I’ve been told several times over the past few weeks that the first year out of college is the worst.
So far, I agree.
Don’t get me wrong. I have a lot going for me. I have a job, and it’s even in my field of study. I make enough money to pay all my bills as long as I don’t go too crazy at the DSW clearance sale (No, that’s not a shopping bag *nervously laughs*), and I even have some lofty goals to pay off my student loans more quickly than the 10-year plan.
Not to mention my great friends and supportive family. They are by far my greatest asset.
But here’s the deal: life kinda sucks right now.
I’m living half-way across the country from my entire family and every single friend I made in high school and college. I live in a house that’s quite small next to neighbors I don’t know, including a herd of small children I’m tempted to yell at whenever they decide it’s Scream In The Yard Day whenever I actually get to sleep in. (Yes, small children, you are very sweet to say “hi” whenever you see me, but I wish you lived a few blocks away.) I’m trying to be financially independent for the first time in my life (I don’t count living off student loans as independent), and it’s hard!
I could keep complaining, but that’s not really going to help anyone, is it? (But sorry to people who I call on a regular basis to bitch about life.)
Instead, I’m going to try to turn these frustrations into an actual productive conversation about getting through the first year after college.
Because I wish I would have listened when other people told me how much it sucked when they were going through it. Because I think college graduates are largely ignored as a demographic. Because even though I made it through the “hard parts” of college–the late nights, the drunken text messages from friends who needed a ride, worries about grades, getting into the right classes, activities, messed up relationships, dragging yourself to finals even when you had the flu crossed with food poisoning crossed with campus-wide bed bugs–the part after you collect your diploma and hightail it out of there is hard enough too to deserve some attention.
Suddenly, the world is completely open. You get to do whatever you want. You finally GRADUATED (in big, capital, campus font letters). Now wtf are you going to do?
I graduated in December 2011, so I’m seven months into my first year out. (Does that sound like a prison release to anyone else?) What do I struggle with? What is easy? What does it mean to no longer identify myself as a student? What have I learned? How will life change in the next five months?
Most importantly, what helps me through the tough times?
I’m going to try to explore some of these things over the next few months partly to help myself sort through them, but partly to (hopefully) help at least one other person who is struggling with the same things.