15 Things College Grads Wish They Knew Before Getting to the “Real World”

The night of my college graduation, I found myself sobbing to my dad in a parking garage. Despite the tears running down my face, I had been extremely happy all day–graduation was by far one of my favorite college memories. But after I had changed out of my cap & gown, opened all my graduation gifts and put away my diploma, the overwhelming reality hit me like a ton of bricks: I’m not in college anymore & the real world is right around the corner. 

Graduating from college is pretty f*cking terrifying. Yes, it’s extremely happy and exciting, but there is this staggering realization that your life is suddenly a clean slate. Up until this point, you’ve had school to dictate your routine, yet now you’re being thrust into the unknown (literally) and have to make sense of it. And that’s really scary.

My transition from college to “the real world” has been nothing short of an emotional roller coaster of self discovery. I can’t even begin to describe it other than you’ll understand it once you actually do it. But that idea got me thinking–what’s something I wish I knew at graduation that would have made my life a little easier? What advice do I wish someone had told me when I was embarking on this crazy new chapter?

So I started asking my friends. And we started reflecting on our real world experiences and had some great conversations. Such good conversations that I wanted to share it with all you recent college grads out there. You’ll get a mix of everything–the good, the bad, the ugly & the beautiful. It’s just honest advice of what the real world is actually like. Hopefully it’ll dissuade your fears a little bit or maybe it’ll make you more excited for what lies head. Whatever you’re feeling, just try to enjoy the ride. I promise, life doesn’t end after graduation–a lot of new things are just beginning.

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Likes & Favorites: Homecoming & Stuff

So it’s been a while! I’ve been trying to find time to write this post (it’s been written down in bits and pieces on my phone for the past week and a half), but life just kinda got in the way. Here are some of the things I’ve been doing:

1. Attempting to hang floating shelves in my living room & failing miserably. (If anyone knows how to use “molly screws,” please let me know.)

2. Eating Hope’s Cookies with my favorite family, the Melino’s.

3. Wandering around Bath & Body Works to find fun ~holiday~ scented candles.

4. Debating the Starbucks Red Cup Controversy (Ellen Degeneres pretty much sums up my thoughts).

5. Missing Willy Annan dearly.

6. Drinking champagne (and overusing the new champagne emoji) at Homecoming (#hoco2k15, #hypeit #blessings)

7. Spending too much money in Target.

8. Baking pumpkin cookies (recipe here)

9. Swooning over Justin Timberlake at the CMA’s.

10. Listening to Sorry (Justin Bieber) and Hello (Adele) on repeat.

Beyond this list, here are the other things I’ve been liking & favoriting:

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23 Things I Learned When I Was 22

Twenty two was a big year for me; A lot of things happened to say the least. I ended a serious long term relationship and started a new one. I graduated college. I landed a job. I rented an apartment, ended my barista career and sorta became a yogi. I travelled, learned, cried and grew. Ampersand became a legitimate thing while I was 22, as did my love of writing. 22 was a year of change. Despite that–or maybe because of it–22 was one of the best years of my life.

Last year on my birthday, I wrote a post of all the things I wanted to accomplish by the time I turned 23. Having completed most of the things on that list, I only thought it would be fitting to share some life lessons I’ve learned these past 365 days. Cheers to turning 23.

1. Yoga is a wonderful thing. If you don’t believe me, you haven’t done it enough. I first turned to yoga because I wanted to try something new. I turned back to it when I lost my way, and once again when I needed to feel grounded. Words cannot begin to describe the things I learned about myself on my yoga mat.{Shout out to Prana House Yoga for my beautiful birthday practice on Saturday!}

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2. Hang onto good friends. My life wouldn’t be as half as fun, happy or full without my best friends. I’m lucky enough to still be friends with my girls from childhood and to have gone to Villanova with some of the best people I will ever meet. All my favorite memories from this year have been because of the amazing people around me.

3. Brunch is always a good idea. What’s better than good friends, good coffee and french toast? There’s always time for brunch.

+1000 basic points.

4. Sometimes, you have to be spontaneous. Yes, you have to be responsible. But spontaneity makes you feel young. It makes you feel adventurous. It makes memories that you’ll tell you kids someday and then they’ll think you’re cool. Just do it because why not?

5. And other times, you just have to be patient. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not patient. But sometimes there’s nothing you can do but… wait. I learned this the hard way with looking for a job, but I ended up in a position that fits me so well, and I can’t imagine being anywhere else right now. Good things are always worth the wait.

6. Love comes in different forms. And they’re all beautiful. Love changes and grows, that’s why it’s amazing.

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7. Thank your familyThis past year, I won an award based on my leadership and academic achievements at college. My parents attended the ceremony and dinner and it was that night that I realized I couldn’t have achieved anything without them. If they hadn’t supported me, challenged me or encouraged me, I literally wouldn’t be the person I am today. Karen & Joe, I really do owe you everything.

Cheers to Joe & Karen.

8. Dreams change & that’s okay. For the longest time, I dreamt of becoming a magazine editor. I chased my editorial dreams with a fierce determination all year, only to realize that it might not be what I want to do. At first, I was disappointed and upset with myself that I gave up searching for an editorial position for a job in PR, but then I realized that it’s okay to change my mind. It’s part of being human.

9. Don’t get too comfortable. 1. Because things change, quickly and 2. The best things happen at the edge of your comfort zones. If you’re not a little scared or uncomfortable, then you’re not growing. Keep pushing yourself.

10. Joy & sorrow go hand-in-hand. “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain” –Kahil Gibran.

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11. There’s usually a silver lining. Some situations just suck. Sometimes you can’t figure out “the reason.” But sooner or later, you’ll realize the silver lining, no matter how small. Plus, a little positivity never hurt anyone.

12. Hang out with your siblings. Because they’re the best friends you’ll ever have. I’m not only lucky to have Krista, I’m even luckier that I can call her a friend.

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13. Save your money, but not all of it. The end of my 22nd year and beginning of my 23rd has been spent thinking A LOT about money. Adulting is expensive! While it’s good to save for your future, we can’t go around not doing things because we’re so terrified of spending money. Great conversations with friends are worth spending money on dinner. Get a manicure when you have a crappy day at work because it will make you feel better. Money is good for saving, but you make it so you can spend it, too.

14. Be goofy. Ryan is a goof-ball. Sorry for outing you babe, but it’s true. And honestly, it’s probably one of my favorite things about him. He brings out a silly, goofy, giggly side of me that I love. We laugh a lot which makes life more fun. He’s taught me to not take myself too seriously.

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15. Read good booksBecause bad books suck and kill you soul and ain’t nobody got time for them.

16. Networking does help…But so does just being a good friend. I’ve learned valuable professional skills from networking, but I ultimately landed my job because I kept in touch with a friend. Networking is necessary, but ultimately if you’re just a good person and are nice to people, you’ll be fine.

new friends!

17. Find a mentor. Or two. I’m lucky to have multiple intelligent, strong and kind women that I look up to. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have their help and guidance, professionally and personally. Role models can really make a difference (especially when you have no idea what you’re doing with your life).

18.  Throw away your checklists. This is surprising coming from the girl who makes a daily to-do list on a legal pad every day at work. What I mean is, don’t make a check list for everything. It’s probably healthy to have nothing to do some days or not pressuring yourself to get everything done, every single day. Do random stuff you didn’t write down with a box next to it.

19. Be kind. Because there’s no reason not to be.

20. Know your worth. In relationships, at work, in life. You don’t deserve to be disrespected, lead on or treated poorly, ever. It’s not worth it because you’re worth more than that.

21. Trust what got you here. This is one of my favorite things that I heard this year. We may not know where exactly what we’re doing or where we’re going, but you have a whole life of experience behind you and you’ve made it this far, right? Trust the same will help you in the future.

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22. Soak it all in. Aka be present. It’s probably one of the most challenging things to accomplish, but I’m determined to make a habit out of it.

23. All you have is time. Hearing this as a freshman at Villanova’s Orientation, my mind was blown. I don’t think I fully understood it until I became a senior when I felt like I was constantly running out of time. No time for relaxing, vacations, long conversations, family dinners, errands, coffee dates or catching up. But in reality, all we have is time. And we have the control of how we spend it.

Here’s to 22 being great & 23 being an adventure.

{Thank you to all the people who made 22 amazing!}