I was in your shoes just two years ago. Those two years have flown by and I am in a completely different place than I thought that I would be when I walked across that stage. I’ve always been a person who would look two, five, or even ten years ahead with a plan, or a vision for what my life would be like. In high school, I was sure that I wanted to be a doctor. Instead, I walked with degrees in business and education. Before graduation, I committed to moving to Colorado for a position with a nonprofit organization. Two months before I was set to move, I was offered a position with Leadership Inspirations that I couldn’t refuse and in April of this year I celebrated my two-year anniversary with my team. I’m telling you all of this because this season is one for celebration, but it also comes with a lot of uncertainty and pressure to have your life all figured out. We hear this all the time but for some reason we don’t believe it: nobody has their life all figured out after graduation. I really don’t know where we get this idea. Questions like, “What are your plans after graduation?” are harmless enough but we add to them the weight of certain expectations. I think it’s important to recognize the less Instagram-worthy parts of graduating and “becoming an adult.” So, here are some things that me and some of my other fellow graduates wish we had known post-grad:
- There’s a lot to life that we didn’t learn in school– like how to fix your shower or how to build credit. Be proactive in learning how to do these things. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to post-grad who don’t have a savings account. Open a savings account – even if you can only put $10 a month in there, do it. It’s an incredibly financially savvy thing to do and it might come in handy when you really need it.
- Most of us adults don’t get a spring break or a summer. I’m not gonna lie, you will miss it. Instead, build time into your life to achieve a healthy level of work-life balance. That’s a popular buzzword these days, but it’s also a really important life practice. Life isn’t meant to be all work and even if you love your job, your work shouldn’t ever be your whole life. Don’t forget to have fun, you’ve got a lot of years of adulting ahead of you.
- You probably aren’t going to love your first job. And that’s to be expected! Entry level jobs aren’t meant to be glamorous, they are meant to build your skills and experience in your field or industry. And that takes hard work. Be realistic with your expectations and make sure that you make employment decisions that will keep you hirable and help you to live the lifestyle that you want to lead. For example, try not to bounce around from job to job – many employers will tell you that they won’t consider you if that’s your job history.
- Networking is vital – and you’ll be doing it all the time. And I don’t necessarily mean formally. As an adult, you are constantly networking– everyone that you meet has the ability to grow (or shrink) your network. Always put your best self forward and check out these tips for extra help!
- Make the effort to stay in touch with old friends. They move everywhere, which can make it really challenging to maintain friendships. But with the incredible technology that we have today, we really don’t have many excuses. I have a friend who moved all the way to Austria after college and we still make time to FaceTime each other when we can. Dedicate quality time to the people that you want to keep in your life!
- Meet new people! Nobody tells you how hard it can be to make friends as an adult. You will probably make some good friends at work but outside of that it can feel tough to maintain a healthy social life. But there are still plenty of opportunities to do so – go to karaoke, take a gym class, go line dancing, or join a meet up group.
- Take risks. Step outside of your comfort zone– move to that city you never thought you’d live in, apply to that school you aren’t sure you’ll get into, or pick up a new hobby. Adulthood is an incredible time to grow and explore – don’t forget to take advantage of these opportunities when you can!
- As a certified adult, you get to be the master of your own fate. That’s pretty cool. So, don’t let others expectations (or your own expectations of others expectations) influence your happiness or your decisions. On that note, remember that everyone presents the “best version of themselves” online. Don’t let that dictate your self-worth or satisfaction with your own life course. This might be easier said than done, but that doesn’t make it any less important.
The absolute best piece of advice that I can give you is this: don’t plan your future, be prepared for it. “You might not know where you’re going, but you’re on your way”
Have fun out there!
*Meet the Author*
Caelan Cooney is another Millennial who wants ‘to make an impact’, a self-proclaimed movie critic, avid explorer, lifelong learner, and Chapman University graduate.