An Almost Post Grad Life: Grad School

A huge part of why I originally started this blog was for the intended purpose of others to be able to share their thoughts and experiences associated with post-grad life, not just my own.

I’ve recently been collecting statements, anecdotes and opinions of other 20somethings floating around adulthood to showcase how even though we all live different lives, the similarities we face as millennials are startlingly similar.

I selected people based on different demographics including age, sex, employment, fields of study, line of work and geographical region. This post will be the first of many in a mini series and I’m excited to share with all of you my findings as well as my thoughts! Enjoy.


Jill is currently a Speech Pathology Graduate student at The University of Pittsburgh with only three short months until graduation. When reflecting on her time in grad school, as well as undergrad, she came to a bizarre realization that once she completes this degree, she’ll have spent a total of twenty years as a student. She says, “it’s exciting but also very daunting to think about finally entering the real world.”

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A question I posed to all of my participants surrounds the idea of identifying what continually stresses them out, both personally and professionally. For Jill, she thinks that “there is always still a part of me that feels I need to prove that I deserve to be in the same place as my classmates, and that I am smart and good at what we are all there to do.” She continues to land on a point that I think is an important for anyone, not only students, which is that of “it’s hard to keep reminding myself that as a student, I can and will make mistakes.” No one is perfect, though we often try to be, it’s impossible.

Another thing, that I can very much relate to, that stresses her out is the dating life. As you may have read in my previous post, being in single has its ups and downs. Jill comments, “Dating  can and should be fun and exciting, but anyone who’s been where I have knows that’s not always the case.”

A common theme in most adults lives, primarily those in early adulthood, is the mundane routines we face Monday through Friday. I asked Jill if there are any frustrations she feels are recurring and she plainly states that it’s the repetition of it all; “I go to clinic, go to class, go home, go to bed, and do it all again the next day.” She attributes going out on the weekends with friends as a break from it all and why it’s crucial to do so.

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Although undergrad was only a few short years ago, we often reflect and realize how our thoughts and opinions have changed drastically in that tight time frame. There are definitely things I regret doing and not doing in college, and I’m sure I’m not the only one, and unfortunately since we cannot change the past, maybe we can help those in the future through advice. Jill remarks that her regret is not studying abroad while having the opportunity to, and her reasoning behind it was “I didn’t want to miss a whole semester at college with all my friends” and admittedly adds, “and looking back that was a really young and dumb idea.”

In addition to dishing out advice, Jill also adds “not to stress about getting a job right away. You have your whole life to work and rushing it will just stress you out and you’ll probably end up at a job you don’t even like. If you decide to live at home and don’t get that dream job right away, do not let yourself or other people make you feel like you are any less because of it. We all know how annoying that question of ‘what are you doing now?‘ gets from the insignificant talk that is unfortunately unavoidable.” And I couldn’t agree more.

Finally, I asked Jill to provide quotes that inspire or motivate her and among them, as it fits well with the central theme of my blog, I chose this one to leave here. “Life is 10% what happens to you…and 90% is how you react to it.

Jill concludes by saying, “Do what makes you happy and feel good abut where you are in your life, and not what you feel like you have to do or should be doing compared to or based off of other people’s standards.”

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The Pros and Cons of Being Single in your 20s

With some people, being single sometimes has a negative connotation, and in some situations? Sure, that’s fair. Like when you go home with that creepy/not so hot/desperate guy from the bar because, let’s face it, you’ve been on a dry spell and you’re 4 shots deep. Or you consistently have to RSVP for one to every wedding you’re invited to with a plus one because you’re still not in a serious enough relationship to commit to bring a guest, and the person you’ve been non-exclusive with  has also been non-exclusive with several other people.

BUT, aside from the drawbacks of being single, there are a lot of positive aspects as well. Here’s my list:

PROS:

  • Being more independent
    • Not that you can’t be independent with a significant other, it’s just more probable that you have to be independent while single. Actually, it’s kind of forced upon you. Sometimes your friends and family aren’t always around to do certain things and you conform to a lifestyle of only relying on yourself for company or a good time, which can be fundamental for various situations in life. Independence is good.
  • Time with friends
    • Let’s be honest, you’re going to have more time for your friends when you’re single. You’re more than likely more inclined to go out and get drunk with your friends on the weekends, there’s no decision making between his or her group of friends, and when you wake up hungover in the morning, you go get drunk again with your friends. In contrast, when you’re in a relationship, things can be a bit different; the decision to stay in on the weekends is definitely easier because you have someone to stay in with, which is fair, but you also now have two different friend groups and two families to divide free time with, which ultimately decreases the time you would usually dedicate to friends. I’m just gonna say it- I think people have more of an appreciation for their friends when you’re single.
  • Your focus is sharpened
    • Your focus on things in general, but also your focus on you and only you, is sharpened to the clearest point. You have yourself to look out for, so your discovery of self-love reaches its highest point, which is daunting. You have more time to focus on being a better version of yourself, more focus on your career and goals, and more focus on anything, really. Relationships can sometimes be distracting between jealousies and disagreements, and being single allows you to be more selfish which I think is more than acceptable in your 20s.
  • Meeting and experiencing new or different people
    • Of course you can meet new people while in a relationship, but you have to admit it’s more difficult. There are boundaries and lines you have to be conscious of, certain plans you can’t commit to, and there’s an awareness of which conversations are acceptable or not. It’s much easier to meet new people when single. Also, being able to experience new people, not just  strictly in a sexual way, but in a friendly manner, is definitely rewarding and beneficial in early adulthood.
  • No bullshit
    • There’s no perfect relationship, that’s common knowledge. But sometimes while listening to my friends bitch about the dumb things their boyfriends did or didn’t do, said or didn’t say, all I can think is “wow, I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with this bullshit.”

With all that being said, I’m sure there are a lot of people thinking I have it all wrong, especially those in relationships, but let me stop you there. There are also a lot of cons to this lifestyles as well.

Cons:

  • Not having plans
    • When you’re only other single friend has plans without you, you may as well just stay on your couch all night, find something to watch on Netflix, and order a pizza because more than likely, you won’t have any other plans. All your other friends are either staying in with their boyfriends or going out with their friends or families. Buzz kill.
  • Constantly dodging questions regarding your relationship status
    • “So, are you dating anyone?” No, mom, and the answer hasn’t changed since you last asked me just a few short weeks ago. Maybe it’s a generational thing since most of our parents were probably married, or at least dating each other at our age, that they find it so abnormal when we’re not on the verge of marriage and babies. But yeah, the question get very old, very quick.
  • Dry spells
    • As nice as it is to have the ability to spontaneously make out with different people, the opportunity doesn’t always occur and there are periods of time when you almost convince yourself you’re a virgin because it’s been so long since you’ve had sex. Inappropriate? Sure. False? Hell no.
  • Wanting to go out but also wanting to stay in
    • It’s so hard to force yourself to sit in on a Friday or Saturday night if you’re not working or have no one else to spend the night with. Sometimes, there’s nothing I want more than to just stay in and watch TV or read, but then the creeping voice inside my head that calls me a loser speaks up and I force myself to go out because society makes me feel pressured to do so. But, when you have a significant other, you can silence these pressures and have someone to cuddle up on the couch with.
  • ‘Ms. Megan Keough accepts with pleasure.. and I’ll take the chicken’
    • As I touched on briefly in my opening, it does become a tad depressing when you have no one to bring as your date to a wedding when you’re invited with a guest. I don’t want to bring just anyone and I won’t, but I guess it would be nice to be able to invite someone so I could get both the fish and the chicken. And also not be the reason there’s an odd number of people at the table…

So, there’s a lot of ifs and buts, pros and cons, and probably a lot of arguments surrounding these points. But either way, cheers to all you single people and cheers to all of you in relationships!

It’s Always Darkest Before The Dawn

The best kind of happiness is the kind that comes into your life when you least expect it. Between toxic relationships, endlessly job searching for months, anxiety, 2017 wasn’t the easiest year. But just like everything else, pros and cons go hand in hand. Although I struggled from time to time this past year, I also had a lot of great opportunities to experience and I’m so grateful to reflect on the better times because good always outweighs the bad.

I had the chance to visit a few new cities, spend a lot of time on the beach, read new books, focus on myself, start a new job and develop new friendships. I’m happy about everything good that has come my way, but I’m not entirely sad to see 2017 come to a close and I’m more than happy to embark on 2018.

As many of you know, I’ve had a difficult and defeating time seeking full-time employment this past year, which I know some people can relate to and I wish you all the best of luck in your process! However, I do not have to continue my search as I accepted a full-time offer right before the holiday. When accepting the offer over the phone, I literally said to the woman, “This is the greatest Christmas gift I’ve ever received”, and there is so much truth behind that.

The past few weeks, knowing that this is the last of my excessive free time, have been so stress- free and relaxing. The weight I feel has been lifted from my shoulders, from both external and internal pressures to find a full-time job, is indescribable.

As the saying goes, good things take time, and I guess time is what I needed. The past year and a half as post-grad have definitely been unconventional from the outside looking in, but I feel I’m right where I’m meant to be. I’m learning that as you get older, people’s opinions of your choices become more and more irrelevant, and I think that’s something everyone should keep in the back of their minds. I think my biggest regret of 2017 was caring so much about what everyone else thought and ignoring what I actually cared about. Maybe it’s easier said than done, but it’s an empowering feeling when you finally conquer this tactic.

Even though it’s just a change in date on the calendar, a new year can be an opportunity for change, growth and fulfillment. Although I don’t have a resolution, and I don’t normally do, I’m definitely more committed than ever to focusing on me in every way, shape and form. Whitney Port posted an Instagram that resonated with where I am right now and I couldn’t love it more.

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She captions the quoted picture with “Loving yourself isn’t only the greatest revolution, but the greatest resolution.”

Wherever you’re at in your life, don’t forget to love yourself. If you’re in a tough place or confused or lost, just remember, it’s always darkest before the dawn, as Florence and The Machine says.

Happy New Year!

Finding Your Identity

One thing that I think about often, is people who struggle with transition out of college and finding out who they really are. Let’s be honest, the four, sometimes more, years you spend in college do not shape you as an individual. They basically equip you with time management and social skills, if you’re lucky. So it can be eye opening to join the real world and not have any idea the type of person you want to be. Do you want to make as much money as possible? Do you want to help as many people as possible? Do you want to develop certain relationships with some more than others? Who do you want to be and what legacy do you want to leave?

Let’s slow down a little.

Just know that you don’t have to have the answers to any of these questions and most of us won’t know for quite some time. I still struggle with having sociopathic tendencies on a weekly basis. A lot of my free time is still spent wondering why I was such a dick in certain situations and why I have little to no filter. BUT I work at it every single day and compared to college where I was a full blown sociopath who didn’t care about anyone but me, I’ve come a long way. And that’s what it’s all about post-grad. Developing yourself little by little consistently every day until you look back, and after a year you’re able to think “Wow look how far I’ve come when I thought I was making no progress at all.”

It’s also important to understand that a lot of people will always see you as the person you were in college and their image of you may never change. It’s something that you have to accept and dismiss. If you live everyday with the drive to be better off today than you were yesterday, then there is nothing that can stop you because the only person you’re competing with is yourself. Don’t compare your jobs, don’t look down at others jobs and don’t put yourself down about your own job. Most people hate their first job right out of school and the “real world” is not like it’s made out to be where it all happens at once right after graduation. Some people will hit their stride out of the gates and others won’t hit it for a while. So live on the grind, compete against yourself and give positive enforcement to your friends. Some people will shit on your dream, or your job, or your decision to take a year off or whatever it is, but that’s because your vision isn’t theirs. You’re seeing everything through a different lens than everyone around you.

Just because you’re trying to find yourself and get control of the reigns doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Go out on the weekends- you can still even drink on Sundays, you’ll be surprised at how many people do. Go on trips- you have a steady income now and are able to do what you love. I love to write, so this is how I’m spending my Thirsty Thursday writing and watching the Yankees. Just have fun with it, whatever it is you do.

“Most people overestimate what they can accomplish in 1 year and underestimate what they can accomplish in 3.”

Does College Groom You To Become A Professional Bullshitter?

Not only in regards to work ethic, college has groomed us to become professional bullshitters in everyday life. Whether it’s pretending to know what you’re talking about at work or lying to your parents about your ‘good’ financial standing in order to justify your degenerate weekend habits, we’ve all become really, scarily good at pretending, lying and fabricating.

Driving home from work one night last week, I heard the latest way college students are sliding by and continuing to do the bare minimum. Coming up short for a lengthy essay? Write in a bunch of random words at the end, make them the smallest font size possible and change the font color to white. Apparently you can cut out a significant amount of those required words.

Half the battle in college, particularly dealing with presentations, is acting like you know what you’re talking about, being confident, sounding educated and not seeming nervous or flustered. Not much has changed from college to work. Whenever I’m asked a question I’m unsure of, or just not completely positive, I just nod my head with reassurance that I comprehend it and am in the loop. However, 80% of the time, as soon as someone walks away I’m breaking into a panic in my head, fingers are going 100 mph on the keyboard, searching for something relevant to the topic, attempting to figure it out. It’s all about playing it cool. I came across this meme on Twitter and found it so fitting for this post.

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And even when you know you’re doing something wrong, or outside your scope of work at the office, you always have a back-up plan, or response, in case you get caught. For example, printing personal stuff, browsing through social media or online shopping, there is always a part of you that is playing devil’s advocate, brainstorming ways to BS your way out of the potential situation of being caught.

Furthermore, when it comes to discussion board posts or papers, sometimes all you have to do is ramble on and on until you convince someone else, or even yourself, that you’re making sense and telling the truth. Similarly to small talk at the office, when someone asks how your weekend was, you’re obviously not going to respond with, “Omg so much fun, I blacked out in the city with my friends, spent most of my time recovering in my bed and virtually achieved nothing productive.” So, you simply say, “It was really good, super relaxing, how about yours?”

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This also occurs when my parents question my spending habits on the weekends. “I thought you were trying to be more conservative with your money and spend less?” Casually, I respond with something similar to, “Yeah I am, I picked up a babysitting shift so I haven’t really touched my paycheck yet.” Half truth, half lie, but I have to keep the bullshit coming especially when it comes to money to avoid a row with my parents, and also myself. Sadly, I think I internally lie to myself about my ridiculous spending habits on unnecessary clothes, food & alcohol. But I forgive myself.

We bullshit through everyday interfaces as well; whether you run into someone randomly and say you’re doing good, even though you might be having a shitty day, you justify buying that $20 pair of shoes because you didn’t spend as much as you anticipated over the weekend, or tell your parents you only had 1 – 2 drinks at happy hour after work, we are bullshitters.

Will we ever get to do something with substance, or are we doomed to a life of bullshit?

Seeking Silver Linings

 

As a post grad, there aren’t many things that come easy. However, there are moments of most days that can be seen as small wins. Someone brings in lunch for the office, you won $5 on a scratch off, you got over 100 likes on an Instagram, etc.

Some of these things could be perceived as shallow and meaningless, but I see them as silver linings.

Waking up early at the crack of dawn five days a week is not my idea of fun in any way. I unfortunately look like I’m still rolling out of bed to get to class most days I go to work just because I value those 10 extra minutes of sleep I should be using towards fixing my hair. But at the end of the day, 90% of my day is spent staring at two computer screens, and I don’t think they mind what I look like. I’m not saying I look like a total slob, but I could definitely look better. But those extra ten minutes of Z’s? Small silver lining.

I commute to Jersey for work, which has it’s pros and cons, but the most obvious con is traffic. Going to work, traffic isn’t terrible, but going home is a nightmare. For anyone that drives to work, I know you understand. However, there are those days that maybe you leave a few minutes earlier than usual, or even a few minutes later, and you overpass all of the rush hour traffic. Bliss. Or, another silver lining of the day.

Among these other silver linings could include things like the people at Dunkin perfecting your iced coffee with the right amount of cream and the right amount of sugar, gas going down 2 cents, avocados being on sale, your parents not questioning your every move on occasional days, realizing you have enough money left over after bills and factoring in weekend expenses to get your nails done, etc.

Even when you’re having a bad day, it’s always nice to take into perspective the good things that happened too, no matter how small they are.

With each new season comes new opportunity, potential, and excitement. Today is the first day of Spring, and unfortunately a Monday, but that doesn’t mean it has to be dreadful. Grab a coffee, do some online shopping, get your nails done, watch a feel good movie, treat yourself to a dinner out- whatever! Then, reflect on your day to appreciate the silver linings that happened, and then just maybe, you can say you had an okay day. Happy Spring, post-grads!

Note: NOT thinking of what you were doing a year ago at college (slumming it, drinking, easier life) every continuous day, WILL make it easier to realize your days aren’t so bad.

Will Life Always Be A Series of Likes? 

Driving in my car the other day, I heard a statistic on the radio that surprised me, or more so, startled me. The statistic read that ‘social media is currently more utilized and active within adults ages 35-49, as opposed to the assumed adult group of ages 20-34.’ After graduating college and entering the adult world, I thought I was exiting the realm of constant and endless refreshing, irrelevant posts, and giving a like for a like. But maybe, it seems, I’m just entering.

As much as we don’t want to admit it, we spend an unhealthy amount of time on various social media accounts such as Facebook and Instagram. It could be classified as a hobby for some of us if you want get technical because by definition, a hobby is an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure. You know what they say, if the shoe fits. And as much as I personally try to devote less time to scrolling through Instagram and looking at the same set of pictures I just saw 5 seconds ago, or watching my friend’s snap chat stories (usually not even paying attention to what I’m watching but just clicking it so it clears from my stories list), I fall victim into black hole of social media.

Perhaps hobby wasn’t even the right word for describing what kind of activity social media is for some people, but maybe it’s a habit. I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve thought to myself “Okay, time to get up and get stuff done, stop looking at your phone” and then without even thinking, I’m right back to scrolling through Twitter or watching a Tasty video on Facebook that I’ll never attempt to try.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with social media- I’m an avid Tweeter, Gramer, Chatter, and Booker, but after this statistic it’s alarming to think that maybe we won’t grow out of this phase and life doesn’t get more exciting as we get older.

My friend, Dee, sent me a screen shot of a tweet she came across that read, “Sooo do I just randomly decide to be an adult one day and delete Twitter or am I gonna be 40 tweeting about my annoying daughter or what”. This woman’s thoughts on the correlation between age and social media hinders why I’m questioning the same topic.

In recent years, Facebook has become more than just a social media site and evolved into more of a foundation on how to keep updated on people’s lives, but more precisely, meaningful things happening in people’s lives like marriages, babies, graduations, and even deaths, unfortunately. This social media site in particular is also probably more often utilized by adults 40 and over, who may not have the time to catch up with everyone of their friends and family on a daily basis, and it provides a good way to stay informed about happenings within the lives of those people you’ve grown apart from, but still care about. So, Facebook, you get a free pass.

On the contrary, Snap Chat is most definitely primarily a younger market, and serves absolutely no purpose. I definitely indulge in using my snap chat story way too often, but when will I stop? At what age does it become too immature and redundant? How many meals can we post on our stories until we realize that no one actually cares, or when will we stop posting ten second long videos of us and our friends that, other than the people involved, no one else has any idea what’s happening. Or when will we realize that we all have cameras on our phones that can take pictures that last longer than 24 hours? (And probably provide better quality, especially if you have an Android).

Instagram is probably my favorite social media site to use right now, because I like looking at really cool pictures of different people’s vacations or artsy photos or just pictures when people look to be their best selves. And of course the memes! But something that I do notice that I ‘m tired of seeing is girls posting selfies with an irrelevant caption,  “throwbacks” from 2 months ago, and degrading or uneducated posts, usually regarding politics, because I think that’s meant for Twitter.

Twitter is useful for different things like promotions, businesses, politics, news, and much more. I think it’s something I’ll probably always use, but when do we stop tweeting things about our own life? When’s that cut off between using it to obtain information about things other than our friends, and use it as a mature adult trying to stay informed about things happening around the world?

Like I said, I don’t think social media is a bad thing, I just think it takes up too much of our time, and how our time could be used towards so much more. I also don’t know when it changes for us. When will it not be all about how many likes you get on a post? When will it not be all about how many favorites or re-tweets it gets? When will we start liking pictures because we actually like them, and not just because we feel obligated? When will we unfriend or unfollow people we added while drunk at a party one night and play absolutely any relevance in our lives?

Social media is definitely important, I especially know that from having my degree in Marketing, but when will our lives stop revolving around it?