In the next few days, hundreds of thousands of young adults from all across America will achieve one of the greatest accomplishments of their lives: graduating from college.
It is, without a doubt, one of the most bittersweet moments one will experience. It is an end to the term papers, projects, all-nighters, Adderall binges and final exams.
“Sigh, what a relief to not have to write another paper about 19th century economics.”
However, with this sense of accomplishment and relief comes the sobering realization that everything amazing about college is also coming to an abrupt end.
Four years have passed in the blink of an eye. Despite the grueling hours logged in the library and the sleepless nights, college has been nothing but good to us. Four or five classes three days a week? And I don’t need to show up to all of them (it's not like I can get fired for not attending Art History 200)?!
College bestowed upon us the greatest gift of all: freedom. Void of any huge responsibilities, we have been free to indulge in any guilty pleasure we may desire. College provides one with the ability to say,
“F*ck it; I am going on a stay-cation for the next three days. I will sit in my bed in sweats and watch every episode of 'House of Cards' on Netflix in between naps."
In the real world, people need a damn good excuse to get drunk on a Tuesday afternoon without looking like a raging alcoholic. In college, the excuse could be as mundane as “It’s sunny out today.”
Not to mention, college has made our casual hook-up culture even more casual. One can pursue any sexual desire or conquest he or she pleases to explore. There will be no judgment for your promiscuity and strange indulgences because... isn’t college all about new experiences?
Once the congratulations from proud parents and family members wear off, and before you get your first loan repayment bill, you will undoubtedly hit a wall of depression. Almost immediately you will think,
"Is there anything left to look forward to? Or have I hit the pinnacle in life and nothing will be as good as it has been these past four years?"
Just like every major change in life, this will take some getting used to. Although you no longer will have the luxury to sleep in until 3 pm on a Thursday, life is not over. It is just getting started, believe it or not.
Everyone knows the overwhelming majority of college students are broke. You may have worked a part-time job for minimum wage in college and scraped by to have enough money for beer on the weekends, but that is simply not a desirable lifestyle.
Graduating from college and finding a job that actually pays is revolutionary. You no longer need to pester your parents for an extra $50; you have the economic freedom to do pretty much whatever you want, whenever you want (assuming you get the right job).
In college, we would go to happy hour for two simple reasons: the half-off drinks and the half-off appetizers. It was never really a necessity to go (save the great deal and getting hammered).
Now, happy hour plays a key role in surviving the transition from student to young professional. Escaping work every day at 5 pm and heading to your favorite spot to grab a margarita may be the ultimate release from your grueling workday. It is therapeutic, relaxing and gets you one step closer to Friday.
This is a great way to relive your college debauchery. Sunday Fundays usually begin by waking up disheveled from the night before and heading to brunch with a group of friends.
You start with a $25 bottomless mimosas deal, and after your fifth or sixth drink, you will feel no more pain and decide to turn it up a notch. Rounds of tequila shots are ordered; four or five more bars are visited and before you know it, you’re as sloppy drunk at as you were on your 21st birthday — and the sun hasn’t even set.
Do What You Love
Half of students pursue a career in something about which they are passionate and the other half gets a degree in something that seems lucrative. If you are chasing after your dreams to make the world a better place or helping people or creating a work of art, then every day you work should be amazing.
You don’t have to sit through any more general classes that don’t interest you; you are doing something in which you take pride and about which you love and care.
Create The Life You Want To Live
If college is all about finding yourself, then everything that follows is about molding yourself and creating a fulfilling life.
You have had a handful of experiences that are both good and bad. You have felt triumph and pride, impressed yourself, impressed others and have proven yourself to everyone you can. Your knowledge supersedes what you have learned in a classroom and you can now challenge the world with it.
Create the life you want to live, use what you know and apply it to get where you want to be in this world. Be daring and work for that startup or play it safe and take that awesome job with great benefits. Travel the world and see things.
Be free and be bold. Find someone, settle down and start a family. Do whatever your heart desires. If obstacles stand in your way, find a way around them. After all, this is a life you want for yourself -- no one else. You must create the life you want to live.
College is over, but it that doesn’t mean your life is, too. As difficult as it may be to believe, it’s only the beginning.
Photo via We Heart It