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  • Writer's pictureLauren

Dealing with the post-college blues

It’s been a little over a year since one of the biggest shifts in my life, leaving school. From the time that I could form coherent thoughts I was in school and then in December of 2020 I transitioned from a student to a full-time working professional. Then, on top of that, I moved away from everything and pretty much everyone that I knew. Before graduating from college I had heard of the different iterations of post-grad depression like post-grad blues or despair, but I honestly didn’t think I would feel any of that. I had a job lined up and was ready to start my new life. I was of course sad about moving away from my friends and family but excited about the opportunity as well.

A lot of times when we think of post-college blues (or depression, if it becomes more severe) we think of not having it all together not having everything planned out. I always assumed that if I had a job after college I would feel great, life would be happy and butterflies and rainbows. Then real life hit me hard. I started working and realized that this would the rest of my life. I wasn’t sure what that meant or if I liked it. Spending the next 40 years doing this?? EVERYDAY! I’m still trying to come to terms with it. On top of that, I had gone from a place where I was with my friends and family all day to a place where I essentially knew no one, yet there were people everywhere. It was a lot of change. I found myself missing my old college life, where my friends were right next door, where my family was only a short drive away. I missed the constant learning and the feeling that I was working towards something. I missed that there was always something exciting to do, whether it be a club meeting or a basketball game. So now faced with the exact opposite. I felt despair. I questioned whether I wanted to stay in New York, what I really wanted to do in life and what I really wanted to achieve in life, and who I was and wanted to be.

According to WebMD and Healthline here are some of the reasons that people feel a sense of post-college despair that I've touched on.

Your vision of post-college life and its reality don’t match.

You feel pressure from yourself and others.

You’ve transitioned abruptly into the adult world.

Your friendships and social life have changed.

The pandemic has already made you feel anxious and alone.

Many times when young adults face this they feel loneliness, sadness, decreased motivation, and a sense of disorganization. The feelings for me came and went, some days I was hopeful and excited and some days I just wanted to go home. Eventually, I got tired of spiraling like this and decided that I was going to set up some steps to make myself feel like the best version of myself again.

Here’s what I did to help my transition from full-time student to full-time adult.

Getting rid of these feelings isn’t linear or one size fits all. For me, since I have a job and am financially stable, the feelings were more about the loss of community and the things that I enjoyed being gone. Though I have a job, I questioned what I would do for the rest of my life and what I wanted to do in the future. I asked what my purpose would be, what I was passionate about and so much more.

Self-reflection: This is often something I do when I feel lost within myself. I’m a big journaler so that’s where I put a lot of my feelings. I start by identifying my feelings and putting them down. Then I began to reflect on who I wanted to be and what I wanted my “new life” would look like.

Some questions to myself:

  • What do you want to do when you grow up — think crazy, think big,

  • Things that make me happy

  • Things that I got away from that I want to do more off

  • What excites me everyday

  • What challenges me

  • Who do I see myself being

  • What is valuable to me

  • What makes a good day

The final question and the most important part is how to get there, which leads me to the next part of my life

Bringing back motivation through creating expectations —

I had accomplished my biggest goal in life already. I got through school and found a job, so I was asking what next. Without those two big goals, I felt somewhat stagnant, so after establishing what was important to me and what I wanted my life to look like I worked to establish things that would get me there and make me feel good.

Some things were as simple as waking up earlier or stretching in the morning. These are small things that would make me feel that I accomplished something and would springboard the rest of my day. Some other things that I wanted to do were waking up early, writing, and creating videos. These are the things that would help me get to where I want to be and I felt that by laying them out I would at least have an idea of what I should be looking to accomplish in a day whenever I felt lost.

Building consistency in these things helps me to be my best self. Consistency is not one of my strong suits, but having a clearer idea of my goals is a good starting point for me.

Trying new things — Even after school, I found that I truly did love learning. On top of that, I learned that I love trying new things and creating new experiences. Doing a combination of these has helped keep life more engaging. There are so many things in the world that we could try

  • Taking a pottery class

  • Trying to embroider

  • Working out

  • Exploring new places even if it means going by myself

  • Reading about new subjects

  • Traveling to new places

Trying to create a new community/ leaning on my old one

One of the most significant adjustments was being away from the community that I created while I was back home in Maryland, which requires a lot of external effort that can be hard for me as a somewhat introvert. This has been the hardest part about moving, some of the ways that I’ve been trying to branch out and meet new people.

  • Using social media and apps to connect with people in the area

  • going to networking events

  • Group meetups apps like Clock Out have been great for this

  • Joining a new sorority chapter in the city

  • Getting to know co-workers

  • Calling/ texting my friends more often to keep in touch

Seeking outside help —

I talked to some friends about how I was feeling. If the feelings become unmanageable or hard to deal with talking to a professional is advised. It’s still an option that I want to explore while I continue to get adjusted! For me, the feelings stayed a type of blues. But for many young adults, the feelings can become more intense and turn into a type of depression, in this case, it is advisable to seek help from a mental health specialist.

Big transitions can be hard, and this is arguably one of the biggest ones that we will experience as we are going into the rest of our lives. So many people struggle with this so I wanted to talk about it. What are some tips that you’ve used?

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Oct 28, 2022

Totally relate with a lot of this and I'm glad you mentioned getting help from mental health professionals.

I stretch a lot myself and found that when I couple that with meditation and reflection it really goes a long way.

Thanks for sharing :)

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