Many recent grads leave their college town for a job or life elsewhere. A new place sounds exciting at first, until you realize you don’t know anyone, your job is shitty, you have less money than you thought, and you lack real life skills. Plenty of my friends got 4.0’s in college but don’t know how to file taxes or budget money. It’s impossible to prepare for this transition from the comfy college life to the real adult world.
On top of that, we are twenty two years old. Society, especially the media, bombards us with YOLO phrases and images telling us to be young, wild, and free. We desire that lifestyle even though the reality of our lives do not permit the time for both worlds. The YOLO burden, combined with student debt and working long hours at a shitty job, cancel each other out, leaving recent college grads stressed, disappointed, and anxious.
For almost a year after graduation, I lived a YOLO life, so to speak. But then I needed to make money. Getting a job and an apartment in Portland was hard enough, and in trying to build a happy life, I found myself stressed, impatient, and anxious. To combat these feelings, I tell myself five things to take pressure off and help me live happily in the moment.
1. Don’t Stop Doing the Things You Love
Love is the most important thing in life. It’s more important than money or a job. It’s as essential as water. Live by it. College gives you so many outlets to do what you love with like-minded people. The adult world is different. These outlets exist but they take longer to find and build. Nevertheless, you don’t want to be that person who does nothing but work, and when asked what you do for fun, you shrug your shoulders and realize you don’t have any hobbies and you don’t care about anything.
Instead, this is a time to really think about what you want to do and do it. Isn’t that the most exciting thing you’ve ever heard? Every day I try to do something I love like write, read, go running or lie in the park in the sunshine. In a way, doing that is more satisfying than work. Stay true to your interests. No matter where you go, hold on to your truest passions and find ways to always do them.
2. Keep Perfecting Your Mind, Craft, or Skill
I’m not in grad school or working a job in my field interest, but this blog keeps me writing and perfecting my craft. Will I make it into a career one day? I have no idea. Probably not. But I write for the sole love of it. That’s all I can worry about right now. Whatever your career interest is, keep working at it. Don’t let those brain muscles go out of practice for too long.
3. Meet People
I feel like I forgot how to make friends since college. I was so hyped about Portland and all the mountains that I didn’t think about how daunting it would be to be in a city of strangers. This might sound silly, but I realized that if I wanted to make friends I was going to have to talk to people. Making friends is WEEIRDDDD, but we gotta do it. Eventually, you have a funny moment with your coworker that leads to several more. Then you get a drink together after work and BAM—friendship accomplished. Good friends take time, but they will happen as long as you put the effort in.
4. Be Patient
This has been the hardest lesson I’ve learned. The self reminders never stop. When I first moved to Portland, I wanted everything to happen right away. New apartment, new job, new furniture, new friends. Overtime my idealist standards were lowered, and trust me, it was for the better. Recent college grads put a lot of pressure on themselves to succeed. This pressure also comes from family members, society, and the huge pile of debt. So take all those voices of insecurity, doubt, stress, pressure, anxiety, and lock them up in mason jars in your mind and put them on the highest shelf so you can’t see or reach them. Patience is the key to success – someone probably said that at some point, because they knew good things take time.
5. Be Proud of What You Have Accomplished and Reward Yourself
This is where the YOLO part comes in. Society doesn’t expect you to be something amazing at twenty-two, which is why we are given shitty jobs. So take advantage of this time before the serious responsibilities kick in. Be proud of the little things you accomplish, like deep cleaning your apartment. Come on, that’s a big deal. Good job. Then plan adventures on your days off. Go someplace you’ve never gone before. Get outside and go hiking.