People always say that not going back to school in the fall is weird, and they’re right. It is weird. But I have to say, I couldn’t be happier. So many people say high school or college are the best days of their lives, but I can’t agree. I want every day to be the best day of my life, and I couldn’t do that if I left them behind in college.
For me, it only confirmed what I’ve always suspected: the real world is about a zillion times better than college. Sure, college has its perks – mid-afternoon naps, finals week late night breakfast, being able to do crazy things and get away with them because you’re in college – but living in the real world is so much better.
I have a regular sleep schedule now – because I have a regular work schedule – which means that I get tired if I stay up too late. I feel rested in the morning and my body isn’t constantly out-of-whack with my brain. When I go home at night, I don’t have to think about work and I’m free to do other things, like run a growing Etsy business, start a book club with some of my closest friends, work out regularly, make leaps and bounds in my personal faith, and make more time for friends in general.
Also, I work with two of my best friends, and my office is down the road from the “good” mall. It doesn’t get much better than that.
You know, it has been a little weird transitioning into an office environment this fall. I’ve worked in retail since I was 16, with a few professional office summer jobs, but this is different. This is the first office job where I feel like an integral part of a team, and I love everything about it. I do miss my time in the service industry, because there are countless lessons to be learned in those jobs that you can’t learn elsewhere, but I’m very, very happy with where I am now. I feel like it not only lets me live how I want to live, but it affords me the luxury to spend an evening crafting rather than working, rather than being exhausted from having been on my feet all day. Luckily, I work in a casual office where I’m allowed to bring my own personal style into the workplace every day, which I couldn’t appreciate more.
The thing that makes me feel the best about being out of college, though, is the peace of mind I now have. I know this isn’t entirely due to having graduated, but I would be remiss if I didn’t attribute much of my past stress and anxiety to college in general. I consistently overloaded myself and was unable to complete everything, which gave me a crash course in time management and delegation, something I didn’t have to worry about in high school. College itself is such a crash course in growing up that I don’t understand how some people are able to seemingly fly through with only a few problems. And I don’t just mean academically – college has so many stressors mentally and emotionally that it’s no surprise it’s such a high period of depression. I certainly fell into that – and it cost me a whole year. College is hard. It’s just a fact. If you’re doing it right, college is hard.
But now, I feel like I’ve been able to let go of so much of that. I’m able to surround myself with the people I choose, I have a better feel for the kind of people I want to be around, and I know who my friends are. I don’t feel pressure to maintain acquaintances that I really don’t know well, and I no longer feel pressure to stay on top of everything, socially and emotionally. I still feel like I’m being productive every day in some way and like I’m continually furthering myself in every way, but I’m not stressed about it. I’m doing it because I want to, not because I feel obligated and worried about failure. I can’t tell you how much that changes your perspective on every single thing.
I know who I am and where I am, in every way, and that’s miles ahead of anywhere I was a year ago or even five years ago. Five years ago I was a college freshman and I had no idea who I was. I defined myself by a completely different set of standards than I do now. I’ve learned so much, both good and bad, and had so many experiences. I’ve known so many people and changed my views on so many things.
And the best part is that I know this is only the beginning of the journey. I have so much life left to live, and so many exciting plans for even the next year of my life. I can’t wait.
Are you graduated and loving it? Hating it? Still in college or grad school and working for the future? How do you anticipate post-college life?