There’s a fantastic quote about college that I think about often. “Pick a major you love and you’ll never work a day in your life, probably because that field isn’t hiring.” The relevancy of that maxim is not lost on our current situation: a large number of freshly graduated college students are in limbo, unable to find work and unable to stray from their current apartments. In a year where time has well and truly stopped for many people, recent graduates are in danger of regressing into a state of arrested development.
Too old to learn, too young to die
Post-graduate life is hard enough, and it only gets more complicated when you still remain stuck in a place where you should have left by now. It’s like having graduated from high school but not being able to move on from your hometown. You feel like you’ve progressed, but the reality is that you haven’t moved anywhere and are stuck on a sort of situational treadmill: No matter how many steps forward you take, you don’t move.
If you are still stuck in your college town for the start of your post-graduate life, here are some tips to avoid the post-graduate hangover.
Take a Nostalgia Tour
Post-graduate life doesn’t mean you need to completely separate yourself from the campus you are still living adjacent to. While it might be human nature to not want to look back, this is the perfect opportunity to take stock and remember some of the best moments in your collegiate life. Most students have classes online, so the campus itself is likely to be a ghost town. Use this to your advantage: take a walk through the old paths you used to get to class. Reconstruct your freshman year schedule and take a nostalgic look back at your early days on campus. Look at the fountain that you jumped in at midnight, or the dining hall where you ate some disgusting cafeteria food with your friends, or the football field where you screamed your lungs out and woke up later with a killer skull-rattling hangover.
There are lots of post-graduate people who are afraid of nostalgia, especially this closely after their supposed final days in their college town. The strangeness of being no longer connected to the place where you spent four years (or longer) of your life can become overwhelming, especially when it remains so close. Don’t be so quick to separate yourself. It’ll be much healthier to embrace the great memories you made along the way, and then when you actually do move away, it’ll be less like a breakup and more like a farewell to an old friend.
Avoid the Bars
This is a good tip anyway, you know, because of COVID. Every bar and club is a petri dish just waiting to spread to you through the hordes of kids who feel like it’s more important to get wasted in an uninhibited way than it is to wear a mask. That might sound overdramatic, but 2020 has proven that we are living in a waking nightmare. But getting sick isn’t the main reason to stay away from your old favorite bar.
There’s a reason why it was your old favorite bar. Chances are that most, if not all, of your favorite memories of the place come from late night partying or post-exam celebrations or pre-gaming before a football game. Whatever they may be, those are college kid memories, and they’re great, but you aren’t a college kid anymore. Just like how you shouldn’t be afraid of nostalgia, you also shouldn’t outwardly embrace it. Trying to recreate your past exploits, especially once you’ve become a post-graduate, sounds fun at first, but inevitably ends up becoming kind of sad. And being sad at a bar usually leads to a lot of drinking for the wrong reasons. Just think: do you really want to be surrounded by 18 year olds with fake IDs on a Thursday night? Embrace your old-man mindset and take a sabbatical from the bars you loved as a kid. You aren’t a kid anymore.
Take a Mental Health Day
Always important when isolation has become more a way of life these days. Take stock of what makes you happy, and then do it. Listen to the new record you got a couple of days ago, read the book you have been putting off for a while, watch HGTV for a couple of hours, take a few hours and bake your ass off. Do it at the expense of a more monotonous activity. Exercise a little bit. Clean your room for the first time in forever. Make sure the music you love is playing the entire time. Stop and consciously take a few deep breaths every once in a while.
It’s way too easy to fall into ruts when you’re still stuck in college town, especially when coronavirus has made post-graduate life all the more difficult. Don’t be so hard on yourself if you still haven’t moved out, or found a job, or moved on from college life. Know that you’re not alone, and take the time to celebrate the things you love. It will give you extra motivation for when you decide to jump back into planning your future away from the dorms and campus. If you find yourself becoming your own worst enemy during the worst times, you need to make yourself your strongest ally as well. You know what makes you happy, and you need to make yourself a priority.
Focus on the Future
Even if it’s just a state of mind, the day will come when you move out of your apartment and into the world of adulthood. The biggest challenge with having graduated but still being on campus is that it’s way too easy to still feel like a college student, which is to say it’s way too easy to still feel like a kid. This can lead to a distinct lack of motivation to look for jobs and living quarters that are outside of your college town because, hey, it’s not going to happen any time soon, so why worry about it. This can turn into a trend, so when the time comes where you can’t use COVID as an excuse anymore, you’re too caught up in still feeling like a college student.
Just because you feel like nothing has changed, that’s not true. It’s imperative to remember that you aren’t a college student anymore. As a post-graduate, you have a responsibility to yourself to move on. Even if you can’t do it immediately, don’t make it a theoretical scenario. Make it an inevitable truth, because that’s what it is. Keep up on jobs, keep looking at listings, and make sure you are in a place to make a move at any time. There’s not telling when coronavirus-related restrictions will lift, and when they do, you should be ready to make that next step into adulthood.