I’m sitting here and I have the terrible urge to write. I haven’t written anything since graduation, which was over a month ago. For four years, writing was what I spent most of my time doing. I’m having trouble writing again now that there are no prompts. I need to get better about finding the prompts in daily life.
I don’t want this part of my life to vanish. I chose to study what I did because I thoroughly enjoyed it and it became a part of me. What do I have to write about now, anyways? Now I sit at a job every day just like everyone else. I’m budgeting my money and putting as much as I can into savings for God knows what, just like everyone else. I keep hearing the words retirement and mortgage floating around, but those aren’t real concepts to me yet.
This summer feels just like every other summer throughout my college career. I had a 40 hour a week internship, went to the grocery, cleaned an apartment. However, in the past I’ve worked for two, three, or four months and had plans to go back to my beautiful, little liberal arts university at the end of August. Now, I don’t have those plans. I do, however, have a work trip scheduled in September which is a little different.
What an odd limbo-like place to be in. It’s not yet the real world to me, but everyone around me is acting as though it is. I’m trying, I really am, to get my life together. I’ve setup my dental plan through work and I go shopping at the store with the best prices (like I’ve actually ever compared how much a gallon of milk costs at each grocery store).
I’m keeping up with my friends who are in the same area as I am, though in the back of my mind I still believe that we’ll all be together again, every day of the week, in a few short months. The realization that that will never be the case again, isn’t exactly a sharp pain, but a dull ache that seeps through my entire body. Most of us will never be in the same city again. Some of us will move away over and over. These friendships will take a level of effort that we’ve never had to put into them before. That might be the greatest adult responsibility of all.
I feel as though I’m playing house. At some point, this charade might end and I can go back to school and enjoy my life of minimal responsibilities, thinking how far in the future career planning and rent payments are. This is another realization that causes a dull ache when I come to. I am making very important decisions that will impact the rest of my life in one or another. They will impact my happiness in the immediate future and they will change the course of my life.
There’s no manual for how to do this the right way. Nothing about this journey is black and white and it doesn’t look the same at all from one person to the next. One thing that might be more universal is the preconceived notions all recent grads have about the real world.
I know that I’ve been told over and over that the real world will drain you, suck the life out of you, that the years in between your graduation and retirement will not be at all pleasant. The majority of our lives then look very bleak. Coping with that idea has been hard for me and so I am actively searching out the good in every day no matter how small. Again, these small good instances are not uniform for everyone. Mine consist of finishing a book, successfully cooking a new recipe, and getting to bed at a decent hour. None of that sounds thrilling, I know. Those are just my little things. Not every day can be a trip to an amusement park or a concert or a ballgame or whatever it is that really gets you excited. Everyone has unique small things that can get them through even the toughest of days.
Here’s another idea (and normally one of my good things every day): play the high-low-high game. I know that sounds like a terrible cliche and it is. It is one of a few things that has stuck with me from my sorority days. At the end of every day, I lay down in bed and let my body sink into the mattress and bring my fluffy comforter up to my chin and ask The Boyfriend what his high-low-high was and then I tell him mine. For your sake, I hope you can find a more willing partner (sometimes it’s like pulling teeth). Ask a roommate to share theirs, text a friend, or just go through yours with yourself and take stock of a couple of little things that made you happy on any given day.
I haven’t been in the real world for very long now, but I can see how the grind of it could make you lose focus on the little joys in life. It is important to remember that every day might not be some huge, momentous occasion, but that is no reason to dismiss the day. Find what brings you joy and you’ll never replicate the horror stories that everyone told you about when joining the real world. Stay mindful and positive and we all might just get this thing called life figured out.