Before I dive into life after college, I want to extend my congratulations to those recent graduates!
College is such a wonderful, formative time for most people- it definitely was for me! It’s typically the first time we are away from home, exploring what else there is in the world. When I got to college, I immediately fell in love with the whole experience- from living in the dorm, my psychology major, cheerleading, etc. It was all a great experience & I learned so much about myself. Even though I only went to college about 20 minutes away from home, it was fun being away from home, doing my own thing and meeting new people. I loved my college experience so much, I was honestly not looking forward to graduating. I was excited for a new adventure, but I was sad to leave.
Walking across the stage to get your degree is such a surreal moment. It’s a moment of pride and excitement. Whatever your story is, it’s always a moment of pride and excitement for the future, full of eagerness to get the career going. I had a job lined up right out of college & I was ready to embrace the excitement of the next chapter of my life. College was great & I was sad to leave, but I knew so many great things were waiting for me. I was so excited to embark on the new journey & see exactly what was in store for me. So, what’s life after college really like?
On May 3, 2015, I walked across the stage to received my BA in Psychology from THE Otterbein University here in Columbus, Ohio.
From my own observations, it seems like people get into their career, either confirming that the chosen career path is the right one, or that it’s not a good fit. My plan was to get an entry-level position in clinical work & eventually go back to graduate school to get a higher clinical psychology degree. My envisioned passion was receiving my doctoral degree as a psychologist, being of service to others & helping others. I ended up getting a job here in Columbus at Nationwide Children’s Hospital as an assistant to Psychologists. I administered psychometric assessments to children with developmental disabilities. I won’t go into much detail, but it wasn’t for me. It was a very rewarding job and I learned SO much, but it didn’t end up being fulfilling & I didn’t feel the passion I was expecting. It was a confusing time because I had ALWAYS seen myself in the clinical field, being of service to others as a psychologist. Learning that this path was not for me was hard to comprehend & even more confusing trying to figure out what to do next. I still had a passion for psychology & helping others, I just wan’t sure what I was meant to be doing.
At the time, I thought I was the only person my age going through this, confused about where I was supposed to be. I knew that I had to go in a different direction, but I didn’t know where I was supposed to go. The unknown can be so stressful & confusing. It’s important to understand that everyone’s experience is different, because I also know a lot of people who truly enjoy their chosen career path right after college.
If you are going through a similar experience, here’s my advice for you:
Don’t Be Stubborn
This experience made me realize how stubborn & close-minded I really am. When you don’t allow various options & make excuses, you are shutting yourself off from a world of amazing possibilities. I didn’t realize it, but I would make excuses for every possibility that was brought my way & constantly stressed about the fact that I did not like where I was. I was concentrating on the fact that my chosen career path was not for me. The saying “When one door closes, another one opens” is very true because I really had no idea about the amazing opportunities that were waiting for me. Waiting for me to stop being stubborn & close-minded so I can start down the right path I’m supposed to be on.
Take advice from others
OK so this goes along with my first tip. My mom would always give me options & send me job opportunities & I would come up with an excuse for not considering them. I, for some reason was not open to getting help or advice, even though I needed it. When you open your mind to the information that others have to offer you, you can be opening your mind to things you never even thought of. Sometimes an outside source might be able to look at the situation differently and provide you with exactly what you need.
My mom ended up finding a Business Psychology Master’s program that closely fit what I was looking for in terms of a psychology route. I joined the program & ended up earning my Master’s degree in Business Psychology in January 2018.
If I didn’t take my mom’s advice & guidance, I definitely would not have been able to continue on the path to where I am today. So, take all the advice & guidance you can get, because they might just have the answers you need!
So, this one is extremely hard- I first-hand know this! It’s hard not to over-stress about a situation that you have no control over, especially when it comes to your life & career. But, stressing out about it will not do anything but make things worse for you. Trust me, it’s exactly what happened to me. Typically, stress makes your brain all foggy & you won’t be able to focus very well. The moment that I just let myself stop worrying about everything is the moment everything seemed to fall into place. You can read more about this on a previous post on: Getting Fired Was The Best Thing to Happen to Me.
The transition from college to the real world can be hard, but it’s also such a great experience. You learn & grow in college, but growth happens even more so when you’re in the “real” world. You literally have your whole life ahead of you. You’re in control of your own life & your own experiences. Even though life after college the last 4 years has been pretty stressful for me, I’m actually very grateful for it. If you’re going through the stress, the thought of knowing things are going to get so much better should be incredibly empowering! It might not seem like it in the moment, but if you take my advice, it will be worth it!
Other than figuring out your career path & where you’re supposed to be in the “adult” world, you end up learning even more about yourself. I went through a pretty formative experience in college, but more so in the years that I’ve been out. Even when things kind of felt dysfunctional & overwhelming, it needed to happen. Sometimes those things need to happen to get to where you are truly meant to be.
Welcome to “Adulting”!
In college you are just getting a small glimpse of what it means to be an adult. The government says you are legally an adult, but you do not understand until you are out of college. You’ll start to experience things like:
-Extra responsibilities, like bills & taxes (boring)
-Making friends is hard & awkward… how does one even make friends?
-You use your planner to help you remember to spend time with your friends or even just to text your friends
-You prefer to be home from a night out by 11pm (maybe even 10pm)
-Hangovers are 10x worse in your mid-twenties
I think the most interesting part is everyone around you starts getting married & having children. Your Facebook newsfeed will go from parties & other college-related things to being full of babies, engagement announcements & wedding pictures… & you will actually love it.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO KNOW
Whatever you do, wherever your journey takes you, do not get discouraged. Don’t read into what other people are posting about on social media. If it seems like everyone else is landing their dream jobs, living the perfect lives, while you are struggling, that’s not what’s happening. I did this exact thing and after talking to others about their experiences, that’s just not the case. You cannot compare your success to others because it truly looks different for everyone. Don’t beat yourself up if you think things seem to be harder for you than others. Like I’ve already mentioned, this journey looks different for everyone. If it seems hard & overwhelming for you, it just means that you are on your way to bigger & better things. Sometimes things need to get harder before they get better & that’s OK- it’s just a part of the journey!
It has taken 4 years to get myself settled- it doesn’t mean that’s what will happen for you- but I am very happy I went through the experiences that I did. Without those experiences, I would not be where I am without them. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed college, I can tell that I am going into the better part of my life as I am about to turn 26. Trust me, the same thing will happen for you!
Life is just a wonderful journey! Enjoy it!