A year ago today, I was two weeks away from walking across the stage at Wagner College’s commencement ceremony. Classes were over, I had finished presenting my senior Spanish thesis and had only a few days left of my Century 21 communications internship. My last semester at Wagner was coming to an end, and I had very mixed emotions about graduating. I was just ready to be done with school work and finals and move on to Senior Week and make the most of the days I had left with my friends. I was excited for my entire family to have a fun-filled weekend in New York City for my graduation. But, I was not excited to leave behind the friends I made in the past four years and begin the scary journey to “adult life.”
At this point, I didn’t have a definitive plan for summer. Well, I thought I had it figured it, only for my “plan” to change a few weeks later. I knew I would be returning to New York City a few weeks after graduation. At the time, I thought it would be to work for the Fresh Air Fund’s summer program. I had summer housing figured out thanks to a deal with my journalism professor and adviser, and would be assisting the school newspaper over the summer to prepare for the upcoming semester. I did not know that this plan would
change and I would be returning to New York City a week sooner than I originally planned for an interview to intern at the Staten Island Advance, instead. I ended up spending my summer (and a few months thereafter) interning at the Advance, filling my brain with knowledge about newspapers, page design, and copy editing. The money wasn’t great, but the experience landed me a job at a newspaper in my hometown.
I started my job at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette almost 8 months after graduating. After a long summer and fall working nights and weekends at the newspaper in Staten Island, I was finally back in Pittsburgh with my family. My Staten Island-native boyfriend also moved back with me, and everything felt surreal. I was finally getting my own apartment, and entering the “adult life” I had always wanted. At times, I think I rushed into the adult life. Only four months into my new job, I still struggle with my finances. But, I have a lot more than others my age. I am glad to have the independence of my own apartment. Having my own kitchen utensils and patio furniture is so exciting and are small steps of success. Most of the furniture in my apartment is from my gracious family members, or were purchased at estate sales and second-hand stores. But everything is new to me and it feels great to have a furnished apartment where I am able to have people over, decorate how I want, and just have my own space.
If it wasn’t for working nights and needing public transportation, I would not have rushed into getting my own apartment when I could have lived at my parents house. If you have the chance to live with your parents…LIVE WITH THEM! It isn’t going to last forever. It gives you some time to get back on your feet, save up some money, and even pay off some loans. But, if you are going to live with them, don’t waste your money when you should be saving it! Yes, you can go out with your friends once in a while, but partying is not quite the same as it was in college. You can go out, have some drinks and catch up with your hometown friends, but you shouldn’t be drinking as much as you did in college. This is a time in your life to enjoy, but also to start growing up. You are free of dining halls and ramen noodles. I love being able to cook healthy meals and choose what I want to eat. One thing I do miss about college, though, is the free gym. I wish I used it more! I have way more free time now than I did at school (yes, I was over involved, but loved every minute of being busy). If you can afford it, get a gym membership and start taking care of your body. You know you abused it the last four years! There are free options also available in many cities. I am hoping to start taking yoga classes (another luxury I miss), I found some pay-what-you can classes available near me.
For all of the 2015 graduates, enjoy your new freedom. Some of you may never take a class again, but don’t stop using your brain!! You can always learn new things. Continue to read and explore and fill your brain with brain ink (a term from my friend’s blog about post-grad life). Don’t stop being busy, and use your newly-found spare time in a good way! For those of you continuing your education, that’s great, too! It’s important to keep learning, no matter how you do it. And if you don’t know the answer to the class question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?,” know that it’s perfectly okay to still have no idea what you want to do. You spent four years of college trying to figure your life out. But it’s more complicated than deciding on a major, or a career. Do something you love. Don’t pick a job based on the salary, or even the hours. You’re young, and have years until you will have to worry about a family or larger responsibilities. Pick something that will teach you, that you will love doing, and that makes you step outside of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid! Things will fall into place, and you will unexpectedly find yourself in a place where you are meant to be. And having that feeling is amazing.
Congrats, Class of 2015!