Navigating Adulthood — 5 Things You Were Never Told About Life After College

Susan Walters
Life After College

You can frame that degree; you can hang that tassel on your wall; and you can burn that cheap gown that cost $100 or more. It’s official. You are a college grad and ready to take your place in the adult world — not so much! That degree? It’s only the doorbell. Getting into the house of a career and satisfying lifestyle will involve much more. And, unfortunately, you have not been told to prepare for some things that lie ahead. Here’s 5 of them.

1. Prepare to be lonely:

Your friends don’t live down the hall anymore; and many of them do not even live in the same town. They have all moved back to their hometowns or taken jobs all over the place. Even if some of them are in the same geographical area, they are now establishing new relationships with co-workers. It will be harder to get together. And your new job may have landed you in a new town, with no contacts. It will take some time to establish new relationships that turn into friendships, but you need to know that it does happen. Embrace being alone for a while — and find ways to get yourself out of that apartment. Join a fitness club; do some volunteer work; take a class.

2. No one cares about your feelings anymore, except maybe your parents and your dog.

You have to get over yourself now. A bad hair day, a bad breakup, and a hangover, which were perfectly acceptable excuses for missing class, are no longer excuses for missing work. None of these “wear well” in a work environment, so suck it up, get to work, and do your job.

No one cares about your feelings…except your dog

3. Job hunting is Hell:

Everyone applying for that job has the same degree and the same qualifications, and you need to accept the fact that you are not going to get your “dream” job right out of the chute. Take any job you can get if you need to pay your bills. You have years ahead of you for your career pursuits. Your creditors, on the other hand, will not give you years. Take the unattractive job, do things that make you more attractive to potential employers in your field, and learn to be patient.

…you are not going to get your “dream” job…

4. There are expenses you have failed to plan for:

Your roommate can’t cut your hair anymore; your sweats and shorts are probably not going to be seen as appropriate work attire; and that cable bill is higher than you imagined. And add to this the reality of paying back those student loans now. By the time you pay your bills, get that new wardrobe, and make minimum payments on your loans, there will be precious little for anything else. Remember that mac and cheese and ramen noodle diet from college? It’s back again.

…add to this the reality of paying back those student loans now

5. There will be big lifestyle changes:

Staying out until 2 a.m. on a week night is no longer an option. You will find yourself coveting an 11 p.m. bedtime — something you always thought was just for old people like your parents. Here are some other lifestyle changes you will encounter:

• You will invest in an iron because, even if your work environment allows casual dress, you will be expected to be wrinkle-free (sending your laundry out is expensive!).
• While college life was filled with a rush of people and activities, you will begin to value you alone time — it gives you the opportunity to renew yourself.
• You will have to “get over” the pleasures of spring break (or winter or summer break, for that matter). Your vacations will be determined by your employer, and they will be based on company needs, not your preferences.
• You’re at the bottom of the “totem pole” — get used to it. Your opinions don’t count until you have established your value to an organization. Work to get that value.
• You don’t get to whine. You may have complained about a grade you got on a college essay, but the criticism and feedback you get now must be “swallowed” and taken seriously.

Your vacations will be determined by your employer, and they will be based on company needs, not your preferences.

Adult life has distinct advantages. You get to make your own rules, within the confines of your job responsibilities of course, but you are free from the course schedules and the assignments. You are trading a life that was more carefree and “fun” for a new kind of life that can be just as rewarding and enjoyable. Embrace adulthood — you will come to love it!

Susan Walters

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