As a recent college graduate, it was easy to believe that I had a lot working against me. All I had to do was watch the news for an hour to hear about all the factors impeding my generation succeeding in this new post-grad world. Gone was the bubble that is college life; the time where you can make a couple 45 minute classes and then follow it up with nightly bar sessions, only to repeat it every weekday until the weekend. As a former student of Georgia College, I was the vice president of the student body, a business major and an all around fun loving guy. It wasn't until my transition to post-grad life where I came to realize how thick of a bubble I had been living in. Instantaneously I was transitioned to the "real world" that we used to hear about, as if there were some scenario in which we could avoid our eventual place in society. I knew that the old rules wouldn't apply and to succeed meant stepping up. What follows are just a few of the practices that I've embraced in my life since graduation. One mental, one physical and one strategic.
Embrace the quiet.
One thing I came to realize after I received my first driver's license was that whenever I had a predicament in my life, I would naturally opt to turn off the car radio and instead drive in silence. What I came to surmise over time was that this was my mind's understated way to incorporate quiet time in my life, something I had never thought to embrace. After sitting in silence for even an hour or so, I would always feel more in control; no problem was ever magnified following a time of quiet. As time progressed, I made a more concentrated effort to bring quiet time in my life. Maybe it was five minutes of silence before leaving for class, or going sans-headphones on my walk to campus. Nowadays, I wake up at least two hours before I'm due in the office. While rolling out of bed and huffing it to class worked in the past, giving myself time in the morning to workout and have quiet time before the chimes, rings and pings begin, helps me stay centered throughout the day. Today, I still leave the radio off on my way to and from work. In my active life full of noise, these pockets of silence help me keep focused and centered.
Make your space.
When I was in college, cleaning my apartment meant making enough room for a makeshift bar on a Thursday night. Flash forward to a few months ago; upon arriving in Atlanta, I made an effort to make my apartment my own as quick as possible. In the first week and a half, I got all my furniture in and purchased every critical item needed in a home, from salt & pepper to shower racks. Soon after, I hung all my photos and let my girlfriend sprinkle some decorative pieces here and there. The end result was an Atlanta apartment which would pass any mother test. More importantly however, it gave me a space I was proud of and a place that I wanted to take care of. Making a home rather than "having a place" is both empowering and practical. It's the first thing I'm truly responsible for taking care of, and it's my refuge from the commotion of city life.
Don't get comfortable.
When I walked across that stage and received my business degree from the Georgia College university president, it was easy to think that one's personal and professional development has plateaued. Horance Greeley said that "Apathy is a sort of living oblivion." In that same line of thought, the lack of desire to continue that development constitutes a acceptance of conditions which is an acceptance of the status quo. My first grasp came from my girlfriend, Laura. She of course took a few moments to herself following graduation, but soon she was signing up for a French and calligraphy class. Inspired by her persistence to always be better, I filled suit by co- founding a political think tank as well as starting painting classes. While our post-grad activities might not follow with a "1101," they are just as important to our human developments. A recent study found that senior citizens who took part in a brain training activities course were able to reap the improvement in reasoning skill and processing for over 10 years following the course. As a 25-year-old, it's a long term insurance policy, but I hope that this equates itself to decades of mental focus and longevity.
This collection of practical steps have made a significant impact on my life. When I first met Arianna a few months back, it was our common belief in simplicity which led me to contribute my voice. As time progresses, I will inevitably find more areas to improve on. My hope is that by forming good habits early on and sharing them with others, I can do my part in establishing a new baseline for a generation as it begins to tackle the "real world." We have it in us to be successful and to help others, but we must first do all we can to help ourselves.