Nothing says, “I’m a college graduate” like shacking up with your parents and having $40,000 in student loan debt. Sometimes post-college life hits a little harder than you anticipated, but that’s the harsh reality. At least you can reminisce on the best four years of your life to get you through the transition years.
1. Your student loans are no longer mythical numbers you’ve ignored for four years.
The second you threw that tasseled cap in the air, your student loans became real (and your worst nightmare). Sallie Mae is like a crazy ex-girlfriend: she’ll call you twice a day every day until you answer and give her money. It’s okay, though – you’re not the only one who dated Sallie. She haas plenty of other exes she’s bugging.
2. Monday-Friday, 8-5 is really a thing.
You no longer have two-hour gaps in your schedule for napping, and your weekends don’t begin on Thursday. You haven’t had this kind of cruel and unusual punishment since your K-12 years.
3. Credit is something you have to build.
Have you met Sallie Mae’s distant cousins, Chase and Visa? They’re like crazy ex-boyfriends: they’ll hunt you down and make you pay for things you did months ago (like buy those new shoes and that new weekend wardrobe). They’re twice as persistent as Sallie, and they’ll leave your past (and credit) a bit bruised unless you take care of business… AKA pay your credit card bills and determine what “emergency use only” really entails.
4. There is a very new, clear difference between things you want and things you need.
No, you don’t need another new pair of black heels to go out in. What you need is some new tires on your car and a toaster oven to make up for the lack of the real one in your “new” studio apartment. Oh, and you also need to pay rent.
5. Living with your parents may be the most logical option.
You’re paying off loans, so naturally, that means four more years in your twin bed surrounded by Aaron Carter and Britney Spears posters. It may not be the sexy, chic New York apartment you envisioned, but at least there’s a full fridge and free cable. It’s rent-free and it’s gonna have to make do for a while, even if it means awkwardly asking your SO to stay the night at your parents’ when he or she’s in town.
6. The year is a whole 12 months, not two semesters and a summer.
You don’t get a restart button halfway through the year, and you definitely don’t get a three-month mental break to work on your tan.
7. “Studying” is no longer an excuse to go abroad.
Sallie can’t help you on this one. There are no student loans or financial aid to cover a four-month stay in the land down under in the post-college world. You might have to talk to Chase and Visa about this one.
8. You’re stuck wearing your own clothes.
You used to live with five roommates whose style ranged from Martha Stewart’s to Kesha’s; it was awfully convenient to have options when you had a class presentation and a bar crawl in one day. You’ve never missed the plethora of clothes to share more than now. You’re forced against your womanly nature to wear your own clothes and only your own clothes. Nothing was better than borrowing clothes you couldn’t afford to buy yourself.
9. Life is very different when you’re not living in a college town.
You were only in college for four years (give or take), but somehow a college town has become your natural habitat. Not every town is filled with thousands of single men your age, $3 cab rides and nightly dollar-drink specials, all conveniently narrowed down and placed together on a couple-thousand-acre campus. Suddenly you live in a place where you feel like a foreigner walking into the grocery store in your sweatpants with a bun on top of your head.
10. You have to start making intense decisions.
How in the world are you supposed to know if you need the silver dental package or the gold dental package? Or maybe you just won’t get one at all, because who needs teeth anyway?
11. You spent literally thousands of dollars on an education and you still lack a lot of life skills.
Obviously, you know you have to pay taxes, but no one ever said anything about how to do it… but thank God you know Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and how to solve for X.
12. Spring break isn’t how it used to be.
Panama City Beach and Cabo San Lucas are just mythical lands in college fairytales with lots of Mardi Gras beads and embarrassing pictures. Plus, you only get 10 vacation days a year and five of them are being used for you family reunion. Now your spring break is a long weekend in a nearby city just so you can get out of your parents’ house for four consecutive days.
13. Your first job may not exactly be your dream job.
You convinced yourself that you would graduate college, immediately set off for NYC and turn into Carrie Bradshaw writing an advice column, using your pretty bonuses to buy expensive shoes. Not so much. Instead, you’re typing time sheets and eating stale bagels in the break room with your 60-year-old coworker Jim, who strikes up casual conversation about the planter’s wart on his foot. The Carrie Bradshaw days will come, but you have to start somewhere. Hey, at least you have a job!
The realities are harsh, but don’t worry, because nothing can last forever. A little student debt never killed anyone (we don’t think)! So relax and enjoy the days of free cable, the comfort of your parents’ home and Jim the planter’s wart coworker. It may be hard to believe, but these are the best of your glory days: the struggle will make your future success taste so much better!