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Life After College, It’s Not All Peaches and Cream

Let’s face it, life after college can be scary for many of us. I mean you come straight out of high school with these childish mentalities that you will hopefully overcome with life learning experiences as an independent. Adulting should be about spending a portion your time trying to figure out who you are and what you want in life. It can be frustrating, difficult and sometimes embarrassing when you are trying to transition from your childish ways to a more mature way of life. Although I never had the privilege of living my college life in a dorm room with a bunch of strangers who could’ve become my best friend’s, I did know a few people who did dorm so I was still able to have some of the experience. In the midst of having this experience with people who lived on campus, I immediately learned that emerging from your comfort zone can trigger motivation you never thought you had in you just as long as you are around positive people. In college you are surrounded by a melting pot of individuals learning more about other cultures and races compared to your old high school. Some experiences are going to be negative ones, testing your characteristics and individuality as you explore things for the first time that you never thought you would. And you may think life after college won’t be so hard since you made it through those past four years but I’m here to tell you it only becomes much more complex as college was just a stepping stone to help prepare you for the real world that you will have to face as an after. I actually like to compare this stepping stone to what’s known as the Braxton Hicks contractions. This is what pregnant women experience when their body is preparing to give birth. Your body and mind needs this mild experience of pain to be strong enough for birth. But women are stronger than what we give ourselves credit for and once the college encounters are done, you will need to have that strength you hopefully gained while being an undergraduate.

Change is usually alway necessary depending on the circumstances and it can take you out of your comfort zone by doing things you may not have ever tried before. You may also become more understanding of people’s space and boundaries, start networking more often, and stay in the loop of things on or off campus, as well as maybe finding who you are as an individual. Our years spent in high school can limit us in finding out who we really are, being in a smaller environment of people compared to when you get on campus grounds. But a new environment means new people which means different experiences. After graduating college, don’t take it personally if you began to part ways with some of your friends, just like what probably happened to many people after high school as well. Either way, people come and go in our lives and sometimes in order to grow you have to surround yourself with like minded people who will keep you driven in life.

If there’s one thing I learned after college it’s that patience is everything, seriously! Have you ever rushed to cook a bowl of ramen noodles because you needed something quick to eat and it didn’t have enough water, so some of the noodles are hard? It’s funny that some people actually like to eat theirs that way. But my point is, when you rush anything in life it will never receive its full completion and only allows a situation to be half done, and of course that never gives great end results. When there is patience, whatever it is you desire will be a rewarding experience because you know how hard you worked for it. But it’s time to put on your big girl undies and remember that in life, there will be challenges as people test your limits, especially because of your young age. People may try to bring you out of character at some point but if you learn to have patience and bite your tongue when necessary, you will be able to thrive in just about any tough situation thrown at you.

To be honest, we are all coddled for the most part while attending college. As we age, our parents expect us to take on all of our own responsibilities as they eventually stop holding our hand and let go. Granted, you may fall down a few times but being able to get back on your own shows the independence and responsibility you have developed over the years. Having your own place after college is exciting, whether you live alone or have a roommate as you have more freedom and privacy. However, adulting isn’t just waking up early in the morning to start your day, drinking a hot cup of coffee and dressing professionally, but rather about making sure you take care of yourself and your priorities such as scheduling your doctor appointments however often needed, taking care of yourself when sick, running errands, creating a to-do list (really helps), managing your time and so much more. Independence will make you responsible like it or not, but it all pays off in the end if you stay on track.

Although it’s unfortunate, there’s no guarantee you will receive a job offer right away in the degree you earned but don’t let that discourage you, it can easily happen to anyone in any field. Working at a place that’s irrelevant to your degree may make you feel as if your accomplishments have been wasted, but once again, patience is key and as long as you are putting in those resumes and networking, that job you dread going to everyday will soon turn into the one you dream about. On your journey you will hear plenty of “No’s”, receive criticism, and may not receive any responses back from some jobs but as long as you continue to stay determined and focused those “No’s” will soon become a “Yes”, and that’s the biggest reward of it all.

As a graduate student earning a Master’s in Public Policy, a career filled with egocentric men, I know I will face some rough challenges, but I’m ready for that because it’s something I’ve been preparing for. Between learning to have patience, therapy sessions, family support, and most of all dedication to see it all through, I am ready. Don’t get me wrong though, I still huff and puff questioning why sometimes, why is life so hard when you do everything possible to make it easy. And then I realized that this is why learning who you are and what you want in life is extremely important, because it keeps you focused just on that. Some people have parents who try to live life through them, having them accomplish goals and career paths they would’ve taken if they could do it all over again. I didn’t start college until the age of twenty-three but it was at that age I knew what I finally wanted out of life. Again I am here to tell you that yes, life after college is hard, but remember the saying, “what doesn’t kill only makes you stronger”, for keeping this in mind will always remind you to never let a “No” or negative criticism have you stray away from your accomplishments. Get out there in society and build strength, stay productive and continue to meet new people. Don’t stop now just because you aren’t where you want to be in life yet. Go out in the world and show what it is you bring to the table and what makes you stand out from others. For anyone not working or still focusing on a way to land that dream job, utilize any of your extra time by finding new interest, giving back to your community, or finding alternatives in order to save money to get your own place. Take a look below at the 5 Topics I provide that can help you down the line as you try to find yourself and a balance in life dealing with finding new interests, giving back to the community, meeting new people, living with others to save, and working on self growth. These 5 topics are relevant to keeping you in the loop of networking in college. Meeting new people is a must to get anywhere in life.

NEW HOBBY

I have always been a creative person and when I find the time in my busy schedule I love crafting, making hair bows and tutus for my daughter and whatever catches my attention to create next. I eventually would like to create a YouTube channel with my content on how I make my creations. This isn’t really a new hobby for me but when I get the chance to come to it I never want to stop, as it is very relaxing for me. Having an enjoyable hobby can go many ways. You can show off your skills on YouTube which can earn you subscribers and money. You can find new hobbies that will keep you building new skills and find a niche that can then be displayed for the public to see. You will never know where your creative talents can lead you to in today’s society, especially if you want to make a little extra income. Your new hobby doesn’t have to be a creative one, for there is also reading books, playing board games, meditating and even having an early alarm set for each day. Having more than one hobby to enjoy isn’t a bad idea either as it allows you to alternate between your two favorite types of entertainment and can become beneficial.

VOLUNTEER WORK

Helping others, being around different people, those less fortunate or not, and networking overall with individuals is a true enjoyment for me. It took me years to actually understand that life really is too short. If I have any good traits in my body it’s definitely my love for wanting to help others, I can’t stand to see others being mistreated. Treat others the way you want to be treated. And helping someone or making a difference in someone’s life is a reward within itself. For as long as I can remember, being in church was a second home for me and having clothing and food drives, visiting the nursing homes to sing for the elderly, and visiting sick children in the hospitals distilled positive morals and values in me that I wouldn’t give up for the world. My past on campus club activities allowed me to build relationships with people I still connect with today, and I am able to continue volunteer work with certain organizations outside my school however often I am available. When you decide to do any type of volunteer work make sure it’s from the heart and not because it’s just the right thing to do. Try out different volunteering programs as there are hundreds such as animal shelters, visiting kids with cancer, homeless shelters, shelters for domestic violence victims, companions for people with disabilities and more. As I mentioned, volunteering can help you learn to network effectively and get to know more people who could possibly help you out in the long run.

NETWORKING

As I indicated in the volunteering section, networking is important as it is the key to your success. It creates fresh ideas, strengthens connections, and provides more knowledge and confidence while giving you access to job opportunities. You will gain career advice and support when you are participating in volunteer work. You are bound to meet several people and learn so many different personalities. Having this opportunity not only prepares you to become a mature adult but teaches you professionalism and different ways to handle those various personalities. When you allow yourself to explore and create new opportunities, you could make a new best friend or find your future spouse from being such a social butterfly. To be open minded is a must in networking and shows how versatile you are which allows different perspectives. Keep in mind while in search of your career path that staying dedicated and determined is only as hard as you make it. Professional networking will open several doors to that dream career you have longed for.

STAY WITH PARENTS (WHILE WORKING)

Ok so maybe you have a job maybe you don’t. And if you started your career then applause you and great work on staying dedicated and determined! It’s not as easy as people think to get a job in many fields of work these days, and for the most part it depends on what you went to school for. If you aren’t working, then you obviously don’t have your own place and are probably living with your parents now that you’ve graduated. Ultimately, this isn’t such a bad idea as it has some benefits such as being able to save money and having people who will hopefully keep you motivated. Granted, there may still be house rules like a curfew or responsibilities such as paying a portion of the light bill, but this helps with developing accountability and maturity. I lived with my parents for two years after high school and I had to be in the house by 1am the latest any day of the week. If I wasn’t, I was locked out with the chain on the door. When I knew I would be out past that time frame I would call to let my parents know where I would be staying. Despite the curfew there was leniency and balance given to me as a maturing adult in my parents house and it was different, but not all unmanageable since I have always respected their rules anyway. So don’t be ashamed if you end up graduating back to your parent’s house, because this is not intended to be a prolonged situation and you have a few other perks.

WORK ON SELF GROWTH

To work on self growth starts with loving who you are. And although trying to find yourself can take time, having self growth says a lot about a person who wants to do what’s ethically and morally best under certain circumstances. This improvement will assist in keeping you focused on your life which will typically result in positive changes, enhance strengths, improve mental health, and possibly mend relationships. September is the month for self growth and could be a good way for you to start a process we all need in our lives. Really think about how networking, volunteering, finding new hobbies, and even staying with your parents all play a role in self growth in its own special way. Each role you worked on will give you the strength needed to learn patience, be respectful, know what to say, when to say it, and how. We all go through various stages in life and finding a balance in life will be beneficial to you becoming independent, having responsibility and improving these 6 aspects of life.

Listen, no one ever said being an adult would be easy, and if they did then they are living in another reality. Adult life after college should be fun as you get to express who you are through your new living space whether it’s a room at your parents or your own place. Make sure you have set goals along with the networking, volunteer work, and new hobbies you have going on. Keep a journal if necessary. Writing things down seems to work for some people so it wouldn’t harm you to try. And don’t forget to treat yourself from time to time by going out with friends or family. Don’t forget to also treat yourself to a spa day at FondandFaye, a place I highly recommend! Treat yourself to a new outfit or hair style, and of course a little therapy never hurt anyone. Therapy doesn’t mean you are crazy. Do whatever is necessary to stay strong!

It brings me so much joy to be a part of Her Campus. As a graduate student with a plethora of life experiences on what it is like after college or even during, is an amazing feeling to be able to use and help those younger than me. I look forward to being a guide, a mentor and more to young women trying to survive in this tough society.
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