University of Texas grad with a B.A. in English. Former straight-A student, future bestselling author. Moved back home to work for her family's small business, currently transitioning into the world of advertising. Unintentionally breaking her parents' hearts as she mends her own. Newly single and making the most of her twenties. Ready to take on the world.
Aspiring journalist who somehow ended up in the oil industry. Relentless daydreamer. Getting her own place, preparing for so-called "adult life." In love for the first time and traveling every chance she gets. Figuring out what makes her happy, constantly questioning her calling. Learning to be okay with the fact that she can't please everyone.
Baylor graduate and PA school applicant. Anxiously awaiting a decision that will determine her future career. The busiest of bees, working alongside an esteemed and somewhat eccentric cardiologist. Keeping a long-distance relationship (of four years) alive while sharing a home with her parents and little brother. Saving money now, saving lives later.
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Four girls, all twenty-two. Different situations, similar challenges. As we've come to find out, life after college is a huge adjustment. In the past 6 months, I've seen the struggles that my three best friends face on a daily basis, most of which I have experienced myself. Insecurity, heartbreak, rejection, family drama, confusion, societal pressure, and self-doubt have reared their ugly heads in an attempt to test our strength during such an unstable time in our lives. It just comes with the territory, I guess. The good news, though, is that we have each other—and so many others who constantly support and inspire us. We recognize how fortunate we are, and we're taking each life lesson with a grain of salt. I don't expect it to get easier from here on out; in fact, things are sure to only get more complicated as we turn that sharp corner into adulthood. But I'd like to think we're not completely unprepared.
Without further ado, the most important lessons we've learned from our first year as post-grads:
At 22, you're only starting out. You're not expected to have all of your shit together. In fact, it'd be a little strange if you did. Take one day at a time.
Wear a dress that's too short. Have a beer after work. When someone invites you to go anywhere, say yes. And go. You'll never be this young again. Stay out too late. Kiss too much. Laugh too loudly. Dance like an idiot. Trust your friends. Listen to your parents, but don't make decisions because of them.
Learn how to cook immediately and make it a habit. Eating out for every meal is no longer acceptable.
Don't be afraid to text your friends in the middle of the day with your woes. Just don't do it every day. There are only so many times you can say, "This Monday. I can't even," or "Why is he SUCH an idiot?"
Be humble. You don't know everything.
It's okay to live with your parents while you're transitioning. There's no shame in it, as long as you're being proactive. Just make sure to help Mom out with the dishes and laundry every now and again.
Chances are, you will not snag your dream job right out of college. Heck, you'll be lucky to be working in your industry of choice! If your first job is hardly what you wanted or expected, it's not the end of the world. You have the rest of your life to get where you want to be, career-wise. Build up your experience now, be picky later.
The key to happiness is girlfriends and good wine. Put them together and you have all you'll ever need to keep you sane.
Work hard and pay your dues. Don't lose sight of your dreams and surround yourself with people who inspire you to make them a reality. Plan for the future, but do your best to live in the moment. Don't let college friendships fall to the wayside. Savor the moments of uncertainty because one day your life will be predictable and boring. ;)
Date nice boys. Assholes will only bring you down.
Don't stop learning just because you're out of school. Take the chance to read that author you haven't yet read. Spend time in an area of a museum with which you are completely unfamiliar. Watch documentaries. Talk to new people. If you do all of this, you'll be able to balance your life and actually have an answer when someone asks, "So what are your hobbies?"
Nobody can dictate the course of your life but you. Ask for advice when you need it, but always go with your gut.
At 22, you'll probably have to face a lot of the insecurities, fears, and flaws you hid from throughout school. So face them, but use them as aids in maturing, not as hobbles. Sometimes, when battling these little menaces, you'll have to throw a good old-fashioned tantrum. Embrace it. You'll feel better afterwards. But do it and move on because no one likes a dwelling pessimist. And if you really get into a rut, remember what interests and ambitions brought you to where you are now. It's easy to forget those initial passions when you're bogged down by the difficulties and stresses of everyday life, but the big picture really is most important, and it'll save you from despair and bitterness.
There you have it, friends: just a few words of wisdom from a group of girls currently living miserable and magical lives. Thanks to my amazing pals (whose names will be kept anonymous despite their obvious identities) for their contributions to this post!
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