5 Stages Of Grief All Recent College Grads Will Relate So Hard To
In case your university didn't offer a crash course in moving on.
So you've graduated from college. Suddenly, you find yourself in that strange, scary place called The Real World.
And we're not talking about the one on MTV.
You're a little confused about how this whole thing works. And it shows. What do you mean, there's no dollar bottle Tuesday? What am I even supposed to do on Tuesday nights?!
The transition to real life is more traumatic than McDreamy's sudden death, and may take some time. The most carefree years of your life are over, and it's officially time to mourn the loss of your youth.
As you make the transition from senior year of college to freshman year of adulthood, you'll pass through 5 stages of post-collegiate grief. Class may be over, but you should still take notes. Pro tip: Have tissues handy. *Cue mascara tears*
Stage 1: DENIAL
You're eating like regaining the freshman 15 will turn you back into a freshman.
Pizza for every meal? Yeah, that's not what your coworkers meant when they bragged about "meal prep."
And you're drinking like it, too.
If happy hour ends at 6, why am I falling into bed, wasted, at 2 a.m.?
Your follow-up question upon being invited to a party is, "What's the theme?"
COWORKER: "Um, it's an engagement party."
YOU: "So, monogamy?"
Stage 2: ANGER
You get jealous of your Super Senior friends.
While your super senior friends are still completing their academic victory lap, you're sitting in a dank cubicle wondering why you didn't fail more classes, just to get another shot at that sweet undergrad life.
Oh, that's right: loans.
You remember you signed your life away to Sallie Mae.
You begin to screen calls from any unknown number that pops up on your phone. It could be that cute guy from the bar last night, or it could be Frank from Sallie Mae, aka literally the only person who calls you more than your mom to check in. Either way, you're not taking any chances.
You realize your diploma is just a really expensive piece of paper that you don't really know what to do with.
What do you even do with this thing? You have no corner office in which to proudly display the summation of your last 4 years of blood, sweat, and tears, and hanging it in your cubicle seems both pretentious and sad. Wait, here's an idea. Light it on fire, to keep you warm against the cold, harsh realities of adult life. You can't afford heat, anyway.
Stage 3: BARGAINING
You begin to consider the possibility of moving home.
Mom and dad: The OG roommates. Living rent free, having someone do your laundry and cook your meals again, in exchange for constant communication and the tracking of your every move liked a possessed Fitbit?
Hmm. Tempting, very tempting.
...or maybe you'll go to grad school.
Yeah, you're a writer, but you have always wanted to expand your skill set. You begin to fantasize about returning for your Master's, vowing to take school more seriously this time around. You won't watch cat videos, tweet, or buy Express jeans during lecture hall. You'll really COMMIT, in a "Dead Poets Society"-type way.
Stage 4: DEPRESSION
Social media becomes the FOMO capital of the Internet.
*Scrolls through newsfeed seeing your school is on spring break*
*Clicks through 2011 C@BO SPRANG BR3AK Facebook album*
*Waits for the time to turn to 11:11*
*Wishes to be back on the beach, or at least get that beach bod back*
All your friends are in different places, and you don't really remember how to make new ones.
You pull up your old roommate group text, obsessively scrolling through messages like a preteen post-breakup. You find yourself sobbing Asher Roth's "I Love College" in the fetal position.
But you don't have time to make new friends because you have to go to work. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
Staring at the same four walls of your cubicle for 8+ hours a day makes you feel like you're living out "Office Space." You actually look forward to bedtime; in fact, you get a little thrill out of calculating how many hours of sleep you'll get that night on your train ride home. Your 40-hour workweek is laughing at your "nightmare" 16-credit-hour semester.
Plus, you're damn broke.
Laundry, or happy hour? Guess you're recycling underwear tomorrow.
Stage 5: ACCEPTANCE
But then, a few months into postgrad life, you'll return to campus.
You'll be thrilled to be back in the hallowed halls of your alma mater. Everything will be imbued with emotion and memory: the pizza joint on Elm, your decrepit freshman dorm, even that ornery old cafeteria worker who always shortchanged you on pancakes. All of it will seem so precious, so dreamy, so tragically beautiful.
Even though you'll miss those carefree days of undergrad, you'll realize that you don't really have the stomach for college anymore.
But you also notice the hoards of over-caffeinated, over-stressed students, dazed from finals, and the lingering odor of puke. And you remember that college, like everything else in life, has its challenges and its difficult moments.
You've started to digest what it takes to be an adult, and you're learning to survive and thrive on what you've got.
When the weekend's over, you're ready to leave and return to your responsible new life of doing your own taxes and cooking things that aren't microwave ready. After all, there are perks: You have a French press. You're on a first-name basis with your dry cleaner. You drink green things in the morning.
You've changed, and you have to admit, young professional looks pretty damn good on you.
But you're also a proud alum who can shotgun a beer to the raucous tones of your friends yelling your alma mater's fight song like nobody's business.
Turns out you can have it all.
(DISCLAIMER: Or at least what's left after you pay your loans.)