Advice and Reflections a Year Out of Undergrad
Full disclosure: I've been thinking about tweeting this tweet for weeks. One of those classic inner monologue thoughts you just want to share with the world. With graduation this past weekend, I've been thinking a lot about the phrase "being an adult." Graduating from undergrad marks a time when we move from being a college kid to being an adult. We find ourselves thrown into a new world and asked to swim immediately.
Now I'm not claiming to be an expert in being an adult. Far from it. There is no handbook for being an adult and if there was, I certainly wouldn't be asked to write it. However, after my first year in graduate school, I see things differently. I've grown and consider myself more of an adult than I did a year ago. Here's my advice: take it, leave it, or revise it.
- Last year, at our senior dinner, Professor Kensky talked about how you will have three close friends once you graduate. Only three people will know all the intimate details of your life. That it is hard to keep in touch and we have own up to it. It was a terrifying thought, as we sat around the people we had spent four years with. From 1,300 peers to three friends. Woah. And in some ways, my friend group did shrink, but for me, I have more than three close friends. I have a small network, each friend who helps me in unique ways. I appreciate them and while we don't talk daily, I know if I called, they'd call me back.
- On a related note...people will leave. I will honestly say I'm bad at letting people go. I hold on to them, believe the best in them and what they could be, and hope that with persistence, everything will go back to normal. It doesn't. Being adult means being able to move on, to package up memories, and remember to appreciate the people who are with you right now.
- Making new friends can be tough. But don't underestimate the people you work with. Whether you realize it or not, these are the people you spend 40+ hours a week with. They probably know you a little better than you give them credit for. And hey, maybe their friends can be your new friends. Remember that your friends in undergrad saw you all the time (in all sorts of locations and in all states of dress and sleepiness) and your new friends don't always get that luxury. Give friendships time to grow and flourish.
- Do new things. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Undergrad bred familiarity. You surrounded yourself with the same people, the same campus, the same activities, etc. Routine. Now is a new chapter. Do things you told yourself you were always going to do but didn't. Read a book for fun. Download too many podcasts. Start running. Plant a garden. Whatever floats your boat. Hobbies are so important so find some and pursue them passionately.
- Understand that you're no longer an undergrad. You've started a new chapter and you need to embrace that. While old habits die hard, know how to start new ones.
- Ask for advice. Sometimes you need a sounding board. Some of my best advice has come from some of my older grad school gals, who have a few years of "real life" experience under their belt. At the same time, I know that I can call my old Coe friends, friends who know me to my core, and they will provide just the insight I need. Pluralism is a powerful thing y'all.
- Live alone. For some, that might be scary but I found it incredibly empowering. And it's okay to be selfish sometimes. To have my own space, to make messes, to learn how to pick them up, is something I really needed. At the end of the day, I have a place to come back to that's mine alone. And living alone pushed me to leave my apartment. I have to text my friends. I have to decide to make plans. I sometimes think I'm more social this year than I sometimes was in undergrad.
- BALANCE. Don't let one aspect of your life command you. This is a continual struggle but each day, I try to challenge myself to check in and be honest with how I'm doing.
- Sleep. It's really important. Everything is better with a good night's sleep. I promise.
- At the end of the day, I believe you need to rejoice in the little things. While utilities suck and conquering student debt sometimes seems impossible, it's the days where you go buy froyo at lunch or stay at the bar until bar close discussing life with your new friends that remind you you're going to be okay.
I still have a lot to learn about being an adult. Yet I think I did okay for year one post-Coe. I proudly say I'm an adult, even if I dance in my apartment, stay up too late drinking coffee, and make muffins for my friends instead of reading for class. I'm a work in progress who can now make great nachos. And I'm okay with embracing that.