After four years of ramen, term papers, embarrassing hookups, and bad choices, you're finally graduating from college. And while you might not want to sit through a three-hour commencement ceremony (only to later burn the heinous graduation robe you were forced to shell out $100 for), this is your chance to go all out. Yes, the bags under your eyes have earned their right to bask in the glory of this moment! You should enjoy every second of your graduation weekend — because life on the other side of the post-grad fence isn't nearly as sparkly as you've envisioned it to be.
(Sorry, but it's true.)
During your last year of college, you're crawling to the finish line, fully confident that life after this one last hurdle will make the stress, fatigue, and frustration worth it. After all, you were the president of the College Democrats! You interned in the Big Apple! You studied abroad in Pamplona where you tamed a bull by whispering fluent Spanish into its ear! You have a college degree.
What you quickly realize after the last mimosas have been poured, your apartment has been packed up, and you've blown a kiss goodbye to your university is that life still has many more hurdles in store for you. And some of them are waiting for you as soon as you're handed that diploma.
So take it from someone who's been there — there are some harsh realities in store for you, my newly-diplomaed friend. Here's what no one tells you about graduating.
You're about to feel lonely
There was a time when all of your friends were conveniently located down the hall, upstairs, or just a couple of blocks away. Now that everyone is graduated, that convenience is lost forever. Some friends may still be in the same city as you, but you guys are more likely to split apart as time goes on. You have to face the fact that you won't be able to see your friends every night for drinks like you used to back in college. In fact, from now on, you'll probably have to schedule happy hours weeks in advance and buy a plane ticket in order to see your college roommate.
There's no such thing as "Spring Break" anymore
Remember when you spent all winter looking forward to Spring Break? Well, those days are long gone. The school schedule and the real world schedule are not one in the same. You will never again celebrate winter break, spring break, or summer break (unless you elect to become a school teacher, in which case, good luck). Instead, you'll have to schedule your vacation time like every other working girl and hope your boss approves it — oh, and that's if you're one of the lucky people to even get vacation time at all.
You're probably going to be unemployed for awhile
You spent all of these years studying and writing with the false hope that you would get a job at the end of this school marathon. Instead, 50 job applications later, you haven't had any luck. The fundamental reason for going to college — getting a job — suddenly seems unattainable. While it is still difficult for college graduates to find full-time employment, there are benefits to being unemployed. You have time to do all the things you didn't have time to do when you were in school — like traveling to Italy, reading those books that have been on your reading list for the last decade, or lounging around in your underwear with a bag of Cheetos.
I realize it's easier said than done, but if you don't have a job lined up just yet, celebrate anyway. This is the last time in your life when you won't be burdened with adult responsibilities like mortgages, diapers, and retirement funds. Relish in this time.
Living with Mom and Dad again is gonna be even worse than in high school
Maybe you have a job. Maybe you don't. Either way, you might have to move back in with Mom and Dad. After four years of frolicking around as a single young adult without anyone telling you what to do, you're now forced to live under the same roof as the people who once told you to be in bed by 7 pm. This will be less than ideal, I assure you. But, in these trying times, it serves you better to acknowledge the positives: home-cooked meals, fresh-cleaned sheets, no rent. Enjoy it while it lasts, because one day, they'll be asking you to move out.
Your student loans are already haunting you
Five minutes after walking off the commencement stage, you're likely to get an email about payment plans for your student loans. Congratulations on graduating! Now, pay up. There's no getting around it — they will hunt you down until you pay back every cent — and then some. You can't hide under your desk from this one.
and you'll have many, many other bills
In addition to those lovely student loans, you'll start to notice a bunch of other bills. Cable? Internet? Your cell phone? Car insurance? If you lived in a dorm for your last four years, you're used to your university picking up thetab for some of those beloved amenities. Well, now that you're out of school, you're going to have to pay for those things yourself, especially if you moved out of your parent's place.
My suggestion for tackling these newfound financial burdens is to talk to your older friends or relatives. Figure out what you can actually afford with your new job, and then figure out what you absolutely need, and what you can live without.
You're about to be at the bottom of the totem poll — again
The most unfortunate news of graduating is that you have to start back at the bottom after a year of being the big (wo)man on campus. This won't be the last time you're the smallest fish in the big pond of life, so you'd better swim. Good luck — and remember — that diploma means you've been trained well.