Growing Up Post College Years: Part I

"Nothing will ruin your 20's more than thinking you should have your life together already."

This year, I will be 37, which means those born in 1996 are legally old enough to drink, my parents are older than my grandparents were when I was born, and the decade that shaped my life began 17 years ago. The 20's are a time fraught with anxiety, laughter, disillusionment, exhilaration, heartbreak, friendships, and frustration. As I reminisce, those years were spent gossiping with girlfriends, swearing off dating indefinitely, figuring out who I didn't want to be, and building a career. Likely due to the collision of adult expectations, with the emotionality of adolescence, this period was characterized by incredible highs and devastating lows. Experiences like moving into the wrong apartment, and putting together Ikea furniture, are moments from your 20's that eventually make you chuckle, offer perspective, and become the backbone of friendships. Like most challenges in life, their impact, and lessons, are not fully understood until the years to come.  Here are some tips to help survive, thrive, and love yourself during the 20's, and beyond:) 

Let Go Of The Plan
Please notice that I did not say "If you had a plan", because the reality is we all do! Gender may influence the components of our vision, but men and women leave college with a blueprint for life. Unfortunately, you will most likely be part of the 99% whose plan fizzle after a few months of real life. While this is a tremendous blow to our ego, and sense of identity, the good news is the sooner you can discard these preconceived notions, the easier things will become. It's holding onto what was, that prevents us from discovering what will be.  

Lower Your Expectations
My father use to say that if people didn't have expectations, they wouldn't be disappointed. Very sound, practical advice, but certainly not how most of us operate. Your 20's are a time of heightened expectations around career, friendship, and love. The media, in all forms, portrays this decade in a vain inconsistent with reality. While this has always been an obstacle, the proliferation of social media sites has further disillusioned an entire generation. Creating the life you want is A LOT of work, and will take time. Not all facets will come together simultaneously! Be patient. 

Expect To Be Uncomfortable
No one likes to be uncomfortable. Part of what makes transition (not change) so emotionally devastating, is that the status quo feels comfortable. We forget that middle school, high school, and even college were once new, and untried.  Attempting to recreate the nostalgia associated with college will likely be an epic failure. Instead, remember the courage it took to leave home, make new friends, and try new things. Challenge yourself to join a recreational sports league, volunteer groups, young adult groups, or some other social experience.