“Can Bruce Springsteen be right?” I thought, as I scrolled through Facebook this morning and saw all of my younger friends back on campus. “Are my glory days behind me?” The fact that I’m referencing Bruce Springsteen at all says a great deal about my age. Ugh, I’m having a hard time coming to terms with feeling like I’m, well, old.
But did my prime time really past? Absolutely not. Graduation is a huge transition, and it affects everyone differently. While some people can throw themselves into new jobs, apartments and lifestyles, others need a little time to cry it out!
Hoping to save some of you a bit of heartache, here is our guide to how to cope with not going back to school.
1. Take a deep breath.
First, it’s important to remember that this is a big change in your life, and nobody expects you to transition without a few hiccups. You’ve gone to school for nearly 20 years, and a summer has never ended without a familiar beginning for the back-to-school routine starting up in September. You don’t know how to handle this time, simply because you’ve never had to before!
Focus on taking care of yourself – and accepting that sometimes that may require more attention than you think. Whether you’re living at home, unemployed, or navigating the new professional world, try to find ways to feel like you’re enjoying your day-to-days, like community volunteering, job hunting, nights out with friends, or continuing education.
2. Avoid social media.
Try to save yourself some heartache and avoid all the Instagrams of your friends that are still in school. Why make your transition any harder than it needs to be?
3. Go out with your friends from college.
If you can, reach out to those who know what you’re going through. Text or go out with some friends from college and realize that your life isn’t over, and you’re definitely not alone. You may no longer be roommates or in classes together, but now you can explore friendship as adults; happy hours, blowing off steam from work, and taking on the real world like you haven’t seen it yet.
4. Realize that the bar is filled with babies.
Graduating from college doesn’t automatically bestow adulthood upon you, but it certainly makes you feel old. If ever you find yourself back at your college bar on a Saturday night, try to take it all in. You aren’t surrounded by your fellow seniors like you were last year, and you’re in a very different place personally than your younger friends.
Don’t cut yourself off from college life and feel totally out of the loop, but recognize that you’ve grown since graduation! Celebrate that you’ve made it and you’re an inspiration to those heading down your same path.
5. Think about your worst all-nighter.
You have graduated from college! After nearly two decades of homework assignments, class schedules, and research papers, you are finished with your obligation to higher education. Did you ever think you’d see the end?
If ever you crave the college social environment, think back to the torture of college academics. Remember your worst all-nighter, the paper you forgot to turn in, and years of group projects. It’s finally time to celebrate that all that homework is behind you! (Until grad school…)
6. Tackle your next big adventure.
Life is just beginning. Whether it’s working an internship you absolutely hate or landing your dream job straight out of school, a year of volunteer work or diving into graduate school; there is something big on your horizons. Be present and mindful to whatever your next adventure is, and close the college chapter of your life. There is so much to come; enjoy the ride!
While my FOMO may be kicked into high gear recently, it’s important to keep perspective. With a new job in a new city, my glory days are far from over; they’re probably just getting started!