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How Do I Prepare Myself for the Transition From College to the Real World?

Zoe Mittman, LSW

Life is filled with so many transitions — both big and small, but all impactful, nonetheless. As humans, we like some degree of certainty and control. Naturally with transitions, however, uncertainty, change, and a lack of control arise. That said, it is during these scary times that you can grow the most. It may not seem like it at the moment, but reflect back on any transition you have experienced and ask yourself what you learned from the experience. Did you meet new people along the way? Find a new interest? Minimize unhelpful habits? This is the power of life transitions. Trust me, I get it, it is so scary to start something new, but keep in mind that the opportunities ahead are endless. While I can talk about so many different types of transitions, for the purpose of this blog, I am going to focus on the transition from college to post-grad. 

If you are in college or a recent college graduate, this is the perfect blog for you. I am going to discuss strategies to help with the uneasiness and scary feelings that arise when becoming a “real adult.” Going from being a student to working full-time can be a daunting and drastic change. In addition to joining the workforce, some other changes may include moving, establishing new relationships and friendships, leaving behind close friends, and an increase in financial responsibilities. Within this one major transition, there are so many smaller transitions. There can be so much changing and it can be really hard to determine what to tackle first. 

Here are some strategies to prepare for the transition: 

  1. Practice self-compassion. If you don’t know your post-grad plans, that is okay! There is not one direct path to go on and give yourself the kindness and respect to determine what would be best for you at this current moment. 
  2. Your job post-grad does not have to be your job for the rest of your life! Sometimes there can be this misconception, that you are entering a new phase of your life to explore new opportunities and develop new interests.
  3. Be open to new opportunities, both professionally and personally. What kinds of hobbies might you enjoy outside of work? Joining a book club, playing on an intramural sports team, or going to workout classes are three great ways to establish community.
  4. Think about what habits make you feel your best. Maybe it is exercising, maybe it is cooking, or maybe it is going on a walk and enjoying nature. Whatever self-care looks like for you, start integrating daily habits into your life. I encourage you to start out slowly. You don’t need to integrate these habits every day. It is more likely that you will maintain these habits if you do so incrementally. 
  5. Journaling is a great way to express your emotions and get them down on a piece of paper. At the same time, in the future, it can serve as a reminder of all the progress you have made.
  6. Maintain connections with the people in your life who make you feel your best. Whether you live in the same city, across the country, or across the world, make time to connect with your loved ones. A little bit of this can go a long way. Whether it is a phone call on your walk to work, a quick text to check in, or a facetime in the evening, figure out what works for you. Connecting with your loved ones can help bring a sense of safety and joy, especially during a transition.
  7. Seeking help from a licensed mental help professional can help you process and explore your fears around life transitions, as well as develop coping mechanisms to utilize when feelings of uneasiness begin to arise.

Lastly, I just want to reiterate how normal it is for transitions to be difficult and scary. The fear of the unknown is a driving force of anxiety, and I encourage you to think about all of the different life transitions you have experienced, and what you have learned from them. I hope that this blog was helpful! Please feel free to check out our therapy services online, and give us a call at (312)578-9990, or connect with us online if you think you would benefit from speaking with a licensed mental health professional. At Symmetry Counseling, we’re here to help throughout all of life’s transitions!

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