is tangible and not just a figment of your imagination, a brand new set of stressors are about to take over.
You see, there are things no one will tell you about the first year after you graduate from college.
Older generations are convinced it's simple to graduate from college and automatically have your life together, but it's not.
There are a lot of problems you're going to have to face within the next year.
Having gone through that and watched others do it, as well, I'm here to help you, new graduates.
Here’s what no one will tell you about the next year of your life:
You Will Be Stressed Out… A Lot
But, not for the same reasons you were before. You'll be stressed out about getting a job, how your parents are about to cut you off or how you'll have to pay back your loans soon.
You'll start to stress about where you are in life and what you'll do next.
Moving Back In With Your Parents
When you’ve spent four or five years of your life away at college, moving back in with your parents after graduation can be tough.
You’re used to being a much freer spirit and doing as you please. That might not fly at your parents’ house, even if you are an adult.
They have their own sets of rules by which you have to abide. It will be a huge adjustment and will add to the stress you’re already feeling.
Looking For A Job is Your New Job
The likelihood of securing a job prior to graduation or quickly after in your preferred field is slim.
For our generation, despite being educated and ready to go, seeking employment itself is a full-time job.
You're sending out résumés and cover letters after spending hours in front of a computer screen trying to find job listings.
You make sure your phone is always near you to check your email or to see if someone called. You hope someone will.
Money Gets Annoying
...Because you're not making any. Or, at least, not the money you want to be making.
It's rare that someone starts making a great deal of money right away, so you have to start thinking about paying back your student loans or maybe getting a new car or saving up to move out on your own.
Some people move out on their own too soon and realize living alone is more expensive than they thought.
You find a dead-end job just to get a paycheck, but it's not nearly enough.
You get out of plans with friends because you don't want to spend the little money you have, and any money you do have has to be prioritized.
The Party Is Over
It's no longer about enjoying your summer and resorting to your standby summer job while you wait to go back to school.
Lounging by the pool, drinking 10 beers before taking a nap and meeting up with your friends isn't always an option.
Since you have to find a job in order to pay for things, you stop having the time to just have fun.
Real Bars Just Aren’t As Fun
College bars are a lot of fun, real-life bars are not. They remind you that you’re seen as an adult by most of the people in there, and if you’re back at home, you’ll probably run into people from high school you no longer care to see.
Try stumbling piss drunk out of there and then have someone tell your parents. It’s not fun.
Without being able to hang out as often and being in this weird place between being in school and starting your career, your relationships tend to shift.
Other people can’t hang out as often, either, because they’re working or still in school.
Everyone has a different schedule, budget and goal.
You realize partying was what some of you had in common, and eventually, you drift apart.
Everyone is in a different place and it gets hard to maintain.
But, don’t worry; they won’t all change. As long as both of you are putting in effort, friendships don’t have to turn sour.
Panic Might Set In
It’s easy to allow yourself to panic when things aren’t working out at the rate you want them to. Absolutely no one will tell you it’s a waiting game from here on out.
You will have to wait to hear about applications, interviews and whether or not you got a job in the field you studied.
You might get the job and realize you aren’t where you want to be, or you want to go back to school for something else.
You might feel totally overwhelmed with your dream job and wonder if you’re even capable of doing it.
At some point, you will panic over something.
This is normal and it’s okay. Something will happen. You’re great at what you do.
You didn’t go to school for nothing. Someone will hire you. It’s important to take deep breaths.
The first year after college is hard. I have plenty of friends who are still in a weird limbo after graduation and some who are just entering that stage now.
Although writing was a tough field to enter into, I’m glad I stuck with it and have been taking the steps so I can be on your bookshelves one day.
I have been stressed; I have panicked, and I’ve felt the pressure since graduating.
But, I’m still right here. I’m still okay.
And, even with all of this hoopla surrounding you, you’ll be okay, too.