As a fairly recent graduate, I too was once consumed by the blues. I had lost my sense of purpose, my capacity to find happiness, my ability to get blackout drunk on a Tuesday afternoon. Although at times it seemed like I was stuck in a rut and often worried I would never shake the anxiety of adult life, I found some helpful ways to address the symptoms of the postgrad blues, and I’d like to share them with you.
Symptom: Adult Life Adjustment Issues
You work 50-hours a week, and when it hits Friday, you can’t wait to get loose and make some bad decisions with the degenerates you call your friends. However, for the first time in your life, your group is in a quandary about what to do on the weekend. Half of you want to visit your college bar, hit on questionable girls, and take warm shots of fireball until the sun comes up. The other half is “over those places” and wants to have a nice glass of scotch in a bar they can sit down in and hear themselves talk. The problem is, it’s not always the same half. You yourself can’t seem to decide week to week which one sounds preferable. When you go to the college bar, you feel old and somehow weird for being there, when just a few months ago this was your home, your place of zen. However, when you end up having casual drinks at a wine bar, you feel like you’ve succumbed to a life without excitement at the ripe old age of 22. In short, you don’t know what you want or who you are, something that has never plagued you before.
Treatment: Time (As Needed)
I’m sorry to tell you the only cure for this is good old father time. Much like getting over a breakup, all you can do is distract yourself, stay honest with what you want, and wait. The upside however, is this is a great time to do activities you’ve always been meaning to try, but always got pushed by the wayside in favor of binge drinking all weekend. Think you might like rock climbing? Get out there and realize how weak your fingers really are. Interested in taking in a play? Go get some culture, you suave son of a bitch. This is a great time to see what your city has to offer now that you have the money to try things, and soon enough you’ll realize you don’t still wish you were in college. I recently returned to my alma mater for homecoming, and on my first night there, ended up in my old frathouse basement for what I believe the kids are now calling “a banger.” For the first time since graduation, I realized I did not miss it. Don’t get me wrong, if I was 20 years old again, I would have dove into the sea of black light and coeds and never resurfaced, but at 24, I could finally say that part of my life is in the past.
Symptom: Female Companionship Deficiency
The hard truth is that it immediately gets harder to get girls after graduation. In college, you pretty much just had to pretend to care about how amazing a girl’s little was (she seems so genuine and sweet!), how hard her communication classes were (I can’t believe you’re taking that workload, you’re going to do great in your career someday), and how her frenemy was the worst (Becky posted a picture with your ex-boyfriend’s old roommate? So disrespectful), and you were in the clear to go “take shots in your room.” Nowadays, you both spend 45 minutes bullshitting about your career to make yourselves seem more important and mature, only to get a phone number that may or may not lead to a first date at a moderately-priced tapas joint. I had the added pleasure of breaking up with my college girlfriend of three years right before graduation, and my confidence took a strong hit that took a while to recover from.
Treatment: Use of Tinder/Hinge/Bumble, etc.
I know these dating apps get a lot of shit for being all about hooking up and finding fuck buddies, not relationships, but right now, that’s what you need. Unless you are fortunate enough to be in a good relationship, at this tremulous time in your life, any companionship is better than none. When your FOMO is running at an all time high and your snapchat is full of your college friends having a slip and slide party, you need someone you can call and keep you company, even if it’s nothing serious. Plus getting laid often will boost confidence and morale, making you a better employee and a less annoying friend. I actually took a non-traditional route and immediately started dating a coworker at my job that I had been working at for under a month. It ended disastrously, with her actually quitting the job and moving home, but I regret none of it. It kept my mental health up and allowed me to focus on the most difficult symptom…
Symptom: Acute Career Anxiety
If you are one of those people that got their dream job right out of college, working with their best friends in a field that is as fun as it is lucrative, congratulations. All seven of you can stop reading this column. To everyone else, this is the hardest lifestyle change to deal with after graduation. I’ve been working various jobs since I was sixteen years old, which is why it came as such a shock to me why working full-time was giving me such anxiety. I’ve come to realize the reason is because the “safety-net feeling” was gone. If I was too hungover or fucked up somehow at work, I could lose my job and it would have minimal effect on my life. Yes, I would have to skimp on alcohol for the next month until I got another job, but I was fortunate enough to have my parents paying my rent all through college, giving me a sense of security. This stopped the day I graduated. Now, if I lost my job, I would not only not be able to pay for my apartment, I would have that blemish on my record to all future potential employers for the rest of my career. My dad always says, “the most valuable thing you have in your career is your reputation,” and the anxiety of being terrified to screw up combined with my lack of knowledge in my field lead to many sleepless nights.
Treatment: One (1) Major Screw Up
This one is the easiest fix, but the worst to endure. The truth is, if you care enough about your job to stay up nights worrying about it, your company is probably not going to fire you after one fuck up. You will get a talking to, maybe a tongue lashing, maybe even a write-up, but you will most likely keep your job. The only way to understand that unfortunately is to go through it yourself. I walked in to work after about four months of employment on a beautiful Friday morning, ready to crank out 3 hours of real work, five hours of fake work, and be four beers deep by 5:30pm. This was not the case. I walked into my office (yeah they gave me my own office, terrible idea) and was terrified to find out that the CEO of my company was in there along with my boss. With a voice that was part anger, part pity, my boss informed me that I had forgotten to accomplish a task that had cost the company about thirty thousand dollars in revenue. The rest of the five minute conversation, and the ensuing ten hour work day I put in to handle damage control was probably the worst day of my life, but when I got in the car at the end of the day, I couldn’t stop myself from smiling. The source of all my anxieties had come true, and I had survived. Yes, it was horrible and it took me several more months of exemplary work to regain my reputation, but then I knew I had nothing to be afraid of. So when this time comes, and it probably will, just know you will make it through and be stronger for it.
Hopefully this advice from a totally real doctor will help ease your transition into the workforce and adulthood, and will help you treat and eventually cure The blues. Or if you have a Xanax prescription, disregard everything I wrote and just use that. And hook me up. .
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