Look at you, champ. You’ve successfully finished college with your mind, body and spirit intact. Maybe not fully, but enough to slump across the stage, shake the hand of a professor or dean you’ve never heard of, and grab that expensive diploma. Kudos.
Now it’s time to enter the dreaded “Real World” that every single adult has warned you about oh-so-annoyingly leading up to your graduation date. Come on, really? At least be a little more original than that. I swear to God, if one more person would’ve mentioned the perils of the real world before I graduated, I probably would’ve gone postal. But before you let the words of the elderly with crushed dreams get to you, realize that your life is about to take cliché form. One door is closing, and another one is opening.
You’re No Longer Being Parented
People tend to think that college is the ultimate freedom, and in a way, it is. No parents or responsibilities, right? Wrong. If you’re like the majority of kids in school, your parents are footing the bill. My parents paid for everything, so even if they weren’t peering over my shoulder reminding me to finish a project, they had a say in my life. No tattoos or you’re cut off. You want to study abroad? Get over a 3.2. A career in theatre? Not on my dime. In no way was I “free.” Major high fives to anyone who was able to do it without their parents. Seriously, I salute you.
Come graduation, if you’re fortunate enough to land a job, you’re free from parental supervision. My parents are still really involved in my life, but not in nearly as much of a “parental” way. We can laugh about all the stupid stuff I did when I was a dumb adolescent stumbling through self-discovery (full disclosure: I’m still stumbling, but it’s a little more graceful now). Instead of lectures, it’s more honest, to-the-point guidance. Although not always warranted, it’s much appreciated.
Drinking With Purpose
Gone are the days of careless drinking. I mean, I guess they aren’t gone, but if you want a job and some form of stability, you might want to curb the excess shots and beer bongs. I’m no life coach, but I’m just looking out.
Instead of frat parties fledged with regret and shame, you can partake in classy happy hours and bountiful boozy brunches. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pro-blackout, but homegirl can’t quell hangovers like she used to, so I’m learning the ways of the mildly-buzzed and I’m digging it thus far. It’s a different kind of fun to sit around with your fellow working friends and discuss global diplomacy instead of themed parties.
When it comes time to let it all out and have a wild night of debauchery, you’ll cherish it all the more. Don’t even get me started on the magic of a Sunday spent doing nothing but tending to the hangover. Despite the initial misery, there is something so beautiful about a day dedicated to tending to your bumps and bruises while eating anything and everything and discussing the events of last night.
Money in college? Hahahahahha. What is money? I may not be balling post-graduation, but I definitely have more money now than I did during undergraduate. There is no satisfaction like a paycheck you earned. Actually, I lied. The greater satisfaction is seeing the little amount you save each paycheck pile up after a few months.
It may not seem like a lot – probably because it isn’t. But once you see the difference, it’s pretty rewarding. Much more rewarding than getting a B- on some paper you half-assed.
And the things, oh the things! You can buy them now! Be smart with your money, but buy those damn things you want, because you earned it.
In college, you were probably too lazy to get off your ass and join clubs, teams and other organizations. Or let’s be real here, you were probably too drunk, hung over and/or stoned.
Enter the activities of the postgrad world. It’s funny to think of real-life adults in clubs and on sports teams, but I assure you, it’s a thing. There’s something for every niche, ranging from wine and painting clubs to gardening groups to jam bands and foodie groups. The internet is a wonderful thing – use it. Think of any activity you like and I guarantee there will be some kind of club to go with it full of weirdos like you to play with.
Okay college, you win this time. Postgrad dating is not the dream. It’s more like a nightmare. Life after college is a fascinating transitional period. It’s the trials and tribulations you face that make for excellent stories, life lessons, pivotal decisions and baby steps into adulthood. Although the first few steps you take might end in a catastrophic fall, the messes you make for yourself are part of the fun. So don’t stress, follow your dreams, work hard and don’t be a moron. For those who say that college is the best time of your life, obviously they didn’t graduate.