They said it would be challenging. They said it would suck. But no one really told you just how much.
I guess no one can really articulate the mixture of frustration and confusion of the first years out of undergrad. Most of it is pretty rough, yes, but in the midst of all that, there will also be some days when you wake up and feel a renewed sense of purpose and energy. (My advice? Hold on to those days, and make that energy stretch as far as you can.) But nonetheless, the recent wave of twenty-something wisdom seems pretty grim. The stories are filled with tales of missteps, regrets and basically, reasons why it sucks to be in your 20s. And while they do a great job of illustrating just how challenging this transition phase is, none of them are telling us how to actually survive during this horrible, awful (and I have to admit, sometimes awesome) time in my life. And although there is no exact formula for survival, there are some definite buffers that can ease the blows of the first years of post-grad life. So, no matter where you're headed: that cushy entry level job straight out of school, the internship express or moving back in with your parents, you're going to need some guidance and these four reminders will help you refocus just when you get to the tipping point (again).
Here are four practices that kept me sane this past year:
Build a solid support system. Everybody needs some cheerleaders. There will be some days where you question your talent, your worth, everything... and you need a group of people who you can depend on for an encouraging word or a good verbal kick in the butt. Friends, family and mentors -- gather them close and keep their numbers on speed dial.
Find a positive emotional outlet. Sometimes your head will whirl with a million things to do: friendships to maintain, alumni to network with, schedules for both of your side hustles and your brain will feel like its going to explode. You need to have something you can incorporate into your day that is an instant stress release. Whether it's reading a devotion, taking a walk, journaling -- find something that gives you instant peace and preferably one that doesn't have to be plugged in or needs wifi.
Step outside of yourself. There is an old saying that says that there is always someone worse off than you and it is sadly true. When you take a step outside of your immediate circumstance, you will find that you should be so lucky to count your blessings. So instead of having a pity party, turn your negative energy into something positive for someone else: volunteer, do someone a favor, do something you really don't even want to do. Whatever it is, it will help you see that there is a much bigger picture outside of your own and plus, it will make your heart feel good.
Take risks. I know, this is the ultimate cliche, but trust me -- nothing re-energizes you more than doing something that scares the life out of you. So put yourself out there and really take a risk. Not just trying a new food or changing your hairstyle -- move to a new city, do a job you don't think you can do. The outcome will be rewarding and maybe you'll even discover an ability you didn't even know you had.