I dreamt of going to college since I was in elementary school. The goal was to go to college, go to grad school, get a job in a big city working in the music industry using my PR skills, get married, travel with my husband, then think about having kids. Nothing went as planned. Literally, nothing at all.
After I graduated college, I moved back home and struggled to find a job. I worked part-time as a radio promo associate, ended up going to school online, and didn’t get a job in my field until a few years down the line.
I didn’t think life after college was going to be perfect. But I didn’t think it would be so hard. There were times when I wanted to give up. I started to regret even going to school. Why work so hard to get a degree that you can’t use? Who wants to be hassled to pay back loans with a just a part-time job? Do you know how annoying it is for every job you apply for to say you don’t have enough experience? How can I get experience when I can’t find a job, to begin with? The flashbacks are so strong. Let me reel it back in. Relax, relate, release!
There are a few things that I wish I had known:
Finding a Job is Not Easy
Before I graduated college, I literally got every job I applied for. Granted, they were summer part-time jobs or internships, but still. So when I left college and couldn’t get a call-back, I didn’t know how to handle it. When I got an email starting with anything along the lines of, “We appreciate you taking the time to apply for...” I wanted to flip a table. You'd think that you should be able to get a decent job with a degree but that's not always the case.
It’s Hard to Make Friends
This one took me by surprise. Once I graduated I felt so distant from people my age. When you’re in school, you make new friends on the regular. It’s so simple to strike up a conversation with someone in the cafeteria or walking to class. In the real world? Everyone is already grouped off and it can be difficult to find your way in. There are people like you out there, looking make friends. Volunteering and networking are great ways to make connections. You’re around like-minded people who believe in giving back to others and promoting themselves. That’s actually how I met two of my newest and closest friends.
Stay in Touch with the People You Know and Love
Once you graduate, you may end up in a whole new city from the people you met in school. Don’t lose those connections! You will need them. Take the time to send a quick text or pick up the phone and call that old roommate or best friend from college. That person may need to hear from you, too. We’re all going through it. Think about much you appreciate it when someone checks in on you.
Not Everyone is Willing to Help You
You will meet people who are so excited that you’ve graduated from college! They may appear to be happy for you and want to see you do great things, but this doesn’t apply to everyone. Some people out there only want you to help them - for free. I’m a huge advocate for internships but don’t let people work you too much. A lot of times people will make you think they want to help but in reality, they’re just picking your brain because you’re fresh out of school and may know something that they don’t know. Network, volunteer, intern, job shadow, take a new class, anything that will help you and make you more marketable in your job search. Just know that it’s important to understand who is truly rooting for you and who’s just using you.
Post-Grad Depression Is Real
Have you ever cried and didn’t realize you were crying? I actually remember being home watching TV, eating ice-cream and all of a sudden, I felt the tears fall down my face. I had never experienced that before. I dealt with so many rejections, in addition to my own issues in my personal life that it weighed me down. I got to the point where I would only eat certain things. I went through a chicken tender phase. I also went through a period of time where I only wanted salt and vinegar chips. It sounds weird but it must have been a chemical imbalance. I lost sleep. Most days, I didn’t want to go to sleep and wake up to another “we chose another candidate email.” I felt like everyone was against me since no one would give me a chance. I prayed so hard to get out of that place. I really had to learn to be strong and have faith that things would work out for me. And they did!
I wouldn’t dare say this 3 to 5 years ago but now that I’m good, I can say, “I’m glad I went through it.” I couldn’t see it then but I truly believe that I went through all of that so that I would appreciate where I am today. If I had walked across the stage and in an office starting out at 21, I would probably think it’s all about me and I wouldn’t be able to share my struggle to help other people. God makes no mistakes. He knew that I needed to be back home with my family. He knew that I needed to take time to get myself together before working full-time. Most importantly, He knew that I needed a break. I was in agony spending so much time on the couch waiting for someone to call me for an interview. But I had worked so hard in school since kindergarten and I started working at 16! I needed some time to be able to just relax. I would have enjoyed it more had I not put so much pressure on myself. But I’m glad I made it. And whatever you’re going through in your post-grad life, you’ll get through it!
For those of you who dealt with the harsh reality of being thrown into “adulting,” how did you cope? What are some tips that helped you get through any struggles that you faced?