I honestly cannot believe that it’s been nearly 3 years since I put on my cap and gown and received my college diploma. I feel like it was yesterday. College was 100% the most amazing time of my life, and my years at Cal Poly SLO (go Mustangs!) were truly the best. I made lifelong friends, learned about a million life lessons, and really found myself (as cheesy as that sounds, it’s true). Now that I’ve been out of college for some time (and in honor of graduation season), I thought I would share a few of the things that I’ve learned along the way…
1. The importance of health (mental and physical)
It’s definitely hard to balance a job, friends, boyfriend, family, social life, finances, AND still be on top of your physical and mental health. Health is one thing that can get put on the back burner when you’re trying to fit everything in! About a year ago, I realized that my stress levels were through the roof and actually affecting my physical health (aka I now clench my jaw when I sleep, causing all sorts of tension issues and headaches). I realized that health needs to be a priority no matter what. Whether it’s meditating for 5 minutes in the morning, making a list of what I’m grateful for as I go to sleep, or making sure not to skip yoga class, every little bit helps. You don’t have anything if you don’t have your health!
2. How hard it is to make friends
Making friends as an “adult” is no joke. It’s SO hard! Other than meeting friends at work, it’s really really difficult. You really have to put in effort. Like, a lot of effort. More than I realized after first graduating! And it’s not like meeting guys when you’re out at a bar…so where do you meet friends?! I still struggle with this, but I’ve met friends through friends of friends, networking events, and even through social media and the blog. You just have to be willing to put in the effort and go put yourself out there (and not stay in and hang out with you couch).
3. How important it is to keep in touch with friends
I made some of my absolute best friends in college, who I know I’ll be friends with forever. We live in different cities now, and I’ve learned it’s so so important to keep in touch. My friends and I go through waves where sometimes we’ll be in touch a lot planning a trip, and then sometimes we won’t talk for a month. We’re still figuring it out, honestly, and I’m still learning to make keeping in touch a priority. It can be so easy to be like, oh I’ll call so and so next week but then you never do. Making a point to call/text/Skype your friends is oh so important in maintaining lasting friendships.
4. That good things come to those who wait and work hard
I’ve always been a late bloomer. In middle school, high school, and college. It took me a while to really come into myself and get out of my shell. So it’s no surprise that post-college, things took a little while for me. It took me a while to move out of my parents house, it took me a while to find a job, etc. That being said, after a lot of hard work, odd jobs, and internships I finally have a job, an apartment, and an amazing boyfriend. It took a lot of patience and hard work, but finally everything is starting to come together. So if you’re still in the “waiting” process, don’t worry– good things are coming.
5. It’s okay if you don’t have it all together (spoiler alert: no one does)
I’m definitely far from having it together. Like VERY far. But you know what? Looking back on where I was 3 years ago to now– I’m doing okay. And I’m okay with that. Just because I don’t have a super cool job at an awesome start-up company making six figures and just got engaged doesn’t mean that I’m not as good as anyone else. In fact, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. In hindsight, even though I aspired to be so much farther along than I am now, I don’t think I’d be ready for it. I think that where I am now is exactly where I need to be. Knowing that fact is everything.
6. Your job doesn’t define you
Do I have my dream job right now? No. But that’s okay. At least my current position is with amazing people in a relevant field (travel) getting to write. Am I getting amazing experience? Yes! Am I slowly working towards my dreams? Yes! Even though this job isn’t my “dream” job, it’s okay because it’s not the end-all-be-all. Even if I was working for a random tech company doing HR, it would still be okay because your job doesn’t define who you are. Doing something that’s not 100% what you want to do doesn’t mean it’s what you’ll be doing the rest of your life!
7. Being an intern after graduating doesn’t mean you’re a failure
I had three internships after graduating! Yes, three. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I tried different things. In the beginning I was okay with interning. I didn’t have experience so I thought I’d have one internship and then boom get a job. Well, wrong. By the time I got my third internship, I was like… what is wrong with me?!!?! I took the internship because it was with a great company and knew it would be good experience (and I still couldn’t find a real job). At the time, I thought I was a failure. Now I know that all of the internships I had all helped to shape my career. I learned so much about what I want to do and what I don’t. They were invaluable to my success!
8. Sometimes you have to settle
Okay, you’re probably thinking umm no. Never settle!! But hear me out. Are you going to land your all time dream job 5 minutes after you graduate from college? Probably not. Are you going to land your all time dream job one year out of college? Probably not. You’re going to have to have some internships and some not so dreamy jobs to get your foot in the door and get experience. I struggled with the idea of not wanting to settle until I found the perfect job, until I realized I HAD to get some experience before I could even think about having the the job of my dreams. So sometimes, you just have to settle. Just know that it’s not forever!
9. There’s nothing wrong with living at home
Living at home is sometimes looked down upon, but I couldn’t have made it to where I am now without living at home for my first few years post-grad. First of all, I didn’t have a choice. Internships weren’t going to pay the bills. Second of all, it was just great to save money even when I did have enough to potentially move out. I would always be so embarrassed telling people I was still living with my parents, but in reality there’s NOTHING wrong with it. Saving money = everything. Wish I would have saved more!!
10. No one is in control of your happiness but you
When life gets tough, it affects me pretty hard. I’m not the best at dealing with things. I get stuck in ruts. I get anxiety. I let it affect me mentally and physically. But you know what I’ve learned (and still learning)? You are in charge of your own happiness. Not your job, your coworkers, your parents, your boyfriend, or your friends. Because when it comes down to it, it’s your choice. No one else. Once I stopped waiting for other things to make me happy and simply made the choice on my own, things completely changed for me!
Any post-grad life lessons you want to share? Let me know below!! 🙂
PS- Congrats to all the 2017 grads out there!