"Finally I'm free", that's what the cute Instagram pictures of graduates throwing their hats in the air seem to be saying.
Sure, graduating college is indeed an achievement. Yes it is also a sort of freedom from the shackles of academic demands and projects and annoying professors. But, is leaving school actually freedom?
I don't mean to spoil anybody's broth, just that some hard truths need to be told.
I have found that life has its highs and its lows, and pre-knowledge has a way of girding us up to survive both extremes, because believe me they both need to be survived.
Well, I have graduated college myself. And thinking about it, I really wish someone told me some of these things. Lucky you!
1. It's Not Freedom; so Prepare for War!
You think student life was hectic? Introducing your first job! You will be buried with paper work for 8 hours a day, run errands for obnoxious bosses, and stare at computer screens till your eyes bleed. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but you get the picture.
Its independence, but it is not freedom. It means you learn to stand on your own. And it means you no longer expect stuff from people, people expect stuff from you. You need to switch your mind to war mode once you throw that hat in the air, because most likely you are throwing away what shred of freedom you had left.
Getting your mind ready to carry the weight of responsibilities for yourself and others will help you here.
Read a lot of business books too, if you want to venture into entrepreneurship!
2. Getting and Keeping a Good Job is no Joke; it's a Skill you Have to Master
There are many reasons our job searches fail to yield, or when they do they yield crappy jobs. You will be working a long time and so you need to make sure you know what kind of job you really would be comfy in before you start your search...
There are actually many more job roles than most people know exist. So search your heart well and discover yourself before you leave school. I might fancy something in this industry, or I'm sort of interested in marketing, just isn't going to cut it.
You may want to start by listing all of the areas and industries that you think you might be interested in,. Then consider what your natural strengths are and what you enjoy. Start now and you will be more equipped for the impending job search.
3. You May End Up Marrying Someone Else
"Not Allysha?... No way!"... Well, "yes way!"
The truth is bitter, but true nonetheless. Life changes so quickly after school that it will leave your head spinning. Your priorities change as quickly as your roles change. You may have to move away because of the job and so will your college sweetheart.
Meredith Forster, wrote a brilliant article titled "The myth of The College Sweetheart" and while I will not go as far as calling it a myth, her points are apt. A wife or a husband is often what suits your life and not your fantasies. And life changes very fast. You may get lucky, but don't stake a lot of money on it.
4. Life Actually Has More Sections Than 'School' and 'Chill', you Will Have to Learn o Balance Them all
There is going to be family that makes demands on you, and relationships that drain you. There is going to be marriage and kids, and community involvements. You also need to go to the gym and eat well so you don't grow too fat... yes you can actually become flabby... and probably bald too.
Too many people lose touch with real friends after school because they were shocked by the sea of pressure they were plunged into. You need to not make this mistake and to make conscious efforts to keep contact with good friends.
Stay away from negative people and relationships that drain you. Because, when the chips are down, only true friends make life merry.
Your home; the wife/husband and kids will come and come with their own demands, know that they are your priority. Balancing life's demands is an art that you can start learning now.
5. People Will Still Think you are Crappy, but it Shouldn't Matter as Much to you Anymore
In college there are those people that just wouldn't let you be. They can't stand the sight of you and then there are those who just won't stop gossiping about you. Perhaps you were on the other end of the spectrum and you were the talk of the campus, the one everyone wanted to be seen with.
Either way it shouldn't matter much anymore. In the real life, Nerds become Bill Gates and Quarterbacks become doormen. Anything is possible, really. The point is that you have to stop worrying about what people think. At that point all that will matter is what you think about yourself and what vision you have for life... pursue it and let people be people.
6. Life after College is not all Serious; Make sure you Seek fun.
You just heaved a sigh of relief didn't you? Well, I saved the best for last. Truth is that life is never that serious and there is no need giving yourself a migraine. While responsibilities will surely rise along with its attendant pressures, life is not as serious as the adults made you feel...or this article for that matter.
I guess my point is that there are amazing experiences you may never have till you are out of school and that there is quite some fun in life, but you may have to seek it. You will need to.
So, before you throw up that hat, get your mind ready.