The chapter on college has long since ended and so has the ease that once accompanied experiences so frequent that they composed an aspect of one’s life that would surely remain unchanged indefinitely. The naiveté with which young people’s minds flirt results in a difficulty in fathoming that post-college life is marked by challenges that did not exist in a dorm room.
1. Meeting up with friends
There once was a time when friends were able to meet for shenanigans with little to no notice. A briefly worded text, a passing conversation, or a simple knock on the door resulted in impromptu dinners or parties. With jobs, families, and other obligations, gatherings must now be planned well in advance, and in the end, they never accommodate everyone’s schedules. In college, friends chomped at the bit to spend time together. Today, Facebook event invitations await RSVPs, and “maybe” is the new “no.”
2. Making friends
The challenges of keeping in touch with existing friends are nowhere near as difficult as making new ones. Making a new best friend was once as simple as keeping one’s dorm room open or engaging in a tearful conversation about one’s childhood. These moments were routinely described as making people “really close friends,” but if someone were to suddenly thrust stories of childhood trauma on a post-grad, these moments are now described as an “overshare” and TMI has replaced intimacy.
With new classes every few months, one’s dating pool increased and varied with the seasons. See a cute guy in chemistry and want to talk to him? No problem! Just sit next to him during lab and ask him to help you light your Bunsen burner. You have a couple of months to stoke that slow burn up to something hotter. However, the moment one’s hand moves that tassel from right to left, dating and meeting new people becomes an activity worthy of the Olympics in which only the strongest and most strong-willed succeed. Trying to catch the cute guy’s eyes while in line at Starbucks often results in interested looks from the unemployed denizens of everyone’s favorite free Wi-Fi location.
4. Pulling All-Nighters
Cramming for exams and writing a 15-page paper at 11 p.m. for an 8 a.m. class felt like the easiest thing in the world during sophomore year. Going days without sleep was as normal as stalking people on Facebook. Now making it past 11:30 p.m. on a Friday night feels like a badge of honor, and even then it takes at least two days to recover. Bemoaning those lost hours of sleep dominates Monday morning water cooler talk and promises are made to oneself to never again interfere with a good night’s rest.
5. Reliability of inexperience
“You’re young! Don’t worry. You have your whole life ahead of you.” Oh, to hear those words again. In college, everyone was willing to forgive poor decisions because of the generosity that inexperience affords the young. At twenty-one, it seems that an invisible and indiscernible maturity descends upon graduates and suddenly all decisions must be mature ones, bloated with rational thought and free of fallacies. How is it possible that post-grad life is equated with a definitive career path, a wholesome romantic life, and an overflowing bank account? Some of us may have must have missed the doses of certainty and inevitability that were passed out alongside diplomas, because the only thing that remains certain as of this moment is that of the ten college friends invited to a dinner party taking place in two months, three will commit, four are maybes, and three will not bother responding.