The year after college graduation is arguably one of the hardest years of a young person’s life.
We have to leave the comfort of our families and friends and go out into the real world. And it hits us. Hard.
They try to warn you in college. “Stay here as long as you can.” “Don’t leave the party.” “The real word is tough.” But we don’t really listen.
We’re so ready to use that degree and get started on the rest of our lives. But boy is it different than we expected.
You really do have to go to work every single day. It’s harder to meet people and make friends because you’re usually at work. And once you get off work, you’re so tired you just want to crawl in bed and binge watch episodes of “New Girl” on Netflix.
But who said you have to get your first job and conquer the world all within the first year or so of college graduation?
It really is okay to work at that entry level job and take it easy for a little while while you try to figure out this whole life thing. So, go to work and go home and lay in bed whenever you feel like doing so. As long as you eventually get it together and reach for your dreams, it’s okay, and here’s why:
1. You’ve been volunteering, studying, or partying for four straight years.
While college is the most fun possible, it’s also a very exhausting part of life. It’s fast-paced and non-stop. You’re either in class, at the library, at an organization meeting, or out with friends almost always. There’s really not a lot of downtime when you’re trying to live up the “best years of your life.” So, take a break. Be lazy after work during that first year at your new job. It’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’re a loser or a failure.
2. Being 20-something means you’re still young and you still have time.
It’s great to have goals – short and long-term – but that doesn’t mean you have to accomplish them all right now or even before next year. While you should be working toward those goals a little at a time, don’t stress out and try to accomplish them all before you’re 25. It’s okay to put off extra work on that Monday and go indulge in Chinese takeout and a bubble bath instead.
3. You don’t have to always be doing something.
With social media playing such a huge part in our lives, we feel like we always have to be doing something and then showing everyone what we did, especially when we’re in college. We went to this sorority function or this fraternity party or hung out on this random Tuesday night because “we’re so much fun and we can have a good time and have good grades.” In the “real world” though, you don’t have to do something “fun” every night. It’s okay to just go home, watch TV, and go to bed. No one will think any less of you, and it doesn’t mean you don’t know how to have fun.
4. One day, you might not be able to be so lame.
Eventually, you will probably get married and have kids. As I’ve learned from watching my parents, you don’t get much time to come home and relax and ignore all responsibilities when you have mouths to feed and bills to pay. So, enjoy it now! Kick off your shoes and leave them right where you kick them. You can clean your house tomorrow. Because guess what – you’ll have to clean up a lot more once you have those kids. Your house or apartment doesn’t have to be spotless and grocery shopping isn’t vital when it’s just you. Just accept the clutter for the day and go through the drive-thru for breakfast (and lunch and dinner) tomorrow.
5. Life is way too short to focus solely on success and not sit back and enjoy the ride.
Although it would be nice to be successful and make a large amount of money, it’s really not the most important thing in the world. Those who are successful have probably worked very hard to get there, but don’t you think they’ve given themselves a break every once in a while too? If not, then chances are, they aren’t as happy and fulfilled as they should or could be. It doesn’t hurt to just relax and not have an agenda sometimes. Just hang out with people. Visit your family. Go sit at a coffee shop after work and read for an hour or three. Don’t stress about deadlines or your next job or making sure you’re on the “right track.” Taking a year for yourself is not a crime. Enjoy it while you can before you can’t. You never know what could happen. Life is unpredictable. So, chill. Be lame. Have fun all by yourself. Don’t do anything at all. Do whatever you want!
The point is – do whatever makes you happy and don’t worry about getting to the end goal yet. If working all day every day makes you happy then seriously do it. But if you want to go home and sit in the bathtub with Chinese food, Taylor Swift blaring, 5 candles lit, and the lights off without feeling guilty, then do that.
Whatever it is, lame or not, do it without feeling like you’re missing out on what everyone else is doing. Chances are, there are plenty of other 20-somethings out there sitting in their bathtubs too.
You’re not falling behind or failing or screwing up your life by just “being” for a while. There is nothing wrong with figuring it all out rather than going full force all the time. That’s when we really screw up. When we go so fast that we don’t slow down to breathe and learn and love who we are where we are, we will eventually run out of fuel and just crash.
So, take 6 months, take a year, take 2 years and be lame and love doing it. You’ll get it together one day soon and you’ll be glad you spent a few nights a week on the couch when you’re making money, taking care of a family, and having a pretty set schedule.
Some of your friends probably do have families and busy schedules, and while they of course love their families, I’m sure they would tell you to take advantage of this downtime and lame it up because you can’t be lame forever.
This doesn’t mean to let yourself go, give up on your dreams, struggle through your job, and turn down any and all plans. It just means that you don’t have to avoid “being lame” just because you think everyone else your age is “being cool.” The coolest people in their twenties are probably like Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, and Arianna Grande, so everyone else you know is “lame” compared to superstars anyway.
And when you feel like everyone else is being cool because they just posted a picture on Instagram about their recent trip to India, you turn your phone off, sink into that tub, and give yourself a lame pass. You can go to India some other time.