I’ve been out of college for about 9 months now. I’ll be honest, the adjustment hasn’t been an easy one. Those university years were some of the best in my life—countless activities, new friends every week, schoolwork up to my eyeballs, internships, summer missions, Bible studies, leadership roles. You name it, I did it! After I got married in June, got a “real” job, and settled into my new routine, I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF. Sure, not much had changed. I still lived in a college town, my husband was still in college, but the shift I felt in myself and the lack of busyness and constant community left a void.
I’m not here to tell you I’ve found a magical formula to “fix” this weird stage of life…far from it actually. I’m simply here to share a few words of warning on the realities NO ONE tells you about as you walk off that graduation stage.
- Life gets more tedious.
I usually hit the snooze a time or two before I roll out of bed early in the morning (in college I avoided 8:00 am classes like the plague). I go to work, come home from work, *attempt* to cook dinner, clean up dinner, do the dishes, go to a Bible study or random event, come home, do laundry, go to bed. Life after college is FAR less glamorous than I expected…and involves much more housework. Although people who adore a schedule may like this, I don’t. I loved the variety of campus life, the constant hang-outs, and the newness of each semester’s classes. Plus, I loved having the cafeteria do my dishes for me and only having to do laundry once a week.
It’s taken me a while to master the mundane parts of life they ALWAYS edit out of the movies. They’re just not fun. But they HAVE taught me to slow down, to realize that no task is “below” me, and to have joy in the process! I usually let the laundry and ironing pile up so I can watch Netflix while doing it all at once. We throw EVERYTHING in the dish washer. I’ve mastered several meals and am working on new ones every week. Oh, and I’ll try to hit the snooze button one less time from now on…maybe.
- Friendships change.
When you graduate, you will no longer live near many of your close college friends (that is, unless you marry one of them like I did J). This “void” affects you much more than socially. It can take a mental and emotional toll. I’ve talked to many friends who have graduated and moved on that resonate with this. The people you used to be able to walk next door and have a conversation with are now hours away with a completely different schedule. Post-grad life requires intentionally and realistic expectations. You can’t keep up with EVERYONE, but you can maintain great relationships with a special few.
Don’t let TV take the place of real-life friends! It might seem stupid to say, but it’s tempting. Go to that new church, join that small group, have lunch with that co-worker. I’ve taken extra measures to meet with old friends AND new. Yes, it would be much easier to work through lunch or stay home in the evening, but Biblical community, discipleship, and accountability are WORTH it!
- You *should* start going to bed earlier.
Back to the schedule thing…college life basically demands that you stay up late to socialize and get all your homework done. “Real” life is not like that. I can’t tell you how hard it’s been for me to try to go to bed before midnight (I think I’ve succeeded like twice). Post-college life demands habit changes. You don’t have homework anymore—that’s something to be celebrated! But you will also likely have more bills, paperwork, meals, and other things like that. Time management is still important.
As with anything in life, PLAN for success. Plan meaningful things to do with your evenings. Otherwise you will end up watching TV and eating a frozen pizza. Use this special stage before kids to learn new things—cook a new meal, go to Zumba at the gym, take up a new hobby!
For the two of you who don’t know what FOMO means, it stands for fear of missing out. FOMO characterizes the stage after college because, for the first time in a while, you have no idea what anyone else is doing. The first several months after graduation, I would catch myself wondering,“What am I missing?” The real answer is, not much. Post-college life, well, isn’t college. There likely isn’t a formal to go to or a weekend trip in the works because everyone else is adjusting to their new life too! The hardest part is giving yourself the freedom NOT to run yourself ragged maintaining your college lifestyle in a post-college season. It’s like trying to fit a round peg in a square hole. Instead, adapt to the newness, don’t worry about what other people are doing, and find your new “normal.”
College is a dream life. There were several weeks last fall that I “mourned” my college years because I honestly thought that college was the best time of my life. And in many ways, it was. College community is unmatched and its responsibilities and problems PALE in comparison to real life. But can you imagine living your life thinking that the best years were already OVER? More on that later.
- Submit your post-college years to the Lord.
You may have read all the words up to now and think, “Wow, Marina, post-college life doesn’t sound like fun. Can’t I stay where I am?” The short answer is no. The long answer is this: Every season in life serves a different purpose. Sure, college may have had more “fun” or “new” purposes than others, but life after college is arguably the most crucial season of life. Why? Real life reveals your true character and gives you continued opportunities to grow in your faith. Also, if God kept you where you’re most comfortable, what good would that do?
You may be reading this article and had a horrible college experience or don’t resonate with my thoughts at all. Regardless of that, here is what the post-college transition can teach us all about our walk with God: We must submit each new season to Him. Some will be hard, some will be easy, some will be full of newness and joy, others will be characterized by hurt and confusion. But we can’t have one without the other. God’s purposes for our life and sanctification go far beyond our understanding and immediate desires. He knows what will prepare us for the seasons ahead. He knows who we need to minister to and when.
Regardless of where you are in life, your best years are NOT over! God still has plans to use your life to further His gospel. Will you let Him show you?