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Life After College and the Challenging Journey to Adulting

life-after-college-adultingStep one for me in the grand scheme of life was to get a college degree; to be honest I’m not even sure why. School was never something I was passionate about. Don’t misinterpret, I liked to learn, but the whole “let’s sign up for ten classes about ethnic nutrition to get my science credit” seemed like a waste of my time and effort.

But everyone goes to College right? You go to an institution of higher learning to get a piece of paper that declares you are capable and worthy of entering the workforce. So that’s what I did. I graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology ready and eager to start my life. I’m learning life after college isn’t as simple as starting a job, much less a career.

Get a College Degree They Said…Now What to do After College?

On the day of my graduation, I was feeling more like “Now what?” instead of an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment and excitement, which is what I was expecting. It’s been two years since my graduation date and I still feel the same way.

It feels like the only thing I have realized is what I absolutely don’t want to do with my life. I wasn’t blessed enough to have a driving passion fueling my every move. I wasn’t ten years old with a toy medical set dreaming of holding a real stethoscope. The future was always something difficult for me to envision.

I had this (naive) notion that once I got my degree jobs would be easy to find and life would just work out effortlessly on my end. No one prepared me for the real trials of life. I was and am lucky enough to have a family that supports me emotionally as well as - I’ll say semi-financially.

Learning How the World Works and What I Want

life-after-collegeTruthfully before graduation I never had to pay taxes or bills or rent on my own. So when I did graduate, I decided it was best for me to keep the job I already had and figure these things out for myself before advancing to the next stage. I bartended for about two and a half years. And considering I was living in a college town where alcohol and poor decisions were plentiful, it was a smart money move.

But I do wish someone told me that easy money like that wasn’t normal and wasn’t how the world works. I was raking in about $300 a night and living my best life. Still, today I look back at that time and kick myself for not saving more money. I blew through it, going out to eat every meal, taking trips, going to music festivals; I call this the “fun” stage of my life.

Rent was cheap, I only worked nights, I partied after work, and if I slept in past noon it wasn’t a big deal. My boyfriend, Ian, also had a job on the nightlife scene. Together we had no worries. Money wasn’t an issue at this point in time. All I had to do was work one shift and I had my rent. One more shift and the bills were covered. Living in the real world was a breeze!

I had more than enough to provide for myself, my dog (Dom) and could even buy things for my boyfriend and take trips with him. Together I, along with Ian and our two dogs, had a nice little stress free life. But I was seriously lacking a passion. I didn’t want to grow up to be a 40 year old bartender, ya know?!

So again the feeling of “What now?”—I find myself asking that question so often. Other questions constantly running through my head: “What am I supposed to do?” “How are people going to take me seriously as an adult?” and “How will I make enough money to pay for grown up things and still have fun?”

The Reality of Life After College…And Moving Forward

Currently I am working two jobs and living at home with my parents; putting in a lot of work and time for half the amount of money I was getting in school. I used to believe that money wasn’t important. The whole hippie mentality of “screw the man." But you know that was easy to think when I was barely working and getting hundreds of dollars to make margaritas.

It never occurred to me that I would have to be prepared for unforeseen events in life. So when my boyfriend and I decided that moving to Los Angeles was a great idea, we went in full force. We lasted four months. Hence my current status: a 24 year-old college graduate working multiple minimum wage jobs and living with mom and dad. A lot of good that piece of paper did me huh?

All of my current stress revolves around the dollar. When am I going to get it? How much am I going to get? Can I please hurry up and find a way to get it and move out of my parent’s house! Please! I never imagined myself in my current predicament. I was going to have my life together by 24 and maybe a child on the way. HA!

The reality of my life right now is just being another passenger on the struggle bus. When I’m not binge watching re-runs of Amazing Race, I’m waking up early and putting in my time; “let’s get this bread” as they say. Iced coffee is my best friend and I’m dreaming of a better future for Ian, our children (dogs), and myself.

The California failure really is a weight on my shoulders. The first big adult thing I ever planned to do in my life fell apart due to the unforeseen things life threw at us. My friends that are the same age seem to really have it together and it’s hard not to compare my life to theirs. I’m slowly realizing that life is really all about learning—the lessons—and not everyone has the same path. So, I’m inviting you into my journey—let’s get through this bus ride together!

Getting a Grip on Your Finances After College

For many people, transitioning to life after college can be challenging. Especially when it comes to budgeting for new expenses and tracking where money is being spent. A good place to start controlling your budget is to know where your money is going so you can plan and even determine what you can put into savings. If you aren’t sure where to start, PrimeWay offers a home budget calculator that lets you easily analyze what you’re doing with your money to get your budget under control.


More Articles in the "Get a College Degree They Said" Series:
California Dreaming: Moving Out of State and the Warning Signs I Ignored
If Adulting Includes a Road Trip From Hell, Our Move to Cali Checks That Box
Adulting Tip: If Moving to a New City Without a Job, Know How to Budget Your Savings
The Struggle of Finding a Job After College…and Other Life Lessons in Cali

About the Author

Kelley Reynolds


kelley-reynolds

Kelley is a recent college grad who is still learning what it means to “adult.” Kelley earned her Sociology degree from Texas A&M University in 2017 and currently resides in the Houston, Texas area. As a guest blogger for PrimeWay, she will take you along on her journey of struggles, discovery, growth and learning in the real world. Read More >>