Hey y’all. Today, I’m challenging myself to open up with you and talk about a time in my life when things were really, really hard with the hope that it will resonate with at least one of you. If you’re coming up on graduating from college, have recently graduated from college, or are close to someone that’s in that situation, then this post is for you!
I graduated college in 2016 from the University of North Texas. Exactly 2 weeks after I graduated, I got married. About 2 weeks after we returned from our honeymoon, I interviewed for and was offered my first big-girl job. We moved into our first home together and I was truly on my own in the real world for the first time. Y’all… that was A LOT of significant life changes in a matter of a month. Now don’t get me wrong, those are all wonderful things, and I’m not complaining. But even wonderful things in life, especially things that involve significant change, can overwhelm us. For me though, part of the issue was that I had no idea that I was becoming overwhelmed. That may sound weird, but I thought because all these great things were happening in my life that I was doing great. But I wasn’t. Slowly but surely, life was catching up with me and I had no idea.
Consider this post a PSA for all of you in those situations I mentioned at the beginning. If any of this is sounding familiar so far, or even if you’re doing okay but are simply unsure of what is next, I hope this helps you in some way and makes you feel less alone. I want to validate all of the things you may be going through, help you recognize them in your own life, and give you advice on how to get through them more easily.
- College itself can take a toll on you. It’s a “go go go” atmosphere where everyone is fighting for the finish line (aka graduation) and constantly thinking about and planning for the future. That alone is enough for you to decompress from. Once you’re done, take a breath. You just finished something significant, and you should give yourself some time to pause, process, and rest after all your hard work. In the moment this seems like a waste of time because you’re now running a new race to find a job. But trust me, it’s worth it. Take some time before you start serious job searching, go on a trip, or if you’re already in the works of getting a job, see if you can set a start date that will give you some time to rest beforehand.
- As you’re in that process of looking for a job, give yourself grace. If you need time to figure out what you actually want to do, take it. Jobs will always be there. If you don’t get those first jobs you apply for or interview for, that is okay. If you suddenly feel the desire to pursue something that is completely unrelated to what you just got a degree in, THAT IS OKAY. I feel like I gotta say that louder for the people in the back. Friends, I work for Hannah, which by the way is my dream job and what I truly believe I was meant to do, and I have two degrees in education. Talk about taking a different path, ha! Give yourself permission to do what is best for you. Pray that God will reveal his will to you, and trust that He will provide for you. Try your hardest to not look around and compare yourself to all the other people out there that seem to be getting their dream jobs straight out of college. Keep your eyes focused on your own path, and give yourself grace in the process.
- Talk through it. Validate to yourself that this is a very significant and potentially difficult transition in your life, and talk about it when it gets hard. Let me quickly wrap up my story for you here. A couple months after all those big changes I mentioned earlier, I started that first big-girl job as a teacher. It was hard, and I learned quickly that it was not for me. I felt stuck, and that feeling combined with all the change that was catching up with me that I hadn’t processed yet… clobbered me. I ended up leaving that job before the school year ended (which is kind of a big deal in teaching), and didn’t talk to a single soul about it for weeks because I was so embarrassed. I had developed severe anxiety and depression, and I felt crazy, weak, and like a failure. My mom had convinced me to go to counseling around this time, but it took awhile for me to even open up there. But once I did start to open up, it got better. I forced myself to keep talking through it, and I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t. Now I’m not saying that what happened to me is going to happen to you, but when things do start to get difficult, talking about it with those closest to you will help you deal with it and move forward and not bottle it up. Whether it’s a parent, friend, spouse, mentor, or whoever else, find someone that you trust that you can vent to and confide in when things get overwhelming.
I want to end on a lighter note here, and say that while this chapter of life can be really hard, it can also be a lot of fun! I want to validate the feelings that come from the hard stuff, tell you that it’s okay to feel that way, and then encourage you to keep moving forward and also look for the good stuff. Your 20’s are a time when anything is possible. Let yourself dream, play as hard as you work, make memories, build a family and/or a career, and soak it all in. We’re right here with you trying to do the same every day.