A loyal reader of The Frenemy, I couldn’t help but admire one of the site’s recent blog entries on what the blogger has learned since graduating from college. Having just celebrated my first “grad-versary,” I’ve compiled a list of the things I’ve learned since fleeing the University of Arizona:
1. Apartment hunting is similar to applying for Harvard or a glamorous profession. When my roommate and I started our condo search last July, we couldn’t believe how many landlords shunned us and mocked our efforts. Homeowners are understandably hesitant to board up unemployed twenty-somethings, but we weren’t insanely undesirable. Before I make an offer on my next home, I’ll be sure to rent a Marc Jacobs dress (does that designer even sell clothing? I wouldn’t know, I’ve just heard of his handbags), tote around my Coach purse (it’s my one guilty pleasure), and cough up my pay stubs.
2. It’s odd to transition from suspected druglord neighbors in college to mature neighbors in the real world. Reflecting on the times when my close college friend/roomie Carolyn confronted the perpetually high folks in our apartment building, I realize my new place is relatively undramatic. Random little kids run up and hug me in the mail room and lobby. It’s quite the contrast from Carolyn’s arch enemy, Jabba the Hut, who screamed at us when we told her crowd to stop blasting Lil Wayne at 2:30 a.m. during finals week.
3. College inflates your figure, but the weight comes off once you leave the university environment and your diet no longer consists of blueberry scones, burritos, Cheez-It’s, and blended coffee drinks.
4. Don’t make the egregious mistake of giving your number to young wealthy cowboy types at the airport. The following day, you’ll realize how impersonal it was to be asked out on the tarmac and ordered, “As soon as you get back from your trip, you’re going to call me and we’re going to hang out, and you’re going to make the plans.” If you have bad Karma, he’ll be on your returning flight, giving you no choice but to sprint to the back of the plane, ignore his texts and calls inquiring if you’re on the aircraft, and proceed to hide in the bathroom for a half hour after landing. Though it’s great to be spontaneous, don’t give your information to strangers, even the fairly attractive ones. I guess your mom and dad could have told you that, but a reminder doesn’t hurt.
5. Work doesn’t have to be horrible. In fact, it can be your most precious young life experience if you do something you love. I feel very lucky about my work placement, even though I was jobless for six months after getting my bachelor’s degree. Regardless, TheDC position was worth the employment hiatus and uncertainty! I never thought I’d work somewhere that would reward employees with a pub crawl and party bus. Just, wow.
6. College buddies really are the greatest. You’ll stay in touch and maintain the connection no matter how far apart you are in location, but it’s also important to make new friends. Just don’t forget about the people who listened to you complain about the same problem for an entire academic school year. Love you Jazmine, Dyanna, Kendra, Luke, Anna, Carolyn, and Angela!
7. Food shopping was way more fun in college. During my UofA days, I used to laugh at the peculiar Tucsonans at Fry’s and Trader Joe’s. While I don’t miss being told by random creepers that I’m the hottest person in the entire grocery store (what an accolade, right?), I’d like more downtime. It’s painful to buy food during my spare hours. I mean really, who wants to do that for fun? Growing up, I enjoyed going to Safeway with my father, who could make any experience hilarious and worthwhile, but now I’d rather sleep or do something thrilling on my day off.
8. Free gym access at college was a true luxury, but all the people who go to my apartment building gym actually work out, unlike my male classmates who sat on the benches, stared at the mirror, and pretended to lift weights. To be honest, I miss the group of con artist men who feigned fitness productivity. They’d be fascinating to study.
9. Staying up past 10:00 p.m. on a week night is the worst decision ever.
10. If you want to be taken seriously, you either need an impressive wardrobe or to carry yourself well. Because I have an aversion to high heels and prefer comfort over style, I’m definitely limiting myself professionally. Whenever I think about this reality, I consider going back to the bay area where sweat pants are considered socially acceptable attire for nightlife (hyperbole alert). As time goes by, I hope to man up and try a little harder, as I’m surely missing out on some great opportunities at the moment.
11. It’s fun to be surrounded by young, unmarried, high achieving folks. Back in college, my friends and I always thought we were behind the game for not getting into serious relationships (not that we found any promising lads), but now I see tons of people were and are in the same position. I’m actually relieved none of my short-lived flings or “complications” carried over into the real world.
11.5. That reminds me: You’re only negatively affected by something if you let yourself be wounded. Chances are, you’re probably sad about an unrelated thing you haven’t addressed. Don’t be fooled, and don’t trick yourself into thinking you’re hung up on an old flame. More than likely, you need to fill some sort of void and you just haven’t traced the source of the problem yet.
12. Having a college degree, paying bills, and working full time don’t make you a real adult, especially if you still laugh at movies like “Good Burger” and “White Chicks” with your best childhood friend.
13. Dating doesn’t improve, but you do get better at handling disappointment, and you know better than to get attached to anyone too soon. Plus, what could be worse than an entitled douchebag college guy? Nothing (except for maybe Arnold Schwarzenegger), so you’re sure to encounter quality prospects once you escape the college setting.
14. I wish I’d enjoyed my college graduation ceremony and not been so concerned about the fact that I hadn’t lined up a job yet. If I could go back, I’d smile wider in my photographs.
15. While we’re on the subject of graduation, I’ve learned that it’s totally okay to have no plan. As long as you have an end goal in mind, the uncertainties will melt away. You’ll eventually flourish, and only then will you be thankful for the terrifying days you spent wondering what would become of you.