Carmen Leandro
April 19, 2015 6:00 am

Finishing school can be a very exciting time. But it can also be incredibly overwhelming, confusing and slightly scary. Take it from me: I am just getting out of a very awkward phase in life, one that you don’t really hear much about but happens to a lot of us. It’s what I call an “in between” phase, those first few months after graduating from college (or university, as we call it here in England). You have a degree, you’ve been in school your whole life, and then, suddenly…now what? 

Suddenly this thing that’s always been there, that we tend to take for granted, (at least I did) is gone. For the first time, you’re on your own.  You’re suddenly expected to be an adult and you have to start putting your life together. I was caught totally unprepared.

It was a funny place to be in, a sort of limbo. No longer at school and not yet in a job, living at home and trying to figure it all out. It was scary, but slowly, eventually, I learned how to deal with that weird place. Here are a few ways you can get along if you’re in your own in-between phase.

Get out of the house! Really, get out!

Volunteer, pick up a waitressing shift, go to your local library. The worst thing you can do is spend all day every day at home feeling mopey and doing nothing.  Your first one (or two or three!) jobs out of school may not be what you actually want to be doing but it gives you something to fill your days with, it gets you out of the house and you get to be around people. Plus you get some money in your pocket. And if you’re still looking for a job, one way to keep busy is to volunteer. Not only is good for your soul, it gets you out of your own head and introduces you to new people, places and circumstances. It might even steer you in the direction of your career.

Make sure you keep in touch with your friends, like, a lot

It’s really important to start new, regular ways of communicating with your college besties. You may not be roomies anymore, you may not even be in the same state, but you can still keep certain rituals. Make weekly phone dates, simultaneously binge-watch a series together, and schedule some face-to-face time. Now is the time to solidify your college friends as lifelong besties. Besides, they’ll remind you of your old life, relate to the awkwardness of this moment and make transitioning to adulthood feel a little less weird.

Do one thing you’ve never done before

It’s always fun to give something new a go, maybe it’s something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the chance to try or something completely spontaneous. No, you don’t have to sky-dive, but maybe you want to take a one-day road trip to the nearest beach, join a knitting circle or download a language app and dive head-first into learning Japanese. You might love it or hate it but at least you have a new experience under your belt and you might even learn something about yourself.

Cry it out, it’s OK

Read, draw, listen to music, play music, watch a film, write, do the things that make you feel happy. But know, it’s OK if you don’t feel happy ALL of the time. Being in a transition period of your life can be frustrating. Sometimes we just need to let it all out.  Take some time, feel those feels, and have a cry. Sometimes it helps to just let it all out and admit you’re scared. Eventually, the tears stop and the fear subsides. You’re stronger than you realize.

Divide your to-do lists 

Being an adult and getting your life together is scary: there seems like so much to do! To make the whole process seem less daunting, write down a step by step list of things you need to get done and cross them off one by one as you complete them. OK, you probably don’t need us to tell you that. You’re probably already the list-master with pages of to-do’s from “find a job” to “finish laundry.” So here’s where I can help: divide your lists into long-term and short-term goals. Think of your long-term goals list as more of an inspirational guide, a reminder of what you’re working towards. Maybe on the long-term goals list you write “get a job in publishing,” and on the short-term goals list you write “reach out to cousin who works in publishing and ask to pick her brain over coffee.” Use the long-term list to inspire ideas and small, manageable goals for your short-term list. And remember, nothing needs to be done immediately. Except, maybe laundry.