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The Trouble with Transition: Life After College

Nina Wolverton

Young girl and arrowsDuring my time as a therapist, I have noticed various trends and patterns. I have picked up on when the busy seasons are; what life stressors are universal; and what type of client I may have in session with me (to name a few). One type of client that I get time and time again is a recent graduate. Each time I get someone in this demographic, I get asked the same thing, “Why didn’t anyone tell me? Why didn’t they let me know that this transition is so hard? Why didn’t the tell me what to expect?”

This has recently become one of my biggest passions…talking about the elephant in the room. I like to address the stressors of being out of school for the first time in thirteen years and learning how to take on a full-time job. I like to talk about the challenges of balancing a personal life with a professional life. I like to address the loneliness of being out of a college town and trying to make friends, when you don’t have clubs and majors to rely on. I like to talk about the dreams that people typically have once they get out of college-having a lot of money, purchasing their dream house, getting married, traveling, etc.

While I don’t have the space to answer all the questions that come with this confusing time, I can highlight some of the biggest problems I typically address:

  • Find a healthy balance. Yes, you are beginning to work full time, but there needs to be a balance between work and play. Often times with my young adults, I find that they have one foot still in college and one foot in the working world. They may go out every night after work with friends and go into work sleep deprived and half asleep. Others are so eager to start their career and make a good impression that they burn the candle at both ends, working WAY beyond the required hours. Make sure you are finding a good balance between work and play. Make sure you are still getting time into workout, sleep, eat healthy foods, and still get time with your friends.
  • Manage your expectations. I know this gets repeated often but try to manage your expectations of yourself. Do not compare your own personal journey to that of someone else. Everyone has different paths that they walk on. I distinctly remember the feeling of being left behind while all of my friends got married and started their families straight out of college but then my journey allowed me to move overseas and travel to beautiful places. There isn’t an appropriate speed in which your journey needs to go. As I tell many of my clients, please stop “should’ing” yourself. There’s no place you “should” be other than where you are right now. (Of course, we can set goals, but let’s try to remove the guilt and shame that can come from not being where you want to be.)
  • Seek out activities you love to make new friends. One of the more difficult tasks is figuring out how and where to make new friends. We often move from being in a bubble of people our own age to being in the workforce. While it requires some courage and energy, it CAN be accomplished. I encourage my clients to engage in activities they like in order to find a group of friends. This can include things such as joining a soccer league, kickball, a church group, a collaboration of videographers, gamers, etc. Luckily, we, as a society, have easy access to groups such as these. See if you can make friends at work. Look for people who are in a similar phase of life.

While these are only three of many topics we address while in therapy, I find that each one of these can be pivotal in easing the transition from college into the workforce. If you or someone you know needs help figuring out how to navigate this season, please call 678-893-5300 to set up an appointment with one of our therapists.

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