Ah, the sweet taste of freedom. You've been in college for years and finally the time has arrived to start your new life as an adult. You can't wait to head off into the world and finally get away from the doldrums of paper writing, lectures, and cramped dorm life.
But once you're away from your campus, you realize the real world isn't all it's cracked up to be. In fact, it can be downright scary. I remember leaping around after graduation and then pausing to ask myself, now what? Suddenly the days of going to a party on a Tuesday night, sleeping until noon, and wearing pajamas pants to class were behind me. Here was the real world where I had to feed myself (what, no meal plan?), clothe myself (what do you mean real clothes?), and pay bills (isn't that part of my tuition?).
Graduating can be quite the shock, since it's easy to get spoiled by a comfy college life. While being a grown up is awesome, I sometimes really wish my life were simple again and all I had to worry about was a paper and making it to my Buddhism 101 class on time. And yet, somehow, I successfully transformed into a real, bonafide adult who does all sorts of adult things.
Yes, it can be nerve-racking to find yourself staring into the blindingly bright light that is the real world, but it's possible to make graduating a little less scary. Here are a few tips for making this — often extremely difficult — transition from college life to adulthood.
1. By All Means, Take Time To Figure Things Out
One of the hardest parts about graduating is the mad rush to "start your life." Sure, you just spent four years preparing for your career, but you also spent four years in a college bubble that isn't much like the real world at all. Give yourself a break if you don't know what you want to do right away, or if you find yourself struggling with the transition. And take time to experiment with different jobs and living situations until you figure out what's right for you.
2. Keep In Touch With Your Friends
You spend four years surrounded by your closest friends, and then graduation happens and everyone scatters like rats. It can be shocking, to say the least. And while it's natural for some people to drift apart, do make a concerted effort to keep in touch with the friends who are really important to you. My best friend and I keep in touch matter what, even when one of us is constantly going to China for months at a time. We use Skype and send tons of emails, and it often feels like she's not a million time zones away. There's really no excuse these days to let friendships fall by the wayside, especially when you can really use the support as you start new things in life.
3. Move Your Partying Ways To The Weekend
Remember when you used to wake up for class at 8 a.m. only to traipse back to your dorm afterward for a mid-morning nap? Yeah, those days are unfortunately over. And that's why you need to take better care of yourself now that you're an adult. Sure, you can keep going to Thirsty Thursdays, but be forewarned — sitting at work the next day with with a hangover is not fun . Trust me. So instead of pushing yourself to the limit like you did in college, be sure to get plenty of sleep, and save your nights out for the weekend.
4. Learn How To Cook ASAP
One of the wonderful things about a college campus is that everything you need is right there at your fingertips — meals included. I remember the good old days of swiping my magic meal card and then helping myself to whatever I wanted in the cafeteria. (Oh so many mashed potatoes.) But, unfortunately, real life doesn't come with a meal plan, so you're going to have to learn how to cook for yourself. Since it can be kind of intimidating at first, you're going to want to start small. I recommend learning how to cook eggs because they are incredibly versatile and nutritious. Then, once you master a few easy recipes, you'll be able to move on from there and before you know it you'll be inviting friends over for dinner.
5. Make It A Point To Live All By Your Lonesome
If you have to move back in with your parents, by all means do so. It's a great way to save money, and also a great place to rest while you figure out what you want to do with your life. But if you can live on your own, I highly recommend it. Not only is it a super fun, no-pants, do-whatever-you-want time, but living alone also teaches you how to "adult" in ways that living with your parents never can. You'll feel so grown up when you pay your own bills, buy your own groceries, and plunge your own toilet for the very first time. Oh, the joys of being a grown up.
6. Remember Your School Is There To Help
Just because you're not on campus anymore doesn't mean that you can't use its resources. Many schools have alumni services that offer networking events and career advice, so make sure you take advantage of these things if you are job hunting. Also, keep in touch with your old professors. Even though I graduated years ago, I still send my old profs emails of the "Hey, do you remember me?" variety whenever I need career advice. And they have always been more than happy to help.
It can be shocking to leave the comfort of your campus. But if you reach out for help, and give yourself time to adjust, you'll find that transitioning into adulthood isn't so scary after all.
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