Graduating from college gave me more than a degree. It shifted who I was as a woman, completely. As the one year anniversary of kissing the ivy-coated buildings, textbooks and house parties goodbye, I reminisced on the life gems I have discovered thus far. Here are ten lessons to keep in your pocket as you strut into the real world.
1.) Be thankful for all things, even the bad. Gratitude increases your happiness.
College can be a place where you become emotionally bankrupt due to the pressures of academia and your social life. The summer before my senior year, I lived in Peru for two months. While I enjoyed learning Spanish and horseback riding in the Andes, my friends back home were preparing for life after graduation. Unfortunately I was tardy to that party. For the first time in life I had no clue what I wanted to do after college. I felt a lot of pressure and was disappointed in myself. I decided to add another major and stay an extra semester. I struggled with not graduating in the “perfect” four years time slot but there is always opportunity in chaos. My last semester I took a Hip-Hop Literature and Society course and I discovered my passions: Hip-Hop Journalism and Creative Writing. Because of this lesson I learned to breed opportunities from any situation regardless of how things may seem or how I feel.
2.) Open up your circle. The friends you make after you graduate college will show how you trust as an adult.
When I moved back home to Brooklyn, I became closer to people who I either knew for years or just met. Both taught me what I deemed acceptable in a friendship, and what I was able to give as a friend. In college you create a certain lifestyle; you have people who love who you’ve become and have grown in their own light (this is key), rather than those clinging on to the childhood you.
3.) Find a mentor in your career’s industry. They will help you navigate and craft your path with no apologies.
Growing up I was told I have two strikes against me: my race and gender. When I graduated I found two mentors who had a similar narrative but did not allow their race, gender or sexual orientation to be their crutch.
4.) Be present and future conscious about your finances. Reflect on your lifestyle and understand if you can/cannot afford yourself.
My college was located in a small rural town. I partied often, did fine dining and still had money for basic necessities. The cost of living in New York City taught me to be decisive on what is more important- paying Ms. Sallie Mae as opposed to going to every Saturday night party I am invited to.
5.) Create something real with a real person. Set the tone in your dating life; it will save you time, money and tears.
In college my mantra was: like them all, date them all. Though I still believe in doing so, I am more self-aware. Therefore, thanks to my life coach Jewel M. Watson, Esq I only invest in those who are compatible with my future.
6.) Bridge the gap between how you view your parents as your caretakers and their own person hood.
Moving back home to my mother’s house was a major adjustment, along with the long distance father-daughter relationship my parents’ divorce created. Instead of seeing my parents as the people who nurtured me when I was a child, I began to see them as other adults who assisted in giving me financial, professional, or love/dating advice. It decreased the offense I took (because I believe I know it all) and made our relationship less hostile. Accept your parents for who they are but do not live in their shadow.
7.) Have perspective. Utilize and act upon the lessons you have gathered rather than thinking of them.
In the past I would find myself in situations that would cause a lot of anxiety. I would then discuss those problems with friends, making my life a group project. Yes, things are easier said than done but I learned, it must get done at some point. It does not get complicated once you act on your intuition.
8.) Make goals but do not set unrealistic timelines. Ease into what life brings you.
I am a planner at heart and I love to know what will happen next. Unfortunately, real life is not predictable. Rather than complaining about something that did not happen when I wanted it to, I created vision boards of each season of life. It helped increase my faith and put my mind at ease knowing the Master Planner (the universe) is in control.
9.) Ensure you set time aside to have those nights that remind you why college was the best years of your life.
My mother molded me into the ultimate lady- full of grace and poise but I grew up in the Bronx, Las Vegas and Brooklyn. With that being said I have no problem bringing out my alter-ego, Big Red and allowing her to do “The Pocahontas Twerk.” Setting time aside for shenanigans is a must! What stories will you tell your grandchildren?
10.) Change your perspective on time. Be patient with it. Handle it with kindness. Do not suffocate it. Make time eager for you.
Time and I have a serious love/hate relationship. Over the past year we have reconciled our differences and I learned to take time for what time is. It is a measurement of small moments that lead to major events. So instead of being so pressed for what is next, I try to find or give little joys throughout my day and that is how time continues to come full circle.
What are some of your post-grad life lessons? Share them in the comments.