Loving life after college, is that even possible?
But don't take this as meaning that my transition into my 'new' life was seamless. Last year I postponed my post-grad blues by traveling for the summer, but upon my return (and seeing my younger friends still in college) I had quite the case of blues. I was mourning my time in college being over and feeling like I didn't even know who I was anymore. For all of my young life I had been able to define myself as a student. As a college graduate I couldn't introduce myself as 'an elementary education major,' but I wasn't quite a teacher yet...so who was I?
You're Beginning to Define the Real YouYou're no longer a student or an aspiring author/nurse/doctor/psychologist/engineer/teacher. Instead you are becoming that author, nurse, or teacher. You are constantly defining yourself with every decision and opportunity you take, and how you deal with the experiences you are dealt. Maybe you don't have your dream job yet, but what are you doing to work towards that goal? Great opportunities and experiences may not always be job opportunities and your job does not define you. Consider: volunteering, interning, taking courses, picking up a new hobby, learning something new, travel. When it comes down to it do you want to be defined as the person sitting at home on the couch, or putting themselves out there and making the best out of your new life?
I may not have my dream teaching job, but I haven't let it get me down. Instead I found a way to gain some kind of experience in my field networking and build connections. Now I'll even be moving abroad to experience and learn about another culture (lucky for me it's teaching English and is still in my chosen field of education!). So while I may not have the title of 'teacher' to define me, I'm finding that I've had the freedom post-college to be who I really want to be.
You Can Do What Interests YouI may work seemingly non-stop, but I've found that outside of college I still have way more free time to pursue what interests me. No one is telling me I need to squeeze in extra courses to graduate on time, I don't have to write papers, take exams, or do excessive amounts of homework. Instead, I can learn and do what I want to. When I was in college I can't remember the last time I was able to read something just for my enjoyment, usually it would have to wait for one of my vacation periods. Now I can finally catch up on my reading list (subsequently full of books and novels on/about Spain), work on my knitting skills, improve my foreign language proficiency, and pursue many of the things that I just never had time for in college.
IndependenceNow I don't pretend that I have complete independence at the moment, but definitely more than in college. I do live at home with my mom, but I must help clean more than just my own dorm space, help cook family meals, take care of my finances, etc. and I love it all. I love cooking my own food and have become a much better cook because of it. I can whip up my own sauces, can make things from scratch, and know how to balance healthy meals. Also, taking care of my student loans on my own has given me a sense of independence. Keeping track of payments and making sure they're always paid on time has really been empowering, letting me know that yes I can do it myself.
Many recent college graduates may be forced to move back home with their families, but it doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your independence. If you find yourself in this situation talk with your family. Discuss the boundaries you all want and what you each need from each other. As I plan to move abroad in the Fall I definitely feel more prepared coming with a year out of college under my belt, even if I was living at home.
I Finally Have Some Money (keyword. some.)I'm definitely not rich (haha rich, that's a joke right?), but working full-time and not having to pay all those college fees anymore means for once I actually have some money. Granted it's all going to me being in Spain next year...but at least I have it, right? The point is that even if you have to work multiple (often poorly paying) part-time jobs you can still make ends meet. If you're like most college graduates, you won't be wealthy straight out of the gate, but once you're out of college and working full time you absolutely can work your way up to financial stability. It all depends on how willing you are to work your butt off, if you have a budget that works for your life and needs, and if you know the ins and outs of your student loans/debt. Even if your dream also happens to be working abroad and traveling the world (which can be affordable to all!).
My Tips for Loving Your Life After College (From Experience):
Spend Time With FriendsCollege friends, high school friends, new friends. It doesn't matter. You don't have to sacrifice a social life to be an 'adult.' Keep in mind though that: no not all of your friends will stay when you move onto this next stage of your life and yes it's much harder to make friends out of college. Instead you will find out who's worth keeping in your life; maybe you won't have tons of friends but you'll keep the handful that matters. And while it may be more difficult to make new friends, it's not impossible. Put yourself out there, get involved, and try knew experiences where you can meet potential new friends.
|Always a beautiful night at WaterFire,|
Learn Something New
|Improved my knitting and taught myself to crochet.|
Fit in Exercise
|What's a better workout than sledding?|
Learn How to Cook Healthy Meals
This is something I feel very strongly about, because not only will learning how to cook save you so much money, but knowing how to cook healthy, well-balanced meals is an invaluable skill that you will use for the rest of your life. Thanks to the internet there are so many free resources at your fingertips you can use to get creative with recipes and cater to the tastes you prefer. Your body, taste buds, and health will all thank you for learning how to make some delicious wholesome home-cooked meals. (Not to mention it's a great way to impress your friends and family!)
|Chocolate cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting from scratch...|
ok this isn't that healthy, but it's delicious!
Live it Up-Always Look to Expand Your Horizons
Never think that just because you graduated college that your life is over. No matter what your age, it's never too late to expand your horizons and live your life to the fullest. If you're truly unsatisfied with your life, don't settle. If you want something different, make that change. Life is short and it's not worth wasting it being unhappy. My grandmother always told me: "When one door closes, another opens." College may be over, but you have this new wonderful door opening up to the rest of your life. It all depends on what you do when you step outside.