They say life flashes in a blink of an eye when you are having fun, or when you have spent the last year running around freaking out about your future. That’s how I’ve felt the last year and a half since I graduated from DePaul University last November.
I never expected to miss college as much as I have the last year. I miss constantly being busy, having your days planned out, always being around your friends, and really working towards something bigger. Upon graduating high school I was so ready to leave, I was ready for something bigger, to move out west and find somewhere I would fit in.
I feel like everyone prepared me to go to college, teachers, college advisors, older peers, and of course my Abuela. She would say the cutest things like “Cierras tus piernas” and “La marijuana es malo” she said the darndest things! But seriously, she always told me to take care of myself, and to study and learn a lot. I was so lucky to be furthering my education, something that is very important to me as my family in Cuba couldn’t when Fidel took power.
But when it came to preparing for post-grad, there wasn’t any direction except for officially being thrown out into the real world.
- Everyone’s journey is different
With the rise of social media, it is easier than ever to compare yourself to others. We see people get accepted into graduate schools, travel all around the world, and get their dream job. It can get very overwhelming especially when you feel like you aren’t where you thought you would be. Whether you decided to dive straight into a career, travel for a year, or find yourself in a place where you don’t know what to do next — do what is best for YOU, not what is best for the person you keep stalking on Instagram.
- Don’t try to stick to your college routine
It’s obvious that your routine is about to change, but don’t try to force your routine to be like how it was in college. I’ve tried so many times to mimic my schedule like the one I had from college. I time block, try to wake up at the same time, and structure my day around a schedule that wasn’t feasible for me. I’ve learned to flow and adapt to where I am now, not where I used to be.
- Socializing takes effort
I didn’t realize how easy socializing with your friends and seeing people was in college. You are literally running around in the same circle as all your best friends- it’s so easy to run into them, study together, or just grab dinner after class. In post grad, everyone has opposite schedules, running around in opposite circles, and sometimes going out does not seem fun. With that said, put in the effort, keep friends that make that effort. Find new things around the city to do together and call the ones who don’t live in the same city as you. My friends were a crucial part of getting through the first year of post-grad, so I put in effort to keep them close.
- You are allowed to change your mind
This is the number one thing I wish I had known in college.You are not tied to a degree, a job, or really anything. You don’t have to stick to the one path you set for yourself your freshman year, or even your senior year of college. You are always growing, your experiences are adding value to your life, and that shouldn’t inhibit you from doing what you want. If all your life you grew up and wanted to be a doctor, and one day you went to a fashion show and wanted to become a fashion designer — do it! Don’t be afraid to take that leap. You are the only one in your way.
- Take that gap year
Think about it…you have probably been on the go since you were 14 — your freshman year of highschool. Studying to get into college, extra circulators, testing prep, and being a teenager is straight up exhausting. Then you enter college, and spend four years partying, dating, working, and taking a full class load. It can be taxing on the mind and body, making it okay to take a break. Whether that be one month, six months, or two years. Take some time for yourself, rediscover your passions, travel, do all the things you said you wanted to in college but didn’t have the time to do. Time is only on your side, go with it, not against it.
- Sleep deprivation isn’t cured overnight.
The first couple weeks after graduation I would get so mad at myself for sleeping till 9 am, and then I really beat myself up for the days I slept till 11 am. I couldn’t understand why even if I went to bed at 10 pm that I was still sleeping so late. It wasn’t till I started to go to therapy and seeing my doctor regularly, that I started to show more self-compassion for myself. I had over 4 years of long nights, 8 ams, my blood had become cuban coffee, and I am tired, was an understatement. I gave myself time, and patience, and a lot of sleep.
- Right vs. Wrong
Life is not black and white, there is no right or wrong. You are exactly on the path you need to be on.
- You are not alone.
Lastly, you are not alone. There are so many fresh out of college young professionals, that are freaking out as much as you are. Don’t let their LinkedIn profile picture fool you. Start talking about how hard post-grad is, come together with your friends and support each other. You don’t have to go through this transition alone, everyone is rooting for you.
Personally, post-grad has been rough, but everyday I am getting through it. I’ve discovered a new sense of myself + it has truly brought my friends closer together to bond about how we don’t have our lives together. The best thing we can do is enjoy the present and the season we are in life right now.