10 Things I’ve Learned Post-College

It's been approximately 17 months since I walked across the stage at the Seawell Grand Ballroom in Denver to accept my diploma. Four years of hard work and thousands (and thousands and thousands... and thousands) of dollars later, I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts. Two months later I moved home, and 2 more weeks later I was backpacking through Europe. And then the fun was over and adulthood hasn't left me alone ever since. DSC04793 Life post-college can be rough. Your 20's are rough (how many articles have I read telling me that 23 is the worst year of everyone's life ever? Tons.) and the real world is rough and the job market is rough. We're all still trying to navigate this bullshit but here are 10 things I've learned post-college:
  1. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Being out of school is a whole new world, and there are no study guides or office hours to get extra help. You probably won't feel certain of anything for a while, but as long as your moving forward, it doesn't matter much which path you take. You're always allowed to change your mind and try something else- that's what your 20's are for! It probably seems like everyone you knew in school is miles ahead of you, but I promise they're not. Your life is just that: yours. What you're doing is enough. What they're all doing is enough. We're all going to get there.
  2. Have goals, but don't have a plan. It's awesome to dream about the things you want someday, but I think it's usually more beneficial to open yourself up to other possibilities (you might like those more!) than to make a life plan at 18 and close off the next 10 years of your life.
  3. Don't listen to anyone. Do you. All of a sudden, your coworkers are all your parents age and ask the same questions: what are you going to do with your degree? What do you want to do next? Are you looking at grad school? Are you looking at houses? It happens enough that it shouldn't fill me with dread, but it always does. I hate having to throw together some hodgepodge response that always ends up feeling inferior. I just tell myself at the end of every day that I don't have to impress these people. Being young today is different than it was even 10 years ago, nevermind the 70's and 80's. Just check in with yourself periodically and make sure you're happy with the choices you're making.
  4. Stick to a routine. Not having such a rigid schedule like you did in school can make it very easy to let your sleep schedule fell by the wayside. With so much uncertainty already in your life, it can feel really comforting to have a routine that you stick to most days. I get up at 6:15 for work during the week, but on Saturday and Sundays I still don't let myself sleep all day. I get up with Zelda at 7:45 and enjoy the quiet hours before my boyfriend wakes up. I'd even like to structure my afternoons more in the future, setting aside at least one day a week that I force myself into the studio to work.
  5. Contemplate what you want in life, then make it happen. I always knew I wanted to travel, so after graduation that's the first thing I did. Kevin and I wanted a husky so bad, so I did a ton of research, contacted a breeder, and now we have the best dog in the world. I've been reading blogs and watching YouTubers for close to 5 years now, and I always thought it seemed like a really cool creative outlet. So now I'm trying it and I feel more creative than I have in years!
  6. Try new things. No homework makes you feel like you have all this time to sit around and chill, but think- what have you always wanted to do but never had time for? Consider the hours you spend out of work to be 'life-enrichment' hours. Always wanted to learn a language? Get an app or take a class. Go to the gym or start running. Read the stack of books you've been accumulating for the last 5 years (just me?). Volunteer! Paint! Blog! Try all the things!
  7. Don't let money be your master. Yeah, it's important. But, you can't take it with you! I adamantly believe that happiness trumps paychecks. You can take a job that pays well but makes you miserable. You'll probably have a nice apartment that you never see, a decent car you can drive to your horrible job, and in 10 years you'll still have those things- you'll just have lost a decade to something you hate. Alternatively you can live on a tight budget and pursue your passions. You could be a huge success or you might always struggle a bit. But you'll feel goodabout your life choices and enjoy what you do.
  8. You don't have to stick to your degree. I know for me, by the time I finished art school I felt completely burt out. Art had been my whole life for over 4 years, and I felt like I really needed to step away for a while. I started subbing at my mom's school and realized that I really love working with kids. I still don't want to totally shift careers and become a teacher, but being a paraprofessional has been really fun and rewarding for me and it gives me time to do my art when the mood strikes me. Ultimately, everyone with a Bachelor's degree has a comparable level of knowledge and experience so just because your expensive piece of paper says 'Marketing' doesn't mean you can't apply for jobs in tech, or childcare, or the arts. You can learn a lot on your own and get experience at an entry-level position. It's all cool.
  9. Just get the dog. Getting Zelda was the best decision I ever made. Having a dog is a big commitment financially and does restrict some of your opportunities- want to go away overnight? Better find a sitter or a dog-friendly hotel! Want to join the Peace Corps? Did you know you can't bring pets with you? Apartment hunting? You'd be shocked at how many "pet friendly" places only allow cats. How about food? Vet bills? Even with all that, I am still so happy to have my baby girl in my life and would sacrifice anything to keep her. If you want a dog, just do it.
  10. Try not to worry. Everything will work out in the end. If it's not alright, it's not the end. Just be patient.
DSCN7418   xx Meghan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *