Dear 100 Hour Board,
How does life change after graduating?
-nervous summer grad
Dear Summer Grad,
There are a few big changes that I've noticed, but my first piece of advice is to not stress, as much as possible. Just because you're finishing up one segment of life doesn't mean you have to have the entire rest of it figured out. You've got time.
The biggest changes I've noticed since I graduated in December of 2016 are as follows:
1. More independence. For the first time, I'm free to do whatever I want to and no one has the authority to stop me. Other people may have had that experience at a younger age, but I think BYU especially lends a level of restriction to the college years. Of course my inclination isn't to get drunk or take drugs, so it's not like the Honor Code was a serious impediment to my idea of a good time. But since graduating, I feel an astonishing sense of freedom, both in my everyday behavior and in long-term decisions. If I decide I want to uproot my life suddenly and move somewhere new, I can do it. If I want to blow my whole paycheck on something frivolous, I have that power. I can make my own choices in basically every aspect of my life, to a much greater degree than it seemed when I was in college.
2. More responsibility. Yes, I have the freedom and independence to do what I like. But I also feel greater pressure to build towards a long-term future. I'm sure part of that is the fact that I live far away from any family, so if I have a huge emergency I don't have them to fall back on. But for example, in college I never felt the need to stay in a job for terribly long. Once I felt proficient and as though I wasn't actively gaining more marketable skills, I moved on. Now, however, I'm more conscious of the need for longevity and proving my dedication by staying in a position. I also feel the pressure of things like saving for retirement and trying to pay off my car loan as quickly as possible.
3. Decisions feel more important. Since my graduation, I have the sense that I can't take decisions lightly. Like I say above, I have the freedom to uproot my life in any way I please. But I would never make a spontaneous choice like that, because my decisions have a greater impact. I'm on my own and independent, therefore I have to be careful about the way I compose myself and the things I choose to do. I feel a strong urge to plan ahead.
4. More free time. When you aren't working and taking classes and trying to have an active social life all at once, you have a lot more spare time. It was a serious adjustment for me to go from constantly having homework to do or papers to write, and it forced me to confront the fact that I didn't have many hobbies. It takes more effort to find ways to fill the time, but it's also a great blessing that I have the ability to pursue new hobbies and spend more time with friends.
5. I have to actively seek ways to educate myself. In college, it's easy to be constantly learning and growing. Since graduating, because I'm not taking classes and without the structure of a university, it would be easy to become out of touch. I have to look for ways to grow and improve, like having a subscription to the New York Times, and trying to read more classic literature. It can definitely be nice having the freedom to study and learn in whatever manner I please without worrying about papers or finals, but it also takes much more effort.