College is a time about finding yourself. You enter bright-eyed and naïve, ready to test yourself for the next four years. When that time is up you’re supposed to be ready to take on the world, maybe even a little naïve still. But sometimes you come out the other end feeling just as disoriented and unsure as when you started.
That was me. Even though I had a “plan” I still felt lost. I decided to test my entrepreneurial spirit and start up an online magazine for college girls – Tote Magazine.
But anyone who has tried his or her hand at an entrepreneurial endeavor knows how polarizing it can be. I’m not even a year out of college yet, but the past nine months have taught me a lot.
Here are 5 post-college lessons I have learned within those past nine months.
1. Be Young Now
When you are fresh out of college you have nothing tying you down, especially if you are single. Unless you are one of the lucky ones who got hired right out of college, you are not yet financially stable. You don’t have money or a location keeping you in one spot. This is the time to go for your dreams.
This is the time to travel, join the Peace Corps, or start up a business. You have nothing to lose but all the experiences to gain. Once you enter the workforce it will be hard to let go of the stability.
2. Don’t Compare Yourself to Your Friends
It’s so easy to get sucked into the vicious routine of comparing your life to a friend’s. I’m here to tell you to stop those thoughts right now. I’m serious. I’ve been there. It’s not fun and it gets you nowhere.
Choosing a path of entrepreneurialism has left me envious of my friends who went on to a ‘normal,’ more stable path. I was jealous of my one friend who was applying to med schools. I looked at her and saw someone who had her life set. Besides choosing a specific medical field, she knew what her life would look like.
I often felt that I didn’t know what the next month would look like for me let alone the next year. Until my friend opened up to me, I didn’t realize we were a lot more similar than I thought. Just because she was applying to med school didn’t mean that she would get in. She felt just as unsure as I was feeling. So don’t get caught up in that tangled thought process; your time is more valuable than that.
3. It’s Okay to Be Single
Life can be unpredictable. When you graduate you may think that you have everything mapped out but that could change in the blink of an eye. You’re still figuring out who you are so why not be single? I’m not saying to go and immediately dump your boyfriend or girlfriend, but if you have always gone from one relationship to the next your entire life why not take a moment to be you, in your rawest form – alone.
There’s a great quote that Nora Ephron said to Lena Dunham:
You can’t meet someone until you’ve become who you’re becoming.
Once you’ve figured out who you are and settled into that, worthwhile relationships will fall into place.
4. Don’t Settle for Less
You may feel unsure about the direction you want your life to take but that doesn’t mean you have to settle. Being an entrepreneur can be extremely daunting. When I’m having a bad day I always catch myself thinking, “Maybe I should just succumb to the ‘real world.’ Maybe I’m not cut out to be an entrepreneur.”
Those thoughts are one hundred percent wrapped around fear. We are too young to have to feel like we should settle. I’m not saying that your first job should be your dream job, but you should always push yourself to your fullest potential. If you take a job that isn’t exactly what you want to be doing, then find a way to still do what you want to do. Whether that means utilizing your free time to start a blog, take cooking classes, or get certified to become a personal trainer, do it.
You should never have to feel like you’ve settled or are no longer in control of your future.
5. Find Your Happiness
Although figuring out who you are post-college is trying and daunting, there’s no reason why you can’t find your bliss. Hang out with friends, travel, do what makes you happy.
Going through life is hard enough already; you don’t need to find ways to make it more miserable. If you’re not careful, worrying will eat you alive. So surround yourself with friends and family that are supportive of you and supportive of you figuring out where you are meant to be in this world.
You definitely have to work hard to get to the top but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the climb.