Life after college is restless. You’ll feel like a failure. Cause you had all the plans. Big, real plans. Didn’t you? Except the congratulations stopped coming, and you don’t have the cool city job you always had (or said you’d have). You’ll kinda feel like you let everyone’s expectations of you down. You’ll kinda feel uncomfortable in your own skin.
Growing up. Life after school– life after the only life you’ve known. It’s just something you grow into. Something that happens. Don’t get me wrong, nothing will feel natural about it, and you’ll feel confused about it all most of the time, but it’s not something you have to wing or work hard at. You grow into growing up.
Then, all of a sudden, a boy you met in October will take you out on dates and cook you dinner when you’ve had tough weeks. You’ll like words like “insurance,” and “priorities,” and “salary.”
Then your skin will break out because, plot twist: finding a big girl job isn’t as easy as you thought it would be, and you’re suddenly competing with the people around you– this isn’t made up competition like you’ve always known where you mentally convince yourself that you’re second best or that you need to be better; this is real competition, where you’re actually being compared to other people who are just as good of an option (and sometimes even better of an option) as you are. And the two weeks it takes to hear back about your job application at one out of the seventeen companies you applied at one Tuesday morning doesn’t help hush any doubts or anxiety.
But then you’ll be scrolling through your Instagram feed to find an old video, only to discover how much you’ve changed.
You’re not a runner anymore.
You’re not always looking for things to get into.
You don’t have to be seen in the city or at the cool party or the newest coffee shop.
In fact, it’ll suddenly become cooler to save gas and not spend five out of the seven days of the week driving to and from Atlanta just for some new adventure you’ve designed.
You’ll feel like you’re drowning, but you’ll be taking steps forward.
You’ll obsess over clean eating recipes and neutral tone clothes and selling everything you own like it’s the equivalent to shedding our old skin.
The truth is, no one really prepares you for life after college. You don’t get the same easy steps laid out for you like you got your senior year of high school. In fact, your probably get too many outcomes and not enough how-to’s.
Except, one morning, you’ll be flopped out on your bed staring at a computer screen of endless emails full of links to jobs you found through job hiring apps, surrounded by the majority of what used to be your closet that you decided to try and sell to make some money. There will be a boy who calls you on his lunch break just to hear your voice and ask you about your day. And suddenly, there’s this unspoken understanding that somewhere along the way, you just became good at trying to figure it all out. More than that, you’ll discover that somehow, someway– “trying to figure it all out,” is a whole place on it’s own.
So maybe you’re not as lost as you thought you were when the summer after your college graduation ends and you don’t have much to show for it aside from new places you got to see and registering for two classes that’ll get you two steps closer to getting your graduates degree. Maybe you’re not drowning as far off in the deep in as you felt. Because you’re here, in a real place: trying to figure it out.
I’m learning that life isn’t about trying to figure out how to tie a ribbon on all of it, but it is learning how to send thank you’s up about all of the days you felt defeated.