It is official: as of May 4th, I am now a UGA Grady College graduate. Honestly, it still has not sunk in that I am done with college… well at least for now. I do not think it will really hit me until the Dawgs’ 2018 football season begins and I no longer have student tickets. That is the past, but now is the time I leave my college bubble and enter the real world and start ‘adulting’.
The transition from college life, where you essentially create your own work hours, to having a full-time job is what I feared most. I remember as I approached graduation, I constantly heard from recent graduates and even older, more experienced professionals how difficult and exhausting this transition could be. The stress and difficulty that comes with this transition is something almost anyone can relate to, but when reality calls and it is time to start that first job, there is no escaping the inevitable. What better than a full-time internship to ease myself into reality?
As I started my internship at Hope-Beckham, I was not stressed, but excited to start my job and apply what I learned in school and from past internships. Instead of worrying about the internship, I was more stressed about how I would adjust to my new life. How would I handle living back at home after four years of living in my own space? How would I handle the commute? How would I manage work-life balance? How would I make sure I perform my best at my internship?
During my time at this internship, I have found myself falling into a routine that works for me. Yes, at the beginning it took some tweaking and experimenting, but the reality of the real world is you need to figure out what works best for you and only you know what that is. For example, I am more of a morning person and I do not do well with rush-hour traffic. So, to escape a long and traffic-filled 90 minute commute, I found it better for me to wake up and workout close to the office every morning. Not only did this make sure I was on time and alert to start my workday, but I cut my commute time down by almost one hour and I made sure I got my workout in. Not everyone is a morning person and not everyone wants to get up and workout, but it is what I found works best for me.
Another lesson I have learned from being in the real world is figuring out what your priorities are during the work week. One thing I have learned from working full-time is that you really do not have much spare time, so it is important to know what is important to you. I found that sleep is a priority more than ever for me during the week now, which means Sunday through Thursday I make sure I am in bed by 9 and asleep by 10. Call me a grandma if you want, but I have no shame in owning grandma-like sleeping habits because I need my sleep to be my best.
When it comes to time management, sometimes you must make sacrifices. There are instances where you have to pick between seeing some old friends and relaxing or running errands and doing laundry. Again, you need to make your schedule work for you. I’ve found planning ahead and spacing out everything I have on my to-do list for the week helps make sure I can still maintain a well-rounded lifestyle and get everything I need to done.
However sometimes with time management, you need to break the rules. This does not mean you always need to 100 percent stick to the plan you have in place during the week. It is easy to get stuck in your routine and say no to fun things, but sometimes it is good to change the plan and get out for your own mental health. Say yes to that last-minute concert on a Tuesday night! Say yes to meeting up with old friends for a movie night! Will it suck the next day when you are exhausted? Maybe. But working full time does not mean you have to give up your life outside of work. It is important to change it up so you do not feel stuck and suffocated while adjusting to your new lifestyle.
One more major lesson I have learned so far is be proactive about seeing the people you want to see. When you graduate, you and your friends are all on different schedules and it is too easy to lose touch with people you care about. I remember my mom would always tell me her and her girlfriends would plan to meet for lunch or dinner once a month and would make it a priority, as if it were a doctor’s appointment on their calendar. Low and behold, I can now say I have reached mom status and me and my good friends have linked together our Google Calendars. This way we can see when we are all free and make our hangouts a priority. Even if it is just a short lunch, putting the event on your calendar makes a huge difference.
What I have found so far and what can serve as a general answer to all of my many questions is this: take everything in stride and one day at a time, figure out your priorities, put yourself first, do not be afraid to stray from your routine and plan ahead. The road to adjusting to an ‘adult life’ is not always smooth to say the least, but it is not as bad as it seems once you find your bearings. Besides, there are some pros to ‘adult life’ like knowing your work is done when you leave the office and enjoying weekends without the stress of tests and studying. The transition from college to the real world is a cycle of give and take, but once you discover what that means to you, you can make your life in the real world what you want it to be.