The reality of the situation didn't hit me for a few weeks or so. No electronic math homework to do? No papers in the works? I don't have a job post-graduation? Is that a thing? Am I supposed to have a job? What do I even want to do?
To say I was overwhelmed would be the understatement of the year.
It's been all of two years since I graduated with my bachelor's degree. I've learned a lot about myself and a lot about the "real world" in that short amount of time, and below are a few words of advice from one college graduate to another:
First and foremost, take a breather. You just graduated!!! Bask in that accomplishment, because it's a big deal. Relax. Have a margarita or ten, beach yourself like a whale at the pool, plan a weeklong vacay. Take this time to not have to worry about a damn thing. Even if it's just for a day or two...you can do it, I promise.
Understand that you're not going to get your dream job/salary straight out of college. You very well might, but chances are, you won't. It's the sad, sad truth. And the truth hurts.
Having said that, don't settle for a job you don't want. Read job descriptions thoroughly. Listen to your gut feeling during interviews. Realize that it's okay to say, "thanks, but no thanks" to a position that just doesn't feel right for you. It'll save you a lot of pain in the long run.
Travel. Travel. Travel. Put your graduation money to good use! Now is the time to visit your friend that lives across the country, to book a two week tour across Europe with your sister, to take road trip with your S.O. What's that saying? Traveling is the only thing you buy that makes you richer? Something like that. Yes. Just do it.
But also, save your money. Because one day, you might decide to quit your well-paying job to go back to school for something completely different...and you still have rent to pay and a dog to feed. It's nice to have a cushion. And that cushion feels a lot better than an overpriced designer bag (okay, no it doesn't).
Last thing? It's okay not to have your shit together. I kept serving tables for almost six months after graduation. Okay, technically I didn't have my college degree until three months after commencement (damn you, online class!), but still. I moved back in with my parents for almost a year. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. At the time, I wasn't planning on going back to school. Contrary to popular belief: that's normal, and it won't last forever.
To all you grads out there: congratulations! I can't wait to join you once again in a few years. Any other words of advice to freshly graduated college students? Leave them in the comments :)