In our forum, under the title “Reality is really, really fucking depressing,” a user discusses his impending college graduation and the stark reality that he believes awaits him. He mentions leaving a life devoid of responsibility and entering one where four beers with the guys from work is as good as it gets. He claims to be two years away from his postgraduate demise, and that it’s already eating away at his collegiate soul. It seems as if he’s close to losing it. I feel bad for the poor asshole. He even describes life after graduation as “shit sandwiches without the bread.” I laughed. It was funny–both the metaphor and the ignorance behind it.
I offered a bit of encouragement. It was ill-received, like showing a death row inmate next week’s 85 and sunny weather forecast. I got downvoted 507 times.
It became apparent he wasn’t the only one experiencing extreme post-graduation angst.
I meant my comment. It was sincere. It’s the truth. Money and freedom make up the basis of the benefits of the postgraduate life. I recently said the same thing to an inquiring mind on Twitter. She countered by asking me how life after college could possibly be freer than that of a college student’s. After all, college students have no career to fret over, no bills to pay (in most cases), no mouths to feed, and no leaky roof they don’t know how they’ll pay for. It was a fair question, one that needed more than 140 characters to answer.
You have freedom because of money. With income steadily flowing in, doors open that the rigors of college previously kept closed. The questions are no longer, “Dad, can I go on a spring break trip, and will you pay for it?” or “I need a new car so bad. Birthday present this year?” Depending on others for money, you’ll learn, kind of blows. It’s constricting. After earning your own money, you’ll be able to ask yourself, “Can I afford a Vegas trip with the boys?” or “Should I treat myself to a new set of clubs?” You run the show now. It’s your money, and you get to make the decisions.
It’s not just a flush bank account that grants you freedom, either. It’s also that you literally just don’t have shit to do–“have” being the key word. You’re no longer expected to show up to campus in the fall. You can do, and be, whatever and whomever you want. You want to move out of state? Want to live near the beach? Fire your résumé out and see what happens. You want to travel the world and pick up side jobs along the way to finance it? Pack a bag and buy a one-way plane ticket. You want to dabble in prostitution? Sell drugs? Who’s stopping you?
Aside from money and freedom, I’m adding another reason–one I feel is equally important to remember–why the postgrad life is great. Actually, it’s more of an enlightening bit of knowledge to help you put the college debauchery, acts of atrocity, and shameless behavior in the rearview mirror.
You just kind of outgrow shit.
You’ll outgrow the college scene, and it won’t even bother you. Sound depressing? It’s not.
You want to know why we invite our friends over to barbecue and throw horseshoes? Or why we go to happy hour on a Thursday after work and get home by 9:30? Or why we sometimes drink casually and socially? Or why–instead of going to Panama City Beach to binge drink and piss the hotel bed for four hangover-laden days in a row–we take weekend trips to golf destinations? It’s not because we’ve accepted the reality that we left the best times of our lives behind us; it’s simply because that’s the shit we find fucking fun now.
The other stuff–the shit we were into as 19-year-olds–like drinking until we puke, sweatily grinding on 18-year-old freshmen on seedy dance floors, lining up shots and throwing them back until we can’t feel our faces, and shotgunning beers to impress our peers even though it’s not fun and never has been? We’re just not into that anymore. We’ve kind of outgrown it.
You’re still going to go out with friends and act like you’re in college again. You’ll tailgate, you’ll bar hop, you’ll drink until you forget how to talk, you’ll hit on girls way out of your league and make up outlandish stories about your lives to try and take them back to your place. You’ll do all that, but you won’t do it often. You’ll do it once every now and then, maybe every three months or so, and it’ll be enough. The next morning you’ll wake up and remember that stuff is rarely appealing anymore. You’re outgrowing it.
Oh yeah, no more studying, homework, exams, or grade point averages. Also, I haven’t used a pencil in about five years. Not once. Fuck pencils.
Worry about landing a job. Once you finally do–and you will–settle in, find your routine, and live it the fuck up. The world is now your playground. Lastly, plan a Vegas trip within the first year of your postgrad life. That’s the pinnacle. Then do it again the next year and every year after that until you get someone pregnant.