How To Cope Positively With Life After Graduation

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It’s barely been one year since I’ve graduated, but I feel like it’s been an eternity.

Even though I never really left my alma mater—I currently work there—and spend a lot of time with friends who are still students there—I may or may not find myself trying to live vicariously through them—the post-grad experience is still very real for me.

I’ve been trying to do the right things a post-grad is supposed to do. I go to work, complete what needs to get done, and enjoy working with everyone in the office and on campus. Out of the office, I go to networking events and hold a few other jobs to keep myself busy. Then when that’s all done, I try to relax…

Actually, I don’t usually end up relaxing. I either end up working even more or go out.

… All I’m going to say is that finding the right balance between work and play has been a struggle.

But that’s okay, because post-grad life is a process. Life is a process. And the one way to facilitate that process is to make positive decisions that push you closer and closer to your goals and, ultimately, to finding your happiness.

The sooner you understand this, the easier it will be to transition smoothly into “the real world.”

So, Class of 2015, there really isn’t one secret formula to surviving out there, but here’s a brief list of things to keep in mind in preparation for life after graduation. Some are more serious pieces of advice than others, but in time, you will find all of them to be true:


It’s okay that your first job isn’t your dream job.

Your first job isn’t going to be your forever job—it’s an opportunity to expand your knowledge and experience for the next opportunity that will eventually lead to your dream job.


Just because you’re a college graduate and new to the workforce doesn’t give employers the right to take advantage of you.

Some industries are more demanding than others, and, as a young professional, you should push yourself a little more in the workplace to let your employer that you’re serious… But you are not a slave. Wherever you end up working, they hired you because, among other things, you had the right skills for the job. Do not undervalue yourself—your skills make you valuable. Own it. Don’t forget it.

On the other hand, don’t oversell yourself and say things that may not necessarily be true about yourself to get ahead. That’s called lying and cheating. No one likes liars and cheaters, so don’t be one.


Learn how to cook something if you haven’t already.

Unless you want to spend the money eating at restaurants every night—money that might be better diverted to expenses like rent, student loans—teach yourself to cook a few decent meals. Who knows, maybe you’ll even find that you enjoy it… With that being said, free food at random events is always something to look forward to.


Work out.

You don’t want to be that person who everyone whispers about at alumni events because you let yourself go.


Go on real dates.

Try to meet people the “old-fashioned way,” not through random Tinder matches. Be respectful. Be honest. If the both of you decide to start dating-dating for real, awesome. Or, if you decide to stop dating-dating or know that being committed is not your thing, that’s fine, too. Just be respectful and be honest about it, so everyone can move on without bad feelings. Grudges are so middle-school.


But really, don’t hold grudges or burn bridges.

Aside from the fact that harboring ill-will towards someone wastes a lot of energy, you don’t know where anyone is going to end up. Let’s say one of your former roommates you absolutely despised gets a great job at the company you want to work for. Is it really worth holding it against him that he refused to do the dishes in the apartment when you lived together years ago?

Even if whatever the person did was so egregious and a complete insult to your existence on this Earth, try to find it in yourself to forgive for your own well-being. Chances are the other person is either completely unaware or too incompetent to understand your grudge against them.

Try to find goodness in every day and everyone.

Every. Single. Person. You. Meet. Even the people who aren’t your favorites. You will be amazed at how your outlook on life changes.


Networking events are not for speed-dating. LinkedIn is not Tinder.

Also, if there happens to be an open bar at a networking event—or any other event, really—it is not a permission slip to enter Blackout City.


Whatever your plans are after graduation, do not lose sight of the things you are passionate about and the dreams you want to achieve.

Following your passions, whatever they may be, is what will keep you going through your entire life. Find the time to keep your passions alive amidst everything else you’re doing and you will be a happier person for it.


Sooner or later, hangovers will become harder to bounce back from.

Plan your weekday, after-work activities accordingly.

Prioritize. Prioritize. Prioritize.

Whether or not you want to, you will, because you have to.


Enjoy the little things.

It’s usually the little things that we remember the most, even in the biggest moments of our lives.


Make an effort to connect with others and be genuine about it.

As millennials, our elder generations are quick to judge us about the way we interact with people. For the most part, any 20something today lives through their mobile devices and social media platforms. We don’t just text while we drive—we post, Snap, tweet, Insta and use whatever other apps that can record and share whatever we’re doing with our peers.

You’ve chosen to connect with people on Facebook or what not for a reason—this is especially true while you’re at college. If you see that someone shares a status about traveling to your favorite city, like it. Even dare to comment on it, just out of curiosity and to find out where they went. Use social media as a way to not only keep in touch with your inner circle, but also use it to build new relationships with others.

It should be worth noting that you should only be Facebook friends with people who you could actually see yourself being friends with or at least speak with respectfully. If you don’t think someone deserves your friendship or respect in real life, then you should probably de-friend them. Now.


Every so often, pick up the phone and call the people you love and tell them you love them.

Not iMessage. Not text. Not Facebook message. Not Snap. Press the “call” button on your phone, hold it up to your face, and say “Hi, I love you” with your vocal cords. If they’re close by, spend more time with them—you never know how much time you really have left.


The transition from college student to young adult in the real world  is more manageable than you think.

Remember that time around four years ago when you were going through this crazy thing called “high school graduation” and about to get ready to leave for this magical place called “college?” Sure, the leap from college campus to starting your career path is arguably a monumental one compared to moving from one student life to another, but the premise is the same: it’s a transition. All transitions can be fun, exciting, terrifying and soul-crushing (yes, soul-crushing) at the same time, but you’ll get over it—you have to in order to move forward.


After you walk across the stage at your college graduation, enjoy celebrating with your friends and family, relax, then get ready to do what need you to for the next steps in your life.

Because the real world waits for no one.