The Most Common Post-Grad Freak-Outs (& How to Deal)

In the movie “Post-Grad,” Alexis Bledel rests her head in her hands as she yells at her boyfriend “This is not the way it’s supposed to go! You’re not supposed to come back when you’ve already left the nest. This whole post-graduation thing is not turning out the way I planned.” And while I’ve seen the movie before, it’s suddenly ringing much more truthfully as I enter the real world. Yes, collegiettes, I am now a post-grad, a post-collegiette, a college graduate, a real adult. And this new life comes with a lot of new worries. Luckily, most of these worries are universal, and even your mother probably felt the same way that you do now when she graduated all those years ago.

So, post-collegiettes, take a deep breath and I will too. Her Campus and Jenny Blake, a life coach and the author of the best-selling book Life After College, the Complete Guide to Getting What You Want and of the Life After College blog, are here to help us all.

“You have to expect that this time in your life will be a little bit of a rollercoaster,” says Blake. “For most people, college graduation is their first time without a prescribed template, so it takes time to adjust. It’s not easy but it can be a time of real growth!”

Blake is right. Now, there are no road maps to solve all of our problems, no rules to follow that will eliminate the worries and stresses we are currently experiencing. However, Blake and other recent grads have some advice about their experiences with post-grad freak-outs that may just help us out.

Freak-Out #1: I am going to lose touch with all of my friends

After graduating from Bucknell University, Stephanie moved to Washington, D.C. a few weeks ago to start her engineering job. She cites missing her friends as her biggest post-grad worry. “Most of my freak-outs have been about keeping in touch with people, which honestly I'm still trying to figure out,” she says. "Thank goodness for Facebook and texting. I’m trying to remember that my friends and I are having important life experiences that will allow us all to grow, especially since we're all doing such different things now. We'll definitely have more to talk about with each other than we did while we all had basically the same social circle and experiences in college."

Stephanie’s right—we’re lucky to have been born into a generation with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and all sorts of other social media perks. This means that although we may be 200 miles away from our best friends, we can still keep in with them touch fairly easily. That being said, maintaining friendships after college does take effort.

“Be proactive about organizing a reunion, either back where you and your friends met or in a fun destination,” Blake suggests. “But also give yourself room to breathe and permission to have less frequent communication with your college friends. Instead of attempting to remain in constant communication with all of your college friends, try to talk to one or two people each week. I also recommend that you chose one period of time each week that will be your friend catch up time – you can send texts, emails, peruse Facebook and call people during this window of time!”

Freak-Out #2: I won’t make any friends in my new city

Many post-grads worry about making friends in their new cities as much as they worry about losing their old friends. Daina, another recent Bucknell University graduate, will be moving to Seattle to start work in the fall, and her biggest worry is that she will have no one to hang out with when she isn’t at work.

Blake’s blog has a template, which can be useful for brainstorming ways to meet new people. “Get creative,” Blake suggests, “And try to combine something you love with enhancing your social life. Perhaps it’s volunteering, intramural sports or professional networking, but all of those outlets can help you meet people. You may not meet new friends at the bars, so be willing to experiment.”

Freak-Out #3: I am never going to find a job

Alexandra Churchill, a recent grad from the University of New Hampshire, has struggled with the difficulty of finding a job in the publishing industry. “During senior year especially, I started to have these thoughts like, ‘Oh my God, I'm NEVER going to find a job,’” she says. “Whenever I started to freak out like this about my career, I always reminded myself that I was already making it my job to find a job. And that was true! I was recently called in for an interview and was later hired for a summer internship at that same company, and I also work in retail on the weekends and freelance in my free time to help make ends meet. So, it's definitely not been an easy-going post-grad life so far, but I think when you are being a real go-getter, employers will see those efforts.”

Alexandra is right when she says that employers will recognize the efforts you make to reach out to them. Yes, the job market is difficult, but rest assured that your college degree and efforts to connect with potential employers will make you much more likely to be hired.

In the case of job searching, Blake recommends that post-grads be proactive. “Even while looking for job, you should consider ways that you can do what you love on your own. The internet gives you tons of opportunities, so consider big questions like ‘Who am I?’ and ‘How can I express myself?’, and then try to get involved in that industry or field no matter whether you have job or not.”

Blake also suggests that post-grads should attempt to be clear about what direction they are headed in as they search for jobs. “I often have my clients write an email that clearly articulates what job they’d like, the type of company they’d like to work for and what role they’d like to have in that company. I also have them include their biggest strengths in the email. Then, they send that email to their family, friends and other connections that they may have, asking them if they know of any positions that might be of interest – you never know what kind of connections other people have!”