It’s been one year since I graduated from college, and what a ride this last year has been. At this point in my journey, I feel at ease and I’m enjoying the flow, but that wasn’t the case previously. A few months ago, I wasn’t feeling like myself at all. I was isolating myself, doubting myself, suffering from anxiety attacks, and dealing with other symptoms of depression.
In hindsight, everything flowed as it needed to for me to be and enjoy where I am at now. You can read about that unfolding on my blog, beginning here, and then reading this post.
If you don’t want to read those posts, or if you have already, I thought I’d share the highlights of what I’ve learned since graduating from college. These lessons are not a guide to land a job; they’re applicable to multiple chapters of life. If you are graduating from high school, college, or if you’re just moving on, I hope what I have learned will remind you to flow and to enjoy your own journey.
Five Lessons I’ve Learned Since Graduating from College
1. Honor where you are at.
I spent many hours scrolling through Instagram first thing when I awoke and then again before I went to bed. While social media is a great way to stay connected to people, which may be particularly desirable when you graduate from college and move away from your friends, I found myself stuck in the “comparison trap” based on other people’s photos. One person would post about getting a great job, another person would share that they are beginning graduate school, and someone else would divulge the glamorous details of their gorgeous vacation.
Although these were accomplishments to be celebrated, I often found myself feeling bad for not accomplishing or doing any of those things. Fortunately, I eventually realized how negative Instagram was for me at this transitionary point in my life, so I deactivated my account. It helped me to become present and thus, I focused on myself rather than what everyone else was doing. It was then that I paid attention to the things to be grateful for, which improved my perspective and my attitude.
Social media may not be a problem for you, but I encourage you to notice if you are honoring where you are at now and finding gratitude, or if you are more focused on everyone else and/or what you lack.
2. Be positive
One of my favorite quotes is “Your perspective is your reality,” and it is incredibly accurate. If your perspective is that your life isn’t going the way you want it to, you never get what you want while everyone else seems to, and that you are a loser, then yeah, that is your reality.
On the other hand, you can perceive your life as being full of obstacles that you are capable of overcoming because everything you’ve experienced in the past has prepared you for what is ahead. You can argue that you do get what you want because you work hard for your goals. Maybe you’re not getting what you want when you want it, but you will get what you need when you are ready for it. Lastly, you can practice compassion toward yourself.
The practice of positivity was very difficult for me initially, but over time it got easier as I began to feel lighter and happier.
Another favorite quote of mine is “Nevertheless, she persisted.” Your efforts are seen and they are not futile.
4. Be patient
I never had my post-grad life planned out, but I did expect to obtain a full-time job within a few months after college. Many people graduated with full-time offers, so this didn’t seem like an unreasonable goal to me.
As months passed without receiving a single offer, I felt like a failure and a loser. It seemed like everyone around me was moving forward while I was left behind, living with my parents and without a full-time job.
In retrospect, I am grateful that everything panned out the way that it did.
If I had gotten a full-time offer that began when I graduated, I wouldn’t have been able to do yoga teacher training. If I had gotten an offer right after YTT, I may not have gotten my yoga teaching job at the community center and I may not have been able to get as involved in the center because I wouldn’t have been able to sub as many classes. I also wouldn’t have built up as strong of a reputation at the community center.
If I had gotten a job right after YTT, I wouldn’t have accepted the campaign job, which introduced me to an unsuitable leadership style for my personality. If the promised job after the campaign had come to fruition, I wouldn’t have used a staffing agency. I also wouldn’t have had as much time to study and take the GRE. If I hadn’t had the campaign experience, I wouldn’t have had as much to talk about during interviews I got through the staffing agency. If I had gotten a full-time offer during this time, I wouldn’t have been able to accept a temporary position where I learned a lot about office culture and professionalism.
If I hadn’t attended my community center’s happy hour after work on a Friday, I wouldn’t have talked about my temporary job and what I was looking for next. If I hadn’t attended that happy hour and if I hadn’t been able to talk about my work experience, I wouldn’t have been noticed by a fellow staff member whose husband was looking for employees. If I hadn’t had a major shift in my perspective and if I hadn’t continued to persist, I wouldn’t have gotten an interview through the staff member or on my own job-search. If I hadn’t adopted a positive perspective and if I hadn’t found gratitude for my current situation, I wouldn’t have been an impressive candidate. My boss at the community center wouldn’t have vouched for me as being a valuable employee. Then I wouldn’t have had two job offers in the same weekend. Thus, I wouldn’t have accepted my current position, which I love.
This “logic” can go in so many more directions, but the point is that everything happened how it needed to.
“You are a child of the Universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should.” -Max Ehrmann, “Desiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life”
Just because it didn’t happen when I wanted it to, it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t going to happen at all.
5. Experience joy.
Transitions are uncomfortable, scary, and stressful, but that doesn’t entail you should feel that way all of the time, or at all. When times are difficult, it’s all the more reason to experience joy. This can be as simple as reading a book, having coffee with a friend, or volunteering for a cause that is important to you. You deserve to experience joy daily.
Let me know your thoughts on these lessons, and please share anything you’ve learned along the way!