When you graduate college, you’re inundated with cookie-cutter advice like, “Follow your DREAMS!” Here’s some advice that’s actually helpful.
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When you graduate college, you’re inundated with cookie-cutter advice like, “Follow your DREAMS!” and “Believe in yourself!!!!”
Let’s get real, guys: this advice means nothing once you step out into the real world.
So let’s dig into some advice that’s actually useful. Today I present to you: The top three things that I wish someone had told me when I graduated college.
1. It’s OK not to know what’s next
When I graduated college in 2006, I had no clue what I wanted to do next.
The result? Constant anxiety.
I wish someone had told me that it’s OK — in fact, it’s more than OK — not to know the answers.
I wish someone had told me that I wasn’t gonna die if I didn’t have it all figured out, that it often takes time and experience to live your way into the answers, and that despite feeling the world is gonna end, it won’t. Confusion or no confusion, you will continue breathing and you’re gonna be just fine.
What’s more, I wish someone had told me that not knowing in no way dooms you to failure. In fact, some of the most happy, successful people I know started out without knowing where they’d end up.
If you feel like you have to have your whole career planned out, think again. Not only is this expectation unrealistic for most of us, but it’s often ineffective as well. Consider your current confusion a prerequisite to a clarity that can only come with trust and with time.
It’s OK not to know. Embrace it.
2. You have the rest of your life to be serious
If you want to jump straight into a serious career, then by all means go for it.
But if travel or adventure or soul searching are whispering in your ear, don’t feel pressured to jump into “real life” right away. You’re still young. You’re still free. You’ve got THE REST OF YOUR LIFE to go to work. You’ve got THE REST OF YOUR LIFE to be serious.
If you want to take a chance, take it now. Lose everything before you feel like you have everything to lose. Do it before it’s too late, before you’re old and wrinkly and looking back on your life with regrets.
The year after I graduated college, I took off to Australia for three months and allowed myself to wander and to explore and to experience life. When I came back home, I secured a desk job in corporate accounting, and I was able to do this without feeling a sense of regret about the risks I’d failed to take.
Your degree isn’t going anywhere. Work isn’t going anywhere. You have years and years and YEARS ahead of you. Don’t feel pressured to rush into a “real person job” — instead, try considering that living may be your real job. And living doesn’t have to be so serious.
Which leads me into my third point…
3. There are no “shoulds”
The horrible affliction of shoulditis is running rampant in today’s society.
“I should have it all figured out,” we tell ourselves over and over again in our heads.
“I should get a good job and do what’s expected of me.”
“Should should should, blah blah blah.”
THIS IS BS!
Allow me to let you in on a little secret of life: You WILL NOT DIE if you drop the “shoulds.”
I repeat: YOU WILL NOT DIE IF YOU DROP THE “SHOULDS!”
At the age of 28, I just quit my corporate job to travel around the country, to live my passions and live more simply, and to slow down. And LOOK, I’m still alive! What’s more, I’m happier than ever.
There are no “shoulds,” guys. Listen to your heart and don’t ever let other peoples’ expectations dictate how you should or shouldn’t live your life.
If you want to go travel the world, do it.
If you want to teach English in Thailand, do it!
If you want to go bartend on a tropical island for awhile, who am I to stop you?
If you want to go straight into real life and get a “real job,” that’s fine too — just make sure you’re doing it because it’s what you want, not because it’s what you think other people expect of you.
In the end, you’re the only one who has to live your life. Others may have their thoughts or expectations, and that’s fine — they get to live their life how they want to do it, but only you can know what’s right for you.
Therese Schwenkler is passionate about bringing more and better direction to today’s generation. Feeling lost & confused after graduation? Stuck in the “shoulds?” Visit Therese’s blog, The Unlost, for the cure.