The Struggle of Being a Recent College Grad

Two days ago I visited my favorite college bar for the first time since graduating from school three months ago. Being there was a surreal experience, one rooted in sweet nostalgia as well as unshakeable feeling of foreignness that stemmed from visiting a place that was no longer truly “home” to me. As I sat with my friends and chatted about the Olympics, work, and dating woes, I couldn’t help but think about how strangely the whole situation seemed, and how much things had changed since graduation. Only a few months earlier we came here to discuss college drama and drink irresponsibility (as any senior would do), and now here we were—clad in work attire, talking about how we wished our schedules weren’t so busy. And in that moment I realized that even though we were all in the same place again, we weren’t the same people, and no amount of nostalgia could bring us back the college experience I had become so accustomed to.

It’s been almost three months since I started working full time and I have already begun to feel a sense of disconnect from what I do and who I am. And I think that feeling stems from the reality that I am now living for something else beside me. Prior to graduation, I worked and lived for my own personal advancement- personal and professional. I worked jobs that would help me land other jobs. Everything I did in  school and for my career was done to secure a full-time position for post-graduation, and now that I have achieved the goals that had been two decades in the making, I find myself lacking any sort of direction or feeling of self. I enjoy my position, love my coworkers, and dig that I can wear t-shirts to work, but I can’t help but feel a sense of inauthenticity that comes along with pushing someone else’s agenda or successes. I can’t help but feel hollow at times—like I don’t know who I am or who others expect me to be.

I am straddling the line between adolescence and adulthood, too young to know what I want, too inexperienced to really take ownership of my career, and too defeated by the responsibilities of adulthood to try and explore the new possibilities afforded to me. It’s scary to not know what you want; it’s scary to feel like you’re wasting time by being indecisive. I am unsure of so many things in my life right now, and I know that it’s okay to be young and not know what you want or need, but as someone who craves control and certainty, I feel at unease. I don’t like feeling lost, or like I have lost control of my own life. Mostly I don’t like feeling adult.

My favorite college bar no longer offers me the comfort or sense of home it did just a few months ago, and interactions with friends are no longer the same. I need to accept and adjust to the realities of adulthood in front of me. I need to determine the direction of my life, I need to set goals for myself, and I need to consciously put myself and my needs before work. I don’t want to give into routine or defeat and then find myself 30, unsatisfied, and unhappy with the direction my life has gone in. I want to be able to enjoy where I am, all while working towards what will make me happiest in the long term. I am sad that my bubble of nostalgia was popped, but it needed to happen, so that I could realize that adulthood is here to stay. College was great, but it’s over. Now it’s time to find out what’s great about adulthood.

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