It's been about three months since I donned that hard-earned cap and gown, managed not to trip on stage while shaking hands with my school's president and accepted my diploma. (I did forget to switch my tassel as I walked offstage, but hey, minor details.)
Although only 90 days have passed, it feels like another lifetime ago.
Everything is so different now, but it's hard to explain why. It's not better, and it's not worse. It's just different. I haven't admitted it, but waking up early, actually having to look nice every day and commuting an hour to my big girl job has been an adjustment.
On the one hand, I feel more grown up and independent (and that's exactly how I felt when I started college, too). Maybe that feeling just comes with every new stage of life. But on the other hand, I miss my apartment, my roommates and my days of not moving until noon.
I've had some recurring thoughts since graduating from college, and I don't think I'm alone.
Here are the things that cross all our minds after becoming college graduates.
1. We catch ourselves thinking, "When I go back to school in the fall..."
I've had this thought so many times, and each time it hits me that I'm not going back, it's still jarring.
I think this is the biggest realization that has yet to sink in because right now, it just feels like every other summer break. When people start going back in the fall, I think we will really understand college has ended.
2. When it comes to student loans, we find ourselves thinking, "A six-month grace period is a long time. I'll be able to save during that."
Student loans never seemed like real money to me -- until I started doing the math. Then, suddenly, it was very real money, especially on an intern's wage. I'll be the first to admit I'm bad with finances. I've always known that, but now, it actually matters.
I just thank God I'm not paying rent at the moment, or I would be curled up in a ball and crying 24/7.
3. We realize we no longer get student benefits.
We no longer qualify at the gym, at the movies or wherever else it's beneficial to be a student. Unless, of course, we have one of those great student IDs that does not include a year and has a recent photo (not that I would know).
4. If we've moved back home, like many college graduates do for a short while, we know it's an adjustment in itself.
After living on my own for four years, it's been hard to re-condition myself to do little things, like telling my parents where I'm going or sharing the car with my siblings. I've had a few bumps in the road during this period of readjustment, but I assume that's normal. Mostly, I'm just so thankful my parents aren't charging me rent.
5. We feel like we have no friends because everyone is so spread out now.
We used to be able to just run next door to borrow a shirt or chat, but now, our closest friends live in different cities. We'll likely never all be in such a close proximity again, and it's depressing, really.
6. Dressing like an adult still feels a little too much like playing dress-up.
I suppose it depends on what the job is, but my big girl job requires me to look presentable every day. That means I can't just throw on jeans, a t-shirt and flip-flops (and I live in flip-flops during the summer).
Wearing real shoes (sometimes with a heel) and tromping around the city hasn't afforded me my finest moments. I am not graceful, and I do not feel elegant. I feel like a little girl in her mom's shoes that are too big on her, and everyone knows it.
7. Waking up early will never be okay or easy.
I fully milked the whole scheduling my own classes thing and made sure not to have anything before 11 am. I'd stay up until 1 or 2 am, and then I'd roll out of bed at 10 am.
All was right with the world. Now, I stay up until 1 or 2 am and wake up at 6:30 am. In other words, I really need to rearrange my sleeping schedule, for my own sake and for the sake of those who spend time with me.
So yes, graduating is an adjustment. We just have to keep reminding ourselves that high school was an adjustment, and then college was an adjustment, too. And, guess what?
We made it through those. In fact, we did more than make it through; we thrived, and we had a hell of a time. And that's what real life will be like, too.
I have a feeling we will still miss some parts of our college lifestyles, and that's okay.
This post was originally published at www.elitedaily.com.