Five Stages of Grief After Graduating

Stage 1: Denial


You’ve been living this life for nearly the better part of a decade now. All of the sudden, with one fell swoop of tens of thousands of dollars of your parents’ money, and a fancy piece of paper, it’s been taken away from you. There’s no way it could end this quickly, right? This life felt like it was going to last forever. No, it can’t be over. You’ll think to yourself, “I’m still going to enjoy the company of my best friends every day and drink my weight in Rumplemintz every night, right? RIGHT?! They can’t take this away from me. I won’t let them. I’m not even 23 yet and the world is expecting me to become an adult?” You almost made yourself believe this day would never come, but it did.

Common symptoms:

-Randomly showing up in your college town on weeknights.

-Moving back in with your parents.

-Refusing to hold a job.

-Enrolling in grad school where you got your bachelor’s degree.


Stage 2: Anger


Now that it’s ended, you’re upset. Your life has been totally shell-shocked. This is the way the world works and you refuse to accept it. You’ve gotten so used to late night pizza runs, five-day benders and spur-of-the-moment road trips on a Wednesday. Now those have been replaced with 10 o’clock bedtimes, morning meetings, job interviews and trying to figure out how the hell a health insurance deductible works. You’re frustrated with the everyday minutia that comes with being an adult. You were a fool to think college was real life. You’ve never felt this unprepared for a challenge before.

Common symptoms:

-Lashing out at friends and co-workers.

-Road rage.

-Excessive grunting at the gym.

-Blacking out at happy hour.


Stage 3: Bargaining


At this point, it’s probably a few weeks after you’ve graduated and you’re just trying to figure out ways to get it back. You start looking at grad school programs or maybe even going back to get another degree. Unfortunately, you’ve been officially cut off by your parents, and you’ve seen the interest rates on student loans these days. Maybe just a quick visit back to campus this summer will cure your woes? Nope. If anything, that’ll just make it worse. You’d trade just about anything to go back to school. You’re irrationally blinded by separation anxiety that your life is not nearly as bad as you’re making it seem to be.

Common symptoms:

-Concerned friends.

-Obsessing over old Facebook photo albums.

-Drunk dialing ex-college flings.

-Ordering several drinks at lunch.


Stage 4: Depression


There’s no telling how long this stage may last. It might haunt you until your mid-20s, maybe later. Your body can’t handle liquor the way it used to, and that makes you sad, because being drunk is the best.  Drinking responsibly used to seem like a joke to you when you heard it in commercials, now it’s a creed you fervently believe in. You start showing up for work early, find yourself working later and distancing yourself from your friends. The peaks seem shorter and valleys seem deeper in your life as you begin to try and erase the memories of the past with work. You inexplicably start enjoying morning radio and are becoming skilled at the art of cooking dinner for one. This is what your life has become. Your journey into normalcy has begun and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. You feel totally helpless.

Common symptoms:

-Eating lunch by yourself in your car.

-Drinking by yourself.

-Increased eye rolling at weddings.

-Noted increase in willingness to be the designated driver.


Stage 5: Acceptance


It happens for everyone at one point or another. You can’t live life as a college kid anymore. You have bills, a career and people who depend on you. You don’t have to like what your life has become, but you must realize that like it or not, you’ve become an adult. Your Peter Pan syndrome will melt away a little more with each passing day. You realize that while it’s not appropriate to drown yourself in Jim Beam at the bar every night, it is acceptable to cut loose on the weekends. This is the price you pay to be a self-sustaining adult. You have to live on coffee, pay bills, make small talk at the office and your body will no longer be able to handle the abuse you once put it through. Just accept it and don’t be that person who thinks they’re still in college.

Common symptoms:

-Paying bills on time.

-Knowing your limits.

-Having a good credit score.

-Enjoying soft rock.

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TheChampionsTour (@ChampsTourTFM) is a contributing writer for Post Grad Problems, Rowdy Gentleman, and Total Frat Move .

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