Being an adult is hard, and what makes it even harder is that rocky transition between college and “real” adult life. Because let’s face it: in college, you’re not an adult. In college, you’re partying four nights a week, studying in between hangovers, calling your mom to replenish your checking account, and counting Cheez-Its as a major food group.
College is not the time to be a functioning adult. College is the time to be an overgrown kid, do whatever you want, think little about the consequences, and live it up.
Unfortunately, this means that we’re all jolted rather strongly from extreme childishness to extreme adulthood in the span of one day.
When you walk across that stage, that’s it. You’re grown. You’re expected to be a functioning member of society, save for retirement, take short lunch breaks, lead teams, answer to a boss, and eat real food that you may even be expected to cook. Who can do all that?
So it’s no wonder that each “new” adult feels like a total fraud. Truthfully, I think most adults are constantly overwhelmed by everything we have to maintain and be responsible for, so there’s absolutely no shame in not doing it all perfectly. We’re all secretly struggling.
So I’d like to tell you: you’re doing better than you think you are.
If you moved back in with your parents
It’s okay, so did so many post-grads. Sometimes, it’s unavoidable to move back in for a short time in order to make sure you’re financially stable enough to support yourself long term. If you’re staying longer than that, that’s fine, too. So did I. I live with my parents and I’ve made that financial decision in order to build up my little nest egg without having to shell out big bucks for a studio apartment the size of my parents’ pantry. No shame, bro.
If you’re working a dead-end job
You haven’t failed just because you don’t have your dream job. You haven’t failed if you’re a waiter, or sitting in a cubicle all day working at something you hate. If you’re working, if you’re earning money, then you’re doing better than you think.
If you’re struggling to find a job
Unfortunately, the still-stagnant economy means that jobs are so much more difficult to find. Interview after interview with no results can seriously chip away at your confidence and make you feel useless and rotten. Maybe this just means you have to start doing something differently, re-assess your skill set or learn something new. Maybe it just means you need help.
If you doubt yourself sometimes
…Or all the time. We all have bad days. We all can’t bear to get out of bed some days. We all feel like failures some days. It’s okay. If you’re still doubting yourself, that means you still can push yourself to do better, and that you’re not going to settle for anything less than what will make you happy. But it also means that you can’t let those bad days define your life. It’s important to have perspective.
It means you’re still learning, you’re still growing as a person and changing. When we stop changing, we know that we’ve hit rock bottom. So if you have bad days, it means you’re doing better than you think.
If you feel lonely
If you have days when you miss that sense of collegiate camaraderie, that means you know your emotional needs. You’re willing to recognize what you want in your life, whether it’s a great circle of friends, a closer relationship with your family, or a partner. If you feel lonely, you’re in touch with your emotions, and that means you’re on the road to meeting those needs.
Breathe. You’re doing better than you think.