The 3 Hardest Lessons Post-Grad Has Taught Me

I remember it like it was yesterday. That’s the most cliche thing anyone could ever say, but I promise I do! It was summer before my senior year of college, and I was honestly dreading it. All the seniors around me were all over social media expressing their excitement about our last year of college, saying things like “I can’t wait to get out of here!” My parents were ecstatic too, with good reason to be. Their baby girl was finally getting her Bachelors degree!

…Honestly though, I never shared the same excitement. Nobody would’ve really known because I always forged my biggest grin when I was asked about graduation.  I was anxious. Scared. Confused. But, there was more to it than just my future path.

Graduation Picture
A couple months before graduation!

Of course, just like high school or college graduation, there was much anticipation about what was to come. Where will I work? Will I do graduate school immediately, later, or would that eventually become not-at-all? Do I reaaaaally have to consider moving back home? Long story short, I graduated in May and eventually everything fell into its place. I graduated college, and had the best summer of my life post-grad. I was accepted into a masters program at my alma-mater, received an assistantship teaching, and another assistantship that offered a full-ride to school. Perfect! This was going to be a breeze… or so I thought. Then reality struck, and I’m navigating through it. I’m still learning these 3 lessons. They seemed trivial when I first started to realize them. My problems feel so small compared to others that my friends have expressed to me. But, I quickly learned: if it makes you uncomfortable, triviality doesn’t truly matter.

1. “Perfect” Doesn’t Equal Happy

 By no means am I perfect. I know that, and that’s not quite what I’m getting at here. But on paper, and maybe even on social media, you’d think things were perfect.

Master’s program? Check.

Job? Double check.

School paid for? Check.

Boyfriend? Check.

Good friends and a support system? Check.

So in the realm of all things perfect, why was I feeling so down? I just remember going through the weirdest slump near the time graduate school started. There were times where I’d cry for no reason. Time spent alone turned into binge-listening to the saddest songs I could find. I remember one of my coworkers made the comment that I’d seemed much more jaded recently. I just didn’t feel like myself.

Some huge sources of support during this slump… even if they didn’t know! 

Why, in the realm of all things perfect, was I feeling this way? I’m still not sure. Sometimes I still slump into these moods. I can’t pinpoint where these feelings come from. It’s hard to actualize anything like that when you’ve always been known as the happy friend and the person who’s always smiling.

I’ve started practicing reflection often as I get older, and making time for things that make me happy. Blogging, YouTubing, painting, and spending time with the people close to me are outlets that mitigate these negative feelings. If you’re the strong friend, the bubbly friend, the happy friend, the “perfect” friend, learn to accept the sadness that comes from virtually nowhere. Know it’s okay to feel it, and practice combating it. Don’t be afraid to verbalize it. If your friends are real, they’ll understand. You’re not by yourself.

2. Accept Your Weirdness and Try New Things

I’ve always been weird overall, but not really publicly. You know how there’s a “good weird” and a “bad weird?” Don’t play oblivious! The good weird that makes you laugh and that everyone claims to be on social media. Then the “bad weird” attributed to “geeks” and people who are socially introverted (which is totally unfair by the way!).

I feel like most people have things they truly enjoy that they hide from people because of fear of judgment. After graduation, you realize none of that stuff truly matters. The apprehension to indulge because of others makes even less sense. So, I’ve began sharing and accepting the things I like that aren’t conventional.  Here’s a few.

Anime.. I think it’s become more accepted lately, but before now, most of us said it was for “geeks.” But actually, it’s pretty damn cool! I’m just getting into it, but some really great ones I’ve watched so far are Attack on Titan, Death Note, and Sword Art Online. I love that the episodes are only 20 minutes, so it’s easy to binge watch. The plot lines can also get really intricate and intense. Sometimes, I like to go on Instagram and look up cosplays of my favorite characters. It’s totally nerdy by society’s definition, but I like it.

Dungeons and Dragons.. So this definitely threw me for a loop! If you don’t know what it is,  look it up. It’s an RPG (Role-Playing Game). When one of my coworkers invited me to play, I was apprehensive. But, it’s actually pretty fun. I now play with my coworkers every Thursday night. I don’t see myself continuing outside of playing with them, but I now see why people get so into it.

Old, Upbeat Songs.. This is one of those guilty pleasures that pull me out of bad moods. I have an upbeat playlist on my Apple Music account. Songs like I Want Candy (1965) and Walking On Sunshine (1983) are perfect for solo car rides, screaming at the top of my lungs. They’re trash to most people, but they make me happy!

The takeaway here is, embrace things that are “weird” if you enjoy them. Indulge in all of it (as long as it’s healthy).

3. You’ll Lose Friends

Among all of the organizational involvement in undergrad – I was on a dance troupe, modeling troupe, a resident advisor, a former cheerleader, a tour guide, participated in events by organizations, etc… It’s easy to get caught up in the social setting and forget quickly who’s your friend and acquaintance.

Lots of involvement during undergrad – and lots of different groups!

After it’s all said and done, you realize who’s truly there for you and who isn’t. The people who consistently flake on spending time with you or the ones who never check on you after you’ve made effort to connect. Eventually, it really hits you. Some people just aren’t meant to be in your life consistently.

That’s not said from a place of malice or anger at all. The key word is consistently. Some people were meant to be close to you for a certain period of time or to support you in a way that you just needed in the moment. Not everyone is lifelong, and honestly, that’s okay. Hold on as tight as you can to the pictures, memories, etc. that you have with them. Check in periodically to make sure they’re okay, and keep it moving.

After it’s all said and done, the people who are lifelong will still be around. That’s why they’re life long. My best friends from high school are prime A examples of this. We’ve been friends for 7 years, and although we don’t talk everyday, I still care about them immensely. We link up when we can, and always pick up where we left off. They’re truly lifelong.

I’m learning to accept these lessons little by little each day. I’m becoming more resilient, more aware, and developing into the person I want to be!

What are some things you’ve picked up along the way post-grad? If you’re still in undergrad, what are things you’re nervous about?


  • Marissa Strang

    Marissa Strang is a full-time lifestyle and travel blogger based out of the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area. Travel is her number one passion, and she is on a mission to empower others to make travel a reality for their own lives as well. She’s a strong believer that everyone can experience the joy of exploring the world, no matter the way they look or their socioeconomic status. Marissa creates one-of-a-kind city guides, destination inspiration, and budget-friendly travel hacks for aspiring travelers, especially young travelers and minorities. By creating travel content through her blog, The Marissa Daily, she strives to help others make lifelong memories - one destination at a time. Her journey as a blogger for the past 3 years has led her to visit amazing places and build an engaged travel community that she cares for deeply. One of the principles Marissa lives by, and encourages others to abide by, is that when you look like your passport photo, it’s time to book a trip. Let's go places.

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