Moving to a new city (perhaps on your own), saying goodbye to good friends and changing your day-to-day routine is definitely tough. Sometimes, all the training in the world is not nearly enough to prepare you for when you’re finally on your own in the “real” world. Seven summers at sleep-away camp, four years of college and one semester abroad in London were certainly not enough for me. I’m over feeling homesick, I’m over the fear of doing my own laundry, and I’m even over the stress of needing to cook my own meals – but it’s the little things that seem to get me:
1. The indescribable panic that comes with owning your own credit card. There’s something horrifically petrifying about paying your rent and watching your balance drain right before your eyes. It’s not your parents’ money anymore – it’s yours. Hard-earned. It’s time to learn how to save, save, save! On the plus side, there’s something so incredibly electrifying about receiving a paycheck and watching your account balance increase!
2. Where did the time go? In college, many of us had hours and hours of free time – I, personally, had only 2-3 hours of class a day (at most!). Now, if I can find the time to run downstairs for a coffee in the middle of the day, it’s a big celebration! Post-grad life is busy. With our “9 to 5” jobs plus our after-work social lives, it’s a wonder we can even find the time to exercise – in fact, many of us can’t. Discovering that you suddenly have very little free time can be frustrating and draining. Organize a calendar, make time to see your friends, and build time for exercise into your schedule. You’ll get used to the hustle-bustle eventually.
3. Speaking of friends…at this point in our lives, we’re all in a new place. Sure, physically, but mentally, as well. Some of us are traveling, others have gone back to school, and others yet have settled down and started full-time jobs. We’re surrounded by new people, and soon enough, we start to forget about our friends of the past. Do not let that happen! Old friends are irreplaceable. I know – keeping in touch with friends can sometimes feel like a full-time job. But let me assure you, it’s worth all the energy in the world.
4. Bills, bills, bills. You probably started dealing with bills in college – even so, something about paying post-college bills seems so much more “real.” Perhaps it’s the mere quantity – the rent, the cable, your credit card, your corporate card…the list goes on and on. Maybe it’s the types of payments you’re expected to make – for example, giving to your building staff around the holidays (my apartment building has about 50 behind-the-scenes staff members!). Or maybe it’s the charities you’re asked to donate to weekly – that money can add up for a recent college graduate! It’s easy to feel like you’re giving away large sums of money far too often. You’re probably not, but be smart with your money. You obviously need to pay your bills, but know that it’s okay to say “no” to donations and other forms of gifting until you’ve gotten your feet on the ground!
5. “I don’t have everything (anything) figured out yet.” Coming from the formulaic rigidity of our school system and diving headfirst into a world with no proper “path” can be liberating for some and terrifying for others. It’s not easy to NOT know. But remember: life is all a big surprise. Understand that, in your 20s, your future doesn’t need to be mapped out yet. Work hard and try new things – you could be inspired by something new every single day!