Growing up really isn’t the end of the world, and I think if done right, life after college can be the best years of anyone’s life. But there are some realities that need to be confronted in order for that to happen.
You can’t keep drinking like you’re in college
I mean, technically you can, and for some people it might actually work out. But for the most part, excessive drinking after you graduate is a setup for failure. Drinking is fun, but it’s also expensive, fattening, bad for your skin, and has a habit of bringing out the worst in people. Realistically after you graduate you can probably justify getting black out drunk a few times a year, but as much as we all hate hearing it, you should embrace moderation once you’re a real adult. Stop drinking for no reason, and stop getting belligerently drunk for no reason. Again, as someone that drank like a sailor in college (and quite a while after graduating) I know how much no one wants to hear this, but after dramatically cutting back on alcohol I’ve been able to see drinking for what it really is. As much fun as it is, you have nothing to gain long term from drinking. When you drink in excess you more likely than not look stupid and ugly and are predisposing yourself to poorly aging.
You will become disgusting if you don’t actively take care of yourself
My freshman year of college, diet and exercise were foreign concepts to me. Calorie counting? Never heard of her. I could literally eat an entire large pizza in one sitting and not think twice about it, and I still looked like this.
4 years later? Not so much. I was at my largest in 2015 and had my wake up call when my best friend told me I was “10 lbs away from being fat.” I’ll be honest – the past year or so of my life has been insane and my diet has been all over the place. There were times that I would almost entirely forget to eat and times that I would eat like an adolescent male hog. I still need to establish more regular eating patterns, but I have steadily and (mostly) consistently maintained my daily limit of 1000 calories. I’ve also started exercising more regularly. Growing up means taking care of yourself. The longer you take to form healthy habits, the crappier your body will get in the meantime, and the harder it will be for you to fix the mess you’ve created.
You realize that having it all is next to impossible
Having a cool high paying job that actually excites you, a great relationship, a family and an abundant social life is possible, it’s just not likely…at all. Most people are lucky to get just one of these things. Growing up, I’ve realized that most people hate their jobs no matter how much they make. They’re settling for mediocre relationships out of fear of ending up alone. They have kids because it’s expected of them, not because they want to or they’re ready to. They hang out with people they don’t even like because it beats sitting at home alone on a Saturday night. The reality is that you have to figure out what matters most to you and prioritize it because the likelihood of you having it all are slim to none.
Your relationships will change
As you grow older, everyone’s life seems to change at different paces. Some people are propelled headfirst into the corporate world and suddenly have no time for anything or anyone else. Some people move in with their significant others right after college and their relationships become their entire lives. Some people are even planning families immediately after they graduate – and not in the “CVS Family Planning Aisle” way – the actual “let’s intentionally bring life into this world and raise them together” way. Crazy stuff. And as much as it may initially hurt that you don’t have as much in common with your friends as you once did, you can’t hold it against them. People are supposed to get jobs and start families, and you can’t be mad that your lives are moving in different directions. That’s life, and it happens. Just because you’re in different stages doesn’t mean you can’t still be friends; it means you have to focus on finding new people that share your mindset and goals.
You realize that you’re on deadlines
If you’re a woman that wants to have kids, your cut off is around 35, and in many cases even earlier. So in theory, you want to be married at 30 at the very latest. Ideally, you’d know the person you were married to for 2 or 3 years, so you need to have found the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with by 27 or 28. And considering the fact that you’re not likely to find the love of your life at a bar or a party and how negatively most men view women that go out a lot, you need to have most of your partying done by 25. There are exceptions to every rule, and people defy the natural timelines every day, but there’s no more surefire way to end up old and depressed than pretending that deadlines don’t exist.
Popularity kind of matters
On one hand, popularity doesn’t matter. But on the other hand, developing the right skills that predispose you to popularity is. So many people get so far in life not because they’re particularly talented or intelligent, but because people like them. People enjoy talking to them and they enjoy being around them. When people like you, they’re willing to go out of their way to help you, and that means a lot when you’re at a particularly low point. You don’t have to be popular to succeed, but you have to know how to be likable.
Being nice will get you nowhere
For almost my entire life I’ve let people walk all over me, and not because I thought it would get me anywhere but because for better or worse, I’ve always been a nice person. Even after people had done me wrong and I had every opportunity and motive to act out of spite, I chose not to. I can’t bring myself to be intentionally mean – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But I also am terrible at standing up for myself, and there’s nothing noble about that. I don’t intend to ever stop being kind, but I can’t keep giving people a benefit of the doubt they don’t deserve, and I can’t keep looking out for everyone but myself. You can’t expect to succeed in the real world if you can’t tell people to f*ck off when they deserve it.