The hardest transition is going from college to the ‘real world’. You’re suddenly giving up your late nights at dollar drinks and your seemingly open schedule in favor of 7 am wake up calls, copious amounts of coffee and endless hours of staring at excel. However, while it is both complicated and emotionally taxing it is also one of the most educational time periods in our lives where we really learn about ourselves. Here are the biggest lessons I’ve learned since becoming a ‘real person’:
- Quality over quantity when it comes to friendships
Friendships require a lot of effort on both ends. Post-grad it’s basically impossible to stay super close with everyone. Everyone has a ton of obligations; people become flakey. You can’t walk down the hall and see your bestie at 2 pm everyday. You have to put in effort to hang out. You can’t just count on running into people on campus or at parties anymore. What I’ve learned is that the ones that stick around through this transition are the ones that matter. They are the ones you can count on not to bail; the ones that are always there when you need to vent about your daily stress; the ones that are consistently understanding about everything you have going on in your life. Those are the gems. They are a dime a dozen. You may have had a giant group of drinking buddies in college; a group of ‘fringe’ friends or ‘partying’ friends and that’s great but the real friends you can actually connect with on an emotional level are more important. While it’s great to have people to socialize with, focus on making friendships that will last a lifetime your priority.
2. Your liver graduates college with you
Don’t kid yourself and try to drink the same amount of alcohol you did in college. Your tolerance is lost once you hit your cubicle. If you don’t change your ways it’s a guarantee you will be praying to the porcelain god every Friday night.
3. Don’t settle on your first job offer
Yes, we are poor post grads that need work but that doesn’t necessarily mean we should take the first job we get either. You don’t want to end up pigeonholed into an industry that you truly have no interest in. Often when you start in one field it is difficult to transition your career in another field without the required previous work experience. Also, your personal happiness is so important. Do you want a job where you will be miserable everyday? Make sure your happiness plays a part in your decision making.
4. Build relationships with your co-workers
This is important for many things; networking, building a social life, work-life balance, etc. Having good relationships with those you work with makes going to work easier everyday. I have met some of my closest friends in the office and I can honestly say they made going to work that much better.
5. Life is expensive
I never realized how truly expensive it is just to live until I was living on my own. Everything costs money. Duane Reade? You walk in needing toothpaste and walk out with $50 worth of god knows what. Learning to do activities cheaply is so important. Look for sales or free events; trust me there are plenty! Having no money is a very real thing that happens in your mid-twenties.
6. You don’t always need to get the last word in
Maturity is a big thing. It’s made me realize that you don’t always need to be so stubborn. You are not always right. Sometimes you need to let the other person win. Trust me, for the folks in relationships this is huge.
7. Don’t let distance get in the way
Keep in touch with those that really matter and don’t let distance get in the way of friendship. You don’t want to lose someone who genuinely cares for you just because you couldn’t be bothered to make the time or effort. FaceTime regularly or plan trips to visit and see each other. One of the best trips I did last year was to go visit one of my best friends down in Louisiana when he was there for work. Long distance friendships aren’t always easy but are completely attainable.
8. Health is wealth
Your body is so important and treating it right is the only way to do it. Eat healthy, exercise frequently and make sure you are getting the right amount of nutrients. My energy levels skyrocketed when I started exercising 5 times per week and getting enough sleep. Exercising also has been a major stress reliever in more trying times both in my personal and professional life. Taking care of your body truly improves your mood and productivity. No one is productive if they feel like shit! Treat your body like the temple it is.
9. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Especially when you are first starting out at a new job, it is important to show that you are eager to learn. Asking questions can help you learn more and put you ahead of the game. Plus, your team would rather you ask first than mess things up and re-do it later.
10. Do things that make you happy regardless of what anyone else thinks
This is the most important lesson to learn. Your happiness is the key to your success. In high school and college there’s so much pressure to fit into this mold that the social hierarchy expects you to. The best thing about real life? No social hierarchy. No one cares. Those popular kids in school? They’re just normal people. No one cares about their opinions any more than they would any other person’s. Do whatever it is that makes you smile whether playing competitive sports, reading a book (or maybe even writing!) or engaging in a creative outlet of some sort. Maybe you love to sing! Starting a blog was always a mental challenge for me. I was always scared of what others might think. Would people judge me or critique me? Suddenly, I stopped caring. Yes, I love feedback both positive and negative. But, the most important thing was that I was doing something that made me happy; something that I was excited about. I needed a place to channel my creativity that wasn’t being used in my current office job. You know what? I have no regrets. Stop caring what people think and do what you love.