You just graduated college – congratulations! This leaves the degree to which you’re prepared for the real world at…little to none.
Unless you attended an undergraduate institution drastically different than mine, you didn’t concentrate your coursework or your free time on learning how to apply for a health insurance program, assemble IKEA furniture or drive in an impossibly narrow street without sideswiping a trashcan (maybe that last one isn’t an exclusively “post-college” skill, per se, but it’s a valuable one nonetheless. Take my word for it).
As someone who recently completed that first post-grad year, I feel I am well-equipped to pass down my wisdom.
First and foremost, I would like to point out: YOU ARE NO LONGER IN COLLEGE. If you spend your first year after graduation whining, lost in reminiscing about your “glory days” and refusing to try to adjust to your post-grad life, people will lose sympathy for you pretty quickly.
Get over it and move on. Stick some chocolate in the microwave and put it on a graham cracker when you’re feeling nostalgic (because it reminds you of summer camp? I’m not sure.) Mainly I’m just trying to segue into my first piece of post-college advice, which is:
1. The microwave is your friend.
When I moved to my first apartment post-college, I had no stove, oven, or kitchen sink. I relied heavily on that friendly little radiation box known as the microwave. I was (and still am) a huge fan of purchasing a large lunch, eating half, and then reheating the other half for dinner (Chipotle burrito bowls, I’m looking at you.) Is relying mainly on microwaved meals the healthiest thing in the world? Probably not. Will it kill you? Well, possibly. But probably not, at least not right away. And it’s even less likely to do so if you make an effort to exercise. Which brings me to…
2. Complaining that you don’t have time to work out does no one any good.
You work 8:30am-6:30pm? I’m sorry, but you still have time to work out. You work 5am-11pm? You should get a new job. But seriously, play to your strengths – if you’re a morning person, suck it up and go to the gym or run before work. That’s what I (try to) do, and I feel infinitely better on the days when I get my ass to the gym than on the days when I don’t.
3. Learn the difference between a rotator cuff and a rotor.
You think you’re an adult? Learn how to talk like one, or at the very least, fake it ‘til you make it. I informed coworkers that I’d had work done on my car over the weekend, specifically, had my brake pads replaced and my rotator cuffs fixed. I then learned that a rotor is part of a car, while rotator cuffs are part of the human shoulder. Semantics. But really, if you want people to think you’re an adult, learn adult-y words.
4. Discover weekend activities that don’t revolve around going out.
If you have a Monday-Friday job, you have exactly two days of freedom each week. Why would you want to spend one of these days hungover? In college, going out may have seemed like the only option on the weekends. There are so many options in the post-college world, but if you feel like that’s not the case for your group of friends, you may need to widen your social circle a bit. Which brings us to:
5. Make more of an effort to meet people.
In your adult life, you are most likely not constantly surrounded by people of your same age with similar interests. Want to meet more people your age? Volunteer. Join a sports league. Get involved with an alumni club. Go to happy hours for young professionals in your area. Options abound!
6. Recognize that sleep is your friend.
Unless you’re doing something more important than sleep, but I mean actually important. Watching one more hour of TV does not qualify. If you work 10 hours a day, or 18 hours a day (again – find a new job) you’ll quickly recognize how important it is to have a solid night’s sleep, no matter how many cups of coffee you drink during the day.
7. Get your shit together.
Is this last tip a cop-out to fit in everything that I didn’t mention earlier in the list? Yes, it is. (Own up to your mistakes. There’s another tip that should be in there. You are not, and should not claim to be, right 100% of the time). Pay your bills on time, deal with conflicts that arise at the workplace, clean your bathroom, pursue your interests and hobbies, learn to cook (unless you don’t have a stove, then see #1).
Are the best four years of your life behind you? Only if that’s the attitude you choose to adopt.
By Kathleen Toohill