The last two years of high school every teacher talked about getting us ready for college. I guess they did a good job because the transition to college was relatively painless. I packed up all of my stuff and moved to Boulder but for the most part, transitioning was easy.
Nobody talks about transitioning out of college, into the real world, where your life is a brand new place. I’m writing this because I found the transition from college to life after college to be much harder than I expected.
Everyone I’ve talked to about the transition agrees. Nobody talks about this transition much, so I thought I’d write a little something about it. This is the advice that I wish someone had given me about life after college:
- Prepare for your world to change. There’s no more Spring break or three months off for summer. Wednesday is just Wednesday from here on out.
- Your first job out of college won’t make you or break you, most likely. Finding great people to work with is most important.
- As soon as you get out of college, join a gym. Figure out a time to go and go. Or run. Make sure you stay active somehow, because life gets in the way really quickly when you don’t have the comfortable lattice of school.
- Go to group dinners and put everyone’s phone in a bag. Great conversations ensue.
- Keep those hobbies going. Keep playing soccer, or pool, or surfing. Keep doing yoga. Keep reading. Keep doing you. You’ll develop some great friends around those interests.
- Happiness is already built in, you just need to look around. Getting to whatever that thing is won’t make you happy long-term.
- Play with your schedule. Wake up earlier, go to bed later. Time-shifting is your friend.
- Work hard, be nice to people. If you make eye contact, say hi. Everybody felt this way at some point, you’re not the only one who’s uncomfortable.
- The un-comfortability is good for you. Comfort zones need to be stretched.
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This past summer was different for me than past years have been. Instead of working the usual minimum wage job that most people pick up in the years between high school and graduating from college I decided to play and write a lot of music, read a lot of books and think, really think.
I’m easily inspired. I do a lot of things sometimes and stretch myself a bit too thin which is why this past summer was so good: I got to really figure out specifically what I need to focus on and what I don’t need to focus on.
Here’s (a little of) what I’ve learned:
- There’s no need to learn every skill; You can pay people to do things, people who are much better at it than you are.
I don’t mean to sound pretentious with this first realization that I’ve had but the point I’m trying to make is a valid one. Instead of slaving away for hours learning and coding in HTML and CSS (for example), find someone who can realize your goal for design and help you work towards it and then scrape up the funds to let that person do what he or she does best.
I’ve spent years on and off learning how to code websites. Do I want to do it professionally? No. Do I want something that looks presentable and respectable that I can show to the world? Absolutely. So instead of trying to muster together something that looks half-decent I decided to hire someone, someone who could produce this theme for me so I didn’t have to break my back coding it. I let him do what he does best, web design, while I worked on other endeavors.
- Anger isn’t worth it.
Growing up I used to lose it really easily. I’d stub my toe and it would ruin my day. I’d lose in Madden, I’d get angry. I guess it’s all part of maturation but this past summer I’ve really come to terms with the fact that anger doesn’t help anything; it only hurts you and the ones around you.
There is a Chinese proverb that says:
If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.
I firmly believe that now after years of struggling with anger issues. It’s not beneficial to let something small ruin your day. Overcome it and save yourself the hundred days of sorrow.
- Meditate (slow down).
Another thing that seems to pop up again and again in my life is the desire to have everything now. I’ve never been able to slow myself down until a few months ago. I’ve always been the first or second one done on tests in school, I cut corners because of impatience and like I said before, I’m easily inspired and quick to give up. My mind works at a million miles per hour which isn’t always a good thing.
This summer though I learned meditation, I learned patience and I learned consistency. No matter what you do in life, be consistent in your practices. I learned that the simple act of sitting and breathing for a duration of 5-7 minutes can make a world of difference in my day. I know it’s not much time but it’s something and I try as hard as I can to be consistent with my meditation every day.
It has helped me to slow down, to realize what’s around me and what’s going on. It has helped me to realize what’s important and what can wait. In meditation thoughts will come and thoughts will go. It’s best not to control those thoughts, just to let them pass and accept them for what they are.
We all get ahead of ourselves at times and I believe we all need to slow down. I’m ecstatic that I’ve found meditation.
- Helping others helps yourself.
The Buddha taught, ”If you light a lamp for somebody else it will also brighten your path.”
From the professional standpoint: As a college student going into the field of Journalism, a 19-year-old and someone who has a relatively short resumé, I’ve realized that I have four to five years to make myself stand out from the thousands of other kids who graduated with journalism degrees in 2012 or 2013. It’s imperative for me to do a few things and get involved in activities that may not have an immediate payout. Some people call those Resumé Builders, some call it the “shit you don’t want to do but you have to.” Whatever you call it, volunteering or doing grunt work can open doors that you’ve never dreamed of simply because of a little bit of experience, a little bit of a time commitment along the way.
From the personal standpoint: Friends come and friends go; people grow close and away from each other, it’s all natural. Simple acts, however, can go farther in someone’s heart than you can imagine. It’s hard to say it better than the Buddha. “If you light a lamp for somebody else it will also brighten your path.”
And that, is a little bit of what I’ve learned in the past few warm, abnormally rainy months.
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