12 Things I Learned Since Graduating From CollegeHeather Taylor

2014 is doing the absolute most at trying to make me feel old. It’s been 10 years since Mean Girls was released in movie theaters. My mini Facebook movie just informed me this year is also my 8th anniversary for liking statuses and creeping through the photo albums of the hot guys I’m friends with. But most significantly, this May will mark four years since I graduated from college.

I’m not at all where I thought I would be four years post-grad. Maybe that’s because I stopped mapping out my future about a semester before I graduated. In a lot of ways, that made for an easier future to come because I wasn’t pinning any “do exactly this, be exactly that” expectations down on myself.

In many more ways, however, it was terrifying as s**t. My entire life up until that point had been built on a cushion-y routine with classes typically from 8 AM to 3:15 PM Mondays through Fridays with the leftover hours of the day spent on a series of term papers, hours on the job/internships, and extracurricular life. I always knew what I was doing. Then I graduated and it was like the rug was pulled out from underneath me. The routine and consistency was completely gone and would never come back. But even though I tripped and fell a few times, I still got back up, kept going and even managed to learn a little along the way. Here’s a shortlist of some of those lessons learned over the four-year progression since graduation.

1) Don’t over-stress about your student loans.

This one is really easy to despair on because it’s the fastest, swiftest, kick to your post-grad butt you’ll ever have. I like to think that if Sallie Mae had her way, I would never do a single enjoyable thing for myself. I’d even be robbed of my two-buck Chuck Trader Joe’s wine budget for crying out loud. The best thing I can advise is to get on a monthly payment plan with automatic deduction. It’s painful, but it helps keep late payments at bay.

2) Money is fluid, so try not to cry when you blow through your savings.

(This post gets better, I promise.) If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably burn through your savings pretty fast on rent, the deposit on your lease, and well, more rent, once you graduate. Money is fluid though and what you spend, you’ll eventually make back up again. Travel light and avoid buying too many things that root you to the ground if you can – chances are high you’ll move around quite a bit.

3) You’ll probably have a job that sucks.

Hang tight and stay proactive on the job hunt front. Keep on applying for open positions in every outside spare moment you have and avoid screaming or swearing at your boss and walking out – burning bridges isn’t a good look for anyone.

4) Say yes.

Some moments were made to carpe diem with and these are usually the ones you know inside of yourself that you have to do then and there. Say yes and find a way to make it work because timing and circumstance may not present these moments to you like that again.

5) Say no.

It’s hard and can really hurt, but it needs to be done too. I said no to something I had been involved with for a full year in 2013 and I did it pretty abruptly too. Do I regret it? Nope. Gut feeling and instinct told me to move right along and to move along now and not later. Just like saying yes, you never regret saying no, especially if it’s a no that’s been a long time in the making.

6) Don’t overthink situations. Don’t.

It’s crazy easy to take a seemingly minute circumstance and blow it out of proportion in your head. The problem with overthinking is that it takes you away from the present and from taking action where it needs to be taken. You can be a thinker and a doer, but when you’re thinking please take all of your spiraling out of control inner thoughts and keep them far away from what you’re physically working on.

7) Listen to as much music as possible.

Don’t feel limited to sticking to one Pandora radio station alone. Mix it up!

8) Your friendship landscape is going to alter. Big time.

Engagements, marriages, babies – by the end of 2014 several of my girlfriends are going to have whole new surnames and worlds. This doesn’t mean that you’re left out if you’re not on the same life path everyone else seems to be traveling on either. It just means that you get to drink the extra mimosa at brunch and they have to be the DD with you for the next nine months! I kid, but only a little.

9) Don’t get into a relationship because you’re bored.

Or think about moving in with someone you’re dating that you have lukewarm feelings for because it makes for a cheaper living situation. Both of these are really tempting options, I know, but nobody’s immune to the moment when the sh*t hits the fan either and it’ll happen a lot faster if you’re with somebody you only have half-baked feelings about.

10) Remember your inner sexy!

Just because number nine up there says not to be in a half-hearted relationship doesn’t mean you shouldn’t celebrate you and how cute you look. Go out dancing, get a blowout, buy fab lingerie, put on some lipstick, laugh, flirt, and smile. That last one is so important. Nobody is sexier than when they have a genuine smile on their face.

11) Vegas is always a good idea.

Where else in the world can you go where New York and Paris are mere streets apart from each other and you get to walk around all day with a daiquiri filled plastic guitar? Vegas, baby, Vegas. Get your friends together and make a weekend out of it – 72 hours should do you some good.

12) The future will not be the way you pictured it. (And that’s a good thing.)

You know what else didn’t exist 10 years ago? My job. I work in social media full-time and most of the platforms I use on a daily basis aren’t even close to turning a decade old yet. There’s no way of knowing when 2024 rolls around if some of these sites will still be around, but I’m glad this kind of career field exists. Even though I never thought my biggest priority, as a twentysomething, would be to check my phone the moment I woke up every morning and scroll through various dashboards. All just goes to show you that you never know what the future will bring.

In the end, life’s just one wild ride and you have to decide whether to get on and grip on tight or sit this one out. The former’s way more of an adrenaline rush and the only way to live so get on and get going!

Image courtesy of ShutterStock.com

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  1. “Your friendship landscape is going to alter. Big time.” I haven’t even graduated and this is already so true!!

  2. I read #11 as “Vegan is always a good idea.” I was about to be all, “Not for everyone!” But yes to Vegas. YES TO VEGAS.

  3. I love this. I haven’t graduated yet but I’ve also learned to just ask for what you want. If you’re confused, ask. If you can’t afford a textbook for class, ask your professor if they have an extra (this has saved me hundreds). If you need another night for a paper, send an email. People, especially in college, are surprisingly nicer than you think!