The transition after college can be tough. Here are 5 tips to understanding what you're experiencing & preserving your sanity.
I remember just a few months of college, desperately saying to a friend, “I KNOW it’s got to get easier than this! Being an adult is hard, but it can’t be THIS hard, right?”
It really is, at first.
Whether you’re striking out in your new job, entering graduate school, or still deciding on your career path…the months after college are a time of enormous transition and upheaval.
Even aside from all the big changes (like moving into a new place, making new friends, facing student debt, or finding a new church)…there are all the frustrating “little” things, like learning how to talk to Comcast, finding doctors, and figuring out who to call when your paycheck doesn’t come or a bill goes awry.
It’s a lot. Even if you’re doing exactly what you want to be doing, big changes (at least for me!) almost always bring that moment of “…Now what?”
Here are 5 simple tips to equip you for a smoother adventure after graduating:
All The Feels: Be gentle with yourself
In the months after graduation, the huge transition often brings unexpected emotions. So much so, you may wonder if you’re going crazy.
You are not going crazy.
It is completely normal to feel:
…and for those emotions to change as often as the weather.
This is normal, but it’s also disorienting.
Tip #1: Be gentle with yourself during this time of transition.
Your physical and emotional needs will change day to day as you build your new life. It’s a lot to process! Acknowledge to yourself that there are big new challenges right now.
Whether you’ve moved to a whole new city and state, or you’ve stayed local–you’re building a new life after college.
Your transition to your new home, community, or job will be far, far easier if you stay connected with your former community, friends, and family. You need these relationships to support you as you make new connections.
Tip #2: Stay connected, and keep reminders of your loved ones around you.
Place cherished photos on your mirror, car dashboard, work desk, and refrigerator. Block out regular time for friends & family: watch a favorite show together while texting, host a Zoom “friend date” with wine & chocolate, share Marco Polos of your baking, or play an online game together.
Your brain will probably, at some point, try to tell you that your friends don’t want to hear from you, that they’re too busy, that it’s been too long since you’ve talked. These are lies, and they are from the Enemy, who wants to keep you isolated. People are lonely right now: your friends will almost certainly cherish a call. Keep in mind that the more isolated you are, the harder it is to see lies for what they are.
Meet New People…ASAP
If you’re anything like me…it’s awkward and weird trying to strike up conversations with total strangers. Even worse is going to new places alone.
Do it anyway!
Introduce yourself to your neighbors. Meet your apartment staff. Go through the line at the grocery store instead of self checkout. Visit the same coffee shop & chat up the barista. Join a spin class. Start visiting churches. Ask your co-workers to dinner.
Your initial goal is to start seeing friendly, familiar faces.
Tip #3: Do not delay this step of meeting new people! It can feel very intimidating, so start with baby steps. Don't force yourself to jump in the deep end, but keep getting your feet wet. Be gentle with yourself & be persistent.
Sleep. Eat. Hydrate.
After college, I reallyyyyy started to feel the impact of late hours, having pizza as a meal, and forgetting lunch. I found myself unusually tired, cranky, and lacking energy. 6 months after graduation, as I looked over my finances, I was shocked by how often I’d been eating at Panera, Starbucks, and Dominos.
No wonder I felt crummy.
Tip #4: Practice self care. Your mind & body will thank you. Eat regular meals, don’t overdo the coffee, drink plenty of water, get 7-9 hours of sleep, and keep social media to 30 minutes/day. Start building a healthy routine, as your brain is craving normalcy.
Stay Centered on the One Who Never Changes
With so much going on, it’s easy to let time with God slide. Knocking out chores = quick rewards that can feel way more productive than prayer. Same with scrolling on TikTok or that next Netflix episode: it’s easy, it’s immediately gratifying, and we’re just plain tired after work.
But without consistent Jesus time, our souls starve. We know from Scripture that God is our hope (Romans 15:13), our rest and our safe place (Psalm 4:8), the strength of our hearts (Psalm 73:26), and it is in HIS presence that there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).
Tip #5: Fuel up with God daily: Bid Him “Good morning!” when you wake up. Take 5-10 minutes at breakfast to ask for His hope, rest, safety, strength, and joy as you go about your day. Post one of His promises over your mirror to speak over yourself throughout the week. Crack open Psalms when you’re tired and just let the words wash over you.
It’s important to have lengthier time each week, but the small and the daily reap big rewards, too.
Take the Next Step:
What is one fresh way you want to stay a bit more sane as you build your new life?
I help recent graduates develop clarity & momentum to build the life they want. Schedule an inquiry call today to start pursuing your purpose.