Last Saturday marked the one year anniversary since I graduated it college. They aren't kidding when they say time flies. It’s an odd feeling because on one hand college feels like FOREVER ago and on the other it feels like it was only yesterday. After seeing everyone’s graduation pictures I got a little reminiscent of my time at school. It also made me reflect on everything I've done and learned over this past year. So, I thought it would be fun to share that with you a few of those lessons.
1. Trust Your Gut
To say it was hard to leave Louisville once I graduated would be an understatement. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. It wasn’t necessarily the fact that I was leaving school, it was more so because I was leaving a life I had built for myself the past four years. My friends had turned into my family and I wasn’t ready to let that go. As embarrassing it is to admit, I cried a whole week straight. Even in public. I bursted into tears in a restaurant. Which led to my friends balling their eyes out, which then led to one very confused waiter.
That being said, I'd be lying to you if I didn't have something in my gut telling me to move back to Chicago, even through all the tear-ridden goodbyes. Deep down I knew it was the right decision.
Fast forward a year and I can honestly say it was the best decision I ever made.
It’s always hard to leave something that feels so familiar and comfortable. We get this idea in our head that if we stay in the exact spot nothing will change and we can stay in a blissful bubble forever. HAH. If only that were true. Goodbyes are hard but not following your gut can make you miss out on a lot of amazing opportunities and regret things later on.
2. Know When to Let Go
Whether it's a friendship or job opportunity, it’s hard not to justify a reason to stick with it (or at least in my experience). I’ve had friendships where I’ve tried so hard to keep the relationship alive, constant emotional support to someone who wouldn't do the same for me. Did it get messy? Yes, of course. But life is messy and sometimes you need to know when to let go.
As for in the workplace, I have one or two stories of jobs that went south because I didn’t leave when it was time. If I would have admitted to myself that it wasn't working out and took control of the situation a lot of awkwardness would have been avoided.
3. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
They should have a crash course in getting out of your comfort zone, especially the year right after school. It’s a COMPLETELY new playing field filled with unknowns. And if you don’t dive in head first you’ll end up missing out.
Once I moved back to Chicago I took a job that put me WAY outside of my comfort zone. The best thing about making a fool of yourself and embracing the uncomfortable situations? They start to feel not so uncomfortable.
If I could give any advice to anyone who doesn’t know how to step outside their comfort zone it would be this: say "YES" to everything and anything (within reason of course). Sometimes you’re going to wish you just stayed in your bed. Other times you’re going to be glad you pushed yourself out the door and into something unknown.
4. Speak Up for Yourself
It would be so exciting if I was to tell you I've mastered this one. But sadly, I'm still learning. 9 time out of 10 when I've pushed myself to speak up for what I want it has come back positive. Whether it's in relationships or work or just in general.
5. Some Friendships Will Inevitably Fade
This is similar to #2 only this one is more about understanding that the people you were close to a year ago, you may not be close to now. That's not say if you see them in two years or ten you still won’t be able to pick up right where you left off.
6. Embrace the In-between Stage
I was absolutely miserable the first three months after school. It was mix of feeling lost and frustrated and a whole lot of other emotions. It took me months to finally stop being so hard on myself. I literally had to tell myself it was okay to be at the place I'm at now. It's important not to dwell on the things you can change and focus on the work you are doing now.
7. Book That Flight
Over the course of the year, I've gone on three trips from one coast to another. What do all these trips have in common? They were kind of spur of the moment "I'm young, so why not?" kind of trips.
Yes, I have no money now. Do I regret going? Absolutely not.
8. Never Dwell Too Much on the Past
It will only hold you back. Trust me. I think a lot of people wish they could do things differently. But what kind of life will you lead if you only dwell on the things you can't change?
9. Importance of Family
This one might get a little too personal. But over the past year, I lost my grandpa and our family dog, Pumpkin. I know everyone has their own way of dealing with death and it's hard to see loved ones go. But I also think it puts a lot into perspective. It makes you appreciate the people you who are present in your life and the time you have with them. Nothing should ever be taken for granted.
10. Fake it Till You Make It
FINALLY. I used to roll my eyes when people would give me this advice but it's true. It's almost as if adult life could easily sweep you up and make you feel inadequate but in order to get through it you have to get up, dust yourself off and act like nothing can hold you down.
Because in the end, people are going to criticize you no matter what you do. It's a lot easier to not give two shits and do exactly what you enjoy.
Hope you enjoyed this little life lesson moment.