Navigating life in your 20s is not easy. Everyone is in such different places in their lives - whether they're students, working, in a relationship, or single. While college prepares you for the working world, it does not really prepare you for post-grad life. Whether you graduated from a big university, private college, or community college, one question remains true: What’s next? Realistically, you never know what opportunities lie around the corner. And you don’t have to know exactly what your plan is; there’s no timeline for a happy life.
It took me seven months post-graduation to realize that I don’t need to have a clear plan. I learned to accept that some college friendships will undoubtedly fade, and that it's okay to spend time alone for a while. However, I also knew that I had to put myself out there and find new hobbies, interests, and of course, friends.
During the first two months after graduating, all I wanted to do was sleep, eat, watch Disney+, and be alone in my room. I basically fell into hibernation after overworking my body and brain in college. I experienced tons of low moments after contacting friends from college and receiving no responses, or texts saying that people moved, or are working. I was struggling, broken, and desperately lonely. I was not passionate about the things that I was involved in at college anymore. As my social life dried up, my mental health quickly plummeted. I felt like a failure because all of my friends had summer plans, grad school plans, or were in relationships. I wanted to be like them, but I also wanted to be my own person.
Over the next few months, I began to ask myself: What do I do now? Who do I hang out with? What am I passionate about? How do I cook? How do I get money? I was not sure where to start with my life after school. I didn’t have access to my own car. I was an only child. My friends moved on or were too busy. And all of my college resources like the Career Center were more than an hour away. I felt hopeless. However, I reminded myself that college graduation wasn’t the end of the world. It was the beginning of my adult experience. I saw old college friends on social media traveling, volunteering, getting married, hanging out with their friends and families, and working. I had major FOMO and I didn’t know what to do. I had no one to reach out to since my parents were working and all of my friends were on vacation.
But since I wasn’t going on vacation or getting married anytime soon, I knew I needed to build a life for myself. I wanted to open a fresh chapter, but didn’t know where to start. So, I began to apply for jobs, volunteer opportunities, remote activities, and ambassador memberships online. I applied for things that interested me like writing groups, mental health advocacy, social groups, and artist fandom accounts. I had to start somewhere! I also found apps that helped me join social groups to make friends. I quickly realized that there were tons of opportunities - both social and work-related. However, it was up to me to put myself out there. Nobody could help me except myself.
Over the last seven months, I learned that college graduation is not the end of my narrative. It is the beginning of a new chapter. Since graduating, I’ve grown so much by pushing myself every day to apply for something - whether it was a job or an ambassador opportunity.
No one told me that life post-grad in your 20s was going to be boring, lonely, and scary. In order to save my mental health, I used the internet and social media to my advantage. I also had to accept that my college friends moved on to the next chapters in their stories, and had less time for me. I learned that it’s okay not to like the things that I liked in college. Growing is part of the beauty of life.
No young adult experience is the same when you are in your 20s and just figuring yourself out. You will find your people and your place; you just have to put yourself out there and try new things!
Tips for mastering post-grad life:
1. Join alumni groups or volunteer.
2. Use the MeetUp app or EventBrite.
3. Find events on Facebook.
4. Put yourself out there. (Go to trivia nights, go on solo dates, join a social club, volunteer, make friends with co-workers or your friends’ friends)
5. Reach out to your old friends and try to make plans.
6. Remember it’s okay to be alone.
7. Join a recreational class, team, or club
8. Find online friends. (OfficialMyClub.org, Discord, Tiktok, Bumble BFF, Wattpad, Fandoms, concerts, etc.)
9. Go on a walk in your neighborhood.
10. Apply for a job.
Written By: Katherine ChungInstagram: @katchung_17