Rebuilding Your Foundation after Graduation
Let’s go on a journey back in time, shall we? Not too long ago we were sitting in our college houses on a Tuesday night, palling around with our roommates and avoiding the papers and studying and homework hanging over our heads. Although we didn’t realize it (or believe it) then, life was so easy.
Then graduation happened and we were suddenly watching the four most care-free years of our lives fade away in the rear view mirror of an overstuffed SUV. We spent our last nights staying out too late with our friends and swore to each other through tears that nothing would really change, save for the distance. That’s what Skype was made for, right?
But as the dust settled and we started our new jobs, grad school or finally found space for all of our stuff in our parents’ homes, we suddenly found ourselves touring Pinterest for hours on Tuesday evenings and longing for the days of lounging on the couch while binge-watching HIMYM with our three best friends.
I don’t think there’s really a way to prepare for the dynamic change that happens between graduation and life beyond college, but some part of me thinks that a Construction Science class or two might have helped me get started on rebuilding the foundation of my life post-grad. I had grown accustomed to waking up early, going to school, doing homework and going to sleep. I was used to the college perks of having friends just 10 feet or a 10-minute drive away. If I stayed up too late, I didn’t really have to go to my 8 a.m. (sorry, Mom), and if I didn’t want to study, Netflix enabled me to waste afternoons wondering when Ted was finally going to catch a break.
This so-called “adult life” was quite the wake up call, as you can imagine. Two weeks after graduating, I found myself getting out of bed before the sun, wearing pencil skirts and spending my mornings sipping on coffee and attending meetings instead of bumming around in my bed. Evenings were short: just a quick dinner and catching up on reading before hitting the hay. At first it was easy; I was optimistic - “yeah, I’m really nailing this being-an-adult thing! Go me!”
But as the weeks passed, I found the mornings coming too early, the coffee not strong enough, the evenings longer and lonelier. My friend group scattered across the state, leaving me feeling like I was treading water in the open sea. Gone were the days of being able to walk 10 steps to a friend's room or walk into the local coffee shop and be instantly surrounded by familiar faces.
I had to learn how to pour my own foundation. How? Well, I tried a few things:
1. Get involved.
The adult world is riddled with all kinds of groups for young professionals just like you who are trying to find their sea legs. These groups often have meetings featuring speakers that will help smooth that transition from college kid to future CEO. Volunteer opportunities can sometimes go hand-in-hand with these organizations, so keep your eyes peeled.
2. Get a hobby.
Seriously. Find something that will get you out of the house and into the world. For me, it was sports photography ($10 for whoever could have called that one a year ago). Try something new. Join an adult sports league, take a cake decorating class or just do something besides watching the entire series of “Friends” on Netflix. It’s amazing what the thrill of activities outside of work can do for your morale!
3. Keep in touch.
Don’t get distraught by the fact that you are X-miles away from your best friend. Make time for each other. Skype each other. Visit each other. Take a road trip on a long weekend. Opportunities to see your friends don’t fall into your lap in the real world; you have to work for that quality time. Trust me though, it’s worth it.
So fear not, newly-hatched adults. Our lives may have turned upside-down, but we’ve been dropped into the best, most adventurous years of our lives. We spent 16 years preparing for the days ahead of us; let’s make the most of it.