Gradspot recently posted an article written by Kristen Fischer, author of Ramen Noodles, Rent and Resumes: An After-College Guide to Life, entitled Ten Myths About Life After College. In this, Fischer attempts to take the scary veneer off of The Real World by saying that all those horror stories you've heard about life after college are just that: stories.
The only problem? A lot of them aren't just stories.
I've personally experienced 7 of the 10 items listed here, and upon a cursory survey of other friends and acquaintances, it's pretty obvious that I'm not alone. Have I gone through a "quarter-life crisis" and mild depression since leaving college? Yes. Have I struggled to pay the rent, pay off my student loans, pay for food? Yes. Have I used my degree in my career or stayed in touch with my friends from college? No. Are my troubles just the result of a lack of a go-get-'em attitude? No. And I know plenty of others who have struggled with a lot of these things, too. The chances that you will be able to avoid all of these in your first few post-grad years? Um...not so good.
And it's not that I want to scare people or make people worry about their future. I just want to make it clear that the myths being debunked here aren't myths. They are very real situations, and they are happening to large numbers of people just out of college, just starting their careers. What I want people to realize is that not only do these things happen and happen regularly, if they happen to you (and it's likely at least some of them will), it's not the end of the world. A lot of people are going through the same thing, so you're not alone in what you're experiencing. Just because you struggle with some of these areas doesn't make you a failure or reflect badly upon you in any way. And just because you struggle with some of these now doesn't mean you always will. Things will get better.
A lot of these are useful, or even necessary, experiences to help you, well, grow up. A quarter-life crisis could help you to realign your career goals and move toward a more fulfilling life. Struggling to find a job can force you to improve your resume, your interview skills, and to increase your education or training for a given field. Moving home with mom and dad can be a smart temporary solution, which will save you a lot of money and leave you better prepared for the future. Losing touch with your old friends just means you will make new ones. And not being able to pay the bills can teach you some pretty serious budget skills that will be valuable for the rest of your life. And if you can't think of any other positives coming out of your current trial, at least it will teach you patience: this too shall pass.
Sometimes, knowing what is out there, knowing what you can expect is a good thing. You can make plans and adjust your expectations accordingly. Moreover, knowing that a lot of people are going through the same thing can take the scariness out of the situation. Denying that a lot of young people do go through these things and do struggle to overcome them isn't helpful, though.
You will probably struggle your first few years out. Money will be tight. Your job very well might stink. You may still not know what you want to be "when you grow up." These things are just a part of being in your 20s, though, and while, yeah, sometimes it sucks, this is stuff everyone goes through. It's stuff everyone needs to go through to figure out what they want, how to get it, and how to keep it.