A modernly renovated and beautifully decorated 2 bedroom apartment. It’s not the penthouse but spacious and affordable. It’s in the perfect location where I can walk to my favorite cafe and I’m only a block away from the subway stop. My job is so much fun, I am pretty damn good at it, and I get paid more than the average fresh graduate. I have loads of open-minded new friends and even an attractive and friendly stranger who I encountered at a bookstore one weekend that may be interested. I have started working out more and getting healthy. Life is beautiful and I am happy.
That is how I envisioned post-grad life for the entirety of my senior year. It’s probably one of the sole things that kept me motivated and marching toward that cap and gown. Don’t get me wrong, post-grad life is wonderful for many reasons but my vision was also terribly misleading.
At first, I was too busy to notice it. My parents were helping me unpack, I was meeting my coworkers, starting my initial work training, decorating my apartment, and so on. Then my Dad left and I felt a twinge of something, but I sucked it up and moved on. I am an adult now, right? My mom stayed a little longer. We are both control freaks so we butted heads quite a bit in that time period. To the point, that I found myself counting down the days until her departure. Then she left. I was fine for about a week. Drunk with new-found freedom that was literally like nothing I had ever experienced. I was self-sufficient, in a state hundreds of miles away from home, in my OWN apartment with an amazing job.
However, I had a ton of time by myself. I have my dog, who I am incredibly thankful for, but I had no one to talk to when I got home. This was especially damaging after a bad day. Yes, I could have called someone and I did some days but I slowly stopped this practice. It was easier to direct my energy to self-loathing and hiding in my bed than calling my mom. I was beating myself up over the smallest mistakes and overanalyzing every critique my manager gave me. I was miserable.
On top of this, all my closest friends were still in college, living happily in the comfortable bubble that I had left behind. They would send photos to me of them hanging out together and it would hurt because I knew I had no one like that in my new home…and because I missed them, obviously.
I went from being an extremely motivated individual to one who didn’t even want to get out of bed in the morning to go to work. I went from being so excited to hike every inch of Colorado to deciding to stay in and watch YouTube videos.
I feel bad even writing about this because I am incredibly blessed. I was blessed with the opportunity to go to and graduate college, I am blessed with a well-paid job with what I consider to be a very caring company. I have an apartment that fits my needs, and I have a family and friends that keep in touch despite our distance. However, I still feel sad. Some days are better than others and some days are really, really bad. Leaving the bubble of school and the world you create there is difficult. I’m sure some struggle with it more than I do and I am sure some people don’t struggle at all. I thought it would be a breeze. I thought I had it all figured out.
There are several reasons I think post-grad depression is a thing:
- Leaving your comfort zone
Most of us have been in school for 17 years (+-). School is what we are good at; it’s what we know how to do. Leaving that comfort zone filled with friends, a routine, and a purpose is hard.
- College is about personal development, the real world often isn’t
In school, we have a definite purpose. No matter how miserable that one professor is you know it’s temporary and you are doing it to ultimately make yourself a better human. After college, most of what you do is to better your employer. You may be inadvertently bettering yourself but that’s often not your main purpose in your day-to-day life unless you make time for it.
- Dealing with adult things
Let me tell you, electing my benefits was one of the most stressful things I have done. I understand how incredibly blessed I am to be offered benefits but the amount of money that leaves my paycheck every other week should be criminal. In addition to benefits, I have had to deal with taxes, apartment hunting, driving a U-Haul 1600 miles, appliances breaking, emergency vet trips, credit bureau security breaches, and bills on bills on BILLS.
- Life not aligned with passions
College was a pain in my butt at times but a lot of it was focused on learning about topics I enjoyed. In fact, college is really about what you want. While my job is in marketing, my major, I can admit it isn’t the type of marketing I ever really wanted to do. There are other positions in the company that align better with my passions but I’m not there yet. I am here. It’s hard waking up to do something every day that you may not necessarily love but I am smart enough to understand that not everyone gets their dream job straight out of the gate and I am willing to work hard to get there one day.
I still deal with this ‘depression’ every day. A lot of this post was written in past tense but it’s still very much an issue. This post wasn’t meant to discourage any current college students. I love being independent and not having to worry about finals or buying books. However, I do wish someone had warned me. I don’t know if there is really a way to prepare but take it as reassurance.
Post-grad life may not be everything you dreamed it to be, but life is about adjusting and overcoming and you will.
Thanks for reading!