It’s been four years since I walked across the Elon University graduation stage. Four years that honestly flew by faster than I ever could have anticipated. I wanted to do a little bit of a reflection post to share what I learned in this time and how the real world isn’t all that scary.
Let’s get started!
What I’ve learned since graduating is…
one | the world is so much bigger than you think it is
If you let it, the world will show you exactly where you need to be, and you will experience so much more than you ever imagined. When I graduated, I couldn’t image life outside my group of friends — outside of my college’s campus. I moved away, and I missed everything about it. Four years later, and I still miss my friends, but I also have so much life happening around me that it’s a treat when I get to see them rather that an activity I’m actively counting down to. When I finally opened myself up to life in Nashville, I finally stopped missing what was behind me. I’ve experienced so much more than I ever would have if I hadn’t let go of the past and started looking forward.
two | you can do hard things
Unfortunately, life doesn’t get any easier. I faced a lot of hard things before graduating college, and I’ve continued to face hard things as life continued to happen. If you’re going through something hard, I promise, you’re going to make it through.
three | self-love is an ongoing act
I know a lot of think we can just figure out how to love ourselves and life is going to be great, but I’ve got news for you. Self-love never stops. You never stop having to fight to love yourself and accept yourself (or maybe YOU do, but I don’t). I love myself, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes, I have to remind myself more than others. Sometimes I have a bad day, and I have to practice compassion with myself. You’re the only you there is, so love yourself endlessly — even if you have to fight for it.
four | no one cares about who were in college (or high school)
This might be a tough one to swallow, and it might come across as a little harsh, but it’s true. The sooner you can start quantifying your accomplishments post-college, the more impressive you will be to your peers and hiring managers (if that’s something you care about, if it’s not, you do you!). Whether that means starting a side-hustle or getting involved in non-profit work, go out and do! Don’t forget to quantify your goals — anything you can put a hard number to is going to do wonders.
five | it’s okay not to be living your dream life
Believe it or not, most of us aren’t. Most of us, especially right out of college, are not making enough money to be living in our dream apartments or traveling the world. Most of us are just figuring it out day-by-day, and that’s okay. Something that really helped me when I was in a place I wasn’t happy about was reminding myself that if I started out with the dream, where was I going to be able to go in the next five years? If I start out with the dream job at 22, it’s not going to be the dream job by the time I’m 30 (most likely). If I start out with the dream apartment, what am I going to hope, wish, and work for over the next few years? You’ll always want more, so it’s okay to start out somewhere different than you imagined. Never lose hope, and always work for what you want.