tips | life after graduation


This week marks six months since graduating from college.

I have tried to start this post a couple of times now and getting past that sentence has been harder than I thought...and I'm not sure why. I don't know where I thought I would be six months since graduating from college, but I love where I am. I feel more confident and capable than I did my last semester or even at graduation itself. I actually find myself feeling the way I did as a college freshman: inspiration overload, open to new experiences, struggling with not comparing the experiences of others to my own. Even when I'm feeling down about my personal victories and "failures" or I'm anxiously filling out my application to receive food stamps, I am still really calm about where I have gotten myself in six months.

As I keep in touch with friends from college (this phrase will not seem not weird to me for a while, I'm sure of it), I find that my peers are all over the map. Some are off galavanting in what my English Writing department would consider "dream jobs," while others are fighting off discouragement as they don't hear back from jobs they've applied, or even interviewed, for. I feel as if I've made a sort of list in my mind about where I expected certain classmates to be at this point and I'm surprised with how many of us aren't reaching our so-called potential.

For someone who is characteristically both anxious and depressive, I feel really comfortable where I am right now. I'm not feeling the pressure of grades or midterms or showing up for classes that I have no interest in. In fact, I'm spending very little time doing activities I don't enjoy. I may not be working for a fashion magazine like some of my professors hoped, but I am equally challenged by and loving both of my paying gigs and my blog is in a better place than it has ever been. I have read more books since graduating college than I read during my whole college career and the writer's block that plagued me has lifted. I spend quality time with people I genuinely care about and whose company I actively enjoy. I don't have to answer to anyone.

I guess I have a couple of tips for six-months-out-of-college-ers and those who may be here in the near future. These aren't so much tips for college grads who want to backpack through Europe and find themselves or who have a trust fund to make them happy. Here's some advice, from my experience to yours.

1. Stay in touch with people you are interested in. In college, I almost constantly had 15 hours of class, 25 hours of work, and at least 10 hours of internship every week. That is to say, I didn't get out much. I had class friends who I saw in class and a boyfriend who I saw between submissions of his thesis and on my lunch break, but I was not able to tend to the friendships I really wanted. Now that I'm graduated, I have made friendship one of my top priorities. I split appetizers while talking about social justice issues and coffee meetings about the blogging community and ice cream dates to drown our unseen résumé blues and brunch to share our excitement and encouraging words about how actually great things are. It is wonderful and my support system is stronger now than it ever was in school.

2. Don't count your victories in how many job offers you've received. Count in how many books you've read or how many trips to the dog park you've taken. Your worth as a potential employee--or a person--has nothing to do with how many applications you've sent in before. Stay smart; stay interesting. When you do finally have the interview of your dreams, have something to talk about that isn't in your cover letter or even related to the position. Just like in school, being smart never really has to do with the test score. If you don't have anything to offer to a team as far as your personality, you'll be beat out by the more personable candidate every time.

3. Don't commit yourself to anything you aren't passionate about. This isn't to say that you shouldn't work hard in the jobs leading up to your dream job, but be aware of something not fitting. If you're applying to grad school, you better really want to do this for the rest of your life, not just think that you might. Even though you're graduated from college, internships are still out there and are still a good way to find out if you really like doing something. This goes for relationships and friendships, as well as "extra-curricular" activities, too. You don't have to stick with anything that isn't making you genuinely happy most of the time or that doesn't better you in some way.

Seriously, based on what I was told in college, I shouldn't feel this good about where I am. But I do. Take the extra semester before applying to grad school. Take a class on graphic design before you start working 50 hour weeks and don't have time. Every coffee date doesn't need to be a networking opportunity, either. Spend time with your pets and your parents and your class friends and your best friends. If you need to get out of the city for a weekend--go. If you need to get out of the city for good--go too! Do what you need to do and don't let anyone else's story or judgement determine your happiness. You don't have to answer to anyone.

12 comments

  1. I love this post.... to true. I actually used to dream about the day I turned 16 and could drive and date. I look back now and wish I would have just enjoyed my childhood where it was at. Thanks for sharing this!

    Mal
    www.agirlskindoftherapy.blogspot.com

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  2. LOVE THIS. I, too, was astonished at the number of books I read post-college. It's so nice to be back in a place where I feel like I can read for pleasure again. :)

    I completely relate to working hard at the job(s) you have that will eventually lead you to your dream job. Please please please read The Defining Decade by Dr. Meg Jay. It's pretty dang good.

    You're doing great, lady! Keep up the great work and the awesome writing!

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  3. This is amazing. I cannot wait till I graduate...ahhh so excited!!!

    xoxo,
    Alyssa

    sincerelytrulyscrumptious.com

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  4. Fantastic! I wish I had seen this upon graduation almost two years ago, such a strange time for me.

    -Elissa
    style-wire.com

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  5. Excellent post! I'm glad that you feel like you are in a good place, this is so important!
    xo
    girlintheyellowdress.com

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  6. I applied for MFA programs during my last year in college and that was really hard and I didn't have the money for it, and now more than halfway through the program I sometimes feel like I would have gotten more out of it if I had waited a couple of years, because sometimes I feel like I am so sick of school, but I also feel like this has been a great experience and I've gotten to work with some amazing people and I met a guy I really love here. In my program, there are a couple of people within a couple years range of my age, 22-25, but I was 20 when I started the program and most everyone else is between 27-32. So there's no right way to arrive at where you're going and some people change careers and some people decide to get careers and some people just take a chance on something fun.

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  7. This makes me pretty excited to graduate! I have three semesters to go and am worried about graduating and not being able to find a job. But seeing this reminded me that I'm saving up money for a reason and I think everything will turn out just fine. :)
    Liz
    http://liz-makes.blogspot.com/

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  8. This was a great post! I recently graduated from college and have been feeling pretty overwhelmed since I don't have any exact plans. Having all this extra time has really helped me think about what I want and what's really important. I've also started reading lots of books and volunteering in the Austin area! Love the blog btw and hope to meet you at TxSC! :)
    - Melissa
    theblushingdreamer.blogspot.com

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  9. The John Green quote on your picture is what got me to read this post, and as an incoming college freshman, this post really helped me realize that I can do anything that I put my mind to! Thanks!

    xx, Lesley
    abundanceofcrews.blogspot.com

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  10. Olivia of A Shot of SeattleFebruary 5, 2015 at 5:11 PM

    Thank you so much for writing this post! It is really great advice to hear. I found you through Junebug Weddings (I was a former intern) and I love your blog.


    -Olivia
    www.ashotofseattle.com

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  11. You're so sweet! I've heard lots of amazing things about you. So excited to check out your blog! xo

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  12. PurplealldayerrydayMay 10, 2015 at 4:13 AM

    This is extraordinary relevant to where I am currently, and reassuring too. Thank you for writing this. :-).

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