How To Handle Adulthood & The "Real World" Easily After Graduating College
The day I tossed my cap into the air, I remember looking at my best friend and saying, "Now what?" I had no idea where life was about to take me, other than to brunch with my parents and then to my college house to pack up my things. No one told me that the applications I'd sent out might not receive a reply, or that it's OK that I wanted to travel, explore options beyond my degree, and take everything one step at a time. That's why I'm here to tell you how to handle adulthood, the "real world," and everything that comes with life after graduating college. I'm here to make it easier than you may currently believe.
First things first: Cue the confetti! Graduating college is a huge milestone, and required a lot of work and effort on your end. You should be proud of yourself and treat yourself — to extra waffles at brunch, a plane ticket, or maybe a quality nap. Then, you should start daydreaming about what you want your life to be like from here going forward.
Truth is, what people don't tell you is that starting, well, now, your life is 100 percent yours to create. Your people are there to help you, support you, and answer all of your questions about adulting. But, it's ultimately up to you to decide the path you want to take. They also don't tell you that these five things make this time of transiton much easier. You got this — I pinky promise.
1. Don't Compare Yourself To Others
It's really easy in college and as an adult to compare yourselves to others. It's simple to look at one of your best friends get into her first choice for grad school, and the other receive a bunch of interviews and dreamy first dates and think to yourself, "Ugh."
But, not comparing yourself to others will make the process of handling the "real world" much easier. It will keep you focused on what makes your individual soul spark, and following a path that was designed and created especially for you.
The thing is, you just can't, and shouldn't, define your life right now. And looking at other people's experiences with adulthood will make you think that you can and should. Ditch the phrase "supposed to," because it's irrelevant.
2. Find Value In All Of Your Experiences
A few days after I graduated college, I returned to my retail job. I wondered if I'd ever land my dream job. About nine months later, I was still at my retail job, but not so cynical about it. Here's why.
I put out applications and worked hard, so I knew something would come of it — or at least, hoped. I also knew that there was value in the experiences I was having and work I was doing, even if it wasn't exactly what I had initially planned.
Customer service taught me management, problem-solving, and people skills, and I used the extra time to build my personal portfolio. Those skills really helped me in my current industry in general, which is something I'm realizing now more than ever, and am so thankful for.
Take this into consideration when it comes to you and your story. Find the value in what you're doing right now and always — your "why," if you will.
3. Stay Close To Your Favorite People
Handling the "real world" and adulthood can be tough at times. But, do you know who almost always makes it better? Your people. These are your closest friends and your supportive family members.
Trust me when I say this: They'll lift you up, time and time again. When you doubt yourself, they'll remind you of all the amazing things you've already done and succeeded at.
When you need to get your mind off of job searching or apartment hunting, they might take you on an adventure or send a text in the group chat like, "Hey, wanna get pizza?" Um, yes please!
Most importantly, even if they move or live far away, they'll always stay close. They'll check in with you and make sure that your chat remains at the top of your inbox — full of memes and reasons to smile, too.
4. Always Be Ready To Try New Things
It's going to sound a little cliché, but always being ready and open to trying new things is essential. It's essential to say "yes" more often to new opportunities, to listen to people's thoughts and advice, and be welcoming to different career options and experiences. After all, you never know where they may lead.
You may find a job that you truly love that has nothing to do with your degree, but makes you so happy. You may join an adult kickball team and make some new memories. You may even meet a new best friend or your soulmate — someone who understands your deep love for Queer Eye and strawberry ice cream, and supports your wildest dreams. That would be pretty rad, huh? I think so.
5. Become Comfortable With The Unknown
For me, what made life after graduation so intimidating was the fact that everything felt, well, unknown. I didn't feel like I had a good grip on the future, or even what I was passionate about. I was uncomfortable, until I changed my mindset a bit.
I got comfortable with the feeling of not knowing what the future might hold, and reminded myself that it's normal to not have everything all figured out. I told myself that I was free to explore my options that way, and live a life that I created through and through.
So, now I'm challenging you to do the same. Start thinking of the "real world" and adulthood as an adventure, like one of the spontaneous road trips you took with your best friends in school. Define and truly live it that way.
You'll likely realize that this period of your life can be so exciting, rewarding, and feel like sunshine. Oh, and that it's much easier to handle than you originally believed.