As a soon to be post grad, I find that every “20 Things You MUST Do Before Graduation”, “Senior Year Bucket List” and “Why The First Year After College Is The Hardest Cause You’re Broke, Single, & Unemployed” (is this last one just me?) article that litters my news feed has a tendency to resonate with me. I scroll through article after article, laugh, cry, and shudder at the thought of what will happen after I move out of my beloved yellow house on 13 Madbury Road. I am sure that most of these articles hold great information about coping, how to deal with the withdrawals that result from longer drinking four nights a week, and overall about how to adjust to a new life – and all of this is well and good.
However, once we’ve mourned, moved out, and “moved on” – something our parents seem to think comes so easily- I want us to realize all the opportunities that are to be had in our twenties. Instead of thinking of college as the four years that we define as the best in our lives, let’s pretend those years are only yet to come and that college was just a preview for the next decade. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll miss it just as much as the next person. In fact, I’ll probably be in therapy. This is just my way of trying to shed some positivity on the otherwise rude awakening that is the “real world” – whatever that entails.
Whatever your plan, or lack thereof, is for after graduation, remind yourself that the party’s not over. A lot of us will be fortunate enough to work in awesome cities like Boston & New York where the drinks may consist of $8 dollar beers and $10 vodka sodas, but for once in our lives, we’ll probably have the money required to pick up that tab. Unfortunately, most of us will probably have to dish out a pretty little penny to pay our students loans as well. I don’t really have a positive for you here except that there is a six month grace period until payments start so consider that your era (brief period) of living large. If your new roomies double as the people who raised you, be thankful for the time you have with them cooking you dinners, doing your laundry should you be so lucky, and in general, not having to pay a dime to the landlords. It may be painful, but the time will soon come when we’ll all be paying rent again and this time, you’ll probably be eating ramen noodles out of a solo cup versus the home cooked meals you were served where the heat was always above 60 degrees because hey, you weren’t paying the utility bills.
If you’re restless like me, you may be looking to make a bigger life change and physically move somewhere and start something new. The best part about these years is that now more than ever, we have zero obligations except the ones we owe to ourselves. Fourteen years will fly and all of a sudden you’re thirty six and have a snot-nosed two year old glued to your hip in the grocery store and you decide you want to take a trip to a girls trip to South Beach because the kids never stop whining, you don’t remember the last time you slept past five am, and if you don’t take a break to sit on the beach with a tall glass of vodka then something drastic might happen. Not to say that those “early family years” won’t be a blast or anything… But UNTIL THEN… let’s have our fun while we still have about a decade to do so.
My 20’s bucket list includes, but is not limited to:
-Travel back to Europe, live there for a year
-Find my way to Asia
-Visit the West Coast
-Go on an African Safari that isn’t at Animal Kingdom
-Attend as many friends’ weddings as possible
-Sky dive somewhere cool
-Hike a mountain worth bragging about
-Identify and find my real dream job
-Write a book
-Give back something to someone somewhere
-Buy a car
-own a pet that isn’t a minnow or a beta fish
-Visit D.C because I’m ashamed to say I’ve never been there
-Take my parents out to dinner for once
-Visit Niagara Falls
… and the Grand Canyon for that matter
-Become fluent in a new language
-Attend Black Friday shopping
-Get my wisdom teeth out (this HAS to be accomplished while I’m still on the rents’ insurance)
-Attend a Jimmy Buffett concern with my dad
-Run a 5K – It’s only 3 miles, I know.
-Have a Hangover-esq weekend in Vegas
I’m not naive in thinking this will all get accomplished and at least half of these things I could have done in college but there were always other things preventing me from doing so. Besides making money to fund my bucket list, these are my priorities. These are our most selfish, unapologetic years and I am milking that for all it’s worth. I know we’re all obsessed with each other and it’s going to be hard to not see the same faces in every class, house party, or bar, but we’re getting another chance to build yet another network of friends here. The first year of your job will be like Freshman year all over again, hopefully minus the humiliating ice breakers and awkward encounters in the dining hall that follow a particularly blurry night in Sigma Nu’s basement. I want to preface this next sentence with an apology for the cliche – but instead of thinking of graduation as an ending, let it be the prologue to your new beginning as a 20 something. Everyone loves to tell us how notorious our generation is for selfishness so let’s indulge them. Most importantly: Don’t make excuses. You can always go back and get your degree, certification, blah blah blah, but if you want to settle down someday, these next years are yours.