It’s been four years since I graduated college! The students graduating from Syracuse University this past class barely resemble anyone I remember. It would be an understatement to say that I’m now an ‘older’ alumnae from my Alma mater. Just like going to college, life after graduation has included a lot of fun experiences, as well as some scary and new ones too. However, through it all, I’ve learned more than ever before and will continue doing so throughout this journey we call…LIFE.
1. Stepping out of your comfort zone is essential for growth.
As adults, we are responsible for our own growth and development. We don’t have our parents breathing down our necks to do things like homework and meet new people, so it’s important that we push ourselves to do these things. Have you been wanting to try speed dating or Tai Chi? Or, at work, put yourself in uncomfortable situations. Team up with someone and create a presentation. Call a senior manager and set up coffee so you can talk about career advice. This has helped me learn more about what I like and doesn’t like!
2. It can be difficult to meet new people if you’re not willing to put yourself out there.
If you want to make new friends, it’s important that you put yourself in situations where you will meet new people. This can be a challenge if we’re no longer in college and don’t have the same opportunities to meet someone new every day. But there are many ways to get out there and socialize, even if it means trying something new like Classpass or joining a gym. You can also try sparking up conversations with colleagues at work. Being social and making friends is key if you want to find a romantic partner. Outdoor activities are great for this because you can approach people more easily and have things in common with them. Being stuck at home won’t do any good! I’m not going to pretend that it’s always easy talking to new people, but what do you have to lose?
3. More money…more responsibilities.
It’s easy to overspend when you first start making money, but it’s important to be mindful of your spending and saving habits. I would suggest creating a budget for yourself highlighting how much you typically spend on things like shopping, nights out, and beverages. Then see where you can cut back in order to funnel more money into your savings account. If this feels daunting, don’t hesitate to reach out for help from professionals such as those at your local bank or Learnvest! It’s crucial that we are all smart with our money so that we can make sound investments for our future.
4. It’s a lot of work to keep up with friends.
Your friend circle is going to change a lot in college. Some people might find this relief while others may find it scary. We don’t want to lose those friends we spent 4 years with, studying in the library and cramming for finals together. You will realize that the friends who stick by you are the ones worth keeping around. Once you’re not just a quick walk away, it becomes harder to stay in touch with people. Friendships take effort to maintain, so if you feel like you are always the one reaching out and not vice versa, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate things. Is this person a toxic friend? Have you grown apart? Don’t be afraid to let go of someone who isn’t putting in the same level of effort as you are.
5. Families are more of a priority.
I came to better appreciate my family’s role in my life once I graduated from college. Before then, it seemed like my friends took priority over them, but after finishing school, I wanted to spend more time with those closest to me. My family is at the center of my world! They keep me grounded and always have my back–qualities that are hard to find among friends. So take some time out for your loved ones! They want (and deserve) your attention just as much as you do theirs.
6. The job you thought you would love may turn out to be the one you end up hating.
As I started my career post-graduation, I began to realize that finance wasn’t quite as passion-provoking as I had anticipated. At first, this freaked me out! What did four years of college lead up to if not a love for the field? Thankfully, my parents encouraged me to give it a chance anyway and see where it led me. Nowadays, thanks in part to all the networking I’ve been able to do within the company, I’m really enjoying myself. This is a great lesson for all new graduates: you may not necessarily love your job at first, but try your best and make connections – doors will open eventually!
Networking is a word that you’ve probably heard since high school. However, I only realized how crucial it was when meeting executives who had been promoted due to their professional relationships. Even if it’s uncomfortable, approaching someone you don’t know at a work event is worth the risk because the alternative could cost you opportunities. Moreover, networking shouldn’t be one-sided; You should always try to find ways to help others as much as they help you.
8. Traveling is important.
As you travel and explore, your experiences become a valuable part of who you are — much more so than any material possessions. Make the most of your youth by traveling as often as possible with different types of companions. Go places you’ve never been before, near and far, via different modes of transportation. The world has so much to offer; opening yourself up to new cultures will broaden your mind and soul in ways you can’t even imagine. I did this at every opportunity, exploring everything I could, and don’t regret it for a second!
9. Balance is the KEY to life.
After I graduated and entered the workforce, managing everything became very overwhelming. Work, family, friends, my significant other, exercise, personal time… I quickly learned that I had to prioritize and shift my priorities as needed. Also, whenever possible – especially when it came to extracurricular activities -I tried to do things with multiple people at once; like working out with friends or making weekend plans that included my loved ones. Instead of meeting with people one-on-one, I started grouping them together so that I could see more people in less time. This strategy worked well for me, and it might work for you too! And don’t forget to schedule some alone time into your routine; it’s important to recharge sometimes.
10. Don’t compare yourself to others—your story is yours.
Most importantly, don’t compare your success to others. You may meet a 23-year-old tech founder that is already making 7 figures when you graduate, but you could also meet a 30-year-old who has only just started their new career after years of schooling. You’ll meet people at work and in your personal life that might make you feel like you need to get your act together. However, remember that no two journeys are alike. Embrace yours and know that as long as you stay focused and dedicated, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. You’re perfectly imperfect, just like everyone else.
This article was originally published on Be Moxie.