Most college grads can agree that shifting from college to the “real world” is not exactly the smoothest transition. Although, I found this new level of independence, it came with much uncertainty and anxiety. Even if you’ve been counting down the days until graduation since the first day of your 101 courses, during those years, your university becomes a comfortable home. You get four plus years of living in this late-teen/early 20s utopia of on and off campus events, limitless junk food, student organizations, and all the free t-shirts that your dresser can hold. The best part? Peers that were strangers just a few summers ago, are now your best friends within a 5 mile radius. Even combined with those not-so-enjoyable lectures, 8AM classes, job-juggling, 20-page essays, and all-nighters, it still hold the cliche of “the best years of your life”.
Before and even during college, I did not understand why it was referred to as the “best years of your life”. In fact, I found it quite depressing. Why should these be the “best”? Then, after graduating and entering the “real world”, I finally understood but not in the way I expected.
During the second week of May 2016, I left my college of over 7,000 students to work in the largest metropolitan city in the United States, with only an internship lined up. Even surrounded by those 8 million people, I had never felt so alone. Though this feeling is normal when moving to a new city (especially one as large as New York City), there’s an unparalleled sense of community in college, especially when you enter Welcome Week your freshman year. You arrive to college with thousands of others in the same predicament as yourself – uncertain yet excited about the next four years; which is how a many of these friendships are formed. This is why it’s so important to continue those relationships into your post-grad life because, like freshman year, you need a companions to take that new, scary step with you.
If you’re moving away, it’s simply not that easy. Obviously, I fully support moving away right after college to purse something different; however, I’ve always envied those who remained close to home and were able to maintain those college-established relationships. Moving away or not, life after college is not an easy one. I saw my college “moving on without me” on social media while I was starting from the bottom in one of the most competitive fields in New York City. I had been working so hard in a career that constantly had me question, “Is this career path worth it?” I truly believed my “happy and fun” years were behind me.
But why should “the best years of your life” stop at college? Why can’t we just have the best life? Why should we stop learning, having fun, and living like a “young adult”? Perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned in the “real world” is to do what you truly love, and make the most out of life! Establish lifelong friendships the same way you did that first semester of college. I entered New York City expecting to pursue and fall in love with personal styling, and realized it simply was not for me. It was a harsh reality, and it made me question everything. However, after searching, I found my love for writing and inspiring others. Yes, I did build a solid understanding of myself as a student, but during my year after college, I discovered the woman I wanted to become to make life worthwhile.
So, one year after my college graduation, I can whole-heartedly say that the most stressful, anxiety inducing, harsh year after the supposed “best years of my life” has actually been best year of my life thus far! Although, it certainly came with the negatives, I have grown, found myself, and discovered my purpose. You don’t just stop learning after you receive that diploma. So, if your a post-grad, use every bit of skill that you acquired in college, but more importantly, open your mind to new experiences and lessons that cannot be learned in the classroom.
Everyone has a unique experience after college. We all have something to share and advise to give. It can be a difficult road, but walking down that road with others makes it much smoother. So, if you have been out of school for quite some time, be sure to share your experience and advise with others. You never know what obstacles others are facing and how you can use your experiences as inspiration!