Monday Musings: How to Slay Life as a Post-Grad
After three sun-drenched months of denial, school is back in session and for the first time in seventeen years, I'm not a student. In what I would consider a valiant effort on my part to deal with this groundbreaking truth, here's a little bit of advice that I've gotten in the habit of giving, and occasionally taking, myself.
1. Get to work.
This is not the conversation your parents have not-so-subtly been trying to have with you for the last few weeks. I don't care if you're i-banking, walking dogs or rocking (f)unemployment (good for you, girl! ) but you have to get to work. Take some time to reflect and figure out what/where/who you want to be and make a plan. As a recent college grad in a bustling city, the sheer number of opportunities can be really overwhelming. I don't know about you, but for a girl who loves choices, having too many options does have a way of paralyzing me and while I don't have a perfectly ironed out five year plan, I have made a few decisions about what and who I want to be. I've decided that I want to at least have a leg in academia, so I'm volunteering as a writing tutor at a local high school, assisting an incredible professor in her current research project and studying for my GRE. I've also decided that I want to be the type of girl who always keeps her home clean enough for company, so I made a chore chart for myself. It's not about having everything figured out, but about coming to terms with the fact that the way I spend my time in these next few years will mold so much of who I will ultimately become.
2. Make a budget.
If you've been financially independent since you turned sixteen and your savings account balance has a comma, good for you and bye now.* But if you're like me and went to a liberal arts school, your college days probably left you better equipped to max out a credit card than to pay one off. I don't have advice on this one, cause I'm married to a finance guy who helps me balance the books and even though I know all the right answers, just the idea of financial responsibility stresses me out a bit. I will say that sitting down and writing out a plan of where our money is going each month and how much is left over has provided me with so much peace.
3. Become a local.
Whether you're back in your childhood bedroom, sticking around your college town or settling down in a brand new city, take some time to get to know your new hood. Though I'm staying in the Boston area, it's been so fun exploring different corners of the city that aren't completely centered around college students. From charming bakeries, to local family-owned hardware stores, to gorgeous little public gardens, I'm having so much fun exploring all that Boston has to offer in this stage of my life.
If you're in a familiar city, whether it's your hometown or your college town, it is SO important to find new places to frequent. Going back to that mall you used to loiter in as an 8th grader or hanging out at that bar where you spent senior spring will get weird real quick and those freshmen and sophomores that you're pretty sure aren't a day over twelve and a half are already judging you for not moving on. Don't be that guy.
If you're in a new city, dive in! Take your weekends to fall in love with your neighborhood. Find a bike path you love or a cafe that inspires you. Make sure that when your friends and family come to visit you, you don't have to turn to Yelp to look for recommendations on where to take them.
4. Learn to cook.
Mildly inspired by my recent addiction to Master Chef but mostly by my own love of cooking: Stop eating out every day! It's not good for your wallet and $3 pizza slices are no exception. Confession, I gained so much weight (okay, like five pounds, but still) and wasted so much money eating out three times a day while we were moving and didn't have a suitable kitchen set up. Even if you have unlimited funds and a wildly fast metabolism, there's something about being able to go into a kitchen and prepare a beautiful, delicious, healthy meal that really makes you feel like a grown woman. No? Just me? Okay.
5. Build a dream team.
I don't know about you, but working forty hours a week has not left me with even half the time I had in college to hang out with my friends and it can be really stressful to not have enough time to give to everyone who wants your attention. So I've made a decision that may not be popular, but I think is really important: It's okay to be picky with your friends.
I'm serious. Build yourself a dream team. This is the time. Surround yourself with good vibes and people who inspire you. Respect yourself enough to take a step back and take a good look at your friendships. Fight for the ones that matter and don't stress about the ones that don't. Remember that version of yourself you agreed to work towards in point one? Invest in the people who are going to help you get there. Dump the girlfriend who spends more time rooting against you than for you because you intimidate her and lose touch with the people who only "miss you soooooo much" when they need a favor. And remember, your friendship making days are far from over! I know a lot of people are scared about the idea of meeting new people after college, but I promise, a lot of the people that will ultimately be some of the most important forces in your life haven't even entered it yet. Leave some space for them to come in and shake your world up in the best possible ways.
Also, call your mom. That period of your life in which you can be defiant and passive aggressive with your family without it permanently effecting your relationships is running out, FAST. Start putting in an effort in the relationships that matter the most.
*Alright show-off, you're ahead of the game and know how to not blow all your money on 4 am Chinese takeout, you're so cool. But I will say this is an awesome time to think about investing. If you can learn how to make your money work for you now, the world is yours. Also, get some life insurance. I know, I know, you're not gonna die for a LONG time but it will never be cheaper than it is right now and when you're fat and forty you'll be kicking your twenty-two year old self for not planning ahead.