What I Wish Someone Told Me Before College Graduation

Featured Image via @dimiboutselis

I’d like to start this with a disclaimer of sorts: this isn’t a particularly cheerful article. This is the nitty gritty, this-is-a-rough-patch, sort of warning/advice. But I wanted to share this for anyone that might feel remotely the same way that I do. Social media makes us question our self-worth (literally), and it’s easy to get caught up in the glamour of others’ post-grad lives.

In the year since I’ve graduated college, I moved across the country to pursue what I thought was my dream, hated it, moved back home, worked a string of odd jobs, cried a lot, doubted myself way too much and have avoided confronting a lot of things that scare me.

There’s no bow at the end of this. I’m not going to finish it with a cute analogy about how everything has fallen into place now. That’s something I’m still working on. My point is to tell you that if you’re struggling in post-grad life, you’re not alone.

Here are a few things I wish I knew before I moved my tassel:

You might not have a job that you want or even be working in the field that you want.

It happens. There’s usually only a certain window of time you have to wait for the job you want. And then life happens, as it always does. There’s obligations and bills that need to be paid. So you do what you can, and then you end up with a job that’s okay, but you don’t feel fulfilled.

Gentle suggestion: Do what you’d like to on the side until you can make it your career. I still try to write and make videos and create some photos just so I keep that creative side of me alive. If you can’t be employed where you want to do, do it on your own time! There is no one limiting your creation if you’re doing it for you.

You can’t compare yourself to others.

Easier said than done, I know. Trust me, because I’ve been there. I’ve watched so many of my peers thrive at their “dream” jobs, glamorous jobs and jobs that seem so unattainable. But the more you think about what other people are out there doing, the more you’re going to deflate yourself.

Gentle suggestion: Stop being so focused on what everyone else is doing and just worry about yourself. It sounds so simple, but comparison will only continue to hurt you. Stop Insta-stalking everyone that has your dream career and build your own foundation. And also realize that you never know the full truth. Their Instagram might look perfectly composed and like they’re “living their best life” but deep down they might be struggling as well.

You’re probably going to have more spare time than what you’re comfortable with.

After never truly having a free moment for my eight years of high school and college, this past year I’ve had a squirmish amount of free time. When I get home from work, I usually sit with my computer in my lap, regardless of whether or not I have something to do. I’ve just been conditioned into thinking that there’s always something that needs done. And you know what? There’s not. You have to reteach yourself that not all of your time is owed to homework or extracurriculars.

Gentle suggestion: Find something you like to do that isn’t web-based. I like to check out books from the library, re-swatch my makeup for the umteenth time or watch HGTV with my parents. Nothing super crazy, but that time that I spend away from my cell phone and laptop are shockingly cathartic.

You might not have enough money to live like you’d like.

I’m getting really real now. This doesn’t pertain to everyone, but….I’ve always struggled financially, and now, after college I am too. It’s easy to suggest solutions that brighten up someone’s life (Take a vacation! Join an exercise group! Take up a new hobby!), but the harsh reality is going to be that there are some people that just can’t fit that into their budget–myself included. So you have to remind yourself that where you are right now isn’t where you’ll be forever.

Gentle suggestion: Do what you need to find comfort in your everyday. The truth is, I could probably skip out on the Starbucks I get a couple times a week, but it’s just something that brings me a certain joy that my regular Maxwell House at home doesn’t. I spent so much time making myself feel bad for buying something small every now and again until I realized that it’s those little things that bring me happiness. I can forgo the big purchases for right now, but that pick-me-up is what keeps me going.

You’re not the only one going through this.

I’m so hard on myself, and I tend to think “it’s just me.” But it’s not. There’s plenty of people out there unsure of what they’re doing or what they want.

Gentle suggestion: Remind yourself of this. All the time. You’re not the first person to not have it together by the time you wanted, and you won’t be the last. Start small, and work from there.

I genuinely wish everyone the best of luck in their search for whatever it is they’re looking for. You have to want to change things for yourself, and that’s something I’m still trying to improve on. But I believe in all of us.

Leah Marshall

Twentysomething with a string of odd jobs and a journalism degree.

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