If you’re lucky, the summer after is just like the rest of them. You work your seasonal job, you party with your friends, hit up the beach, and go to concerts. Then the air starts to get a little crisper, and instead of bar hopping its bonfires, apple picking, and pumpkin spice lattes. It’s fall. Normally the anticipation of moving back to college is killing you, but not this year. This year it’s pure dread. You trade in your trendy first day of school outfits for business casual dress code because you start your new job on Monday. As I watched all my snapchat stories this past weekend I had knots in my stomach. I was torn between two worlds. Half of the snapchats were from my friends who were partying it up in college for the first night back, and reuniting with everyone back at school. I felt like I was watching helplessly through the window of a party I was kicked out of. I felt so left out. I should be there, I thought. And all those friends say how much they wish they were you. They say how sick of college they are (but they don’t really mean it), and that they want to start their real life. Let me say this once. You don’t get to skip those shitty years right after college to the golden years when you are with the love of your life living in a nice house with all the fixings of the American Dream. You get to crawl through a river of shit AKA living paycheck to paycheck, paying student loans, and living in grungy apartments. I won’t even mention the horrors of the dating world. So don’t complain when you have a class that runs past 3 p.m. when the rest of us are suffering through an 8 hour shift.
The other half of the snapchat stories are from friends my age or older. They are making coffee runs for the office, sitting through staff meetings, or posting pics of the creative pinterest dinner recipe they made last night. Let’s be honest, we all started off with the same balanced diet of PBJ, Easy Mac, and Chipotle. Face it: at first we are all helpless without mommy’s cooking or the dining hall providing for us. I still can’t cook a decent dinner without setting aside 3 hours, and by the time I’m done cooking I’m not hungry anymore. It really is true when people say you are so broke that you have disappointment and sleep for dinner.
Okay, so that’s the tough part. You are tired, overworked, and everything is foreign for about a month, and you want to wring your college friends necks because they don’t know how good they have it. But after that, things get better. You start to get comfortable in your new surroundings, and picking up new hobbies and creating a routine for yourself. For example, I do meal prep for the week on Sundays and Wednesdays, and laundry on Thursdays. I also started cooking all my meals at home to save some money. If I said I called my mom once in a while for cooking tips, that would be a major understatement. And that’s okay. You are just starting out on your own and will need some help.
In short, everyone’s first year out of college is different, the common denominator is that it’s stressful. Think about how you felt when you moved into college as a freshman. Excited, overwhelmed, disoriented, maybe a little scared? I know my throat burned and eyes stung when my parents left to go home and I wasn’t with them. I felt the same way when I drove away from home after college to start my new job and live on my own. It’s a huge change, and it’s tough to adjust. Just give yourself some time, and cut yourself some slack when it comes to your emotions because they will run rampant for a bit until you settle in.
So the bad news is you don’t get to go back to undergrad, the good news is this is a huge step, and you should welcome the changes with open arms. You are experiencing new things for the first time on your own. You can work, travel, fall in love, basically you can do whatever you want now. There is so much out there! Live it up!