7 Women On The One Thing That Finally Made Them Feel Like An Adult After College

Lauren Naefe/Stocksy

How does one "adult?" From the minute second semester hits senior year and they hand you your diploma at graduation, you're wondering just what the real world is going to be like. You started applying for jobs and scoping out cute apartments with your friends for the summer. Maybe you'll move across the country, go to grad school, or take some time to just travel. The world is quite literally your oyster now — and you might be surprised people have so much confidence in you to figure it all out on your own. I'm not sure when you really start feeling like an adult after college, but there are a few moments that make you realize you're all grown up. These real women are also actual adults now, so you'll know exactly what to expect.

Truth is, there are still plenty of chicken nuggets in the real world, and it's still socially acceptable to make them for dinner when you're just too lazy to cook something for real. College was so sweet, because you were living on your own, but still had a solid support system. You and your roommates would spend hours talking about how you have no clue what you're really doing with your life — and it was oh-so-comforting to know that somebody else was in this same place.

Many adults still don't have it all figured out, and assuming that they would is something I've quickly come to know as so false. Not everyone has a solid game plan in their 20s, and living in the moment becomes your best friend. You get comfortable with the unexpected, and take every experience as it comes — including the rent bills, sometimes. These seven real women shared their stories so that you can get ready for all of the adulting.

She felt like all of her hard work paid off.

A moment I had when I finally felt like an adult after college was one day when I realized that the work I was doing was genuinely important and special. I felt like I had earned that moment after all of my dedication in college, and finally felt good doing my job rather than just being there for the money.

— Emma Soviero

She established a self-care routine that made her feel great.

I'd have to say the thing that made me feel like a real adult was just doin' me. I finally have a regimented skin care routine. I try to make healthy whole meals (with the help of Hello Fresh), and I work out several times a week. I write and draw in a journal to cater to my mental health and creativity, and I surround myself with only people who motivate me and inspire me. I FREAKIN' FLOSS DAILY. (That last one was when I really knew I made it.) As a teen and a college student, my self-care was so low that I didn't care what I was putting into my body or what was going on in my head. I think being an adult means finally figuring out what makes you feel good, and learning about yourself as in-depth as you possibly can, and really preparing yourself for the future and to be the best you you can be. Because, let's be real, we aren't getting any younger — so don't forget to floss.

— Justine Holleran

She got an apartment, and felt the real responsibility.

So, the moment it all felt real is when I moved out into my parents house and into an apartment by myself. I mean alone alone — no roommates! And probably getting the first bill with my name on it. Responsibility is no joke.

— Samantha Caruso

She went on an "adult" date.

It's dumb, but just like actually going on a real date with a guy I had never met in person. Our moms knew each other and so he texted me and asked me out. We only went on one date, but I felt SO adult because people really didn't do that in college. You kind of just "hung out." Meeting at an actual restaurant on a week night and going on a date with someone new felt super adult.

— Kelsey Hassett

She switched over her email address, and got professional.

I got a "grown-up email" and finally retired whatever I had before college. I made my email address simple — my first and last name — but it felt good to not be ashamed/embarrassed of my contact information whenever I went on an interview or was applying for a job.

— Kylie McConville

She was totally in charge of creating her life.

Some things that made me finally feel like an adult: grabbing my own cart at the grocery store with my fiancé, and having to stick to a budget for groceries. Food didn't just appear at the dinner table anymore from your amazing parents. You had to not only budget it yourself, but plan and prepare each meal. Also, having to call doctor and dental offices to make your own appointments. This was always a hard one for me, as I hate calling people I don't know on the phone. Plus, having to get my own health care was another thing in itself! And the biggest thing that made me finally realize I was an adult was missing the home where I grew up, and seeing my mom every day. When you begin to make your own life with the things you want in it, or when you begin to create a life and home with your significant other, you start to realize that you aren't a child anymore. You can do whatever you want with your time, and sometimes that's scary.

— Mecca Ray Rouse

She got her first big paycheck.

The biggest thing that made me feel like an adult after college was definitely getting my first adult paycheck. I'd never been given that much money at once before, ever, in my entire life, so knowing that I earned it and that I could expect more of it regularly made me really see the potential for myself and the reality of my independence.

— Veronica Lopez

When I hit the post-grad life, I thought for sure I was going to be so lost. But, as it turns out, it's not nearly as scary as you would think. Sure, if you don't have anything lined up right away then you spend your summer wondering what's next. Make the most of those moments, too, though, because they don't last for long. When you finally land your first job, or find yourself following all your dreams, and heading out into life's adventures — it feels so good. You'll always miss college and the good 'ole days — but these real women are here to tell you that adulting and the real world are actually kind of rad.