The first couple years of my post-grad experience were spent religiously referring to my early 20s as a wasteland. I recall sitting restlessly with a mentor, and I spilled my exasperated, aimless thoughts. Surely, I was a mess. I was doing everything wrong. I was missing it—this key everyone seemed to have for settling into something so unfamiliar.
When my words slowed, she sat back with her iced tea and said, with deep sincerity, “Well, I think you’re doing great!”
She highlighted the goodness, the progress made and the doors opening. My chaos seemed to quiet. I’m doing great? It was this simple realization that I was not drowning that seemed to put air back into my lungs. Beyond my panic and not-so-picture-perfect life, there was a sweet invitation to enjoy this young and wild season.
There was a sweet invitation to enjoy this young and wild season.
Since our days of scribbling the alphabet, life has been about preparation for the next step. Each step became slightly more independent and more exciting as our dreams took shape. Eventually our steps take us across a stage, and with a handshake and a turn of a tassel, we theoretically arrive at the moment we’ve been waiting for.
College graduation, instead of giving fuel to our dreams or hopes, may instead taunt us with anxiety or confusion or disappointment. Our dream job may evade us, bills may be daunting or the transition may be lonely. The road we have grown up walking has opened up into a field. Suddenly, the choices are wide, the paths are different and our steps become unknown. Our lives may begin to take shape in a different way than what we had in mind.
If your story had a plot-twist or two, too, then you are not alone. Hope in this: As much as post-grad life is about building a career, it is equally as formative to our character. Our ability to lean into transition and receive it with grace will determine if we trudge forward or if we go boldly.
If your story had a plot-twist or two, too, then you are not alone.
Invest in the big picture.
The entirety of your life and identity does not revolve around a job. Thus, our post-graduate experience shouldn’t hinge solely on that either. Obviously, the first step into career world is a significant one and surely intimidating, but also know your life is comprised of more than your 9 to 5.
Community and personal growth are just a few things worth prioritizing in this transitional season of life. Having people to walk, laugh and cry with is essential, as is a willingness to lean into it all and better yourself for it. Your first real job may last you a few years or more, but the friendships and development you invest in those years can impact and build your life far beyond that.
Find healthy rhythms.
College tends to be chaotic. You move from class to class and from one social gathering to the next living off scarce sleep and whatever food is available. The transition after graduation gives opportunity for a reset. Given the inherent structure a job likely provides, this is a great time to evaluate your habits and whether or not they’re serving you well.
Consider your physical health, time management and your mental world. There’s no better time to find a healthier lifestyle, to reorient your sleep schedule, find a counselor or build some margin into your day-to-day. As simple as it may sound, the process of setting healthy habits can be one of the more challenging aspects of merging into adulthood.
As much pressure as we put on our post-graduation transition, the newness and freedom of these years has the potential to inspire and propel us forward. Whatever our 9 to 5 consists of, there is ample opportunity to experiment with pursuing creative outlets, making connections and creating vision boards so that we are focused toward what we ultimately want. Particularly, on our more burned-out days (or seasons), it is especially important to cultivate hobbies and habits that restore our hope and remind us of our gifts.
These will ultimately be the years we look back on, hopefully fondly, as our first and formative steps into the world we build for ourselves. If no one’s told you yet: You’re doing really great. Enjoy it.