Life After Graduation Really Isn't That Different

by Courtney Kocak

You did the homework (most of the time), you showed up to class (less of the time), and now — HOORAY! *hat toss* — you are graduating college. After four years of essentially suspending your childhood with endless flag football, slumber parties, and report cards, just barely dipping your toe into the adult realm, you now are crossing over to the other side, becoming a full-blown adult with all the freedoms and pratfalls that come with it. Scary, right?! Well, sure, change is always scary, BUT it’s usually good, and as someone who has already gone through this same awkward transition you are embarking on, I’m here to reassure you that it really isn’t that bad. While there are a lot of ways life is different after college graduation (i.e. Getting a job! Paying rent! What happened to all my friends? Why are they making me work on 4/20?), there are still a bunch of things that stay the same, for better or worse.

So stop hate-watching underclassmen Instagram accounts, grab the nearest open bag of Doritos (prolly within two feet… yup, see, told you so), and take comfort in these eight ways your life isn’t going to change that much after graduating college.

1. You still eat like garbage

Unless you went to culinary school, it's not like you learned to cook at college. In fact, you probably developed a lot of bad habits in the food department: ramen noodles, late-night pizza delivery, eating on the run or from vending machines, gorging yourself at the dining hall... need I say more? But unfortunately many of the same circumstances that drove you to those train wreck eating habits — poverty, hectic schedules, emotional uncertainty — still apply immediately after college (and honestly, for the next decade), as well. Plus, junk food doesn't start tasting bad just cuz you got a degree, know what I mean?

2. Adults still see you as a baby

Soon after I'd graduated college, a coworker stated matter-of-factly that she didn't take anyone under 25 seriously, and I remember scoffing, That's ridiculous, I'm obviously a mature adult! What's your damage, lady? As I proceeded to rotate through my Great Early-20s Mistakes, I kept thinking back on my coworker's declaration and thinking, Man, she was right... I'm a dumb baby! There's nothing wrong with being young and making mistakes, but there's a lot of wisdom that comes with age, and just know that while you may feel like a grizzled, old college grad right now, you're just a tadpole in the process of gaining that (always and forever, but especially now). Yes, you earned your degree, but no, it doesn't come with a long, gray beard and a cane, or even a sage sense of being — you have to earn those things separately.

3. Romantic relationships are still highly combustible

In the grand scheme of things, being 21, 22, or even 25 is young — suuuuuper young when you think about living to 80 (industrialized life expectancy is cray y'all). You're basically in the middle of your second adolescence, people are figuring out who they really are, and empathy is not necessarily on everyone's radar at the moment, so it's a tough time to be coupled up.

4. Your real friends are still the only ones who matter

Sure, you're not surrounded by 40,000 other young bucks anymore, but how many of those guys were your friends anyway? Life is full of cycles and evolutions, and yes, you will outgrow some people and vice versa, but your true friends will always be there for you, even if it's over Skype halfway across the continent. And as you mourn the loss of your college clique, it's important to remember that you're going to make awesome, new friends as you go, wherever that may be.

5. You're still broke

Nobody steps out of college and into a gilded $100K internship unless your dad owns half of Manhattan (and just look how that turned out for Robert Durst). In most cases, you gotta pay your dues. Your initial "real world" compensation will be probably somewhere in the range of $0-30,000 (plus assorted stolen office supplies), and with newfound financial responsibilities (rent, cell phone, food), you now realize how quickly that money can go. Good thing you mastered the art of being broke in college.

6. But luckily, you have a window where you still don't have to pay your student loans

After graduation, you have a six-month grace period before you have to start paying back your student loans. Consider it a graduation present from the federal government to ease your transition into self-supporting adulthood. Thx, Uncle Sam, you're def my favorite uncle rn! *praying hands emoji*

7. You still don't know what you're going to do with your life

Shhh, I got a secret for you: nobody ever does, but this is the time in your life when that's OK. Embrace the uncertainty, work hard, and follow your bliss. Yeah, I'm getting a little hippie dippie with the affirmations, but I promise, if you do those three things, you will find a path that leads to your best self.

8. You're still in adventure mode

Which is perfect, because now is exactly the time to act on that impulse: you have few obligations and no set way of life, so get out there and explore the world! It's your oyster, find your pearl — learn about different cultures and people, and figure out what's possible and what kind of person you want to be.

Good luck, grad! This is just the beginning of an exciting new chapter.

Images: HBO; Giphy (8)