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14 Important Life Lessons You Learn In Your First Year After College

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1. Staying in touch with your real friends is hard!

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Spoiler alert: Just because you have Facebook and texting available at your fingertips doesn't mean you are going to maintain all of your friendships with ease (but you WILL still be able to creep on your sophomore crush, no problemo). When you were at school, your friends lived down the hall from you, or at the very least, you would see them in class or at a party. Now, people will be in different time zones, on different schedules, and will also just generally be BUSY. You'll never talk as much as you want, but that doesn't mean it isn't important to pick up the phone or shoot a "Hey" text every now and then. Just because they aren't there to hold your hair back, doesn't mean they can't help bring some perspective and advice to your life. But this means...

2. You'll lose touch with some friends...

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Because staying in touch with friends is hard, you'll naturally shed some friends who just don't "make the cut" — it's hard enough staying in touch with your BEST friends as it is! And guess what? It's totally FINE. The world isn't going to end. Think about all those middle school and high school friends you don't really talk to anymore — you should be seasoned at cycling out friends by now. It's sort of like the circle of life. While it IS important to hold on to your strongest friendships — after all, they're what makes life worth living — shedding some dead weight can be a good thing, because...

3. You'll definitely make some new friends too!

That's right, you CAN and WILL make new friends after college years. Contrary to popular belief, your social life does not die after you are handed your diploma. You'll make new friends at work, in new activities, in the city you move to, and you may even get back in touch with old friends! It's exciting and also a reminder that life goes on. The training wheels are off now, so these friends very often can be some of the most important and supportive people in your transition to the real world, so choose carefully.

4. You won't go out as much as you used to.

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Between looking for a job, or actually having a job, you just will not be able to go out five or six nights a week. And yeah, while it might be sad to kiss the days of blacking out on Tuesday nights every week goodbye, it's actually probably a good thing. It makes the nights you go out that much more special; drinks aren't $2 anymore, and your body will thank you for it!

5. Moving back home is a challenge, but it's also worth it.

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There is a VERY high probability that once you take off your cap and gown, you will be headed back home. Whether you are there for a few weeks or a few years, it's going to be challenging because it is a BIG adjustment to your lifestyle. Suddenly, you can't come and go as you please, your room will be held to a different standard, and in general you will just have to tone things down a bit (i.e., bringing home people for some ~adult fun~ just isn't an option). But moving home is ACTUALLY the best, and not just because it helps your wallet. This is a great time to reconnect with your parents and siblings if you have any and set the tone for your relationship with them for the rest of your life. FAMILY BONDING, it's important.

6. And when you move away from home it is an exciting, scary adventure.

Then, there will be a time when you move away from home, probably for work-related purposes. Now, you may have already moved away from home once already for college, and maybe you even made a bigger journey if you studied abroad. But moving away from home as an adult — even if it is nearby — is unlike anything you have ever done before. You won't have the "support system" in place that you did at home or at college. You won't know as many people around you. You'll have a new routine, house/apartment hunting is just 10x scarier, and you'll be responsible for cooking for and feeding a real, live, human being (yourself). It's sort of like trial by fire, and you better be up for the challenge (don't worry, you will be!).

7. You'll accomplish a lot of "firsts."

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First apartment, first interview, first job, first car, first paycheck, and even small things like the first meal you cook for yourself, first real-world date, first new friend, etc. Some are exciting (your first day on the job), some are scary (prepping for your first interview), and some are just annoying (filling out your taxes for the first time). The funny thing is, four years at college will not have prepared you for MANY of these things. You kind of just have to figure it all out as you go. Pop as many cherries as possible, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

8. In some ways, you're REALLY an adult for the first time...

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Suddenly, you're expected to feed and provide for yourself, keep your own schedule, and do little adult things like gas up your car and remember to brush your teeth. It can all be a little overwhelming, but the good thing is that it doesn't all happen at once. When you're handed your diploma, you aren't also handed a card that says you are officially an adult. So, yes, while you should learn to cook something other than mac n' cheese and expand your wardrobe to something beyond sweats and a T-shirt, also realize no one expects you to have all of your shit together IMMEDIATELY after you take off your cap and gown. This is because...

9. In other ways, you're still just a kid.

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Which brings us to this point. Yes, the training wheels are off. Yes, you don't live at college anymore. Yes, you don't go out every night of the week. Yes, your biggest worry is no longer a five-page essay on the moral implications of Girls. But push all the stress from job hunting, apartment hunting, and spouse hunting aside. You're still in your early twenties, and yes, you really do have the rest of your life ahead of you. Like really, you're just a quarter of the way through your life, and you're probably closer in age to the first beer you drank in high school than you are to your thirties. So yes, get crazy drunk on the weekends. Visit friends in a different city and crash on their couch. Stay up all night binge-watching Orange is the New Black. You're barely out of school, and you shouldn't have to pretend that you are a REAL adult... yet.

10. Finding a job is HARD.

Ignore the fact that "the economy" is really bad and all that talk cable show pundits/your parents like to toss around about the job market. You have a college education, maybe an internship or two, and a pulse. Basically, you're tailor-made for full-time employment. But don't EVER think you're special, because you're not. Nope. There are thousands of other well-qualified candidates applying for the same positions. Job boards on websites are basically black holes that suck your resume into oblivion. Interviews are terrifying. You'll pound the pavement for weeks, and maybe even months. You will network, network, network, network if you are smart, and will probably interview for more than a few jobs that you won't get. Your morale will be tested. Suck it up. You'll find a job, and it'll be the best feeling in the world.

11. That's why it is OK — actually, preferable — to take some time off and decompress.

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Travel. Pick up a part-time job to make some money. Visit friends. Do NOTHING. The point is, you don't HAVE to feel like you need to be starting the 9-to-5 grind the day after you graduate college. Senior year is a roller coaster of highs and lows, and you probably need some time to let it all soak in and also decompress. This is also probably the last time before you retire that you will have extended time to spend JUST for yourself, so why not take advantage of that? There is no rush to get to that swivelly chair and cubicle in your future job. You have the rest of your life to be a boring adult.

12. You should pick up an activity to keep you sane.

Join a club or rec sports league, start running, cultivate a new hobby, simply READ more. Whatever you do, you're going to be like Hercules facing the Hydra. Post-grad life is sort of like fighting a multi-headed monster — you'll miss the structure that college provides, you'll need to make new friends, and finding (or just HAVING) a new job is very stressful. Your secret weapon: Have some fun! Start doing something you have always wanted to try, or love doing but didn't have the time, or had to quit and want to pick up again. It's fun, healthy, and you DESERVE it.

13. Your romantic endeavors will be... interesting.

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You'll be back at home, or in a new city. Suddenly, you won't be surrounded by thousands of people your own age and ONLY your own age. Dating in your early twenties is sort of like sailing a rowboat into shark-infested waters with a hurricane approaching — if you make it out alive, you'll have a HELL of a story. You'll have some hookups, some walks of shame, and more than a few bad dates. All the while, you'll feel like everyone else has their shit together, especially when friends start to get married and have kids (GASP!). But life is a marathon, not a sprint, so enjoy miles 4 through 6, because they have more plot twists than a Hitchcock movie.

14. But most of all, it's never going to be the same.

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College is over, and that includes everything that goes with it — the dorms, Greek life, dining halls, partying, the list goes on. Box it up, send it away, because you never will experience that lifestyle again. It's time to move on. I've been told college is the best time of your life, but I don't think that's true. It might be the most fun, or the most carefree, but it is just too depressing to assume that you've peaked at 22. You haven't. Now get out in the real world, remember the game has changed, and be prepared to have your ass handed to you.

And remember, it's going to be OK.

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