what I’ve learned since graduating college

While I’m only 9 months out, I think it’s a good time to get a post out like this. While I love writing about food and fitness, sometimes it’s important to write more personal post so you can get a better feel for who I am as a person, not just a food fanatic. Because contrary to popular belief, I’m not always Instagramming photos of sandwiches or Yelping the best donuts in Chicago 😉

You sit. A lot.

Train. Car. Office. Dinner. Movie. It’s all done sitting. Luckily I have to walk about 35 minutes each way to work in the morning but other than that, spending the day sitting is, quite frankly and literally, a pain in the ass. I get up at 5pm and my knees hurt. What’s up with that? Hey young adults, let’s change the culture of sitting.

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You never have to read off a piece of paper again if you don’t want to

            I sit at a computer all day every day. When I walk, I’m listening to music on my headphones. When I get home, I turn on the news and scroll through my Instagram feed. I text constantly. I have headaches and wonder where they come from. I don’t read anymore. Even the occasional magazine would be nice, albeit a waste of $5. My eyes need rest from the bright lights of a screen and the constant connection to social media. I feel myself getting sucked into the internet-obsessed world, one where asking for eye contact when we have a conversation needs to be explicitly stated. Everything can be done online now, and even though most times it seems like a saving grace, it sometimes feels like it sucks the life out of me at the end of the day.

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Writing cursive nowadays is next to impossible

Every time I have to write a check it’s a struggle. The third grader inside of me is shaking her head in shame.

Money still disappears

You think you’re going to spend less money because you’re not buying $1 shots at the seedy college bar followed by $5 Papa John’s pizza, but instead you replace that habit with a more grown up one: happy hour and a lot of Starbucks.

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You wonder, now what?

When you’re in high school, you have a very well-rounded identity. You sing in choir, you play on the varsity basketball team, and you know exactly when the Homecoming dance is coming up and how you’re going to ask your date. Everything falls together in a predictable pattern, something so comforting and easy. In college, things get a little fuzzy. However, once you make it past the gen-eds, you become a student of a specific field. You also join a sorority or Frisbee club or some other extra-curricular to make you feel better about all the binge drinking you participate in. But once you get that diploma, all of that disappears. I remember on my graduation day I turned to my dad and said, “It’s weird to think that, starting today, if I didn’t need money, I wouldn’t have to do a single thing from this moment forward.” I had no classes to go to, no appointments to keep, no functions that had been pre-organized for fun….nothing. Since summer was approaching the inevitable identity crisis didn’t hit, but once August came and I didn’t hop back in the car to Champaign, I realized, okay, now it’s time for the real world. So, who am I? I’m not a student, I’m not a Pi Phi, I’m not going to see my college friends very often anymore, and I’m certainly not going to be given a job with the snap of my fingers.  It was a scary time which I luckily handled in a healthy way, mainly by working out. Exercise is one constant in my life that isn’t changing, and that won’t change as long as I make sure to make it an integral part of my life.

People will do whatever it takes to convince you that their life is perfect

This is something I wish we could all change – early and mid 20s are a time about change, uncertainty, and lessons. I think it’s safe to say that everyone goes through this (at least I, personally, don’t know anyone who has it all together yet). And yet, for some reason, in social situations we all feel this need to make sure people think we’re happy, that the job we have right this second was our plan all along, and that we’re already living our dream. It’s all one big perpetual fallacy that we keep promoting because no one is brave enough to say “Shit, I don’t know what I’m doing yet but I know this path I’m on is taking me somewhere.” I’m going to work on being more proud when I talk about my current situation.  “Oh I’m working a 9-5 internship, unpaid, and working three nights a week as a waitress to pay all my loans off and still have enough money for a rather unfortunate latte addiction.” Because, honestly, I’m happy with the life I’m living right now—and I shouldn’t worry if it’s a good enough answer during something as insignificant as small talk.

And finally,

You have the freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want, for whatever reason you want. I know a few people who already feel stuck. We are young, we have time to change our minds without being called heinously irresponsible, and yet we oftentimes don’t want to take it. Why are we in such a hurry to get in on the rat race? I’m still exploring and I have a few ideas up my sleeve, ideas that I’m pretty excited about. I’m happy with the person I am and who I’m becoming. While things aren’t always easy, I most definitely still have the attitude that I have this whole, beautiful life ahead of me, and I’m not about to squander it. Even though I sometimes feel like the pieces aren’t fitting, I have enough faith in the world, in God, and in myself to know that it’s all going to fall together. And honestly, keeping that attitude is half the battle.

So for now, I’m going to keep going to brunch on the weekends, watching shitty ABC family sitcoms, and eating an ungodly amount of bagel sandwiches. Because while I might not have it all together on paper, I really like the life I’m living.

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13 comments

  1. Great post that I think everyone can relate to.. I’m almost five years out of college (yikes! typing that didn’t make me feel old or anything), and it still hits home. Keep doing you!

  2. WAHOOO! I can’t sit for more than like..an hour. I just can’t. I would be terrible working an office job. Thankfully my Starbucks habit is..well..free..for now. HA!

  3. You are so much wiser than I was at your age. This May is 9 years since I graduated (oh dear god) so I feel knowledgeable enough to chime in. You already seem to have a grasp of the fake happiness and success that goes on in social media. It is rampant. So I guess I would reiterate that you shouldn’t compare yourself to where others are at, what they’re doing, what they are making, etc. Pick a path that makes you happy and proceed from there. Put up your blinders and develop tunnel vision when it comes to everyone else. It’s not a competition and your versions of happiness and success are different. And yeah, money disappears at a faster rate when you actually have a paycheck. My 2 cents – make sure you start contributing to your 401k early, especially if your company matches what you put in. Ok. I’m done. I am officially a grandma.

  4. The sitting thing was a huge shock to my system! I went from being an athlete in high school and college and three hour workouts to sitting all day. I think when schools give information on different career fields they should also mention the physical nature of the job; a lot of sitting, working outside in freezing temperatures, lifting heavy things, etc.

    1. That’s a really interesting point. It’s way too shocking to go from living an active lifestyle to being forced to sit all day. I can’t imagine being a college athlete and going through this! That’s even more difficult.

  5. I love being able to spend my free time on me and not feeling guilty about schoolwork or other school commitments! Although the money does run out way too fast and the sitting is a major issue. My back has gotten so messed up since I graduated!

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