When I was a senior in college, all I could think about was finally leaving my school and getting a real job, making real money, and becoming a real adult. At the same time, I was anxious and nervous about making mistakes. It seemed like the safety net of being a student was about to disappear and I didn’t know what to expect. If you’re feeling like this as college grads, read on. Before you jump into the “real world” there are a couple of things you might need to know!
Dating gets weird
Excited to meet all the mature, ambitious people who talk and act like grown ups? Sorry to break it to you, but the “grown ups” are still playing PS4 and eating pizza for breakfast. They just wear better clothes during the day. Solution? Just keep things casual and enjoy dating life, right? Wrong. Suddenly, people ask/assume that you’re super serious with every single person you date. Ugh.
Sleeping in? What’s that?
As college grads, you no longer have the ability to manipulate your schedule so all your duties fall between 12 – 4 PM. You have to get up every single day super early to get ready, beat the traffic, beat the train delays, and get to work by 9 AM. What about on weekends though? No, you don’t get to sleep on on those days either — because now, you have to go to these things called yoga & brunch. If you don’t participate, you’ll never have any adult friends. Be ready to wake up at 8 AM on a Saturday and put on your athleisure. The only sleep-ins you will get as an adult is after an aggressive and confusing bachelorette party in Vegas.
Making friends as an adult is hard
If you still have your college friends around, consider yourself lucky because starting friendship from nothing in a new city is terrible. Everyone is busy. Or pretending to be. Spontaneous hangouts are unheard of. Also, you’re not a real friend until you’ve had at least 40 brunches together (or did 35 spin classes; being sweaty next to each other brings two people closer faster). And brunches usually must be scheduled at least 3 weeks in advance and must be confirmed on Google calendar. Verbal “Let’s grab brunch sometime!” means nothing in the real world.
No one will teach you about money
So…what exactly is a 401k? IRA? ROTH IRA? You will have no idea. You just check yes to signing up for some sort of savings plan at work, but nobody explains to you what these are. Where is my money going? Will I ever see them again? And how exactly do I do my taxes? Everyone has an accountant except for you. You have Turbo Tax, and as long as no one is after you for tax evasion, you keep doing the same thing.
Homework never ends
Sure, there no more assignments or papers to work on, but there are still so many things you have to do as college grads — paying the bills, making your own, calling the insurance company, working that extra job. And the worst part of this is that unlike the homework during school, you cannot ask for an extension! If you miss the due date, you will have real consequences. Also, going to a grocery store, meal planning, cooking, and cleaning up take up way more time than you’d expect. It’s like you have another job when you’re home.
You’ll still feel like a kid
When you’re in college, anyone who is older than you and has a “real” job seems like an adult, but what you didn’t know is this: that person still feels like a kid and has no idea what s/he’s doing. The truth is, for the first couple of years — and in some cases, for the rest of the 20’s — you might feel like a fraud. Sure, you’re going to work and getting stuff done, but everything else, you’re winging it. And that is totally fine! Why? Because everyone else is secretly feeling exactly like you do.
We are all in this together, stumbling through the confusing 20’s, first jobs, first serious relationships, and first tax mistakes. As cliche as it is, if it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger — or in this case, smarter. And the upside of things being a cliche is that it is a common experience. Look around you. Almost all college grads survives their 20’s — even the really dumb ones who somehow graduated. So don’t be scared. Jump in! No need to tread lightly. You will be fine.