Life Other

Personal Thoughts : Life After Graduating College

May 15, 2019

It’s been almost a year since I graduated New York University. And it’s been a full year full of uncertainty and the beginning of my journey to discover what I really want out of life. I know so many people who are graduating this month from universities across the country and I wanted to share my experience and some words of comfort for those who are in the same place I was in. 

I am going to back up a bit to give you a more detailed background on my academic history, let’s start from the beginning. I entered NYU with as much as excitement as I could have mustered at that time. Flying across the Atlantic to study my freshmen year at Florence, Italy was something I could have never fathomed when applying to colleges. Weird to think that was almost 6 years ago! Traveling through Europe for a year was and still is one of the best years of my life. 

Returning to NYC during my sophomore year, I was ready to take on internships and the big apple. Everyone had jobs and I truly felt the hustle. People were working at the Big Four companies, interning at startups that were creating innovations beyond imagination and all the while studying their butts of. So along with the crowd, I got my first internship at a law firm and it was an amazing experience. I have to admit that I did get lucky with my boss who is still an amazing mentor today.

And as my college years flower into senior year, I went through several other internships while studying. Not having a job/internship was something that was almost looked down upon. I mean everyone was achieving something amazing..it was hard to keep up with what else someone has accomplished. I felt like I was just pushed into that culture of needing to do something and achieving the next big thing. Idling around was not an option.

As I entered the second semester of my senior year at NYU, I began to think about life after college. My career and how I can advance further in my education loomed at the forefront of my thoughts. I was scared because I didn’t have any after-graduation plans, anxious that things won’t work out and also excited because I was finally getting a diploma! I’m sure a lot of you soon-to-be graduates or already graduates fell the same way as me.

I tried to push all those thoughts aside by focusing on my internship at the time and also on my grades….determined to finish strong. And I tried to be stressed with other minuscule things like finding the perfect graduation dress ahaha. But through the late nights and silent moments, the thoughts of insecurity always managed to lurk back into my mind. How could I have paid $250K and graduated with no full-time offer?

This is a common question that is asked amongst recent grads. Even though your circle might all have jobs lined up and their life planned out, the majority of grads have no idea where they are headed next. Going to a top university doesn’t stop the world from becoming real or the fact that we can no longer hide behind our school name. Stripped of my constant schedule and comfortable lifestyle that I had gotten accustomed to in the past 4 years, I was in a state of severe uncertainty. 

Instead of applying to all the jobs out there, I took time to really think about what I want to do with my life. Granted, I know that is a luxury given the fact that my parents really pushed to ensure I was happy and going towards what I truly want to do. I knew I ultimately wanted to back to school, but I definitely needed to do something while I studied for the LSATs. After some significant time, I began to apply and really tried to hone in on certain fields. And that process was in itself a crazy period of a million questions lingering in the air. When will I find a job? Will I get a call back? Is this the right job? Another interview?! 

Graduation week is always going to be a week that I will never forget. I still remember the look on my family’s faces when I got my diploma. That diploma doesn’t just represent your hard work, but also all the sacrifices that the people around you have invested for the past 4 or so years. I know this will be hard but instead of focusing on the next thing, take the time to live in the moment. Put your next move, job position and goal out of your mind for the time-being. Remember to thank your family and friends, congratulate yourself for all the hard work accomplishment and take lots of pictures!

And after, you can think about the next steps slowly. Do what is best for you and where you want to go in life. Think of goals you want to work on and how can you get there? And getting a job out of college is not the only path! You can travel (there are lots of ways to make money while traveling), go back to school or even relax for a bit! Don’t confine yourself in situations without realizing all the options. Most importantly, never compare your progress with those around you. You will have friends who will get instantaneous “success” and those who’s life just click. You are you and should only worry about YOU.

The uncertainly will never go away. But that’s what keeps life exciting right? It’s almost as if you are thrown into the “real world” after graduating – nothing is for certain and you will be left to figure things out. But things will turn out alright and you will end up where you are meant to be. The process won’t always be easy and the road won’t always be perfectly paved. Embrace the uncertainty to be the driving force behind where you ultimately want to end up. Remember this quote “You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously”. No matter what you’ve done (or haven’t done) and what you’ve planned (or haven’t), your future is bright. 

Having the perfect job, living in some big city or even having your life planned out will never fully define who you are. You are more than your resume, your diploma, or any definite object. Muffle the natural tendencies of feeling not enough that society has slowly masked us in! There are always unexpected twists and turns in life; some people land “dream jobs” to find out they hate it! Annddd, I bet that your friends are in the same boat as you — feeling meh is okay! Remember that no one expects you to have everything figured out. It’s okay to want one thing one day and another the next, you are not confined by your college major or decisions. Even though we are only posting the best versions of ourselves online (our best highlight reel), we are all learning along this journey. Try to learn more about who you are as a person during this process and learn to love the process. 

It’s been an entire year (it flew by) and I am still figuring my sh*t out. I may not be where I thought I would have gotten to, but that hasn’t stopped me to continue. I’ve been at my lowest points this past year, but also learned the extent of my will. My one word of advice to you is to CONTINUE to learn. Pursue your love wherever it lies and learn to push yourself, but also cut yourself some slack. One last quote I want to leave you with is: “What is coming is better than what is gone.”

If you are graduating, CONGRATULATIONS! Embrace the uncertainty and the adventures ahead. And for my fellow graduates, I would love to hear your experiences after graduating college! 

SHOP THE POST

A million and one thanks for reading – until my next lil’ thought then!

xx jen

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26 Comments

  • Reply Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's May 15, 2019 at 3:23 pm

    I totally agree with everything you said about uncertainty! I’ve been chatting with some blog friends, most who are in their late 20s, and all of them agree that the early 20s are really tough because that uncertainty. Most didn’t feel like they had any stability in their lives until 5 years or so after graduation. I’m learning to embrace the uncertainty and be okay with it, because it’s inevitable so I gotta make the most of it! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

    • Reply lilthoughtswithjen May 15, 2019 at 7:06 pm

      yesss i love hearing this because it just shows that we are all in this together!
      xx jen

  • Reply cate May 16, 2019 at 3:58 am

    i did the opposite and studied one semester abroad in vermont (I am Italian) and omg! the best academic time ever! I learned how to write essays for example and so many extra activities. and all the people! so many magical moments!!

    Cate // 35mminstyle

    • Reply lilthoughtswithjen May 16, 2019 at 7:35 am

      that sounds soooo amazing! I am so glad that you enjoyed your experience – studying abroad is definitely one of the best decisions!
      xx jen
      http://lilthoughtswithjen.com/

  • Reply Kelsey Bang May 16, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    congrats! such a fun and exciting post!
    kelseybang.com
    4allthingsdisney.com

    • Reply lilthoughtswithjen May 16, 2019 at 7:22 pm

      thank you!
      xx jen

  • Reply Simone May 16, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    Time flies so fast, unbelievable. It’s such an emotional moment to celebrate the graduation, you will never forget this moment. No worries, if one door closes another one will open for sure!

    xx Simone
    Little Glittery Box

    • Reply lilthoughtswithjen May 16, 2019 at 7:22 pm

      i agree! this is amazing advice!
      xx jen

  • Reply Mica May 16, 2019 at 9:21 pm

    What great pics! You look so sweet in your little white dress! It’s good you can give advice to other people in a similar situation to you! 🙂

    Hope that your week is going well 🙂

    http://awayfromtheblue.blogspot.com.au

    • Reply lilthoughtswithjen May 18, 2019 at 8:46 pm

      thank you so much mica! i want this post to help as many people as possible! thanks so much for reading!
      xx jen

  • Reply Claire May 16, 2019 at 9:24 pm

    i agree with you that the uncertainly will never go away but with time , everything will be much more clearer! love your dress!

    https://www.clairetalksbeauty.com/

    • Reply lilthoughtswithjen May 18, 2019 at 8:48 pm

      yess time will always show that the hardships we go through are worth it! thanks so much for reading!
      xx jen

  • Reply Geraldine May 16, 2019 at 9:53 pm

    Congratulations on your great achievements girl! Graduating college is certainly a huge day you’ll never forget. I applied to NYU back when I was a senior in HS but I couldn’t fathom paying $240-250k after graduating hahaha! It can be pretty daunting, seeing how everyone around you was achieving great things and feeling the pressure to do the same, as doing so otherwise would make you feel much inferior. The unknown, aka the future, is full of surprises! We just have to keep on with it and enjoy the ride. What a cute photo shoot btw!

    Geraldine | https://geraldinetalks.com

    • Reply lilthoughtswithjen May 18, 2019 at 8:49 pm

      thank you so much for reading and for all of your sweet words – they mean the world to me and the fact that you were able to share your thoughts with me! I totally agree that seeing other people succeed seem to be so much better than what we are doing ourselves!
      xx jen

  • Reply SundayDahlias May 17, 2019 at 10:58 am

    Graduation is such an exciting but nervewracking time I remember, because there’s so much pressure to get the dream job and have your life figured out. When in reality you have no idea what youre doing!😆 But everyone has their own journey so its not right to stick to sone standard the world may have

    http://www.sundaydahlias.com

    • Reply lilthoughtswithjen May 18, 2019 at 8:50 pm

      yess you put all of my thoughts the perfect sentence! focusing and being able to enjoy our own journey in life is so important!
      xx jen

  • Reply Rach May 17, 2019 at 4:50 pm

    I’m 31 and the uncertainty never goes away. You kind of just wing it at life and somehow opportunities arise. And when they do, we all have to have the grit to go after it.

    http://www.rdsobsessions.com

    • Reply lilthoughtswithjen May 18, 2019 at 8:52 pm

      wow this is a beautiful insight and thank you so much for sharing + reading. I am so excited for the future but still learning how embrace uncertainty!
      xx jen

  • Reply Shelbee on the Edge May 18, 2019 at 6:40 am

    Aw, Jen, what a beautiful post! You know, not much has changed in the 23 years since I graduated from college either. I remember so many people I knew having these wonderful jobs lined up after graduation and I was so lost. And at 44 years old, I am still trying to figure it all out! But this is the journey and it has been an amazing one. I wouldn’t change a thing because all the mistakes and missteps and successes and great things have brought me right here…to the happiest place I could be! I wish you so much luck with everything…just enjoy the ride and be YOU!

    Shelbee
    http://www.shelbeeontheedge.com

    • Reply lilthoughtswithjen May 18, 2019 at 8:54 pm

      hi shelbee! thank you so much for reading and leaving me this AMAZING message. I am learning to embrace all the uncertainty that comes with life and to learn to live in the moments. I am definitely someone who is always looking forward to what I can do next…but this past year really have taught me to enjoy the process! have an amazing weekend!
      xx jen

  • Reply Jim Fetzer May 18, 2019 at 8:18 am

    The best time to think about the life after graduation is before graduation. Regardless of what level the students are in college, as long as they didn’t graduate yet, it is the ideal time to think about how to enter the real world.

    • Reply lilthoughtswithjen May 18, 2019 at 8:57 pm

      I agree that students have to think about life after graduation, but I think there should be less stress and pressure around curating the perfect “after graduation life”.
      jen

  • Reply Katherine Tran May 18, 2019 at 12:45 pm

    I loved this because everything is so true and how I felt even though I graduated three years ago. Life after college is rough haha and even now, everything is not turning out anywhere close to how I’d hoped or expected, but it took me a long time to not be hard on myself and believe that everyone has their own timelines! Thanks for sharing this, girl! All the photos were so cute.

    http://myclusterofthoughts.com/

    • Reply lilthoughtswithjen May 18, 2019 at 9:02 pm

      Hi Katherine! Thank you SO much for reading this post + leaving me the best message! You have literally summed up all of my feelings into these words! I am learning to embrace the process!
      xx jen

  • Reply Sophie Wentworth May 18, 2019 at 5:45 pm

    I can really relate to this! I left university not really knowing what I wanted to do or having any real plans and that’s totally okay! I loved what you said about not comparing too! Sometimes we all need to take a minute to figure it out at different paces x

    Sophie

    • Reply lilthoughtswithjen May 18, 2019 at 9:06 pm

      yes yes yes! thank you so much for reading and for leaving me your thoughts! I was in the same spot as you and felt so lost! know that i am cheering you on!
      xx jen

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