It seemed as if everytime I turned around in college, someone would say, 'These are the best four years of your life.' At football games, I always got the 'enjoy it while it lasts' from the die-hard Husky alum (that is, of course, when I wasn't getting the 'flaunt it while you've still got it' from her husband). And after a year of post-college big city work experience, I can agree with all of my elderly advice givers.
When I first entered the real world, I looked saw endless opportunity and the chance to apply everything I had learned for sixteen years. Once I took off my rose colored glasses I discovered not only was I miserable that the best four years of my life had just ended, but I was in extreme denial. I was also anxious, irritable and lazy, all of which kept me from finding my dream job (or any job, for that matter).
The transition from college to life is the hardest most people have ever had to endure. Not only do we have to get up at the same time every day, but there are a whole slew of other adjustments we are forced to make. And they aren't pretty.
Responsibility Rears Its Ugly Head
Last year we were drinking 007's and now we are dealing with HMO's, PPO's and 401-K's. What is up with real world terminology? Immediately upon entering corporate life, we are supposed to be familiar with every type of insurance and other adult things that we have never even heard of. People are throwing insurance information at us, telling us to start saving for the future, and taking away half our paychecks for taxes.
How to Deal: I have dealt with my real world anxiety – and lack of adult lingo – by browsing Borders and the web for real world resources. Books such as Dummy's Guide to Work are a step in the right direction. It is also a good idea to sit down with the parents and sort through the piles of information you don't understand.
Saving The World'One Daydream at a Time
Unlike your ever-changing college schedule, working means you are now dealing with the same monotonous routine everyday. Spend enough time doing the same thing and you will begin to feel stifled. Personally, I sometimes become anxious that I am missing out on life altering opportunities. There are days when I stare out of my 29th floor corporate window wondering if I am missing out not taking a year off to study the jungles of Brazil, or to teach English in Korea.
How To Deal: I think the best way to ease the anxiety is to talk to your peers. Most of them are in the same place you are. It is also important to remind yourself that your current job – even if you loathe it ' is just the first step of many and you will not be in that position forever. If all else fails, do something crazy; travel, teach in a foreign country, or join the Peace Corps.
Where is the Phone-a -Best Friend Option?
Knowing my friends are spread across the country has also been a difficult adjustment. I find myself doing things alone ' things I used to drag my three best friends to when I was still at school. As much as I value my independence, I often find myself wondering, 'What would it be like if they were here?'
How to Deal: To keep up with each other, when we do not have anything planned for a month or two, my friends and I are all on an email chain. Nothing brightens my day more then when I get a bubble (thank you, Microsoft Outlook) on my screen that says 'Can you believe '' slept with '.??', a silly quote, or just a plain old I miss you from one of my friends. (Blogs are another good idea because it allows you to see what is going on in your friends' lives.) Whenever we are together, we make sure to plan the next trip so we know when we will be able to see each other again.
Van Wilder Does Not Really Exist
For a long time, I felt that I was missing out at whatever was happening at school, no matter how much fun I was having on my own. That ended when I paid a visit for our annual spring weekend. After being cooped up playing beer bong for 6 hours with drunken freshman I realized what I was not missing: drunken freshmen.
How to Deal: Yes, your new life is not like college. Get over it. Life will never be like that again and as hard as that is to swallow, accepting it will allow you to appreciate what life after college has to offer: independence, happy hour, and high quality beer.
I was – and sometimes still am – scared. That is a part of growing up. At times I want nothing more than to swap my overpriced martini for a night of goofing off with my best friends. If I was still doing that, however, I would not have time to save Darfur, visit Manhattan Museums, or contribute to society. The last sixteen years have been one big path and as clich' as it is, we need to get all Robert Frost and create our own.