Monday, May 29, 2017

Everything They Don't Tell You About Life After Graduation: An Ode to College Seniors & Recent Grads

Everything They Don't Tell You About Life After College: An Ode to College Seniors & Recent Grads

I will be the first to admit that I was extremely worried about life post-college.

Mid-second semester senior year (March 2016), I went on a retreat with a group of classmates and it was one of the most revealing and healing things I could have done. At the retreat, we were instructed to write a letter to our future selves, which we would read a year later — a letter I wrote about in a previous blog post.

In the letter I told myself about how badly I hoped to have a full-time job a year later in order to alleviate the anxieties I felt as a then soon-to-be graduate.

Between the personal and peer pressure of everything that was expected of a college grad, I did not think there was another option for me. I thought getting a job immediately, moving into my first apartment, and living the perfect adult life was how it had to be.

The questions from friends and family were always the same: "What are your plans after graduation?" "Do you have a job?" "What will your salary be?"

And while everyone had the same outward appearance of being put together, I couldn't help but wonder if I was the only one feeling the stress. The pressure was a lot and it was not really something anyone discussed. It was an "I got this" attitude mixed with an unspoken internal dialogue that constantly asked "Are you freaking out as much as I am?"

I mean, correct me if I'm wrong friends, but I think I came to find that almost everyone dreaded the uncertainty of graduation day for one reason or another.

So when I got the dream fellowship, relief seeped over me. It was one less thing for me to worry about having to find and one more thing checked off the list of things I was "supposed" to do after college.

Everything They Don't Tell You About Life After College: An Ode to College Seniors & Recent Grads

But here's my question: Who really makes that checklist anyway? You know, that list of things we're supposed to do or the one with the "right" ways to do it?

My answer: Who knows? So unless that checklist will truly and genuinely make you happy, I say give it a toss. Instead of following that list, follow your heart.

Take the time to decide what you want to do, without rushing. Here are the things I wish someone had told me before, during, or shortly after graduation, realizations that have since helped me immensely:

1. Take the time you need.

If there is one thing I would scream at the top of a rooftop it's "take your time." Your dream does not have an expiration date. In fact, there is no rush to figure out what your dream may be — it could change like a million + one times anyway. If you do not know what you want, it is absolutely okay.

2. Settling doesn't always have to be an option.

The only time you should settle is if there is absolutely no other option for you. Otherwise, always make the choice that will make you happiest. Here are 6 questions you should ask yourself before settling for anything.

3. It's ok to carve your own path.

Your priorities may be different than those of others, but that doesn't mean they're wrong. Decide what matters most to you and never stray from those priorities.

4. Keep your friends close, especially those you can't see every week.

When you're not constantly surrounded by your friends on campus, it can be tough to see them unless you actively set aside time to do so. My advice? Do it. Set aside time to see them and stay in touch. Even if you can't see them every week, even a quick text or call can go a long way.

5. You have all the tools you need to succeed, so you will find the path that works for you.

Bottom line: You have absolutely everything you need to succeed in life right at your fingertips. Take the tools and knowledge you have, use them to motivate yourself and follow your dreams, and everything will work out the way it's supposed to.

6. Maintain the connections you make.

Whether it's with your teachers, classmates, people you met during extracurricular activities, fellow interns, bosses, or others, make sure you keep those connections alive. Nurture the relationship as you would a friendship, because what comes around goes around and you never know when you can help one another.

7. The choices you make are not permanent.

It is not the end of the world if you realize any decision you made was not the right one for you. Very few things in life are permanent, so becoming comfortable with and open to change and taking each moment as it comes is vital.

8. It's never too late.

Because nothing is permanent, I also strongly believe it is never too late. For anything. Take that and run with it — and let it be what comforts you whenever you are considering a new path.

9. Don't be afraid to tell people to mind their business.

No, this is not something I literally recommend... I was half kidding. But what I mean by this is that it is not necessarily important to let everyone know every little thing you are doing when they ask (if you don't want to). People will always be nosey and unless you feel comfortable discussing it, simply tell respond to their questions with honest, yet matter-of-fact statements like "I'm loving life" or "I'm figuring it out."

10. Remind yourself it's okay to feel the emotions that the next year or so will bring.

Senior year and the year after graduation will be a mix of emotions and they all are 117% normal. Let yourself be any and all of the emotions that come your way.


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If you are a senior or recent grad, what worries/questions (if any) do you have? If you've "been there, done that," what advice do you have for those going through it now?

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30 comments :

  1. I am a recent grad and love this post! I think maintaining those relationships is so important...I have dreams of working for myself in the future and my dad advised me to start at a large company to form connections and then go smaller and I think this was such smart advice!!

    www.mollyonthemoveblog.com

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    1. Hi Molly! I 100% agree! Connections are invaluable resources and I wish you the best of luck in your career. Can't wait to follow your journey on your blog, which I absolutely LOVE by the way! It is so beautiful (just followed you on Insta as well)! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! xo

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  2. This is all fabulous advice. I'd also add, expect to feel a bit depressed the year after graduating, especially from university or college. It's easy to feel lost when you don't have all those instant friends around you and if your career takes some time to get traction. My first year of accepting private students I had four kids. It felt like, "Is this really what I went to school for?" It took time, but my career is now much better and I'm a lot smarter about the hustling that gets me results.

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    1. Yes, Kristen! 100%!!! It's so so important to let yourself feel the emotions. I had many highs and lows over the last year, but it was always so much easier when friends said they were experiencing the same feelings. It's so tough going from a place where your friends live right across the hall to somewhere often much further away. It isn't easy and it's even harder when people don't tell you it's normal to feel upset sometimes! Thank you so so much for reading! Do you have a blog I can visit? xx

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  3. As someone who graduated college in 2013, I wish I could say that it's over after a year or so, but it may not be. And that's okay too. It took me years to finally get into the job I thought I would have right after graduation... but there's no point to compare yourself because everyone has their own path. Love your recommendations <3

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    1. So so important to remember! Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to share your own experience. It's so different for everyone so the fact that there is a path that is "supposed" to be "right" is really crazy. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to life. xx

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  4. I love this bc it's so true. We all think we have a plan for what we think will happen after college. Doesn't always happen. So this is great advice!!!

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    1. Thank you so much for reading, Jobie! You're so right. "Plans" don't always go the way we want them to, so being comfortable with change is incredibly important.

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  5. I graduated from college a few years ago and this definitely rings true. Everyone makes it seem like you have to know exactly what you want to do and do it now, when in reality everyone progresses at their own pace.

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    1. Exactly! It's so true, Sarah. Everyone's path looks so so different! Thanks so much for reading :) xx

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  6. Simply wonderful, solid advice Taylor. You could not be more right. Keep up the great writing. Looking forward to future posts.

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    1. Rebecca! Thank you so much for reading, you are the BEST!

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  7. I recently wrote a giant piece about facing unemployment as a recent grad, and it brought me back to everything that I felt as I chose to delay "real life" by going to grad school after college, then struggled to find a job after graduation. It's such a hard time that we really don't prepare graduates for. It's a combination of the fact that there are just SO many people getting college degrees these days that there can't possibly be enough desirable jobs for all of them; and the fact that colleges are out of touch with what's needed to get a job in 2017. I think it's so important for recent grads to talk about the uncertainty and anxiety they face--otherwise, it's so easy for other grads struggling to find jobs to feel isolated and ashamed!

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    1. Robin, thank you so much for this! It's so true! I think it's tough for people to talk about the struggles leading up to graduation and especially after it as well. In my personal experience I found everyone really kept to themselves and stressed in silence. I think that's something I would love to change. It's totally normal to feel overwhelmed and have anxieties about everything the "real world" has to offer, but it's not so normal to keep those things tucked away, as you said. Something that has gotten me through the last year is knowing that my friends are all experiencing similar ups and downs, so why should we pretend it's all rainbows? It's not! And that's completely OK! Thank you so so much again for reading! I would love to read your piece on the unemployment of recent grads if you could send me the link? It sounds fabulous! xo

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  8. This post is great for anyone who is a senior struggling with who they will be after college! It's informational and uplifting. I'll be a senior after this upcoming semester and will definitely be revisiting this post when I'm feeling down about my future!

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    1. I'm so glad you found it so helpful! If you ever have any questions or need any support in the coming months, please feel free to reach out! Best of luck to you on the rest of your college journey! Enjoy every second! xx

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  9. I totally agree with you, it is stressful. I'll graduate soon too and found this list very helpful, especially knowing that any choice we are making isn't forever really helps feeling more secure :) Good luck on your path girlie!
    xx Elena
    www.elenazahir.com

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    1. Elena!! I'm so happy this is helpful! Graduation is SO so exciting, but also really stressful. It's normal to have ups and downs and I think that's the one thing I want everyone to take from this post. You're going to rock whatever it is you want to do! Best of luck to you and please feel free to keep in touch! I'm happy to be continued support ❤ Thanks for reading! xx

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  10. I really enjoyed this read! It is so true to take the time you need and keep your friends close! Thank you for the reminder! Good luck on your next venture!

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    1. Aw I'm so happy to hear you enjoyed! Thank you so much for reading!!

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  11. Giving yourself permission to feel any of the emotions that hit you after graduation is SO important. I went through some major stages, from grief to loneliness to excitement to, eventually, acceptance when I graduated college early last December. It helped so much for my parents to keep reminding me that graduating college is a HUGE life change and that a variety of emotions will probably come with it.

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    1. Absolutely!! This last year has been a rollercoaster for me in some of the best and most exciting ways, but also in some of the toughest. It's so important to make sure you know it's ok to feel the way you feel in any given moment. That rule is always true, but particularly post-college! Thanks so much for reading, Casey! xx

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  12. That is a great suggestion to keep in touch with the connections you made at college. It's so important to network.

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    1. Hi Brenda! It really is so important! I have found that finding mentors and nurturing connections is the best way to ensure success for yourself! Thanks so much for reading :)

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  13. Senior year is so stressful! I want to say, as someone who was there a few years ago, to remember to take time to hang out with friends and to enjoy. Don't let the stress get in the way of what might be your best college memories. And yes it's so important to stay in touch with your best friends. They will be your supporters and colleagues down the road!
    Elizabeth | confidentlyelegant.com

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    1. Yes!! That is so well said and so so important. You never know where someone will end up or how they may be helpful to you in the future (and you helpful to them as well!), so why not make friends with EVERYONE?! When we lift each other up, everyone succeeds! Thanks so much for reading, Elizabeth!! xo

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  14. Taylor! What a powerful post. To be honest, the things you shared are relevant to every adult, whether fresh out of college or mid-life. You're right, there is no "right". These are self-made expectations and also are accumulated over time due to what society has taught us. It's a hurdle to get over the idea that 'titles' don't matter. But they don't define you. You define you.

    Keep up the amazing work my new friend! Just followed you and Instagram and am happy to connect! xo~D
    Be You and Thrive

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    1. D, this means the world to me. It really is so true, the second people recognize what is "right" for them, it all falls into place. Thank you so much for reading, I am happy to have made a new friend! Just followed back on Instagram :) xxoo

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  15. Omg this is so true!I took two years off of school, went to community college and took some time to travel! All my friends went on to university and now they're all mentally broken while I'm at rest and so much more prepared for university and life after university. They followed the crowd while I went at my own pace!

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    1. Ah I'm so happy to hear you went at your own pace and are loving every step of the way! I hope your friends are doing well, too. Thanks so much for reading! xx

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