Recently after graduating college, one of my friends came over to see my new apartment. I asked her if she wanted a glass of water, since we were adults now and that is the polite thing to do.
“Sure, thanks,” she said as she walked over to the kitchen island. I went into the cabinet and pulled out one of the brand new Crate and Barrel glasses my mom had gotten me just a few weeks before. I filled it up with water and ice and put it on the counter in front of her.
We both stared at it for a couple of seconds and then looked at each other.
“You just gave me a glass of water in a real cup,” she commented. We looked at it again for a second. “That is so weird. I hate it.”
I thought that graduating from Boston College would have given be all the preparation I needed to start my adult life in the real, working world. After all, I certainly felt ready to be done with college by the time that point came around.
However, I quickly learned that getting your diploma isn’t like waving a magic wand that ushers you into the realm of the real world fully prepared for all the obstacles and mundane annoyances. You can’t just replace your red solo cups with real glass ones and assume you have it all together. That first year out of college was really, really rough. I pined for the fun, relatively carefree days of Boston College.
Now that it’s been two years out, though, I finally feel like I sort of have a handle on things. Mostly, I finally have more of a routine nailed down, and I also feel way more comfortable in my own skin than I think I ever have. I know that two years out of college is practically nothing, but I really do feel older, and like a completely different person than I was back then. Although I definitely still miss Boston College, I’m happy to be an adult.
For those of you who are new graduates and about to enter your “new” life, or for those of you who feel a little lost, I offer you the best advice I got, and what my own growing pains have taught me:
- Get a credit card and start building credit. It’s also just a lot more dangerous to lose a debit card than a credit card.
- Find a primary care physician before you are sick and need one. If you’re living in a big city, it can take some time before you find a hospital that is accepting new patients. Once you do, it can take months before you are actually able to even get an appointment. It’s a good idea to get your name in the system as early as possible and establish a relationship with a doctor before you’re sick and not thinking clearly.
- Going out to bars every weekend is expensive and draining in more ways than one. There a lot better ways to spend your time and money, and any relationship that is completely dependent on going out and drinking is probably not one worth having.
- Take care of your body. Building healthy habits now is so important for preventing disease later.
- Get into some sort of exercise routine, whether that means joining a gym, investing in boutique fitness, or just going for a jog around your neighborhood. The freshman 40 is applicable to your first year of life, too. Going from walking between classes all day and sitting at a desk for 8+ hours straight takes a toll on your body.
- Learn how to cook for yourself. It saves money when you are making your own meals, and you are in full control! Since you know exactly what is going into it, you know that there are no hidden fats, sugars, chemicals, or salt.
- You need less food for the week than you think! Cooking for one is definitely tricky, but remember to utilize leftovers. You don’t have to make a homemade dinner from scratch every single night. That’s just wasteful!
- My liberal arts education was great, but taught me nothing about taxes. Turbo Tax is idiot-proof. Just do it.
- One of the most shocking things for me was how monotonous “real life” is and how much that makes me feel like I am losing my mind. Have things to look forward to, whether it’s just fun dinner plans with friends or a vacation on the horizon. That way, your life doesn’t just feel the same, day in and day out.
- Call your parents.
- Remember that even though there are a lot of growing pains, you actually have it pretty darn good. Take photos, spend your time with people who bring you joy, and enjoy being in your 20’s.