Welcome to post-grad life. After walking off the graduation stage, you’ve been changing your mind every day about what you want to do with your life.
The days after getting your diploma or degree are complicated. You’re relieved that your undergrad is finally over and you feel like you deserve: three months of sleep, 24 hours of binge-watching all the TV you missed, a box of Ben & Jerry’s “The Tonight Dough” (actual flavour), several drinks, and your old childhood teddy bear to snuggle because OH MY GOD a significant period of your life just ended.
Then, all at once, a growing sense of responsibility kicks in.
Yup, the days of the good old college try being an acceptable excuse for effort are over. Not that you didn’t work hard in your undergrad. It’s just that unfortunately…real life kinda sucks—and not in the cute Monica greeting Rachel to the real world kind of way.
Life outside of school is a strange place where people match their socks, eat meals at appropriate times, and actually have healthy coping mechanisms like working out or taking deep breaths.
Not having the constant stress of studying can be quite liberating. But then again, when that’s all you’ve been trained to do, life beyond the books can make you feel like you’re back in high school gym class (unless you were good at gym…then you suck).
If you’re like me and you have no solid plans for your days beyond the undergrad, fear not! I may not be a magic eight ball with all the answers, and heck, I’m not even as useful as your useless academic counsellor. I’m just here to write a relatable post that will make us all feel a little less lost. Kind of like Buzzfeed and their “design this cookie and we’ll give you a royal to marry” quizzes.
With all that said, I present to you a list of things to do while you’re trying to figure out what the fudge to do with your life.
1. Read Something That You Actually Want To Read
You promised yourself you were going to read the Great Gatsby so you wouldn’t feel like a disgrace to your alma mater. You got through 30 pages, but then you realized the new season of Brooklyn 99 was added to Netflix. Nick, Daisy, Gatsby, and that dirtbag Tom are now a distant memory. Now I’m not saying don’t watch the new season of #B99 (because it’s AWESOME) but take the time to read that book. It doesn’t have to be a “classic” either. It can be Heather’s Pick at Chapters, or that book your friend bought you two years ago that’s collecting dust with all your DVDs.
Books are like Netflix in your head—pick one up.
2. Get A Job
You’re trying, you’re trying. I know, I know. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and if you’ve scrolled through Indeed for five minutes it feels like there are a million jobs out there, yet for some reason none of them ever call you back. It’s the worst. And if by chance you’re one of the lucky ones, you can use our interview tips to really blow them out of the water (shameless self-promotion– gotta do what you gotta do).
But, let’s say you aren’t looking to jump into your career. Maybe you’re just looking to make some extra money, or looking to make some big money to save for your next step. First, KEEP TRYING. Second, THINK about who you KNOW. Don’t be ashamed to use your connections. Use the hell out of them. You know that thing they talked about in university or college that they should’ve talked about more. You know… NETWORKING?! Do it. Talk to your friend’s uncle if he owns a restaurant– unless you’re prone to dropping plates, then maybe don’t.
3. Get Over It
The guy. The girl. The way you thought things were going to turn out. The grade you thought would be three-percent higher. It’s all in the past! Sometimes, we all need a little tough love when we get knocked down. What happens happens. But what you do about it is what defines what happens next for you. Was that person making you feel like shit about yourself? Let them go. You didn’t get into grad school on the first try? Is it still your dream? Good, try again. You are likely not the first person to go through what you are going through and you will not be the last. Human beings possess a brilliant quality: resilience. You can do this; you can do life!
4. Go Outside
You no longer have the following excuses to not go outside:
- “Umm, I have to study…”
- “I don’t have any clean clothes…”
- “Uhh, I didn’t wash my hair in a week…”
- All of the above
It’s easy to get holed up in your house when you have nothing pending on your to-do list. No plans, no pants, no problems? WRONG. Taking a few down days (or even a down week) after school ends is normal. But if you’re prone to falling into a slump the second you become under-booked, staying in bed all day is going to become a MAJOR problem. The easy first step to the slump solution? Get outside! First thing in the morning, peel yourself away from the blanket cocoon you’ve entrapped yourself in the night before and get your butt outside. Go for a walk, bike ride, or even a leisurely stroll. Use is as a time to listen to new music, or clear that chaotic head of yours. Enjoy the sunshine and fresh-ish air– it really will make you feel better.
5. Put On Your Pull-Ups
Get it? Because it’s time to be a big kid now. Unfortunately, you are growing up and it’s time to accept that fact in small doses. I’m not saying you have to go stale, stop having fun, and start treating cashiers who make you wait 30 extra seconds like trash. But no one likes someone who doesn’t have at least one of their wits about them. Still not following? Start taking responsibility for your actions. Realize that there are consequences greater than a bad hangover and drunk texts. Admit when you’re wrong, but stand up for yourself when you’re right. Recognize that you’re a graduate now– you’re like…smart! Don’t belittle yourself and your abilities, or others will do it for you.
6. Donate Your Old Stuff
Spring cleaning is a societal construct which means that it’s never too late to clean out your closet! You likely have a bunch of stuff you haven’t touched in months, or even years. Be frivolous– get rid of it! Whether you donate your ~vintage~ clothing to a local thrift store, or sell it to a second hand store like Plato’s Closet, making room for new things is healthy and will keep you off of an episode of Hoarders!
7. Prioritize Your Mental Health
If you’re like me and you shoved aside your mental and physical well-being in order to achieve your degree/diploma without completely falling off the rails, but kind of fell off anyways, now is your time. Use the time you have to figure out how you can improve your well-being. Maybe it’s medication, a therapist, group counselling, or a non-bullshit self-help book. If you don’t know where to start, you can talk to your family doctor, sign up for Talkspace, or call a hotline.
Reaching out for help is scary, especially since we are supposed to be adulting.
But even adults need help—and that’s okay. Think about it like this: in a few years, do you really want to be struggling in the same ways you are now? There is no shame in prioritizing recovery. It is so important to be comfortable in your own body and mind. Don’t let anything stand in the way of your greatness.
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*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.