With the first day of classes for many college students right around the corner, I thought it be great to reflect on the experiences I’ve had since graduating from college two years ago. While life for me ain’t been no crystal stair, I really have grown a lot since my days at Syracuse, and have come to love being a 20-something living in a big city. To my college seniors heading back to campus, savor this last year because -ish will get real before you know it. However, it’s going to be the ride of your life. So without further ado, here are nine things I’ve learned living in the ‘real world’:
1. Trust the process. This by far is a reoccurring lesson that I’ve learned, but an important one nonetheless. It’s been said that our generation thrives on instant gratification, and while I beg to differ in some respects, we are sometimes super pressed to get immediate results. No matter where you are in your life, trust that at this moment in time you are exactly where you need to be and have faith that the next step will be greater than the last. And even if you fall down a few times, dust yourself off and try again — never give up! Like Lil Wayne said, “Yes I know the process is so much stress, but it’s the progress that feels the best.”
2. It is completely fine to stay in the crib on some weekends. I get it — you hustle hard for your money five days out of the week and when Friday comes, you want to turn up. Cool! All I’m saying is, every weekend doesn’t have to be a #YOLO moment. When I first moved to DC, I thought that I had to go out every weekend in the event that I would miss something. Chile, boo! Once I learned my way around The District and found that I really wasn’t missing anything, I began to savor my quiet moments at home on Friday or Saturday nights reading a book and sipping wine. Trust me when I say that this is not only way to blissfully unwind, but it also saves you some money. Which brings me to my next point…
3. Get a grasp on your finances sooner than later. Repeat after me: I am NOT a Cash Money Millionaire. I do NOT have the audacity to “make it rain” in any club, bar, lounge or other social establishment. Now if you’ve got, it flaunt it! I can’t even be mad at you. But I will say that there’s power in being smart with your money. Budgets are not your enemy, they’re your friends. Personally, I’d rather spend big bucks on experiences (insert whatever you deem to be a great experience here) rather than lavish things, but to its each own. There are tons of tools like Mint.com and LearnVest that provide a great deal of information on managing your finances.
4. The value of friendship is priceless. When you find that group of people that genuinely have your back; the ones that will laugh, cry, pray, and burst into full song and dance with you while walking down the street, hold on to them. No matter near or far, I’m blessed to know some pretty awesome folks. Friends are the family we choose, and there’s no better time than right now to choose wisely.
5. Parents DO understand. For the many times I’ve called my mom stressed out, yelling, crying or a combination of the three, I can’t tell you all how comforting it is to hear that she understands what I’m going through. I’ve definitely grown to love both of my parents more since graduating from college, and I appreciate their insight and value their opinion so much.
6. Step out of your comfort zone every once in a while. When in Rome, do what the Romans do! Living in D.C., I had to catch on quickly that this is a city that loves to brunch and day party on the weekends. And while I may not do this often (see number three) I do my best to hit up the free events that happen around the city all the time. Dance classes, culture festivals and poetry readings — there is so much to do living in a city, so get out there and experience it!
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. In the event that you find yourself in a glass case of emotion, ASK FOR HELP! There’s nothing wrong with calling up family members and friends to request assistance in anything. It doesn’t show sign of weakness either — it shows that you are resourceful. Remember: closed mouths don’t get fed on this boulevard, so use your words and ask for help when you need it!
8. Show gratitude. To the Metro operator, your dry cleaner or the manager at your local grocery store — always say thank you and smile. Those two words can go a VERY long way, and not to mention good karma. 🙂
9. Lift as you climb. We are all blessed with so many talents and gifts, and we must be willing to invest in our future. Volunteer with a local organization that works with young people. Become a mentor. Coach little league. Do something where you are giving back to your community in some capacity. Not only is it a fun experience, but it’s rewarding and enlightening.