3 Real Life Lessons Every College Grad Needs For The Real World

Congratulations to the Class of 2017!

June 10 2016, I graduated from Seattle Pacific University where I received my B.A. in Communications with a Journalism Track. This post is for college graduates or anyone with an open mind venturing off to the real world. I truly believe these things will help you navigate this exciting and scary time in your life.

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1. You are 100% Responsible For Your Own Life

This one is tough to swallow. This is a fact and there's simply no way around it in our world. You are responsible for your own life. 

  • Your landlord doesn't care that there was a death in your family and you missed the grace period for rent, you'll get evicted. 
  • Your boss doesn't care that you haven't slept in days because your parent is terminally ill then you gotten sick, your seen as incapable. 
  • Your friend doesn't care that your depression is crippling and the strength it would take to hang out makes you even more anxious, you'll weaken your relationship. 
  • Your followers don't care that you struggle with severe insecurities and haven't posted in months because you're afraid of not being enough, you'll lose them and your credibility. 
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I'm sorry to say this but no one ACTUALLY cares.

REAL TALK: I wish I could say that people are more understanding in "the real world" than they are in college but it's quite the opposite. There's so much grace for you in college because you're trying to navigate all life's challenges while you're writing a 15 page paper. You might get a D but your professor will encourage you to keep going. Your boss on the other hand...cares enough to be ethical in the workplace. But he would probably have fired you as soon as you sent the e-mail about a late project.

TIP: Your boss should have NO idea what's going on in your personal life. If there is something major like your parent passes away and you must fly home then yes, please alert them (hopefully a head of time)! But if you just broke up with your partner last night and you're an emotional wreck...leave that AT HOME. If you need to cry then take 3 minutes and go to the bathroom, a quick walk outside, pray, journal, whatever. Develop systems to help you just finish TODAY. 

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2. Your Emotional, Mental, Physical, and Spiritual Health MUST be Your First Priority

If you are not present or constantly feel like something is off then you need to actually go to the doctor. Continue your yearly check-ups. Go to the dentist. Get insurance and use the benefits from your job. Even if you eat healthy and workout 3-5x per week! Go see a doctor. Put your health first so that you are present, focused, and effective in day to day life. 

In America, over 15 million people have mental and emotional health issues that are untreated. Some of us are lucky to live and work in communities where we can freely talk about the daily obstacles anxiety and depression. But more of us aren't able to. Your friends may say things like

  • "Just push through, you got this!"
  • "Seriously, you're sad about this again!? Get OVER it already!"
  • "You're a mess. Let me fix you. I think you should do x,y, and z."

REAL TALK: The people in your life who say these things aren't able to deal with their own mental and emotional health, which is probably why they are dismissing your real feelings. Unfortunately, this means that they don't deserve to hear battle. 

But what happens when you go to the doctor and you're healthy, your counselor acknowledges all the awesome break throughs in the past few sessions, or you go to church, volunteer, and serve on a ministry team....and you still feel empty. We are spiritual beings and when we are disconnected from God (your higher power), we lose ourselves. 

TIP: When you graduate, there's no more FREE counseling or check-ups. You have to do the work of taking care of yourself. Use your work benefits that already come out of your check anyway. This becomes your personal investment. But it does not have to be expensive. You can find resources like Better Help for affordable, unlimited counseling that's on the go. I encourage you to set that up IMMEDIATELY after you graduate. Why? Life will kick your ass and then stop all around it. 

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3. You Legitimately Have to Surround Yourself with BETTER People Than You

Regardless of the college you attended, your school built a sense of community. Whether you lived in the dorms, on campus, or off-campus apartments; the classrooms, cafeterias, and library were the foundations of your relationships. Be prepared to lose friendships because you out grow people. You should be nervous if you had the same friend group, doing the same thing for several years. This is why you need to consciously curate your friend group of people who are smarter, better, faster, and stronger than you. (Disclaimer: I'm not saying get rid of your best friend. Think about who's in your circle.)

  • You are a reflection of the people you hang out with. Y'all don't have to have identical thought patterns and beliefs but your core should be very similar. 
  • Friends who challenge your beliefs, habits, and mindsets are helping you grow. Don't use them as your therapist. Have reciprocity and simply watch them with admiration. But you must confidently know what you bring to the table.
  • If you are the smartest person you know then you're very ignorant. You don't know everything. In fact, you know very little about the real world. Remove your ego and consciously connect with someone who is smarter than you in a lot of areas. By doing this, your mind is open to who you could become.
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REAL TALK: Stop hanging around the same people and expecting your life to change. You won't grow because you're trying to have a harvest with dead crops. This is not an excuse to be a jerk and yell screw you to all your friends. But intentionally ask yourself who is bettering your life and how you are bettering there's. Be brutally honest and then remove people who handicap you.

TIP: Go to events and meet people. Challenge yourself by doing things ALONE. Yep, that's what adults do...they attend events ALONE to meet NEW people. Not only will you be proud of yourself but you'll have courage to endure the real world alone. 

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APPLYING THESE TIPS:

This picture was captured moments before I balled my eyes out because everyone had their parents their hugging and kissing them except for me. My mom was too ill to travel and my entire immediate family decided it was best if they could not go. Then all of my immediate family (minus my brother and sister-n-law) sent me a congratulations text and told me that they weren't going to come last minute. I was crushed. I sunk into a huge depression and had several break downs, y'all. I didn't want to celebrate or walk across that stage. I felt like what was the point without having my family there cheering me on.

1) I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR MY OWN LIFE - I need to enjoy MY OWN graduation, with or without family to support me. This is a big deal FOR ME. I wasted my time sinking into a depression that I missed a HUGE moment to celebrate. Stop wasting time feeling sorry for yourself. You rob yourself of moments you'll never be able to get back.

2) MY MENTAL, PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, AND SPIRITUAL HEALTH IS EVERYTHING - I binge ate every day. I gained SO much weight. I slept a LOT. This affected work. This affected the last quarter of my grades that I worked so hard for. I was a mess. But I still went to counseling. I still finished my assignments. I made the Deans list. I walked across that stage while having an panic attack. You better get up off your ass right now and keep going.

3) I SURROUNDED MYSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO LOVED ME - My parents couldn't be there. But my brother and sister-n-law who are like second parents showed up for me. It reminded me that they've NEVER missed a big day in my life. They ALWAYS pushed me to excel in life. They ALWAYS believed in me. They ALWAYS had great expectations for me. They ALWAYS showed me grace. Grateful would be an understatement. The # of people clapping for you means NOTHING. If you have 1 person or even if it's just you, clap for your damn self.

What piece of advice resonated with you?