Life After College Depression – Part the Fourth of the “What To Do After College” Series
Most of you have either graduated in the last few years, or will be graduating sometime soon. And that comes with some awesome territory: making your own way in the world, running up your own data on your smart phone and getting charged instead of your parents, and your first paycheck. And with all the excitement given from commencement ceremony speeches (if I hear another Dr. Seuss quote, I swear to God I will shoot myself in my pretty little face), you’d think that the world was your oyster and you have nothing to worry about. So then why would today’s topic be something as dreary as “Life After College Depression”?
Because, dear reader, it’s going to punch you in the face one day that being a college student is probably second only to being Liam Neeson, and that you are in no way, shape, or form a “college kid” anymore.
That. Day. Sucks. There will literally come a day when you would rather write a 20-page research paper than go to work. A day that you would happily give your left hand/leg/nut/ovary/boob to just go nuts on a Thirsty Thursday and not have to think about the repercussions for the following day. But you will have to pull yourself together and do the really fucking annoying “Adult” thing.
Today is all about beating “life after college depression”. We’ll be going through 5 things that you can do to make sure that you don’t go from…
5 Steps – Beating “Life After College Depression”
There are many ways to deal with depression. Some resort to drugs/alcohol/sex/videogames/instagram/netflix/sesame street re-runs/outright denial. The goal for you all today is not to just “deal” with this issue; I want you to thrive! There are five main focus areas that if you can master, will keep you from drowning in the dark pit of despair that is after college life. They are:
- Exercise/Eat Well
- Work At Your Social Life
- Keep Learning
- See/Do New Things
- Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously
There are stories upon stories documenting the dreaded “Freshman Fifteen“. You get put in a place where you have access to pretty much as much food as you want, as often as you want. The result is packing on some padding that leaves you not so little around the middle. What you’ll never hear about is the “Fuck I’m Now Required To Be A Semi-Functional Adult” Forty. This is generally the first time that you’ve had a significant amount of money coming, and it’s yours to spend as you please! So what if you’ve gone out 3 times this week? Yeah, alcohol really has no nutritional value, but who cares? You used to do this in college all the time!
Except now you’re at an age where your metabolism is slowing down, and as you’re now working 40-80 hours a week (depending), you’re simply not going to have as active a body as you once did. And that needs to be compensated for by consuming fewer calories. Am I saying that you can only eat celery or food that doesn’t have a shadow? No. All I’m trying to get across is you’re going to gain weight if you’re not careful, it will creep up on you, and it’s an absolute BITCH to try to take off.
In addition to making sure you’re not eating like a pig every night, you need to make sure you’re staying active. And not “I have a standing desk” active. It’s easy to be on sports team, intramural teams, or to have access to great training facilities when you’re in college. But
your job things get in the way, and while you maintain that young and strapping physique for a few months, slowly but surely those lovehandles will fill out, the stairs won’t be quite as easy to climb, and you’ll go from being hot to cute and pudgy. THE HORROR!!!
And though the jury is out as to whether or not obesity causes depression or vice versa, there is support to the claim that working out can ward off depression. So lift those weights, get on that treadmill, and work till you’ve got that college bod.
Work At Your Social Life
Isolation is not only a huge part of depression, but can very easily find its way into your post-college life without you even knowing it. This tip is especially for you workaholics out there. College is a wonderful time where your social life is literally built-in: you live in a dorm with lots (sometimes hundreds) of other people, in a place where you literally all have something in common. There are fraternities, sororities, clubs, sports, you name it. You’re all roughly the same age with roughly the same goal (get that $150,000 piece of paper in four years). It’s amazing really.
Then you get thrown into a world when your 22-year-old white ass doesn’t know how to relate to the 60-year-old black woman who works at the DMV and has enough sass to fill three Tyler Perry movies. There are gatherings for work, but that’s just you hanging out with the people you work with anyways (Accounting has this weird way of never looking you in the eye, and Marketing is way to eccentric and will not stfu). Your very real “life after college depression” worsens when you realize you have to live with a 40-year-old musician who’s convinced that Justin Bieber is an alien, and you’re best friends are Damian, the guy who always thinks that your walk to the water cooler means you want to plot world domination, and the water cooler. You’ve been so focused on your “career” that you haven’t seen your real friends in months, you can barely spell the word “vacation”, and you’re starting to think about bringing in a sleeping bag for your cubicle.
Humans are the most social creatures on earth, and even you, investment banking wonder lad, need to keep that in mind! Make time for having drinks with colleagues, old friends and new. Make plans to travel with them, see new things in the city where you live; anything that gets you in a support system that gets as close as possible to the one you had in college!
Quick tip: don’t ever talk to me about how tough college is. Don’t tell me that you’re worried about your Calc II final. Don’t bitch about how mean a professor is. Don’t complain that you have this huge paper to write. Here’s the problem I have with all of that:
You get to sit around and just learn. All the time. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW FUCKING COOL THAT IS?!
The real world really doesn’t care if you know all about some abstract theory of art. It wants you to send out the Powerpoint by 6 pm so revisions can be made for the next day. It wants you to make damn sure that there are no spelling errors, and that you made extra copies for the board meeting.
You are not going to be in a decision-making position while you’re still in your young professional life. And while you will be asked to learn things, I’m going to make a sweeping generalization and say for the most part they won’t be cool. You won’t be learning how to play guitar, speak french, or cook the best BBQ this side of the Mississippi. You’ll be learning changes to tax law or changes in Python’s new update. And while that might get some your motors running, I’m going to assume that most of you aren’t robots.
So here’s what you do: you sit down, you make a list of things that interest you, and you make damn sure that you explore them during your time outside of work. Join a foreign language speaking group, a toastmasters club, learn how to play cello, or enroll in some different classes in a local community college (it won’t kill you, I promise). Make a commitment to reading something everyday! There will be days that you can feel your brain cells dying and the distance between your synapses grow, and that the life after college depression is setting in. But push yourself to keep learning something new (and interesting), and you will see results that reverberate through your life.
See/Do New Things
You’ll be surprised how easy it is to get stuck in a rut. To do the same things, week in and week out. Even those things that seem fun and “spontaneous” start to become mundane (I’m lookin’ at you, every damn bar scene from “How I Met Your Mother”). It’s vital that you engage the part of your brain that lights up when you see and do new things. Don’t be afraid to travel to new places ( I have a particular place in my heart for France, but you can visit other countries, I suppose…). And keep in mind, “new places” doesn’t necessarily have to mean a plane ride; there are always things that you can check out (museums, parks, trails, restaurants, bars).
In fact, this guy exclusively used travel to beat back depression. It wasn’t “life after college depression” in the sense of he felt lost immediately after graduating (read it to find out more), but it’s a good look into what travel can do to really take your mind off the seemingly senseless direction of life after college.
Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously
God, if there was one thing I could change about the general populace, it would be this. Don’t get me wrong, I love the enthusiasm of new graduates. The world is theirs for the taking, and they enter the work force with fresh ideas and a youthful vigor that often shines like a beacon in the dreariest of office spaces. Also they know how to fix the computers.
But there’s nothing more insufferable than the finance graduate who comes in with all his fancy financial modeling and goes all “deer in headlights” in a client meeting as your team tries to win an IPO. Or a new project manager at a non-profit that is stuffing their ideals down everyone’s throats. And it all comes from this sense of wanting to prove that you matter, your degree matters, and what you say should be important enough for people to listen.
Which is understandable, but when work becomes all you think/talk about or do, it can really diminish your quality of life. And new grads are at a greater risk with this whole “first one to arrive/last one to leave” office mentality. You’ve got to realize that for the most part, you are not going to be a mover and shaker at your first job. You will be supporting someone who’s supporting someone who’s supporting someone else. And while yes, you should do whatever it is you do to the best of your ability, don’t fucking sit there and tell me that your stressed out about work when all you do is order gifts for participants of a training. You’re not Steve Jobs, you’re not that important yet (but I talked to your mom last night and she said that you’re going to do GREAT things!) so chill out and find the humor in life!
Life After College Depression – The Wrap Up
Breaking into the real world is hard. You’re going from this amazing paradise to a place that can really suck ass. But only if you let it! Take the above five steps seriously, and you will definitely be able to conquer your life after college depression, and become a productive member of society that doesn’t spend his/her late thirties wishing for the “good ol’ days” of college. Remember, while having the financial freedom to do whatever you want is sweet (and the ultimate goal for you, dear reader), it means nothing if you’re living a life in the past or trying to replicate what you consider the best days of your life. Though that one time at Kappa Sigma was pretty cray cray… 😉
Keep trying to crack the code,