It’s not something that is really talked about. I know when I was in university, I saw graduating as the easiest thing ever. I mean, it *appeared* to be fine. You graduate, you get a job, you earn money, you roll around in said money. Easy, right?
As Donald Trump* would say, “WRONG!”
Well, not wrong, but it’s far trickier than that. When you’re in college, that transition between college and the no man’s land of “life after college” is not particularly dealt with.
As I said, you can just assume you will be fine and then push to put it out of your head until your final exam, and then until graduation, but believe me, once those come and pass, you will realise that all the hyped up fantasies in your head were nothing more than that, hyped fantasies.
If college was for you, as it was for me, a massive beanbag of security, then being plucked out of it and placed into the real world is a little bit, well, distressing. A lot of your friends are still in college and have moved on as the academic new year begins. It’s nothing personal, that’s just life, but it can sometimes mean you’re left with what may feel like stale memories and a sense of “what the actual f*** am I supposed to do now”.
It’s okay. We all go through it.
So, having been in this slump for one… two… five months now (…), I’ve finally had enough and am actively encouraging myself to make that transition from college into the real world. It’s definitely not something I’ve conquered yet. And quite possibly will take me a long, long time to conquer. But here’s what has helped me:
1) Unsubscribe yourself to college societies and events
Cold turkey, man. That’s the best way to do it. I don’t mean ditch it altogether, I still go to a few college events here and there if my friends have organised them but receiving all those society emails or pub crawl event notifications do not help in the long run of moving on. Unfollow the Twitter accounts that are superfluous to you now, tamper with the notification settings on FB pages, sort out your email subscriptions. It’s the best way.
2) Make contact with the college friends you truly feel good with
Highlight those still in college with whom you want to remain in contact with and see them. Try not fall into the habit of hanging around campus all day (yes, this sounds stupid but people do do it). Meet them somewhere off campus if you like, or do new things together, that way you can associate them with a new part of your life. It will help you make that break from college whilst retaining a little bit of the security you had. Also, friends you make in college are very often friends for life.
3) Ween yourself off social media for a while
If you’re having issues feeling a little left out whilst the new college term starts, it might be best to take a bit of a social media break. I know as well as anyone about how it feels seeing photos all your college friends having the best time without you. It’s not a personal thing, and one day they too will probably go through the same gulf of feeling out of it, but for now, best to remove yourself whilst the emotion is still raw.
4) Find that constant in your life
For me, it’s drama. I’ve been involved in my local theatre group for three years now and as it’s not associated with college, it haven’t stopped. It’s something I can continue to keep up regardless of what stage of my life I’m in. For you, it may be a job, or perhaps a sports team, or training. Focusing on that constant gives you a base for yourself that you can always refer back to.
5) Look for a job
Doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Just something for you to find your feet and get started in this new phase. I found indeed.com and jobs.ie to be the handiest.
6) Meet with friends that you didn’t make in college
Again, they are a constant. School friends or friends you’ve made in your community are good. If they’ve already graduated – they’ll be sure to let you in on things they wish they knew when they left college.
7) Find something new
This can be super simple as finding a new hobby. Whether it be reading more, writing, exercise, volunteering, something that keeps you occupied and marks a new stage in your life will help you find your independence again. For me, it was blogging (insert fireworks).
8) Understand that it will not be easy
Yes, you’ll get stuck in a rut, you’ll feel stale sometimes, you may even do what I did and spend six months after your final exam panicking about what to do next. This is not a simple transition. It will affect different parts of your body – your brain will not be used to the lack of stress and studying, your body may feel the lack of exercise that running around campus all day does for you – but accept that it is okay and that you can get through it.
9) Make rough plans for what you want to do
Make a list of what makes you happy and then, step by step, find out how to do it for a living (I like to do this with a huge cup of tea and pumped music – makes it more of an occasion and you’ll feel super productive). Be open-minded. Look up new college courses or enquire more about that visa. There’s no obligation in doing anything of these things and asking about them won’t hurt anyone. So, contact that professor or go into USIT for a chat. You’ll thank yourself for it.
Save in whatever way is best for you – whether it be 10% of your paycheck, putting away 20 euro a week, etc. You never know when you may need it and it earns you bonus points when taking out a loan.
Do you have any ideas? I’d love to hear what you think!
*I do not endorse Donald Trump. The only thing he is good at is failing miserably.