Graduating from college is a huge milestone in your adult life. You’ve put in the work, gotten the grades (C’s do get degrees, after all), and made the most of your time as a student (aka partied a lot). But after the last graduation party wraps, it’s normal to feel depressed, confused and anxious about what’s next.
What the overachieving commencement speaker leaves out of their corny class address is that this big accomplishment is also a huge slap in the face. Why didn’t anyone ever tell us how freaking hard it is to be an adult?
If you feel happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time, you’re either a recent grad or Taylor Swift. In which case, oh my gosh, we love you! But in all seriousness, if you just graduated from college, you might be wondering why the heck everyone was sugar coating the truth. Luckily, we’re here to break it all down for you.
5 Things You Should Know About Graduating From College
1. It’s normal to feel depressed.
You just went from having a literal itinerary for every moment of your life (that satisfying, color-coded class schedule) to living in your mom’s house again and waking up at noon every day. It’s normal to feel directionless, lost, and lonely without the constant buzz of your peers and campus life.
Being a new grad is tough. Sure, there are amazing things about it, like the freedom that comes with being an independent adult and the paycheck that accompanies having a real job.
But at first, it might feel like the hard outweighs the good. Your mental health is bound to take a downward turn when you go from being a busy undergrad to an underemployed adult without a sense of purpose. Make sure you look after yourself and prioritize your mental well-being amid the stress of becoming a newly minted adult.
2. You’re not going to have everything together right away.
Your fancy school likes to boast about how 94% of their new grads land their first job right away, but as a recent grad, it can be a lot harder than it seems. Add to that the pressure of finding a roommate, a new apartment and maintaining some semblance of a social life. Don’t forget about saving for the future, and balancing it all with hobbies that make you feel like a real human! After graduating from college, you’re going to feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle. Because you are.
Don’t fall for the LinkedIn updates and curated Instagram filters. We’re all in the same boat after we graduate; some people are just more skilled at making it look like they’re not. It will likely take you several years to feel like you have it together just a little bit, and some adults will attest that it never happens.
3. Your friendships will change, and so will you.
Maybe your college best friend really is destined to be your best friend for life. The reality is that people are constantly changing and evolving. And the people you bonded with over binge drinking three nights a week may not end up being in your life forever. Especially if they’re toxic! In that case… bye, sis.
One of the hardest things about graduating from college is leaving your friends behind. This is especially true if you went to college in a rural area and everyone moves to different places after graduation. Some friendships are strong enough to last long distances, while others will fade away.
Even if you and your friends stay close physically, it’s possible that you’ll go in different directions mentally and emotionally. Remember that some people are only meant to be in your life for a season, and that’s okay. You can always make new ones!
4. Being an adult is expensive.
That might just be the understatement of the year. Can anyone tell us why health insurance costs more than our car?!
After you graduate from college, you’ll quickly learn about all of the expenses you took for granted growing up. The bills seem unending, between rent, car insurance, utility payments, phone bills, and student loan payments. Keeping up a social life feels impossible with all the expenses that now rest squarely on your shoulders.
On top of that, you’re expected to be saving for retirement, contributing to your 401-K, even saving up for a down payment on a house. All of these bills feel crippling as a new adult, and add to the depression and anxiety you feel as a recent grad.
5. Trust the process.
So now that we just scared the crap out of you, here’s the good news. We all have to start somewhere. Despite the social pressure you feel to have it all together right this second, take a deep breath. Everything you’re going through is normal, and we all experience it. As challenging as it is to be thrust from the safety of your campus community into the cold fingers of the “real world,” try to trust the process.
We could list off a dozen platitudes here, but you’re probably tired of hearing motivational quotes after all those commencement speeches you just sat through. So instead, we’ll leave you with this: it may not be college, but adult life is its own kind of fun. It’s confusing, messy, scary and lonely, but it’s not all bad.
And, if all else fails, listen to Laura and Jess on Adultescence the Podcast for your weekly dose of adulting inspiration. We promise to keep it realer than your commencement speaker did.