A bunch of you graduated this weekend. Congratulations! You spent tens of thousands of dollars on a piece of paper in exchange for being kicked off campus and forced to slave away at an entry-level job. Um…thanks? I’ve been out for a year, so trust me when I say this is one of the biggest transitional periods in your life thus far. In one day, you change environments; you go from a place where your youth and indecision is celebrated to a place where being a responsible adult is mandatory. I’m sorry, what? This is a huge transition, but with some help, you’ll get through it and adjust to your new life as an adult–I promise. Maybe, just maybe, once you get the hang of things, you’ll be glad you’re here. Here are some things all new graduates should do to stay sane and have a great time without the help of campus life. Oh, and welcome to the real world.
Take A Trip Abroad
Maybe you studied abroad during undergrad, but whether or not that was the case for you, there is no better time to travel the world than when you’re a recent graduate. By all means, take advantage of that six month grace period before you actually have to start paying back your student loans. (Trust me on this one. Interest rates are a bitch.) Whether it’s a celebratory, postgrad booze cruise, backpacking across Europe, or going to an underdeveloped country for mission work, this is the time to take advantage of all the world has to offer without using those ever-so-precious vacation days.
Road Trip With Friends
Don’t let your soon-to-be 9 to 5 work schedule suck all the spontaneity out of your life. Just because going to work isn’t optional (unlike those gen eds, where attendance was only a myth) it doesn’t mean you don’t still have the freedom to be your own person on your own time. Before you get settled down with a significant other or a puppy to take care of, gather your friend group back up for a weekend road trip to the mountains, the beach, or whatever it is that you kids do these days. Seeing each other means so much more now that you’re not always together, and trips like these will help you remember just how much these people mean to you.
Schedule Regular Brunch Dates
Well, it’s now officially lame to show up to your favorite college bar multiple nights a week. Now what? Welcome, my friends, to the world of brunch. Put on your Sunday best and call up your girlfriends for an afternoon of champagne, gossip, and pancakes (yes, you can get whole wheat). It’s all the fun of a girls’ night without the inevitability of heads in a toilet. Day drinking as an adult is typically frowned upon, but brunch is always an exception. Enjoy yourselves!
Go On Random Dates
If you’re single, this is your time to shine. Real life dating is scary and terrifying and can go horribly wrong, but it’s also going to be how you meet your first husband, so put yourself out there. In college, it was easy to say you’d only date someone who was brunette, taller than 6 feet, pre-law, and wore only pastels, but as an adult, now is the time to have fun. Without judgment and over-analysis from your hundred closest girlfriends, why not go on a date with that random guy from the grocery store, or the one with the cutest puppy at the park? You have nothing to lose. Worst case scenario, you get free dinner and a hilarious story. Best case? You fall in love. What are you waiting for?
Getting sucked into the black hole that is Netflix is easy, but when you’re feeling down, there’s no better cure than giving back to your community. No matter where you live, there are a ton of options based on your interests. Want to be a nurse? Help out at your local hospital. Kids tugging at your heartstrings? Check out some day camps or your local library’s summer reading program. If all else fails, take a quick drive down to your closest humane society to show some serious love to some adorable puppies. Wherever your heart leads you, use your interests to help out in some way. I guarantee you’ll go to bed with a happier heart.
Learn From The Older And Teach The Younger
Officially becoming an adult is more of a learning experience than elementary physics. It’s brand new for you, and figuring out how to do this whole adulthood thing can be a real ride on the struggle bus. Remember those guys who graduated last year? They’ve spent the last 12 months turning into adults, and they have lots of newfound wisdom and advice to share. Once you’ve soaked up some of that knowledge, remember to pass it down to those new seniors. They’ll be in your shoes next year, and they could always use a little guidance from someone who’s been through it. Keep the knowledge flowing, and remember that you’re all in this together.
The one thing that all this advice has in common is to stay connected. No matter how you decide to live out your first postgrad year, stay connected to your friends, your family, and your community. This is your time to find yourself, so have a great time doing it.