The first day of school at my alma mater was last Wednesday. Having just graduated this spring, I thought I wouldn’t miss my first-day rituals: being in the flood of students hustling from building to building, hiking to the book store to buy textbooks at the last minute, and stopping in the student union for my all-time favorite stress-reducing snack: fries and a frosty. But I did miss them. The end of everything came so suddenly that I don’t even remember the last normal day I had on campus.
This summer, so many changes came at me so suddenly. I had a real 9-to-5, my college best friends had all moved away, and I was fresh out of a long-term relationship. I fought to try to forget the changes and hurt instead of adapting to them.
And then it all hit me, all at once.
I felt bored and lonely. I missed having something to work towards, something to keep me busy on weekday nights, like homework. I missed being walking-distance from my sorority sisters. I couldn’t adjust to my new, full-time work schedule, feeling both antsy and dull in my timeclock routine. Everything just felt so bleh.
But Beyoncé taught me to make lemonade out of life’s sourest lemons, so that’s what I did. Here are some suggestions I’ve taken for coping with change, combatting boredom and loneliness, and having fun post-grad.
Find a hobby that makes you happy
Even if you’re “bad” at it, it’s worth it if it brings you joy. I’ve always loved dancing ballet, and I am no Misty Copeland. I am fully aware that I look silly stumbling through my pirouettes, but I feel cute as heck tendu-ing in my pink slippers. And at the end of the day, knowing that I gave it my best shot and learned something new makes me feel strong and brave.
Take an online class
Ever wanted to learn how to Photoshop or play guitar or be an art history expert? There’s a number of self-paced, online classes out there waiting for you to sign-up. Lifelong learning is officially in; your college most likely has an extended education department for online courses, or your work may enable you to take professional development classes. I’ve been participating in Seth Godin’s Marketing Seminar this last month, and it feels so good to take notes and learn again.
Connect with old friends
If you’re like me and the thought of making new friends gives you a rush of social anxiety, start expanding your circle by reaching out to acquaintances and friends you haven’t seen in a while. This way you don’t have to start from scratch and you can practice sustaining your meaningful relationships, which will help you be a better friend and partner in the long run.
Connect with coworkers
Happy hour is a thing for a reason. You see these people on a regular basis, maybe even more so than your roommates or family. Get to know them and bond over common ground—and I don’t mean work gossip: I mean your pets, your favorite TV shows, that bar you’ve all been wanting to go to, etc. Before you know it, water cooler talk will turn into actual making-plans and friendship-building.
It’s okay if the “backpacking through Europe” thing isn’t an option for you. There is an entire world out there to explore. Hop in the car with your best friends and take a mini-road trip to the next town over. Ask around at work to see if there’s an upcoming conference you can attend. Make time to see that one thing that you’ve always said “maybe one day” about; today can be that day.
Ask to be more challenged at work
If you find yourself taking BuzzFeed quizzes and making new Pinterest boards more than doing your actual work, it’s time to ask for more challenging tasks. Envision your dream job and think about what you can ask for at work to make that dream your reality. Don’t tell yourself “I can’t do that” or “I’m not qualified.” You can and you are.
Take a leap of faith
I’m talking about doing something so far out of your comfort zone that you have to take a big leap to reach it. Maybe that’s wearing that one dress you’ve never been brave enough to wear, flying even if airplanes make you nervous, or finally asking out your crush. Who knows: That leap may lead somewhere spectacular.
image via Jackie Ryan