What life is actually like every year after you’ve graduated college

College graduation! “The first day of the rest of your life!” is a thing the commencement speaker always says. But it’s true. Post-college feels like real life, whereas college felt more like practice for that real life. Yeah, you’re there to get a degree, but to be honest, the most impactful part of college is that it’s where you learn how to be a friend, how to navigate community, and how romance works.

Here are the true accounts of seven different women at different stages in their post-college life.

One year out of college


On socializing: “In college, almost all of my socializing took place in the various student and community groups I was a part of. I got to intentionally choose who I wanted to have fun, process identities, and grow with. Without that formal structure, I find it hard, especially as an introvert, to find folks with the same interests as me. Nowadays, social media plays a huge role in up-keeping my social life since I see people a lot less than before.”

On friendships: “I am investing more in my friendships now that I’ve graduated college, but it takes so much energy because we all have different schedules and live super far from each other. Now, I’m more willing to travel two hours to see my best friend or show up to a community event. Heck, I’ve even taken an eigh-hour overnight Greyhound bus to see people for the weekend. I would have never done that in college. Friendship is the only way we’re gonna survive this world, you know?”

On romance: “Still don’t know how this works.”

Two years out of college


On socializing: “I’ve been slowly letting go of the idea that I need to be hanging out with people 24/7. I’m an introvert, and I’ve allowed myself to just spend two or so nights a week seeing people I care about, whether at parties or small hangouts, and a lot of the rest of the time is spent centering myself with perhaps some gentle socialization (interacting with baristas at coffee shops, new people in yoga classes, or my roommates, for example).”

On friendships: “This one has been tricky for me, as it’s pretty hard to find your footing after college. My entire life, I was surrounded by people with common interests via school. About a year and a half out of college, I picked up and moved to New York, where I met (and still am meeting!) an entirely new friend group. It’s scary, but it’s exciting! (but that’s not to say I don’t have my BFFs from Highschool and College — it’s just a little harder to see them now).”

On romance: “It’s really been occurring to me that I put way too much energy and thought into my relationships previously, especially because I’ve only been in three very long-term relationships my whole life. This year, I’ve been learning to focus on strengthening myself rather than my relationship with my boyfriend (who I love very much!), and I’m remembering that no matter what happens in my love life, I will be more than okay, because ~FEMALES ARE STRONG AS HELL~.”

Four years out of college


On socializing: “When I was in school, I was never alone. I always sat with someone at lunch, ate dinner with my roommates, even went to the bathroom with friends. Now, I value my alone time above all else: my favorite Saturday activity is going on a beach date with myself.”

On friendships: “My friendships used to play out like Nicholas Sparks’ movies: high drama, lots of yelling, and way too much Miley Cyrus. Nowadays, I appreciate my friends who keep me grounded and out of trouble.”

On romance: “In college, pretty much all of my romantic entanglements came from a place of insecurity. I wasn’t picky and I was easily heartbroken. I know it’s a SUPER cliché, but once I started focusing on loving myself, I got into hands down the best relationship of my life. Oh! And I’m way better at taking my birth control at the same time every day. *pats self on back*”

Six years out of college


On socializing: “I can’t remember the last time I was drunk. Every party I attend (and it’s rare) I know the host. I remember in college just showing up to a party of a friend of a friend of a friend. I couldn’t imagine doing that now. Now, I’d rather go to a farmer’s market or just go for an evening walk. I felt like college was just an endless string of showing up at bars and dropping by parties for a minute.”

On friendships: “I have way fewer friendships because I’m not hanging around people out of convenience. I can’t even remember my college party friends anymore or what their names were. All my friendships are meaningful and the result of effort on both me and my friends’ parts. I also find my friends now are my confidants, almost like my therapists. In college, my friends were just people who were ‘fun.'”

On romance: “Dating is more exhausting and less fun now, but relationships are more rewarding because I know what I want now and had to look harder to find it. Everything is so much more serious than just walking down the dorm hall and meeting someone.”

Eight years out of college


Socializing: “In college, I had way too many nights out late – meeting new people, going to new bars, and enjoying my newfound independence and adulthood. It was worth it for the memories and experiences, but as I got older and started realizing my bar tab was depleting my bank account, I became more picky and thoughtful about how I spent my free time, focusing on more meaningful activities rather than trying to outdrink my new “best friends” I just met at the bar!”

Friendships: “In college, I wanted to be friends with everyone! Meeting new people and new social circles is exciting. As I got older, circumstances of life change — it changes people and often leaves relationships outdated. I’ve learned to cultivate the friendships that are meaningful and learn to cut the toxic people out of my life.”

Romance: “In my twenties, I didn’t know what I wanted but college is the best time to figure out who you are and what kind of person you want to be with. College IS the time to date around, fall in love, get hurt, get over a breakup, and learn a lot. But all that college-dating learning (and heartache) helped me make decisions about who I wanted to be with down the road.”

11 Years out of college


On socializing: “I’m considerably less socially anxious with every passing year. I care less what other people think because I have better friendships, so I feel much less self-conscious at parties. I’m not saying IDGAF, but I just don’t care about impressing other people. I care about having a good time. I don’t “network” as much, either. But I drink a lot more, probably because I can now afford to pay for cocktails that back in college would have broken my bank account.”

On friendships: “I have more friends than ever before and I couldn’t be happier about it. I was really lonely in college and was excluded quite a lot by people who I thought were my friends. Now I’ve been intentional about picking good, dependable people to be my friends and there hasn’t been any bullshit drama in years. Every weekend is filled with parties, brunches, day-trips and movies (so much so, actually, that it gets a little exhausting) and I’m more social than ever. Additionally, I’ve worked hard to cultivate a few close friendships with women who I trust like sisters.”

On romance: “My marriage is the most fulfilling relationship of my life and worth what felt like a long wait. I didn’t meet him until I was 29 and if I had known it would have taken until then, I might not have dated as much. (I probably could have written, like, seven novels during my 20s had I not spent so much time on OkCupid.) Don’t misunderstand, I really enjoyed meeting new men, going on dates and hooking up and I miss that excitement sometimes. But feeling settled and secure is a much better feeling than the emotional roller coaster of dating in New York City. In a lot of ways, being married is boring, but the kind of boring that you enjoy.”

12 years out of college


On socializing: “You’ll be all into “work drinks” through your twenties and even part of your early thirties, but at some point you think “Fuck it!” and decide to save the money from your martinis for money to buy things you actually want…like a house!”

On friendships: “My friends have dropped like flies more and more each year since college. First, it’s the serious relationships, then it’s the marriages, and then **gasp** babies. But my closest friends from college are people I still stay in touch with regularly, even if it’s just by texting or G-chat.”

On romance: “You realize one of the best things in life is staying home on a Friday night, eating pizza and watching Netflix with your S.O.”

Filed Under