9 Lessons Learned in a Year Since Graduation

Last week marked a year since I graduated from college and I was hit with a large dose of nostalgia as each day Facebook reminded me of memories from 1 or 5 years ago from college, and before high school, graduation. There were many sentimental posts, including one of my own, about how quickly the year had gone by and how old we all were beginning to feel.

So I thought it would be fitting this week to reflect on the year that has been and what I think I’ve learned from it.

Any agreement, disagreement, additions and discussion in the comments is welcome.

 

 

Meeting people is easy, meeting people like you is harder (but they are out there)

If you move for a job, work is going to be the easiest way to meet new people. Given that workplace culture is an important factor for a lot of people in choosing a job, hopefully you can find some like-minded people where you work. Additionally, a lot of companies bring in a bunch of new hires at once who are all in the same boat starting their first job. Unfortunately, neither of these was the case for me. I work for the Air Force in a facility fairly evenly split between military and civilian employees. Most of the civilian employees are also of a STEM background, but let’s just say that I now understand the stereotype of engineers not being particularly social (there are of course exceptions and I think I’ve had good luck thus far in finding a few of them). Also, the government hires more or less whenever they need to, not by bringing in a big group of new grads all together every year. As a result, there isn’t the standard orientation process to help you meet and get to know people. The military culture is also just different. For example, I hardly know anyone my age where I work who is not already married or in a committed relationship. Because of this, most people don’t have the kind of social time that the average 23 year-old in their first job usually does.

The biggest advantage for me has been being able to meet new friends through old ones. In life we lean on our friends for all sorts of things, and I owe a lot to a couple good friends of mine who have both made the transition easier and connected me to some amazing people I’ve grown to call my friends. It’s a process that’s been tough at times, but I now find myself with a many local friends who I know in a variety of ways and I’m incredibly grateful for the way it’s unfolded.

 

Personal struggles are easier to talk about outside of the college environment

One thing that I was able to notice toward the end of college is the degree to which everyone was afraid for the world to know if anything in their life wasn’t perfect.

I think this is a characteristic of our generation in general in the era of social media, but at Notre Dame I think it was even worse. It became so easy to think that whatever you struggling with you were doing so alone because everyone (including you) was afraid of what others would think if you said or showed otherwise. However, I’ve found that removed from the pressure of the college environment I’ve had several very honest conversations with peers about things we’re struggling with in our new adult lives, the type that we (or maybe just I) weren’t/wasn’t willing to have before.

 

Somebody who said “I’ll never live there” or “I’m never coming back here” will do just that

We all know these people; “I’m not moving to Chicago after college,” “I’m never living in the Midwest again,” “I’m never living in Indiana again,” “I’m never moving to the suburbs” were all common ones that I heard.

And, of course, at least one of these such people has broken whatever the promise was they made. People find dream jobs where they thought they wouldn’t, they realize that living close to family is actually pretty nice, California and NYC sound great until you have to pay the bills, and people compromise to be close to a significant other.

This falls under the umbrella of “when we make plans God laughs.” You never know where life may take you.

 

There are plenty of both pros and cons to living by yourself

Living by yourself you do get a lot of personal space, and can organize your life how you want. You don’t have to worry about cleaning up after anyone else and cook, clean, and do laundry and other chores on your schedule, not anyone else’s. Basically, there’s a lot of boring but practical benefits of living by yourself.

On the other hand, it can get lonely. This has been extremely noticeable after living in a building of 240 guys for the past 4 years almost all of whom I knew to some extent. It’s much easier to find the motivation to do things when you have someone to do it with. Now when I’m bored, I can’t just walk down the hallway or down the street to see what my friends are doing. On the practical side of things, it is cheaper to live with other people.

In general, I think living by myself has made me more responsible, as only I am accountable for my apartment. It’s taken some getting used to and I’ve learned to like it more than I did at the beginning.

 

No, your friends won’t think it’s weird if you call/text them out of the blue

Following someone on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or Instagram and liking their posts does not count as staying in touch with them.

When I think about calling a friend I’ve often had the thought “well I don’t want to bother them if they’re busy” or “what if they don’t pick up?” In our aversion to talking on the phone in favor of less personal forms of communication it’s as if we millennials have forgotten that voicemail is a thing (a reality affirmed by how many of my friends have voicemails that are full and can’t accept new messages).

I think most people would agree they’d love to get an unexpected call from a friend, but that won’t happen if nobody makes the first call.

 

Whatever your “real world” struggles, you aren’t the only one going through them

I know this sounds cliche but when you start talking to friends about life since college it becomes obvious that you’re not alone

This goes along with being willing to admit our struggles. When that happens, you realize that whatever you’re going through, you almost certainly have friends with similar experiences. Whether that’s feeling lonely in a new place, not liking a job you were previously super excited about, or anxiety and worry about your future, the more willing you are to talk about it the sooner you’ll find how common such struggles are.

 

Go! See! Do! … even if you don’t have anyone to do so with

This is an idea I was uncomfortable with at first but it’s advice I’m glad I’ve followed. It’s easy to be deterred from doing something if you don’t have anyone to do it with, something I certainly struggled with initially after moving for my job and not knowing many people in Ohio. Having gone to a few sporting events and concerts by myself I can definitely say it was better to have gone by myself than not to have gone at all. 

 

Remember that people’s Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat is not an accurate depiction of their life

I feel like this is talked about fairly often but is so easy to forget. I saw a quote recently that reads “Don’t compare your entire life with somebody else’s highlights” and I think that sums it up pretty well. Ask yourself: what would you think of your own life if all you saw was what you put on your social media?

Alternatively,  there’s people who don’t really use social media and we make assumptions about what their life must be like based on very little information. It’s easy to diminish our own lives and put other people on a pedestal. Being realistic means both acknowledging all the blessings and good things in our own lives as well as remembering that everyone is human and nobody is without their struggles (a common theme on this list)

 

Cooking for yourself is healthier, cheaper, and a self-esteem booster

There’s a lot of good that comes from cooking for yourself, and it’s definitely worth the time that is the trade-off for doing so. Cooking for yourself makes you much more conscious of what you’re eating rather than just ignoring all the words you can’t pronounce within most ingredient lists on processed food. I’ve honestly been surprised how cheap vegetables are, especially fresh ones.

Cooking can be a great stress reliever by taking your mind off things and brings with it a sense of accomplishment, which only grows as you do so more often

Like many things in life, cooking is something you can only become good at by doing.

“I don’t know how to cook” is a really lousy excuse for not doing so. You’re not going to be able to do anything fancy at first, you are definitely going to make mistakes, but you will get better. There’s a metaphor for life in general there somewhere

I’ve always wanted to be able to cook like my Dad, and I have to remind myself that at my age he wasn’t that good either and learned by just trying things.

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This Week In…..

 

Sports

Chelsea

In a phenomenally entertaining but at times bizarre game, Chelsea lost 2-1 to Arsenal in the FA Cup final on Saturday, falling just short of winning the double (Premier League and FA cup in same season) which has not been done since 2002. While they were second best on Saturday, it’s been an incredible season for Chelsea and I’m planning on next week’s blog to be a Chelsea season review, so keep an eye out for that if you’re interested.

 

White Sox

While it was a reasonably good week for the White Sox, going 6-4 since my last post, the biggest stories of the week were from the minors, where Lucas Giolito threw a no-hitter for AAA Charlotte and the Sox signed top-rated Cuban prospect Luis Robert to a minor league contract (along with a $26 million signing bonus). The White Sox were reportedly outbid for the 19 year old, who said that a presentation from fellow Cubans Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada really impressed him and convinced him to sign with the Sox. This team is stockpiling young talent at the moment, giving plenty of reason to be optimistic for the future.

 

Fire

The Fire won their fourth game in a row with a 2-1 win over FC Dallas on Thursday to maintain second place in the Eastern Conference which included a league-leading 11th goal for Nemanja Nikolic.

There was a really cool story on the Fire’s website this week about how moving to the United States has improved Nikolic’s life because he eats a gluten free diet, the options for which are much better here than in Poland where he previously played. As someone who knows what it’s like to have to reevaluate your entire diet because of food allergies, I found this really interesting.

https://www.chicago-fire.com/post/2017/05/26/recipe-success-nemanja-nikolics-gluten-free-diet-fuels-field-performance

 

 

Alt-Rock (mostly)

Nothing to report in terms of releases this week (although the newest Alt-J single ‘Adeline’ is good and I find myself actually interested in their upcoming album, but didn’t feel the need to dedicate a section to that) so instead I figured I’d share something I did last week while I was bored.

I did my best to put together a playlist of my 100 favorite songs ever. There’s probably another 30 or so that could have easily made the cut, and admittedly there’s a bias against recently released songs because it’s impossible to say which newer songs I really like will become all time favorites, but here’s the list I decided on:

https://open.spotify.com/user/1244678291/playlist/40Izlt2M8cB35evte9ffr0

 

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