Things I Learned after College
It’s hard to believe that it has only been a year since I graduated from college. At that time, I wish someone would have prepared for me for the enormous change I would endure in the post-college life. From discerning not to do a year of service, to finding myself unemployed for a few months, to finally landing a full-time job (thanks to St. Joseph), and most recently to getting engaged to a wonderful woman of God, it has been an eventful year. Aware of the great challenges ahead for the recent graduates, I would like to pass on just a few of the lessons I have learned outside the classroom to the class of 2012.
1) You can still be holy if you don’t do a year of service, work for the Church, enter the religious life etc. After discerning that I was not called to serve the poor in Appalachia for a year, I felt a bit guilty that I was not devoting myself fully to God and was becoming a pagan for seeking to work in the business world to pay off my loans and begin to lay a foundation to start a family. Throughout this past year, I have realized that God does not call everybody to serve full-time in the Church. The world needs not only holy religious, but holy doctors, accountants, etc. Any honest job can make us saints and lead others towards Christ if we so choose. Let God make you a saint in the job He has picked for you.
2) You have to cut the cord with your plan for life and learn humility. Graduating from college with a degree in such and such does not entitle you to a perfect job and a lifetime of bliss. Things may be hard for you, especially right after graduating in this less than ideal job market. Learn to trust God and admit that you are not in control of your life. You will be surprised how well things will go for you once you admit that you are not in control and ask God to direct your steps.
3) Learning outside the classroom can be fun. I know this sounds crazy since most of us have spent the majority of our lives cramming our brains full of knowledge for tests, papers and projects etc. However, learning something that you are actually interested in and/or is useful for your job can be very satisfying, even more so than that A you got after cramming for that philosophy midterm as a sophomore.
4) Life isn’t about interacting only with people your own age. In college, most of us interacted exclusively with 18-22 year olds, yet the post-college life is much different. Any career you choose will force you to communicate with adults of a variety of ages. Don’t write them off because they aren’t as young and hip as you are, but honestly get to know them and learn from their wealth of experience and unique viewpoint.
5) The early morning can be your friend. Life past college usually means saying goodbye to sleeping in until noon during the week. Most jobs will force you to get up much earlier than you did in college. Instead of seeing getting up early as a chore, use it as a way to structure your life and get some prayer in with God at the beginning of the day. I have found that carving out some quiet time in the morning with God has done wonders for my life. I’m much more peaceful, joyful and productive during the day if I give God the first fruits of the morning. Sure, this is often difficult, as are most things in the Christian life, but the rewards of prayer make the sacrifice totally worth it.
6) Saying no to good things is okay. Maybe you were involved in dozens of activities in college, rushing from one thing to the next. Let’s face it, you can’t keep up the same level of extracurricular activities and socializing you did in college while maintaining a full time job. Make a list of what is important to you and prioritize your time. You can’t do every fun facebook event you are invited to and that is fine. Learn that it is okay to skip some fun things so that your body can recharge. You will find that you are much happier when you aren’t always rushing around.
Finally, 7) God’s plans are better than ours. I thought my post-college plan was prudent and the right thing to do and then God scrapped it. It was tough to change course but I can now start to see glimpses of how God’s plan is so much better for me than my own. You may have left college clueless on where to go and that is alright. Simply pray and trust that God loves you and will show you the path to follow in His time.
The above are but a few of the many things I have learned so far in the post-college life. Feel free to share some lessons you learned after graduating college.