Written in response to Elite Daily‘s piece, “5 Conversations You Should Have With Yourself Before You Graduate”, Loner came up with the actual conversations you should have with yourself upon entering “the real world.” We think they’re pretty insightful.
From the mouths of the grads who marched before you:
1. “How am I going to continue my education now that school is ‘over’?”
“Let’s be real. My true education began once college was over. Yes, I definitely learned a lot in college–both about my subjects and myself. The reality is, though, that I was still kind of a dumb kid who had no idea what the concept of real work was, or how to really educate myself. I thought, education means being in a classroom of peers with whom to bounce ideas, and a professor to guide you. And sure, that is totally one way to get an education. There will never be an accurate measurement for the benefits of being around other people who will expose you to new discussions, and vice versa. However–this is not the only way to educate yourself.
Upon graduating from college, I moved–almost by accident–to a big city to pursue a career that had little to nothing to do with my college major. It forced me into uncomfortable situations where I felt ill-equipped. It forced me to read books I never thought to read and to expose myself to people who were totally different and, literally, foreign. It forced me to work my butt off, too. I work harder now on any given day than I ever did in college, and I am reading and exploring topics on a daily basis that I never would have considered touching when I was in school.
The bottom line–whether or not you are jumping outside of your major after college, your education should still continue, as should the boundaries of your comforts, limitations and knowledge. And realize–just because you are no longer in a classroom does not mean you can’t continue to receive an education.” -Katie
2. “Take what you do–what you love–seriously.”
“Whether it’s analyzing the stock market or drawing cartoons, recognize and honor your talents, take them seriously and work at them. Don’t self-deprecate when talking to other people about what you do. Often, it will be more of an exercise in convincing yourself that you’re legitimate and professional, than convincing the person with whom you’re speaking. The way you speak to yourself matters, just like the way you speak to others matters. Also know that once you get out of college and get a job (if you get a job), that you won’t be good. You won’t have confidence in what you do. Why should you? You have no experience to back it up. Just keep moving forward. Trust your abilities and learn from your abundant failures. You are good, and you will be great if you trust yourself and keep working at whatever it is that you do.” -Claire
3. “Do I really want to give up my 20s–to grow up so quickly–because the last four years has told me to do so?”
“College prepares you for ‘life.’ Why is life in quotes? It’s not because of a Joey Tribbiani misunderstanding of the use of air quotes. It’s because college spends four years teaching students how to get jobs, build a perfect resume, useful skills for the workforce and to be a productive member of society. These are all important traits, no doubt, but starting a career right out of college may deprive you of some of the greatest opportunities to seize life experience.
We learn and grow so much in our 20s. It’s the time to travel, live abroad, start new businesses, pursue different interests and be creative. There is always time to join the workforce, be promoted, buy a house and fill it with babies and pets. There’s not always time to find yourself or your true passion.
Ask yourself, do you want to start a chain of events that will accelerate your life, when there is still so much to see and discover? If that’s your dream, then go for it. But those choices should come with great thought, and not just because it’s what you’ve been preparing for.” -Tyler
4. “What type of environment do I thrive in?”
If you’re not a morning person and your most productive hours are afternoon/evening–you might be screwed. Depending on your chosen profession. It’s taken me years to let myself off the hook for not being ‘up with the dawn’. Everyone has their optimum environment–and not just in relation to sleep patterns:
“I was so focused on job title and description that I didn’t think hard about the culture I would be entering into. Looking back, that is the #1 reason I had when considering leaving an organization. Poor teamwork, lack of mentorship, corporate culture–these are all things that are super important, but that get overshadowed by details like starting salary and benefits. Happiness is a happy culture–so do your research.” -Megan
5. “Is my college degree really going to take me to where I want to go?”
Now, this is tough. Did I just waste my most valuable resource–my time–and money on all this fanfare? Aren’t they handing out college degrees like stuffed animals at the fair these days? In the words of the late, great, fictional Joe Keller, “You stand on the street today and spit, you’re gonna hit a college man…there’ll be nobody to take away the garbage.”
While college degrees are becoming more and more ubiquitous, and jobs seemingly fewer (what with all the people and that capital Recession), many are beginning to question the actual value. For-profit colleges shutting down weeks before graduation and $120,000 in student loans can sure make you feel like you’re being bamboozled. And there’s always the cheerful words of my dear friend (and successful music producer) Mike, “That was a waste of money. Next time, just do it yourself.”
He brings up a valid point. While I don’t think most will ever view their college years as a “waste”–at the very least you walked out with a great experience, awesome friends, the opportunity to be in a liberal, learning environment and an overall keener and more apt sense of self–there is something to be said about not getting caught up in the hoopla of institutionalized, hard-beaten paths.
The four (or five) years you spend in college won’t define you, or even be the “best years of your life,” as elders insisted on telling me multiple times–much to my annoyance and defiant exclamations against. But, it will probably be the last carefree time of your life. The last light, breezy, “I have all the time in the world”-time. Because whatever that feeling is, and you may not even remember it, it will leave. You won’t realize it, or know that it’s happening–just one auspicious morning, triggered by a memory or conversation or some brutal moment of reckoning–you realize it’s just somehow gone. Beat down by a few years of rejection, heartache, toil and relentless persistence. But! (silver lining, please!) there might be something else–something more positive, more confident, more resolute, more resilient in its place.
Like you’ve heard a thousand times: Follow your bliss. Because it will lead you to this place. And also–think outside of the box. This is 2015, there are a million ways to accomplish your dreams and only one you. If ever there was a time to be creative and innovative and blaze a trail–it’s now. And you don’t need a college degree to do that.