Post-Grad Lessons – What No One Tells You

May 27, 2020

My relationship with Facebook memories is one of love/hate. Most days, the “You have memories with xyz” notification fills me with a weird mix of dread and nostalgia. (If you had Facebook in the 2010s, I know you feel the same way!) However, two days ago, my Facebook memories brought up my college graduation, and the only emotion I felt was shock. On one hand, I can’t believe that I’m already a year into my post-grad life, but on the other, it feels like I’ve been out of school forever.

That memory prompted me to sit down and think about all of the lessons that came out of this past year. One of my friends (via text message, I am respecting social distance guidelines don’t worry!) mentioned the other day that she felt as though she aged 5 years in the one year after graduating, and it really resonated with me. I’m going to summarize everything I’ve learned this past year of post-grad life, and all of the things that I wish I knew before I moved my tassel. Here we go!

When you start post-grad life, no one tells you…

Nobody actually has it all figured out. Everyone is still “adulting”.

If you look back to my post about graduating, I expressed a LOT of concern about adulting, or the idea of it. I remember feeling so scared of just being lost with everything, and that everyone would be two steps ahead of me.

I wish someone told me that pretty much everyone else is just as lost and confused as I felt. Making friends in my new job helped a lot in realizing this. Even the people I look up to are kind of faking it until they make it! On one hand, that’s kind of scary, but on the other hand it’s really comforting. I’m more comfortable now with the idea of figuring things out as I go, knowing that we’re all kind of floating in the same ocean, trying to figure out how to be adults together.

You can acknowledge that you have a lot to learn while still being proud of your accomplishments.

I get into this trap of second-guessing myself, especially with work. The vastness of knowledge that I’m missing can feel overwhelming at times, and it makes me feel like I don’t know anything at all! However, if this past year has taught me anything, it’s that 90% of the time I do know enough – I just somehow convince myself that I don’t.

This is definitely something I’m still struggling with, so I would have loved if I learned this a little bit sooner. It’s okay to ask for help, but it’s also okay to know something (and speak up about it!) too. Even if you are a fresh graduate, with nothing but college classes under your belt, your life experiences offer a new perspective to any problem you might come across. Your experiences are valid even though they may be limited. And even though you will be asking for help a lot of the time, sometimes you’ll be the one that can give help, and you shouldn’t be afraid to step up. Your young age doesn’t mean you can’t be useful!

Save! Your! Money!

Okay, so maybe my parents told me this one, but maybe I didn’t listen and spent all my money on Madewell clothes my senior year of college. (Oops?) Moving and not living at home is expensive. But you know what’s even more expensive? Buying a house! Or other things that are going to happen in the not-so-distant future! Which is something that I definitely didn’t think about when I was still in college, but I so wish I did.

1 – You can’t ignore investing, and 2 – Saving money takes a lot longer than you’d think. It’s the hard, ugly truth, and I think college Katrina would have laughed in my face if I told her that. As I’m trying to educate myself on investing now in my post-grad life, I wish I spent more time on it when I had a little more time to dedicate to things outside of my job. Even though money isn’t everything, it is fairly important, and being smart about it at a young age is always, always a good idea.

Long distance relationships can be hard, but they’re not the end of the world.

For those of you that don’t know, soon after we graduated, my boyfriend Michael and I started doing long distance. He lives in Indiana now, while I’m here in New Jersey. I remember being absolutely terrified of what was going to happen next. If you’ve dated someone in college, you know how easy it is to spend every waking second together, and you can also imagine how hard it is transitioning to being constantly apart.

However, now that I’m about a year into it, I think we’ve both come to terms with it. I believe that long distance has strengthened our relationship beyond measure. YES, some days are hard. But there are so many things we’ve experienced through traveling to see each other, and so much that we’ve learned about each other this past year. (Let me know if you want to see a blog post on this – Michael agreed to a little Q&A!) 😉

Finally, everything is going to be okay.

My first few weeks/months of post-grad were honestly filled with a lot of anxiety. I think being thrust into a new way of living after only knowing school for 17 years is bound to induce a little stress, but it doesn’t have to be an everlasting presence in your life.

The only way to get through it is to get through it – so jump in headfirst! So many times this past year I said, “Wow, I wish I did this sooner.” This is such a great time to be making mistakes, and learning what you like and don’t like. Don’t be too stressed about messing up, because everyone does it, and everyone turns out just fine. I’m figuring out that the choices I make now, regardless of whether they are big or small choices, have the potential to impact the rest of my life. And while that’s scary, that’s just life! Everything happens for a reason, and this year has taught me to roll with the punches. I’m trying not to worry too much anymore. I have the rest of my life to worry – these first few post-grad years are just about living.

Final Thoughts

I’m not sure if any of this made any sense at all, but I hope it helps anyone that might be getting ready to venture out into the real world. It is scary, but it’s also liberating and exciting and fun, and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for me during year 2!

yours truly katrina, college, job

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