It's that time of year again ... when our Facebook newsfeeds will be littered with graduation photos and just as many status updates about the unbridled terror of being thrust into the real world. Job prospects seem low, the rent is too damn high, and the sense that you must suddenly become a grownup with responsibilities looms large.
Look, not too long ago, I was in that same position. For four years, I attended college at what might as well have been Disneyland — I practically lived in Cinderella's castle! And then one day, they gave me the boot (along with my degree) and left me floundering to figure out what to do with the rest of my life.
To be fair, it took a couple of years to get my act together, to turn grad school and internships into stable employment, to volunteer with youth mentoring organizations, and to shop at Trader Joe's for real food like a real person. And now that I've arrived in my adult life, I have to say I actually prefer it to my university days. Here are the top four reasons why, in my experience, life after college is just as fun, if not more fun, as life in it:
1. Better dates
Let me clarify. Dating as a young adult, especially in a place like New York City, is kind of awful. However, once you find someone who you actually want to be around, the dates you'll go on as an adult will be infinitely more satisfying. Instead of springing for ice cream (hey, big spender!) or showing up to a football game together, you might find yourselves sipping handcrafted cocktails at a clandestine speakeasy, or seeing a professional sports game or even a Broadway show, if you want to get all cultured like that. While these outings are certainly more pricey than the late-night pizza study break dates of your college era, fear not — being an adult means you (or at least your date, I hope) have disposable income.
I graduated college in 2009 when there really were no jobs, but today's college grads might actually have a shot at a real career and a steady income. Having more than the $200 a month check you got from working in the campus library, or whatever bones your parents would throw you, is liberating in so many ways. Once you've taken care of the necessities, if you've budgeted smartly, you’ll have cash set aside for happy hours and big girl/big boy shoes and the occasional weekend away. And hopefully you can afford real spaghetti and not just ramen.
3. No homework
I say this sort of ironically as I write this article after a full day of work, but I do mean it. For the most part, when you have an office job, your time outside of the office is yours. There are some notable exceptions (I am intimately acquainted with a few young attorneys whose thumbs are surgically attached to their BlackBerrys). But for so many of us, even if we've worked a 14-hour day, when we get home we can veg out in front of The Voice and not worry about writing a 14-page paper or catching up on 1,400 pages of reading.
When you have agency over your time outside of work, you can devote it to things like, say, blogging and volunteering — things that will make you feel well-rounded and that are lovely alternatives to keg stands and whatever else goes on at frat parties (my school didn't really have Greek life, so my frame of reference for this is early 2000s Tara Reid movies, sorry).
When you graduate from college, "brunch" graduates from a noun to a verb — it's a thing that young adults feel compelled to do. Often affectionately referred to as boozy brunch (which I find a little aggressive), the breakfast-lunch hybrid replete with limitless adult beverages is one of the best ideas modern society has delivered thus far. Brunch at a restaurant is just a different animal from brunch in a dining hall.
The food is imaginative and heavenly; the mimosas and bellinis completely outclass the Natty Light and Milwaukee's Best ("Beast") you nursed all through school. Brunch as an adult is incomparable; it is a symbol of your ascent into the real world, and it's really, really fun.