Lauren Naefe

Why Being 22 And Post-Grad Is The Ultimate Transition Age

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Privileged enough to have gotten a college education and a job, yet we don't fit in with the people we work with. Ah, the life of a 20-something.

It's hard not to feel awkward as I make this swift transition into adulthood.

Let's be honest -- just a few months ago we were the ones dancing on tables, funneling and living a life with zero responsibilities (sorry mom, it's true).

Homework was optional, failing tests was something to shrug off and events like margarita Wednesday and Thirsty Thursday were what helped us get through the week.

Now, in what seems to be the blink of an eye, I am doing my best at this whole “adult” thing.

No one told me how awkward it would be for a 22-year-old to take a stab at this new life.

I've exchanged my leggings and college sweatshirts for “business casual” attire. My regular drink of rum and coke is now a regular morning cup of coffee. My college bedtime of 3 am has surely been pushed back at least six hours.

It's a weird feeling to hardly recognize the person I was only four months ago, but it's also a weird feeling to hardly recognize the new person I'm becoming.

It's true – you change a lot in four years. College changes you. But, it does not teach you about transitioning into real life. And us 22-year-olds are left awkwardly fumbling around trying to figure it out on our own, as best we can.

As a naïve college freshman, I looked up to graduating college seniors. They were the ones who had their lives not only on track, but figured out. They were mature, smart, and had a promising future. Or so I thought.

Now that I am living the post-grad life, I realize how much there is still left to learn.

College just scraped the top layer of what to expect in the real world.

There's so many new tactics in this life, but this time, there's no textbooks, professors, advisors or friends to help you figure it all out.

We're working hard in jobs we aren't sure do our degree's justice, we're learning that a ramen noodle budget can and should be upgraded to real meals, and that staying in on a Friday night sounds so much more rewarding than going out to get drunk at the closest dive bar.

Watching our friends get a raise, get promoted, move into new apartments, or even learning how to cook something other than pasta is viewed as something as deserving as winning the Nobel peace prize.

Part of us wants to go back to college, but when we do, we feel to old too be there. Those days have come and gone and though they were fun, they don't mesh into this new version of yourself.

Who are we?

Anyone older than us looks at us as “those kids,” and anyone younger than us looks at us like we have it all figured out. The funny place in-between is somewhere where we fall – and I'm not sure that place has a name.

We have responsibility now, and we work hard but without wanting to worry about others depending on us, because part of us is still holding onto the younger version of ourselves.

At the same time, we are young and vibrant and still desire to spend countless hours doing nothing with our friends and going out to dance and drink the night away.

Neither the young part nor old part feel right, and I don't know who I am. The best I can do is figure it out.

Things will fall into place – or at least that's what the real adults keep saying. It doesn't make sense now, but it will. It's an awkward transition from childhood into adulthood and it's an abrupt, and sometimes brutal, awakening.

It's nearly impossible for me to explain to anyone who I am at this point in my life. I've lost who I was and I'm learning who I am. Only time will truly get me there.