15 Things You Should Know About Life Post-Grad
There have been at least five different versions of this blog post. What started out as "10 Things You Should Do Before You Graduate" has over time (because many people have just graduated) become "15 Things You Should Know About Life Post-Grad". So, without further ado, commencing list format!
1. Understand and Accept that Everything Is Temporary
As a friend always tells me, nothing lasts forever, not even the good things. Everything in life is undergoing a process, a cycle, or in-between in some kind of phase. In relation to this post, understand that everything is temporary because this post-grad life is going to make you feel like whatever stressor you're currently enduring is going to last forever. You're not going to be unemployed forever if you are right now. You're not going to be applying to jobs forever. If you work part-time, you're not going to be part-time forever. You're not going to be an entry-level associate forever or retain an entry-level salary. You're not always going to feel confused, lost, torn, stressed, depressed, discouraged, or drained. None of these things are permanent. But on the other hand, you're not always going to be happy either. Happiness is an emotion and it comes and goes like any other. There will be moments when you feel full of happiness and joy and excitement and pride and maybe days or even an hour later you feel void of these feelings entirely.
You can't just understand this though. You have to actually accept it. If you accept that all things are temporary and that you have to move with change instead of against it, you may find that the way you perceive and navigate the world becomes alleviated of the pain it once seemed to carry innately.
2. Consider Your Loan Repayments In Advance
For those of you who have loans and have just graduated, you have about 5 more months before those lovely additions to your life go into repayment. Now, I know that may seem like a "long" time, but consider that 5 months ago you were just starting the final semester of your undergraduate career. And how quickly did that fly by? With that being said, it's crucial to consider and act on paying your loans in advance, contacting your advisors or officers or whoever, and making sure you really have a grasp on what you signed off on when you were 18, 19, 20, or however old you were.
3. Think good and hard about where you want to live and be after you graduate.
Think about how you feel when you go home over breaks (or if you even go home at all) and truly consider whether living at home is best for you. Living in my hometown was not functional for me in my present stage in life. I say this because I am the type of person that often feels that once a place has served its purpose I need to move on from it and progress to the next thing. I abhor stagnation and being back in the place I went to high school and middle school felt like nothing but being stuck. This isn't to say that there's anything wrong with living at home. For some people, it's the dream. As a matter of fact, financially, it was divine. However, sometimes saving money isn't worth what it actually costs. Money isn't the only form of currency. My physical, mental, and emotional health was not where it needed to be while I lived in a place I felt suffocated in. And now, not living in that place, it's still not on a 100% but I definitely feel better about the control I have over my circumstances and self. I feel agile and more capable towards my occupational and creative growth.
For some people, the decision to live at home, or not, may relate to those you would be living with. For others, this isn't even a factor. And for others still, contemplating whether or not to live elsewhere may be a nice thought but render itself something near impossible to act on for a much longer amount of time. These things are all okay. If you don't want to live at home after you've graduated but find that there's literally no other option for you then you have to find it in yourself, as best you can, to act upon your circumstances in an unorthodox way. This may not mean packing your bags and moving across the country, but it may mean packing up the negative self-talk and moving it to another part of your mind so you can be what you need to be until you get to be where you want.
4. You Broke, Baby.
This might seem like a complete 180 of the previous paragraph but it's not. Unless you're rolling in coin you, my friend, are broke. It's Friday, you ain't got no money, you ain't got no job, and yeah you ain't got sh*t to do but that don't mean what you think. Whatever money you can get or already have, you need to save and hold onto like it's the best thing you've ever had in your life. Create and KEEP an emergency fund. Whatever money you think you need to have? Triple it. Your emergency fund is not for when you want to go out with your friends, know you really don't have money, but really just need one night out. Your emergency fund is literally for emergencies. It should increase, not decrease. And the thing it should do even more than that is remain in your account. One Youtube channel that I discovered post-grad that helped me get myself on track financially is The Financial Diet, or TFD for short. This channel posts weekly about financial life hacks for millennials and beyond, and ways to overcome everyday financial challenges.
5. Think before you spend more money and time furthering/pursuing a field you may not actually enjoy or find profitable (whether mentally or financially).
This tip was more catered to something that should have been considered before graduating but hey, what can you do? While I know I want to attend grad school in the future, I am not sure what discipline I'll pursue, though I know it will be arts based. Hence, dedicating my time to work experience. Many people can jump from undergrad to grad school in search of some kind of sense of self because they aren't ready to face the "real world" yet, or because they can just afford to and so it's the next logical step. I think it's beneficial to be really honest with yourself about whether or not further financial or mental turmoil fits into your lifestyle not only now, but for the future as well. Can you truly afford that next jump? If so, go for it? If not, it's okay. Again, everything is a process.
6. There is no instant gratification.
You were raised in an era where everything is immediate, your access to food, clothes, necessities, people etc. A job is not immediate. The job market is demanding and hiring processes are often skewed or conducted by people who are just as tired, if not more, than you. I don't know how many interviews I’ve been on, resume in tow, where the resume that I submitted with my application wasn't even read or let alone looked over. People don't often care about your credentials. They care about how you present yourself, how you speak, what you can do, and how quickly and efficiently you can do it.
Before you ride that high horse of a B.A. into your post-grad vacay sunset, remember that there are people who didn’t spend 4 years of their lives trying to figure themselves out and entered the workforce immediately, giving them a skillset, experience, and an advantage many of us are just now trying to acquire. Remember, I’m not knocking further education at all. I’m a die-hard for that kind of chronic stress — however, in the vein of acknowledging my past assholish self, I’m not knocking the high school diploma and years of dedication towards a career either. I mean really, how could I? I come from a family of it myself and without it, I wouldn’t be here today. So humility is the new superfood. Eat up or the world will force feed you.
7. All of your friends are gonna act like they got their sh*t together.
You will feel pressured to do the same. You will see friends traveling the world, friends bouncing from internship to internship, some holding a steady job, others dapper in suits or dresses or a combo of the two...whatever they have to do to have it “together”. Some of them will actually have their sh*t together while others just put on an act. Don't feel intimidated or undervalued by this. You have to run your own race on your own time. Comparison is literally the devil.
8. Donate & Sell Things You Don't Need And/Or Use
9. Go to the health center/doctor/whatever
If you have student health insurance like I did in school, be sure to take advantage of it before it expires in August.
10. It may be bad for a long time. I can’t tell you what a long time is.
But what I can tell you is you always have a choice. You may not have a choice in what your circumstances are but you have the choice in how you approach those circumstances. We were taught to associate ourselves with success so directly that we forgot along the way that successful, brilliant, hard-working, determined, communicative, etc. are all just things we do, but they are not who we are. You are more than your productivity.
11. You need to find you some people to do life with.
I don't mean friends for fun times, but some people for these actual real times. People are going to pass away, people are going to be born, some lose jobs, some have a hard time getting them in the first place. Think about your friend and support group and truly evaluate if the people around you are there to elevate and motivate you.
12. There are things you think you understand fully, but you don't.
I'm still trying to understand this fully.
13. You need to learn to be easier on yourself.
We’re pressured to be 40-year-old CEO’s with cars, no debt, hair laid, and mental health together (sans therapist), wine glasses in hand, at 22 years of age. That ain’t happening, slim. It just ain’t.
14. Networking Is All That Matters
Remember that piece of paper that you held in your hand after you waited in line to walk across that stage in alphabetical order? Well, as important as it is and as hard as you worked for it, the people you've met and the connections you've made along the way just may ring to be even more crucial. Network. Network. Network.
15. Redirect The Negative
Negative experiences can give us lessons just as positive experiences can. Sometimes it takes acknowledging and processing what's unfavorable and turning it into something good. Doing this repeatedly in this stage of life can be the very thing that keeps us going.
"You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." - Christopher Robin, Winnie The Pooh
Image by: Danielle Macinnes via Unsplash.com