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Graduating from college can be a very exciting time. Exciting, because the world is now your oyster. All of the hard work you’ve put in (depending on your undergrad experience) is now going to pay off! The land of opportunity waits just on the other side of that stage. You’re going to shake your University President’s hand, take some goober pictures in front of a green screen, and immediately receive your adult card in the mail.
I’m totally kidding. None of this happens. If you’re anything like me, you’ll dread the day of graduation like you dread filing your own taxes. The night before I received my diploma, I spent my final hours drinking my brains into oblivion with a group of my closest friends at my favorite rooftop watering hole. I ruined my fifth iPhone by dropping it into the bar bathroom toilet, got into a heated verbal dispute with a strange girl in said bathroom, and snuck a Bushwhacker out of the bar hidden under my shirt when they finally made us leave at 3 a.m.
The next day was spent with a Parkinson’s-esque hangover, in which I had to leave my own graduation party not once, not twice, but three times to vomit. I couldn’t even enjoy the Chick-fil-a and Newk’s my sweet mother had catered for the event. I’m sorry, Kathy. I took a sit-down shower and tried to get myself together for one of the most important days of my life thus far. I sat in the center of the gymnastics auditorium surrounded by my classmates during the ceremony, everyone shining and beaming with pride. On the contrary, I clenched my jaw and sweat through the back of my Anthropologie dress trying not to collapse or upchuck before I could cross the stage.
I feel like this really set the tone for the beginning of my post-grad existence. I wasn’t ready to leave college. Just like a newborn baby screams and cries as soon as it enters the world, stolen from it’s comfort zone: I was not ready to exit the womb. After transferring to my college as a junior, I only got to enjoy two blissful years gallivanting around with what felt like zero responsibilities. It seemed like a quick and short trip, and all of a sudden I was heading home again.
After deciding not to go straight into law school (absolutely clutch move), I didn’t know what the hell to do with myself. When you graduate at 21 with a B.A. in PoliSci, I’ll tell you what you can do, kiddos: a whole bunch of nothing. So I moved home. I got a job at lululemon, which was actually a very enjoyable and fun experience. The #athleisure life is the best life. I even did a stint in marketing with SweetWater Brewing Company — also not a bad gig. But nothing ever felt permanent; I still felt unsettled. This made no sense to me, because my understanding had been that I would graduate from college, and then all of a sudden I would magically have my shit together.
Many of my friends went on to do similar things. The overwhelming majority of my coworkers at lululemon were people exactly like me. College graduates with non-applicable liberal arts degrees. Go figure. And nobody was very happy. A few of my friends went on to move to Atlanta or Birmingham and take on internships. Internships… which were essentially just unpaid slave positions that you hustle at to try and earn yourself an entry-level job someday. A few of my best guy friends up and moved to Charlotte, NC together and starting working in insurance. (None of them went to school with the hopes of winding up at MetLife afterwards, but they seem to be living a decent #bachlife in which they sent out a hilarious Christmas card this year, so keep on keeping on my dudes) Numerous others moved back in with their parents, or are grinding away at jobs that already seem dead-end or soul-sucking. And it blows. The transition from college to postgrad is painful and difficult to navigate.
Here’s the thing: everybody is going through it. We are all stuck somewhere in-between disastrous dates with Blackhawks fans who vomit Jameson and Cuervo on our L.L. Bean duck boots, and shopping at Whole Foods for overpriced kombuchas and quinoa while we listen to Touching Base in our headphones. Nobody really knows what they’re doing, all of our Instagrams just seek to prove the opposite. It’s a ruse. We are all just trash cans in disguise, walking around pretending to be real adult humans. And that is okay. You can pay all of your bills and invest a little of your income while still racking up a tab of lemon drop shots on the weekends and drunkenly writing in a $1,000,000 tip. You can be recognized at work for your decent accomplishments, and in the same week black out in New Orleans and drop your gold iPhone 6 plus into a portapotty. It could be argued that these things don’t go together…but I’m here to tell you that they can, and sometimes, they do. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
We just have to stick together. You might not have any clue what you’re doing, but just keeping grinding. Rise up: ask for that promotion. Pick the hottest guy at the bar rocking the unbuttoned shirt and disheveled jacket look, and tell that dude how it is. Rule #76: No excuses. Play like a champion. You just have to keep throwing shit against the wall, and sooner or later, something is gonna stick. Besides, rejection is overrated, anyway. .
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