Honesty About the Transition Out of College
College. Everyone says that college years are the happiest of our lives. For some people, that’s honestly the truth. For others, not so much. In either case, what happens after those four years? Most of us spend that time living on campus, or close by. Constantly surrounded by friends and a community who are all going through the same thing. After graduation, people move, get jobs, get married, have babies, etc. A lot of the time, this transitionary period brings a lot of emotions and feelings that we often don’t discuss. I want to have an open discussion about the struggles with the transition out of college.
I’m going to preface this post by saying that I don’t have a lot of ties to my university. I involved myself in clubs. Yet, I never joined a sorority, and briefly served as a club president. Most of my collegiate activities revolved around being off-campus. That being said, I still was an active participant on campus. I had friends and acquaintances on campus that I hung out with a lot.
For 4 years, those were the people who I saw each day, studied with until 2am, and cried to about failed relationships. Some of these people are still in my life and some aren’t, but once you graduate, a lot of those physical ties are cut. You don’t see those people every day unless you end up in the same place and even still, people now have bigger lives and jobs that take up their time.
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A lot of graduates experience post-graduation anxiety or depression purely. While we learn how to study for finals, we don’t learn how to cope with this sudden loss of support. I call this a loss because you do end up losing touch with a lot of the network we’ve spent 4 years cultivating and you have to suddenly readapt to a new environment after making a different place your home. Being unable to be in an environment like that is hard enough, but when you add in the rising costs of education and the really tough job market, are we just setting up early 20-year olds to fail?
Navigating this transition requires a real network behind recent graduates. It’s not easy to keep in touch with people, whether you are in grad school or working a 9-to-5. This transition has hiccups, even for people who have picture-perfect lives on Instagram. You can be as prepared as you want for the next steps after college. Things still may not be perfect. That’s just honesty.
As I transition into my job, I find myself forcing myself to dedicate time to doing things I love. I became so consumed in moving forward that I forgot about the things I did in college that I loved. This did not help my mental state. My life changed very rapidly between February to September. I decided to stay in Atlanta and work in politics instead of going to London for grad school. Without a place to live, I ended up moving back in with my mom. While I love my mother, that was not in my five-year plan. I had to cope with a lot of the constraints that happen when you go from living by yourself to going back living in my parents’ household. Let’s just say that transition has not been easy. In the end, it will help me in the long run.
I’ve definitely gone through down periods where I end up crying to myself that I have no friends in Atlanta. Eventually, I stand in the mirror and remind myself that I do have people. It’s not entirely on them to keep our relationships going. It’s a 50-50 partnership and I have started to make a greater effort in order to keep these relationships going. I’ve also had to make new friends, putting myself out there again, just like I did in college. As someone who is definitely an introvert, this is a real struggle. In restarting this part of my life, I joined a soccer club where I meet new people, started doing more with blogging when I want to be alone, and joined a few social clubs where young professionals come to meet new professionals.
While college does not teach you how to leave, it does invariably show you how to put yourself out there and be in a new social situation and find your people. In reality, everyone who just finished college is in this situation. If they tell you they aren’t, they’re lying to you. No one’s life is picture perfect. Everyone is trying to find their place in this world just as much as you are. You’re not alone, we’re all in this together, to quote one of the greatest musicals of all time.
It takes time to transition out of college. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people, even when you think they don’t want to talk to you. You never know when this may be the right time when they need someone just as much as you do. Deal with this transition at your own pace and just remember: you made it through college. If you did it once, you can do it again, especially with the entire world at your disposal now.