Dear 2014 college graduate,
It's been exactly one year since I graduated from the University of Maine and I wouldn't say I'm an expert on life after college, but I can tell you what I know.
No commencement speech, no piece of advice from my parents, no words of wisdom from my professors could have helped me prepare for living life outside of academia. This past year has been the first time in my life that I wasn't tied to the classroom and the library.
Life after college has been a huge learning curve, but here are a few things I've picked up along the way:
Keep in touch
Stay in contact with your close college friends. You don't have to live down the street to meet up once in a while. Make plans to meet once a week, once a month, or maybe just once a year or on holidays. To maintain your happiness and well-being it's important to have meaningful connections with people.
Plus, it's great to have something to look forward to! My social life now is microscopic compared to my college days. Almost every night or afternoon in college was spent doing something with someone, but now it's dwindled to an occasional get-together that my friends and I had to plan weeks in advance to coordinate with everyone's new and busy schedule.
It's going to get worse before it gets better
The day I graduated was a wonderful, happy day. But when the euphoric recent grad feeling was gone, all that remained was STRESS. I was unemployed for a few months after I graduated and I had no clue what would happen to me. I stressed about being able to pay for my rent and groceries at the very least.
And pressure from my friends and family didn't help. Everyone I knew would ask, "Do you have a job lined up?" or "What's your plan?" I'm here to tell you it's okay to not have a plan. If I had a plan maybe I wouldn't have wound up with this crazy Young & Free Spokester job!
It's okay to take a job that isn't what you went to school for. It's okay to move back home with your parents while you learn to get on your feet. It's okay to spend one last summer at your awesome and fun summer job. And it's okay to not have an outline planned for yourself on what you have to do for the rest of your life.
Just know that money is going to be tight, living conditions might not be ideal, and your job might not feel like the right fit in your first years out of college. But it's okay, work through the tough times and things will get better.
Failure is part of life
"I can accept failure, everyone fails at something.
But I can't accept not trying."
You will fail at something at some point in your life. Don't try to be perfect, just be you and try your best. When you put yourself out there and try something new, that's more important than the result. Always give yourself a chance to reflect on your failures and learn from them.
Congrats on graduating! Welcome to your life after college!