Friday, June 29, 2018

10 Things I've Learned Since Graduating From College

It has been over a year since I graduated from college. I don’t think this reality has fully hit home for me since I am still a student and am getting my master’s degree at the same school where I got my undergrad degree. I vividly remember this time last year so in a way it is shocking that a year has passed but thinking about life month by month makes it seem more fitting that it has been a year since college came to a year. I’ll be the first to admit that I learned a lot about myself this year. Your first year truly on your own is full of lessons big and small. I felt like it was about time that I shared some of the things I’ve been reflecting on recently with y’all. While summing these life lessons up into a mere ten was challenging I decided to mix in some little things alongside some much bigger life lessons to keep things interesting. 

1.   I love learning. 
I honestly think that the older I have gotten, the nerdier I’ve gotten. With a year of teaching under my belt, I’ve come to realize just how much I enjoy being a student and learning. I can take notes, study, and listen to topics I’m interested about gladly. I have a whole new respect for the effort put into lessons after spending 180 days on the other side of the desk. If I could be a student forever taking classes on my varied interest I totally would. Sadly, I don’t think that is fully practical, so instead I’ll read books and articles to learn about different things instead of relying on a professor. The number of business/career books I have on my bookshelf certainly confirm this love of learning. 

2.   Emptying the dish washer is my least favorite chore. 
Welcome to the real world of owning an apartment and having to run the dishwasher in order to have clean dishes to eat off of. Even in high school I didn’t love emptying the dishwasher but of all the chores I’ve realized come with apartment cleanliness, emptying the dishwasher is definitely my least favorite. I would love to know why I find this to be such a pain since in our tiny kitchen, I can stand in one place to put everything away. If this is as bad as it gets I’m considering myself pretty lucky. 

3.   I am used to things naturally working out for me. 
In high school and even some in college, I was lucky in that many things naturally worked out for me. That’s not to say that effort didn’t have to be put in since it most certainly did, but usually things would go the way I wanted them to. While that may sound great, life doesn’t work that way and at some point, the reality of that and my mentality towards it needed to change. It wasn’t until my mentor was the one who helped me to realize that I was used to that and helped me to realize that on top of everything I was trying to do, learning that things aren’t;’t going to work out in your favor every time no matter how much effort you put in was an important lesson over the past year. 

4.   For sanity’s sake, Saturdays should not be spent working. 
Do I still get work done on Saturday? Yes. Do I sit at Starbucks all day to try to get work done like I used to? No. I can be so guilty of trying to use the weekends as a time to get a ton of work done but what I’ve realized is that instead of making the next week easier, it often makes the next week more exhausting. In the Spring I was much better about using the weekends to get ahead on “life” related things such as cooking and cleaning but once I finally allowed myself more time for fun without worrying about work my weeks got better. If you’re like me and still want to get things done over the weekend, try doing it on Friday night or Sunday and really give yourself a full day off on Saturday if you can. You’ll still feel ready (or as ready as you can feel) for the week ahead but will also have had time to decompress and relax which will hopefully give you more energy too! 

5.   Done is better than perfect. 
I definitely fall into the Type A “perfectionist” category. But, if there is one thing that my first year out of college has taught me, it’s that done is better than perfect in a number of situations. I can get so caught up in the details that it makes me spend far too long perfecting something when I could have been halfway through the next thing on my to do list if I had just accepted it for what it was. There are sometimes when you may still need to perfect things, but if you can get more done in less time with the end result not affecting the outcome then don’t worry about perfection.

6.   Your first job doesn’t have to be your forever job. 
Since I am such a planner, this was a hard reality to swallow for a while. I am a people pleaser and the thought of letting anyone down made this idea even harder. It’s very rare for someone to land their dream job directly out of college (and if you happened to, congrats). Plus, you change as a person over time meaning that you may outgrow that first job causing you to look for something else. The most reassuring thing for me to think about when gaining some perspective towards this was something that my college counselor told my graduating class. She always told us that, “over half of the jobs you will be applying for when you graduate college don’t exist yet.” With technology changing at the rate it’s going so far and different needs existing in careers because of that, it’s ok to change your mind.

7.   Investing in friendships is well worth your time. 
I’ll be the first to admit that this year was a tough one for me, but fortunately, it was made a lot more fun thanks to the friends I have here in Greenville. Taking the time to invest in the people around you (whether friends or coworkers) is always going to be worth your time. Now when I think about my first-year post-grad I can’t do that without thinking of the hodgepodge of friends here. While many of these friends are people I went to college with but only knew in passing, having been in the same place and stage in life with them post-grad has given us a reason to all come together. I know that my situation in unique since I lucked out with many of my friends staying put in Greenville with me, but constantly adding new people to our group and making plans both big and small has made such a difference!

8.   You’re expected to take care of a lot of people and no one is necessarily taking care of you. 
Although college comes with responsibility, the responsibility you feel once you graduate is a little bit different. I am very independent, hate asking for help, and have never felt like I needed to be taken care of until I felt like I had no one doing that for me this past year. Don’t get me wrong, I have a very supportive family and great friends who would be more than happy to help me at a moment’s notice but in a way, I had to figure this out on my own before even knowing how they could help. As a teacher especially, I had to prioritize my students, their parents, coworkers, administration and everyone else which constantly put myself last on my own to do list. It doesn’t have to be this way, but it helped me to realize that if no one else is taking care of me and I’m exerting all of my energy on other people then I need to make a change. While I still wasn’t the best at giving myself what I needed first (think of the oxygen mask in a plane and how you need to secure your own before helping others), I definitely got better over time.

9.   Frozen pizza is not as bad as I once thought. 
It took me until I was 22 to stop being a diva and figure out that frozen pizza is actually quite delicious and convenient. My parents would occasionally make this for dinner when I was younger, and we had somewhere to be or a busy night and it never failed that I complained and announced that I didn’t like frozen pizza. On a whim at Trader Joe’s when settling into my apartment I decided to pick one up and my life has since been changed. I now highly recommend their frozen margarita and spinach prosciutto pizza, and I also owe an apology to my parents, ha!

10.The phrase “college is the best four years of your life” makes a lot more sense.
I could never fully get a grasp on how people could determine that college “was the best four years of their life.” Yes, it was fun while I was there, but it also came with its fair share of challenges and less enjoyable times. Well, hindsight really is 20/20. I now understand that in college you really do have it made to an extent. Not having to worry about bills and work to the same extent really was a treat that at the time we weren’t fully aware of. So, while I’d like to have the mindset that whatever phase I’m in is going to be the best part of my life, sometimes it takes closing a chapter to really understand what it meant to you.

For any other recent college graduates out there, I’d love to hear some of the lessons you’ve learned since graduating! 

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