Post Grad Depression: The Freshman Year of Life
A little over a year ago, I wrote a post for my old blog, Uninspired, about the post grad blues, or post grad depression. Basically, that’s the time period after college where you’re adjusting to the real world.
When I wrote that post, I had just finished my freshman year of life, as I like to call it. The first year after graduation. I was substitute teaching full-time and a full-time student, making my weeks about 65-70 hours. Honestly, I was not in a place where I should have even written that post, because my sh*t was not together. But now, I can safely say that I can’t imagine being an undergrad again. I still miss it every day, but I realized even though life is different now, it’s not all bad. I still make an effort to see those people and revisit West Chester. Of course it will never be the same, but why would you want constant sameness when you can have growth and evolution instead?
I want you guys to get to this place, too. If you’re in the middle of post grad depression, I want you to know that what you’re feeling makes sense. What you’re feeling is just the space between what you’re used to and all this new responsibility that comes with grownup life. It’s what happens to people in their freshman year of life. It’s not your fault. You’re not bad at adulting. You’re just adjusting, and it’s rough. To make it a little easier, I’ve compiled a list of things I wish I’d done to ease the post grad depression and make my freshman year of life less sh*tty.
Easing Post Grad Depression
Autumn definitely makes me miss college. For four years, this crisp weather and fiery scenery meant going back to school. It meant seeing my favorite people, getting late night takeout, dressing up for parties, feeling free. The first time fall didn’t mean all that was really heartbreaking. If you’re feeling that way, I understand. And I hope to drop a few little wisdom bombs on you today so you’re prepared to handle your post grad depression with grace.
1 . Don’t take on more than you can handle.
When I was at West Chester, I was the president of the psychology club, I did research for two different professors, I tutored psych100 and Italian, and I went out and partied every weekend. But honestly….that’s not the real world. As crazy as college feels sometimes, it’s actually a pretty structured environment. All your classes and meetings for organizations operate around 50 minute hours and 10 minutes for travel. You have an academic adviser. You can visit a counseling center for free. The freshman year of life has no neat little blocks of perfect hours. No one to tell you you’re biting off more than you can chew. Therapy costs a heck of a lot of money. So, start small. If you’re comfortable with that workload, only then should you try taking on more.
2. Don’t lose touch with your friends.
A hallmark of post grad depression, or any depression for that matter, is that you really don’t want to socialize. To make matters worse, socializing is hard outside college. There are no dorms packed full of potential friends in the suburbs. There’s no row of frat houses for partying or a street full of trendy bars. For god’s sake, you have to drive everywhere. UGH.
I really, really feel your pain on this one. When I moved to PA for school, I really thought I was never coming back, and I cut ties with most of my high school friends. Of course, here I am, back in the sleepiest little suburban town in America. When I first moved back, I had no one. My parents’ neighbors are cool and all, but they’re middle-aged and beyond. Not a crowd to go to the bars with. (I did anyway though.)
So, I understand that it feels impossible to get out there. Even if you had the desire to go out, would you ever have the energy?! I get it. And even so, I urge you to invite some people over for a chill wine night. Take turns paying for an Uber to get to the good bars. Everyone your age is going through a similar thing, and you need to lean on each other.
3. Remember you’re not too good for dating apps.
If you’re single, of course. Harsh, I know. Of course, you have to be careful, especially if you’re a woman dating online. But my reasoning for this is similar to my reasoning for being generally social. It’s hard to come by an environment full of people your own age looking to do stuff. That’s exactly what dating apps are. So, release the stigma you have about dating apps being for desperate people, and let them help you out of your post grad depression. Again, be safe, but get yourself out there a little bit.
4. Make time for your hobbies.
At some point in the throes of my own post grad depression, I didn’t even recognize myself, and it really freaked me out. I love to crochet, yet I couldn’t have told you where my needles were. I love to read, and not only had I not touched my stack of books, I didn’t even have one.
Making time for my hobbies during my freshman year of life seemed like a waste because if I had to schedule them like homework, I was afraid they’d start to feel like work. But that was just an excuse for me to sit and wallow in my misery rather than get up and do something about it. Yes, I was scared of feeling better and then falling back into post grad depression, but I was more scared of losing who I was completely. So I made time.
5. Know that everyone your age goes through this.
Yeah, you have that one friend who went off to the city and found immediate success. I know someone who photographs high fashion models and seems to be constantly featured in magazines. I know someone else who has topped the singer/songwriter charts on iTunes. Two boys from my graduating class in high school were drafted to major league baseball teams. But those people are the exceptions to the rule. There were 250 kids in my graduating class, and I can only name four doing crazy awesome things like that. The VAST majority of people are doing the same thing as you– watching Gilmore Girls for the fifth time an eating that piece of popcorn that just fell in your bra. It’s cool, I didn’t see it.
Basically, just don’t think about those crazy success stories too much. They’re NOT a reflection of where you’re supposed to be! You just worry about you, and you’ll be just fine.
Post grad depression can be really, really stressful. And if you’re already dealing with other mental health issues?! I can’t imagine. That’s why, while my post-grad job prospects are still in the air, I’ve partnered with BetterHelp. They offer counseling services online, which is great for busy millennials like yourself. You can toss a message into your therapist’s “office” (chat room) at any time of day or night if something stresses you out. You can also video chat with them or call on your lunch break, or if you’re traveling! It’s also an awesome option for someone with social anxiety, who would rather have a chat conversation than meet a new person. Clicking that link a couple lines up will get you a free week to try it out!