Four years of college seems like an entire forever, a whole chapter of my life during which I met loads of new people and found myself creating adventures that have since become awesome (some epic) stories, most of which ended with us sitting in the common room eating McDonalds… at 2 in the morning. College was a series of all night study sessions, paper writing and several panic attacks about passing obscure classes like astronomy, anthropology and archaeology. Throw in a semester abroad and a few internships and you’ve got my college experience.
The nearly two years after college has absolutely flown by, every now and then I stop and think about how quickly time is passing and I’m always shocked by how much faster time passes during this newfound time chaotically trying to figure out life in the real world. This latest pause has left me reflecting and thinking about the most important 8 things I’ve learned since graduating college!
1. A thank you note goes a long way :: I’ve always been told to write thank you notes by my mom, and never really been great on the follow through. I’ve worked really hard this past year and a half since graduating to write thank you notes to everyone and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. It’s such a simple gesture to send a handwritten note, and people truly appreciate and remember it!
2. Talk to strangers :: meeting new people once you’ve graduated is hard. Talking to strangers and forcing yourself out of your comfort zone is the best way to meet new people. Strangers are the ones who have the power to change your life, far more than friends, because they’ll offer a new and different perspective.
3. Spend money on experiences rather than things :: it’s true that travel is the only thing you can buy that’ll make you richer. It’s no big secret for most of you that I love to travel and am a huge proponent for all that it has to offer. #1 takeaway: go skydiving instead of buying the shoes.
4. Keep in touch :: distance can put a strain on relationships, it also reveals a lot about who matters and cares and who doesn’t. Make an effort to keep in touch with your friends and family, pick up the phone and call someone, send an email or even better a piece of real actual snail mail! Don’t be lazy when it comes to the people you love!
5. Take risks :: There are so many decisions that you’re going to have to make after graduating everything from taking the job to dying your hair. Make a decision. Own your decision. Don’t regret anything. Do what makes you happy and if something doesn’t go right, let it go and move on.
6. Don’t sweat the small stuff :: focus on the bigger picture and the end goal. It’s okay if you slip up along the way or if all the little details aren’t coming together. Keep your eye on your dreams and don’t get hung up on your worries.
7. Success is not a cookie cutter mold :: there isn’t only one way to achieve success; the word itself means something different to everyone. It’s important not to focus too much on what other people are doing, celebrate your friends wins but don’t get down on yourself and spend a lot of time comparing.
8. You’re degree does not come with an instruction manual :: and perhaps more importantly it’s okay to change your mind. We go into college when we are 17 or 18 and are expected to pick a major that will shape the rest of your life. And even if you change your major along the way you’re still only 21 at the oldest. That’s really young to have to make a decision like what you want to do for the rest of your life. After 4 years of being grilled by professors, forced to think and argue and defend your thoughts until your brain feels like it is going to explode you’re handed a slip of paper (a receipt as I fondly refer to it as) and sent off into the real world with for the first time since middle school no specified path for you to follow.
Of these 8 things I’ve learned since graduating college I think the most important one for me has been that it’s okay to change your mind after graduating, just because you’re not necessarily doing something specifically designed for your degree doesn’t mean you’re not using it. Follow your dreams and get innovative when it comes to applying your degree to the real world. After all, isn’t that what all those professors were trying to teach us? To think outside the box, form an argument or thesis and back it up and defend it?