College is over and it’s time to grow up. Peter Pan is heartbroken but that’s life. You’re first steps out of the door can be rough, and nothing in creation hits harder than life is gonna hit you. But you can be prepared. What follows is 6 lessons life teaches you after college.
Not Everyone is going to help you.
I’m just going to rip this one off like a band-aid. Not everyone is going to like you in the workforce. Sometimes you’re going to encounter someone, maybe a coworker, maybe a coffee barista, but this someone for whatever reason is just not going to like you. And in some rare cases, they might be “out to get you professionally”.
I won’t give you any cliches like “all you have to do is get to know them and you will get along.” Because in post College life, that isn’t always true. Sometimes you just get on like oil and water. Which is to say that you don’t. Don’t worry about pleasing everyone, just worry about functioning at your profession in spite of the person (or people) who doesn’t like you after college.
2. Making Friends is Hard
One of the very first things you are going to notice is that the workplace is different than the classroom. Not everyone there is going to be social, are there exceptions to this? Of course, but generally speaking, most people at the office aren’t there to make friends. Not only that, but now that you are out of college you don’t have that same rotating door of different people, the people in your orbit tend to remain in your orbit. For better or worse.
But! All is not lost. This is exactly why God invented social activities for adults. Book Clubs, Yoga, Bars, Concerts, Cocktail Parties, I won’t lie to you and say it will be the same as College and High School, because it never will be again. Just remember, if you want to make friends as an adult you have to be more willing to step outside of your comfortable state of being.
3. Keeping Friends is Harder
You and all of your friends have graduated. Some move away, some find new love, and some marry old loves. The point is, you and your friends are going to drift apart as you all pursue your post college lives. Once again, I’m not gonna lie to you, this realization is going to hurt. Do not take it personally, I cannot stress this enough. It’s nothing against you, people just drift apart. That’s just part of the journey of life. The best you can do is always try to be there for your friends when you have the chance. (And sometimes when you don’t)
Now, this is not me saying all of your friends are gone for good. Because that is absolutely not true. It is however true, that most likely those late nights and long mornings are gonna slow. You will no longer be able to jump at every request to “hang out” because of other responsibilities. The secret I know to maintaining what you have is this, just call. If you can’t call, text. If you can’t do those things, take the extra second to throw a comment on their respective social media, maybe a friendly message here and there. Let them know you think about them. They might be struggling in the same way you might be struggling.
4. No One Is Gonna Catch You
Here is what I mean by that. You are responsible now for yourself. In High School you had teachers willing to take the extra second. In College you had Professors who were willing to take a late assignment or two, maybe they even dropped your lowest grade. Can’t pay for your lunch? Don’t worry, your friend behind the counter can help.
Here’s the bad news. That train is no longer coming to the station. If your work needs to be in at a certain time, then it NEEDS to be in at that time. You late on a bill? No one is gonna give you an extension, if you absolutely CANNOT do something? People will find someone else who can. In the adult world make no mistake, it is a competition, and no matter how pleasant you are to be around, there will always be someone else who can do the same. No matter how bad it is, or how bad it gets, you still need to get up in the morning and take care of your business. You gotta do what you gotta do.
4.Most People Like Experience Than They Respect Degrees
I have experienced this first hand. College could be stressful, college was very expensive, and I worked hard for my degree. I thought that the degree was what would open doors for me. It wasn’t. It was the grind. It was the waking up at 4 AM every day. It was the extra hours, it was the extra days. People like THAT, people don’t respect degrees.
Which isn’t to imply that your degree is worthless, because it absolutely is not. Just remember that you need to do the work so you have something to compliment that well earned degree after college.
5. Not Everyone is Gonna Reach Out To You
This one ties into the last one but it still deserves it’s own listing. Co Workers stop checking in if you get a new job, old friends stop texting if you move away. It’s not antagonism, it’s just growing apart.
Like I said before, this can be mitigated by you reaching out instead to preserve the relationships you want to preserve.
6. You Can Do Whatever You Want
To thine own-self be true. You don’t owe anyone anything, you want to move across the country? Who’s stopping you. You want to change your career? Do it.
Step outside and realize that you can in fact go wherever YOU want to go, no one, not your friends, not your partners, not even your family can get you to do anything you don’t want to do. Your life is now your own and you are solely in control of your destination.
It’s a great big world out there, “Let’s Go Exploring”
Now, I fear I’ve painted a very grim picture of post college life. But again, this is a list of lessons life teaches you after college. Am I being harsh in some areas? Of course, I promise it comes from a place of concern. If you go into the world thinking it will be easy, you are most likely going to be mistaken. It however is not all bad. There are still friends to be made where you least expect it, and there will always be a good Samaritan or two that is in fact willing to help. The difference is that after college, you don’t encounter them as much. Don’t ever forget to always care about the person standing next to you, regardless if you know them or not and maybe in the future, you can be part of the reason that things aren’t so bad after college anymore.
Eric Anderson is a fledgling, (but passionate) journalist and photographer for Society 19 and Marker. What began as a hobby is now a driving force for a new career path. He lives and continues to write non-stop in Boston. His first article was published in 2022 by Society 19. Reach out to him today.