It’s been just over a year since I left the familiarity of not only college, but of home. And it’s honestly been one of the most rewarding and challenging years of my life. Believe it or not, you keep learning after you graduate. I’ve acquired countless tips and tricks for navigating the real world, but here are the most valuable life lessons I’ve learned beyond textbooks:
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. Focus on a bigger goal. There’s something indescribable about feeling so lost but knowing you are headed in exactly the right direction. Feeling overwhelmed by a chaotic schedule, the choices you need to make, and the opportunities you should (or shouldn’t) take is a BEAUTIFUL thing! Focus on your dreams, not your worries.
- Spend money on experiences, not things. The determination to follow your dreams doesn’t always come with a consistent paycheck. Be okay with that, do what you need to do, and always remember your end goal. I definitely have a newfound appreciation for couponing. Saving money and budgeting is so essential in these first few years post-grad. With that said, choose the skydiving trip instead of the new pair of shoes.
- Keep in touch. Distance reveals who cares and who doesn’t, who is important and who used to be. And that goes both ways. Don’t be lazy when it comes to those you love, especially with your family. Call your mother! Related: snail mail matters! Getting a letter in the mail that isn’t a credit card statement is one of the greatest feelings. Who knew? Also, who needs a pen pal?
- Take better care of yourself. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I’m not as young as I once was! Hangovers are worse, injuries take longer to heal, and sleep is more important than ever. Just when I thought I was invincible. Ladies (& gents, if you’re into that sort of thing), take your makeup off every night before bed. Wear sunscreen and moisturize, moisturize, moisturize – especially if you’re in Southern California.
- Be honest. Not only with yourself, but also with others. Frankly, nobody’s got time for BS. Don’t hesitate to express yourself. And as the late, great Maya Angelou said, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” If you think this is about you, it probably is. 😉
- Explore. These are the years of discovery! Whether it’s finding your faith, finding yourself, finding others, or even finding your favorite coffee shop – what better time than now? Just because you are in the real world doesn’t mean you have to be boring. Refer back to Tip #2. Travel. See something you’ve never seen before.
- Don’t be afraid to take risks. You will be faced with thousands of decisions, some big and some small. Whether it’s your job, relationships, or if you want to dye your hair pink – do what makes you happy. Related: MOVE ON. Stop dwelling and holding on to something that isn’t making you better. You’re too awesome for that.