Recently, quite a number of my friends have just graduated from university (or college). Seeing as I graduated 2 years ago, even though most of us are of the same age, I’ve been in quite a few conversations with them regarding life after graduation. With each conversation, I come to realise that it all surrounds and comes down to them encountering problems that they never expected from the post-graduate life.
Frankly, there was nothing that could have prepared me for my life after graduation. There are just some life lessons that your parents and professors just never seem to want to mention throughout your schooling years. Candour being one of my best and worst trait, here’s 7 harsh truths no one tells you about life after graduation.
1. You Don’t Have It All Figured Out And You Will Be Completely Lost For A While
It is rumoured that university (college) is the time to “find yourself” and somehow at the end of it you’d magically have it all figured out. The funny thing is, I never felt more lost than the day after I graduated. Once I was out of my campus bubble, finally free of reigns, I was faced with the harsh reality that I had no idea what I wanted. Like I had no idea who I was anymore. But what nobody tells you about life after graduation is that everybody is just making it up as they go along. You’re definitely not the only one endlessly trying to figure things out, haphazardly sending out resumes to every job you can find and battling with loneliness. The great news? It can only get better from here.
2. Decisions — Both Big And Small — Will be Overwhelming
Once I was faced with nothing but infinite time and myself, that (almost) everything is up to me now, it was downright terrifying! And while some of the choices will be major—like your career choice—you might find yourself a little overwhelmed when faced with even the smallest of things, like what to eat for dinner. I was finding it hard to do something as simple as selecting a movie for the night. Do I really want to spend 2 hours of my life watching a popcorn flick or should I be watching something much more intelligent like a documentary? Thing is, you will eventually have to make a choice and no, you do not have an advisor to guide you through your options. You will make wrong decisions along the way and it is fine. Learn that it is totally okay to make mistakes and not be so hard on yourself.
3. Job Hunting Is A #$%^&* And Your First Job Might Not Even Involve Your Major
Graduates are thrust into a “hunger games” like world with too few job opportunities and where it’s every man for themselves, fight-to-the-death type environment. Somehow you’re supposed to stand out from the hundreds of other applicants who have your exact same qualifications and level of experience. Hence, you may not find the job you’re looking for.
Not only is job hunting a seemingly hopeless and never-ending evil endeavour, despite sending countless of resumes and cover letters, you still likely will not end up with your dream job. What you’ve got to realise is that you have years ahead to reunite your job with your major. Maybe even come to realise that your major might not be what you want to do for the rest of your life. And who says that we can only do one particular thing?
4. People Will Start Asking About Your Job All the Time As If There’s Nothing Else Interesting About You
Every time you hang out with your family and friends or when you meet new people, they’ll unfailingly ask what you do and other things like, “So, how’s your job going?” and “What’s new at work?”. Sure, it’s not the worst thing in the world if you’ve got a job, but anything can become a little annoying after constant repetitions.
If you don’t have a job yet or like me, fall into the “freelance is not a decent job” category, family gatherings and meeting people will be the bane of your existence. It certainly does not help that people around you seem to constantly love throwing their two cents’ worth about how you should be living your life at you. You will be caught in a constant struggle and come to realise that who people tell you you should be, what you actually want to be and what you actually can be are all very different.
Soon, you’ll highly consider saying things like, “Oh, you know, I’m an evil mastermind currently plotting the end of the universe, and you?” I believe that their advice comes from a place of good intention. Sometimes it will be valid and sometimes you’ll just have to take it with a grain of salt.
5. Everyone Will Be On Different Pages And It’s Perfectly Normal. Stop Comparing!
Gone are the days when everyone has a similar curriculum requirement or a similar class schedule. Now, your friends and you will have different paces in life. Conflicting work schedules, conflicting life goals, different incomes resulting in different budgets, different social circles and sometimes you’ll even find it a little more difficult to keep up or understand the changes in their lives.
In some cases, there will be that one lucky friend who will find instant success. They make finding a great job look incredibly easy. Earn the kind of money that one can only dream off. You will detest them, maybe even hate them just a little, because watching them get on with life as though it’s a breeze makes you feel like a loser, realise reaching your goals is going to take longer than planned or that it will never happen for you.
The thing you have to learn is to come to terms with the fact that everyone is different. Don’t get caught in the trap of comparison because it’s perfectly normal for everyone to be on different pages. So stop comparing and stop putting yourself down!
6. Life After Graduation Will Be Much Lonelier And Relationships Take Conscious Effort To Maintain.
When you leave school, you leave the tightest, largest concentration of people who are your age. Making new friends becomes incredibly difficult. Once all of your friends get jobs, you might find yourself struggling to pencil in time with them as your work schedules, life schedules, and other priorities hardly align with any of theirs.
There will also come a time when going straight home after work on a Friday night to binge watch Netflix would frankly seem like the best way to unwind. That’s not failure, that’s reality. You’ll find that you have to make a serious, concerted effort even to see the friend who lives only a few blocks away. Keep making an effort though. Relaxing buddy time is essential. It’s also not easy to make new friends after graduation but it’s definitely possible if you’re willing to put yourself out there.
7. Nothing Is Set In Stone And You’re Never Going To Have Everything Figured Out.
The personal aftermath of graduation is a different journey for everyone. We all carry the weight of expectations; find a good job, have a stable income, travel the world. The thing is, there are countless of possibilities and choices. Ultimately if it makes you happy and you want to try them all, go ahead! Sometimes, it is not the big accomplishments or goals that help us figure out who we are. The quiet moments with nothing else but what makes you happy can be just as revealing. You just have to come to terms and be okay with the fact that you’re never going to have everything figured out anyways. I mean look at me, 2 years later and I am still on a journey towards a solid sense of self. I’m happy, am at a good place right now and that’s what matters.
So tell me, are these harsh truths insightful? I do sincerely hope I did not scare you for life. Also,
IS THERE ANY OTHER PROBLEMS YOU’VE ENCOUNTERED THAT YOU’VE NEVER EXPECTED FROM THE POST-GRADUATE LIFE?
Leave a comment or tweet me @GoneVrogue . I would love to know!