Life is short and it’s up to you to make it sweet. ~Sadie (Sarah Louise) Delany.

First off, Happy Juneteenth. Second off, I did the thing. I graduated from college almost 50 days ago. I also didn’t realize until last week that a full month has passed already. I have learned so much these past few weeks. Life lessons that I wish to share with you.

1. accept that you and your friends will no longer live at the same pace.

As a society we place a lot of pressure on certain milestones by certain ages or “stages” in our lives. You have to be married by the time you’re 25 so you can have your first child and house before you’re 35. At some point in between you have to meet someone to impregnate you and marry you and buy you a house?

It’s weird to think about since I’m 22 and feel like I’m WAY too young to do any of those things. While I know there are a lot of people moving onto those next “stages” of adult life.

I put quotes around “stages” because it’s an illusion. I have friends who have cute adorable little babies, and friends who went straight across the country to pursue further education. I have friends in grad school and I have friends who went straight to the workforce, like me. 

It’s unnerving at first to see so many people take their lives in completely different directions from your own, because while in college everyone appears to be going at the same pace. But honey, you’re out in the real world now.

The convenience of running across campus and busting into your best friend’s dorm unannounced is no longer afforded to you. A lot of friendships die, but others will make it through the changes post-grad life brings and become stronger than ever.  

2. On this same note, stop comparing yourself to others.

Are all your friends getting engaged? Congratulate them and be happy you don’t have to plan a wedding yet. That -ish is stressful. Have you seen Bridezillas? Also, the people you’re comparing yourself to probably look at you and wonder whether they should’ve or could’ve done differently, as well. 

Honestly, It’s okay to look. It’s okay to feel jealous or even a bit sorry for yourself. Just take care of yourself and realize that you never know what someone is going through and your friends or strangers on social media could be going through some rough times that they simply won’t show on social media. You likely only see the highlights. 

Once you shift focus away from how you perceive others’ lives to be, and focus on yourself you can start to make some good things happen. 

3. no longer linger in the past

Thinking about whether you made the right moves is normal, it’s okay. Thoughts like, maybe I should’ve taken that business class? Maybe I should’ve changed my major? You know what maybe you should’ve, maybe not. Maybe you did what you had to do.

Maybe you did amazing, wonderful, especially when you think about what you had to put up with. In my case, if I had all the time and money in the world I’d have at least five majors. Doesn’t matter now, I graduated. Can’t change the past, can only learn from it. 

Self-reflections are always encouraged, however don’t get trapped in the realm of possibilities. I can’t tell you how long I spend thinking about events from my college experience that I wish I handled differently. But those were all lessons learned. 

4. prioritize your freedom

You are an adult. You get to decide where your life goes from here. Take the time to reflect on some recent decisions you’ve made. Are you happy? Are you living your dream life? Are you working towards your dream life? A lot of us young adults struggle to move through these next steps in our lives because the power and responsibilities we’ve gained are fresh and new, but also overwhelming. 

You decide whether you go to grad school or not. You decide whether to move to a new city, state or even country. You decide whether staying home or close to home is best for you. A lot of people don’t know what they want to do so they depend on their parents or other loved ones to guide them or even take care of them. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. 

I am saying that you have power. Responsibilities can be hard to manage, but it comes with the territory. Independence and autonomy is freeing. It feels good to know that you can take care of yourself, even if it’s hard, even if you must depend on others from time to time. 

There are many obstacles we face, but it is through the overcoming of these challenges that we grow into ourselves.

5. practice patience

Some things take time. It takes time to find yourself. It takes time to realize you have so much room to grow. It takes time to find a job. It takes time to find housing. It takes time to save for that car, that ring, or that trip.

It took me weeks to finally realize that I was exhausting myself, starting a full-time job, getting my first apartment, paying my first bills. It took time to feel comfortable, dare I say confident in front of a camera. It took time to get to know my coworkers. It took time to record and edit this video. 

You need to be patient with yourself. We don’t all have the same opportunities, access to resources, or health. We all want to have it all as soon as possible, and place unrealistic expectations on ourselves. This is why learning to wait, accepting that we do not control many aspects of our lives, and believing that our time, effort, and skill will pay off are important. 

Sometimes you need to just make yourself some tea, sit down, and read a book. Add a little bit of sugar. Sweeten it to your liking. “Life is short and it’s up to you to make it sweet.” Together we can make it through this wonderful, chaotic world, grow up, and blossom.

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