Adjusting to Life After College

Post-grad is going to look different for everyone, however, it’s a huge transitional period for all. It’s possibly the biggest transition since the transition to college. Some of your friends may spend a few months traveling or just taking a break from all responsibilities before even thinking about job hunting, some may jump right into the “real world” with their new “adult job,” and some might not fall into any one specific category. No matter which path you end up going down, it’s important to remember that there’s no right or wrong path. While not everyone is going to experience the same emotions or have the same troubles, that doesn’t mean that your journey is any less valid. Maybe you move back home, you can’t find a job, your friends move to different cities or states; you may find yourself feeling really lonely now that you’re not five minutes from your friends at all times. Comparing your journey won’t do you [or anyone else for that matter] any good, and it won’t get you close to where you want to be any sooner either.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Theodore Roosevelt

We’ve all heard it, “I can’t wait for post grad because I’m going to have so much more free time.” Sadly, that’s not as true as you might think. By the time you’re at your full-time job, going to happy hour events after work, fitting in exercise, finding time to cook, grocery shopping, doing laundry, having ‘me’ time, seeing your family and more, you’re going to realize that life is nothing but a balancing act. Some of us struggle with saying no because there’s something so exciting about taking on way more than you can manage. Some may seem like they can’t find enough things to fill their time. Regardless of your situation, it takes time to find your flow of post grad and get into a new routine. 

While most people transition into the workforce after graduation, I began a 1,200-hour unpaid internship. This sets me up to be in a different position than most college graduates already. On top of my internship, I’ve been trying to find some side jobs to make money, and do things that keep me happy, all with little to no free time. My schedule has been insanely busy, and while I didn’t think this would be a problem because all my life I have been a busy bee, I’ve been having an even harder time adjusting than I expected. 

Just like in college, mental health can be one of the things that gets put on the back burner when going through a difficult time in our lives. This transition period was no exception for me. After completing an exercise that has you evaluate how you spend the 168 hours of the week, I quickly realized I was being extremely overworked. ‘Me-time’ and self-care wasn’t high enough on my priority list anymore and it was starting to take a toll on me. 

If you’re struggling through the first few months of post grad, know that it will get better after you create your new flow. If time management wasn’t a skill of yours before, it’s going to be now. Like any other period of your life, you and your mental health matter so much. Make time for yourself, learn to say no to people/activities/events that don’t bring you joy, and most importantly, be patient with yourself. We’re not meant to have this crazy journey called life figured out right away.

Four Differences Between Full-time Work and School

Ideally, college students use summer break for a breath of fresh air. Away from the academics and stress of school, the pause from action is needed for many. But realistically, most students work full time, instead.

Working full time requires long hours, filled with mindless tasks only to receive minimum wage and coming home to unwind from a hectic shift. Then, maybe even, getting ready to go to a second job. The struggle at home is balancing a social life and trying to make some extra spending money for when you move back to school in the fall. 

Now, going to school full time is very similar, but there is a little more understanding to having a crazy schedule and stretching yourself thin. Professors and advisors understand you’re a student first, and academics are your top priority. But, responsibility lands on your shoulders if you are manning clubs and extracurriculars.

Here are the four major differences I realized this summer between being a full-time worker versus being a full-time student.

Required Uniform

The company polo and khaki shorts are out of style! The multiple loads of laundry a week to keep the uniform clean and professional for all of the customers is gone, and casual campus wear is back in. Of course, some events might require a little bit of dressing up and effort. But, nothing will ever replace the iconic ponytail and company t-shirt look.

A Revival of a Social Life

You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your co-workers. Depending on how many jobs you balanced over the summer [for example, I had three over the break!], time for friends and family might have been scarce. From the moment you step on campus, you are surrounded by young adults all around the same age. Being productive with your friends is ideal, with coffee dates and study sessions at the library. 

A Lack of Cash

This is probably the worst part of returning back to being a full-time student. Money gets stretched thin and every dollar counts toward the end of the semester. On the other hand, though, the summer is filled with spontaneous ice cream trips and purchases because of the biweekly paychecks and extra tip money in your pocket.

Home Cooked Meals Are Rare

Living at home and working over the summer has its benefits, like having dinner ready when you get home after a long day. A meal on the table is always nice, but that disappears once you’re back on your own as a one-man-band. Dining halls and microwave meals in your dorm are the main entrees.

Road to Graduation: Making the Most of the Lasts

Skipping kindergarten has caused me to always be the youngest person in my grade. Throughout middle school and high school, that never bothered me [minus the period when all of my friends got their driver’s licenses and I still had a year to go]. Even when I graduated high school and began my first semester of college, before I turned eighteen, I didn’t feel different than all of the others who were doing the same. However, since starting my third and final year of college, it’s all began to rush towards me. 

After coming into college with some credits from high school and taking 18 or more credit hours a semester during my first two years of college, I’m now graduating early. I came into college with the intention of being able to graduate at least a semester, if not two, early [just one less semester is a couple thousand dollars less in student loans!]. Yet, now that I’ve managed to cut off almost a year’s worth of classes, I’m suddenly realizing how close I am to having to be a functioning adult in the “real” world. Not to mention, the fact that I won’t even be twenty-one by the time I graduate is not helping with the anxiety. How can I be a real adult if I can’t even have an adult drink?

With all of this stress about going out in the “real” world looming nearby, I’m trying to make the most of my last two semesters on campus. This is the first semester that I’m taking less than 15 credit hours and I’m so glad that I made the decision to lighten up on classes. This allows me to better dedicate myself to my on-campus internship and gives me the opportunity to take on bigger roles in the organizations I am involved in on campus. It also gives me more free time to hang out with my friends and to create memories that I know I’ll forever be grateful for. 

I’m only one week into the fall semester, but I already know that it’s going to be a semester that I’ll never forget. I can’t wait to see how I grow during not only this semester but this school year as a whole and all the people I will connect with during my last year as an Ohio University student.

Putting my own Twist on my Dorm Room

Living in the dorms can be both the best and worst part of college. For some, it’s exciting to live with a roommate, but others absolutely dread it. My first two years living in the dorms have been great experiences. This year I am going into my third year living in a dorm because I work as a Resident Assistant [RA]. This is my second year working as an RA and a wonderful perk of the job is getting my own free room! This leaves me with a whole double-sized dorm to myself — and I get to style it myself too. \

Dorm decorating was one of the most exciting things for me when coming to college. Because I am going into my third year living in the dorms, I’ve outgrown some decor and acquired some new items.. When shopping for decor, I am constantly looking for items that are budget friendly [as always] and/or items that I will be able to use in my future apartment. 

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This year I took a lot of inspo for my dorm decorations from Pinterest and Instagram. I have been really into vintage patterned rugs and the colors of a sunset. The rug I have is the cutest burnt orange patterned rug that was given to me as a hand me down from my parents [thanks mom and dad, you saved me 200 dollars!]. This rug is the focal point of my room and the basis for my color scheme.

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My bedspread is the same one I’ve had since my junior year of high school. It’s a queen-sized fluffy grey comforter from Target. The oversized bedspread helps hide the ~unattractive~ storage under my bed and also makes the generic twin xl dorm bed look way more cozy. 

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This year, my room has a cute window nook that I decided to put my bed into. With my headboard against the window, paired with my fluffy comforter and fairy lights, I’ve created such a cozy feel that makes it so hard to get out of bed in the mornings. At the foot of my bed sits a beat up vintage trunk from my dad’s college years. This trunk is the perfect storage for my winter clothes, but still adds a bit of style to the room.

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To the right of my bed is another little nook with my desk and futon. Freshman year of college I bought this desk hutch that not only helps me keep organized but adds a nice touch to my desk. On the hutch, I added some decor items like an old polaroid camera [found at goodwill for 4 dollars!], a skull shaped bottle and old, orange tins to tie together some of  my room colors. Right next to my desk is a black futon from IKEA that I got on sale for 75 dollars— it’s super simple looking, but I spiced it up with a blush pink knit throw blanket and a patterned pillow. The wall above the futon is currently bare, but I am waiting to get a tapestry from Urban Outfitters to help cover up the blank wall. Tapestries are such an easy way to spice up a dorm room. The slanted wall across the way is the perfect blank canvas for a gallery wall where I’ve hung a collection of different girl-power inspired prints and pictures, from my #INCHAARG sticker to the Planned Parenthood poster I held at the 2019 Women’s March on Washington. 

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On the other side of the room is less exciting as it holds my makeshift kitchen nook with a fridge and microwave. Right next to that is my mirror and sink. I made it into more of a vanity by moving my desk chair to the sink [let’s be real, no homework is getting done at my dorm desk — that’s what Sunday’s at Donkey Coffee are meant for]. To make this area look a little cuter, I organized my skincare products and makeup items and put them on display. 

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My dorm has really come together after a few weeks of moving in. I am still looking for a few more items to spruce up the space, such as a large, floor length mirror and the tapestry from UO. I love my space and decorating it makes it feel so homey. I am excited for this to be my dorm for the year!

Reflection: Halfway to Graduation

This year I will be going into my junior year of college— and wow, that feels weird to say. I know everyone you will ever speak to about college will say this, but college really does fly by. It doesn’t feel like it’s been two years and I sure as hell am not ready for real adulthood in just two more years. Over these two years, I have rediscovered myself, made amazing new friends, developed new skills and learned so many life lessons that I will carry with me long after I walk out of the Convocation Center, diploma in hand. 

Now that I am moved onto campus for junior year and am looking at apartments for my senior year, it is finally hitting me how soon college is coming to a close. I am starting to realize how these life-changing people I’ve met will be parting ways to do amazing things. It first hit me when I was on a long car ride and “I’ll Always Remember You” by Hannah Montana came on [this is cheesy, I know]. Every aspect of the song hit me so hard it brought me to tears. The lyrics to the sheer fact that the song is a near and dear part of my childhood. 

All of these realizations that have come to mind have led me to some reflection of my college experience.I need to take these next two years and cherish them. I have a hard time being present and living in the moment. It’s been something I’ve been trying to work on for a while, but it is super important to me that I be more present during these next two years. As time rolls on, I’ll start getting to my “lasts” and have to say goodbyes. I want to be able to fully enjoy every moment between now and then. 

College so far has been such an enjoyable experience and I am so excited to experience the rest of my journey . From the good to the bad, and everything in between, I’m going to cherish my junior and senior years with my people on this amazing campus.

Road to Graduation: Making Dreams a Reality

Three of our very own LVNG Limitless writers [Kenzie, Jess and myself] will be graduating from Ohio University in May. Over the next nine months, the three of us will share our personal insight on what this “Road to Graduation” is like, how we’re navigating our last year and the lessons we’re learning along the way. 

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Growing up, I always envisioned a specific future for myself: a college graduate living in an apartment in a big city with a best friend [or 5]. Every Monday through Friday, I will leave said apartment at the crack of dawn for my teaching job, donning professional attire, an oversized purse slung over one shoulder and, of course, a large cup of coffee gripped tightly in one hand. 

In less than a year, that will be my reality. 

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Today, I began my last first day of college. My last first day of work. My last first day as an undergraduate student. My entire college career has been a whirlwind. After moving from Chicago to start college at San Diego State University, taking a gap year my second year to work and volunteer abroad in Peru, I finally [somehow] ended up at my second home: Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, where I will have studied abroad twice by the time I graduate. 

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I can’t say I’ve had a typical college experience, butI can’t say I’m shocked or upset. I’ve always been very conscious of what other people think of me. For a while, this made me think I was very indecisive. In reality, I’m the most decisive person on this planet. I know what I want and I always have. College has given me the chance to learn what I want and how to vocalize what I want and I know that I will only continue to learn how to do this. 

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I don’t know what next year has in store for me —I don’t even know what tomorrow has in store for me. But I do know one thing: I’m going to be enjoying this road to graduation for the next 35 weeks; taking in every feeling, living in every moment and participating in every possible adventure I can.

 

The Importance of Finding a Work/Life Balance

This summer flew by. I mean that in the most serious, non-exaggerated sense. It feels like just last week I was hauling all of my stuff out of my dorm room and back into my parents’ houses. I was nervous but eager to start my summer internship at Cincinnati Magazine and I was planning on filling my days with adventures around the city.

In reality, it’s been four months since my summer break started. As I sit here, at the end of the first day of my last week of interning, just one week before moving back to Athens, I can’t help but reflect on the reality of my summer. The summer exceeded my expectations in some ways but fell short in others. Regardless, with its highs and lows, this summer has given me countless lessons to incorporate into my everyday life from here on out. 

Something I didn’t anticipate at the beginning of the summer was just how much of my time would be spent working. Between 15 hours at my internship and around 28 hours at my retail job, I didn’t have nearly as much downtime as I had hoped. As a result, I didn’t have as much leisure time to go out and do things around the city. While this is a bummer, I did realize how important quality time with loved ones is. 

By the end of most of my days [after heading straight from interning to working], I was way too exhausted to even think about anything other than sitting around watching TV. While this may sound boring to some people, these were some of my favorite nights. Whether it was binge-watching Gilmore Girls with my boyfriend, having a face mask and movie night with my mom or watching movies and eating ice cream with my dad, those nights ended up being so special to me, especially considering I live away from home most of the year.

This isn’t to say that I just sat around all summer. Some of my favorite memories from the summer have been going to the drive-in movie theater for the first time [I’ve always wanted to be a romance novel cliche], attending LaureLive Music Festival for the first time and getting to catch up with friends from high school and elementary school that I don’t get to see often. 

I’ve also really enjoyed my internship this summer. Though this was my second summer interning with Cincinnati Magazine, I took on a completely different position. Rather than just fact-checking and pitching story ideas, I helped the magazine’s digital team upload online and social media content. Through this internship, I’ve realized that I want to do more as a journalist than just write. I’ve loved learning about audience engagement and the importance of an online presence in the quickly changing world of journalism and hope to continue to pursue this in my career. [I was even able to take tips I learned from the magazine and apply it to Backdrop magazine’s new website!]

Summer can be tough when you’re working almost full-time. It’s hard to balance work, internships, time with family and time with friends. But, the next time you start to feel overwhelmed remember these three tips:

  1. Don’t take quality time for granted
  2. Remember to spend some time trying new things
  3. Find something you’re passionate about to make workdays enjoyable

We’re still trying to find the perfect life balance as well [if that’s even possible], but we’re slowly getting there! Share with us on Instagram what you took away from your summer break.

How to be More Sustainable in a Dorm

This summer, I became very passionate about living a greener life. With a surplus of resources at home, this was simple to do.  I’m back on campus now and don’t want to drop these new habits I established,, so now, I’m trying to be more sustainable here at Ohio University.

All of us use a toothbrush everyday [hopefully] and dentists recommend we throw away our toothbrushes in exchange for a new one every 6 months. Just think about all of the toothbrushes sitting in landfills. Last spring I made the switch to an EcoFrenzy Bamboo Toothbrush. This toothbrush is 100% biodegradable and the packaging is even zero waste. Add a bit of a review and why bamboo is better.

Another part of my bathroom routine I transitioned to a more environmentally friendly option was the switch from liquid soap to bar soap. Bar soap has little to no packaging compared to the packaging and plastic when it comes to liquid soap. Bar soap also comes in the same variety of scents as liquid soap. This is saving a plastic bottle not only at my kitchen sink but also in the shower. Add a little bit of why else it’s better + link a few. 

Kitchen utensils [forks, knives, spoons,etc.] are also a huge part of our daily lives. My freshman year I got into a very bad habit of using plastic utensils because it was “easier”. I was too lazy to wash a metal fork and reusable plate after a meal in my dorm room. In the long run, buying reusable kitchenware saves money and is way better for the environment because you don’t have to throw away a paper plate, plastic, and spoon or knife after every meal you have in your dorm.

My freshman year, I did not use the recycling bin as it’s purpose instead I used it for extra waste. I’m embarrassed, but I learned, if I need another waste basket, I should go buy a cheap one from Walmart not substitute the recycling bin for waste. Don’t make the same mistake: use the recycling bin for its original purpose of putting less waste into landfills. 

Everyone preaches using reusable bags, but I always seem to forget mine or not have one when I need it. This summer I invested in these foldable reusable grocery bags. They come in packs of 5 and adorable patterns. The best part is that they fold small enough for me to put in my backpack or purse. This way when I make an unexpected trip to the grocery store I will still have my reusable bags. If you still forget your bags: always make sure you get paper over plastic at check out!

Last but not least, when I did my grocery shopping for my dorm I bought compostable garbage bags and reusable paper towels. You can reuse most reusable towels 10 times at least and they are usually machine washable. While you may not think about these, they are simple changes that make a big difference.

How to Make Your House Feel Like Home [On a Budget]

This past month, I did something I didn’t think I would be doing for a LONG time: I picked up the keys to the first house I’ve ever signed a lease for [I mean, I’m not really THAT much of an adult yet, am I?]. Living in a college town, the choices for off-campus housing are slim to none [and incredibly expensive]. Our house is nice, but it still feels like any generic college housing; it lacks the “home” feel. Though this is just a temporary living situation, I’ve still found some ~simple~ ways to make my house feel like a home.

FOR THE BEDROOM

Photos
Personal photos are the easiest way to instantly spruce up your bedroom. If you’re like me and attend college outside of your hometown, having a visual reminder of all of your loved ones can be the most comforting feeling when homesickness hits [and trust me, it will]. How you choose to display these photos is up to you. I do have a couple of picture frames displayed on my bedside table, but I prefer to hang individual photos directly on the wall [if you’re leasing, be sure to use removable adhesive for this!]. White walls can feel cold and barren, but by filling the space with vibrant photos [I’m a sucker for a good gallery wall], the room already feels more personal.

Tapestry
Another easy way to add color to a boring wall is with a tapestry. I bought mine off Society6 and absolutely adore it [notice the Disney’s Tangled vibes?]. A tapestry is a simple way to cover a large amount of space with little effort. When choosing yours, think of scenes that bring you comfort. If you’re an outdoorsy person, look for a tapestry that holds the same vibe. If you prefer magical settings [like me], opt for something a little more ethereal. While I love Society6’s tapestries, they can get to be pretty expensive. Check out Amazon for some more affordable yet equally adorable tapestries!

String lights
Okay, I will advocate for this until my last breath: the lighting sets the mood of a room. If your room’s lighting is dull, you’re going to feel lethargic. If the lighting is harsh and looks like hospital lighting [like most dorm rooms], you’re going to have a hard time relaxing in your space. Personally, I prefer a combination of lamps and string lights. I want my room to be well-lit enough that I can still see, but not so much that I still feel like I’m sitting in a classroom. [This has also helped motivate me to get out of bed to study or do homework. If I can’t see my work, I can’t do it from my bed. If I don’t do it from my bed, I won’t be tempted to sleep. Life is all a mind game, people.]

FOR THE BATHROOM

Towels
Hand towels are already an essential for your bathroom, so you might as well choose ones that are #cute. Whether you prefer witty phrases or delicate designs, decorating your bathroom with a fun hand towel adds your own personal flare to the space. 

Soap dispenser
Again, soap is a bathroom necessity, so why not choose a fun soap dispenser? Sure, you could stick with the generic store-bought hand soap bottles OR you could buy that hand soap in bulk [saves money, too!] and splurge a little bit on a decorative dispenser. Any way you can add your own style [and use less plastic to be a ~sustainable~ queen] into your living space is a win.

FOR THE KITCHEN

Mugs
Mugs will forever be my ride or die kitchenware of choice. Need coffee? Mug. Want some soup? Mug. Need to buy someone a gift? Mug. There’s just no down side to a good mug. It also helps that there is an endless design of mugs out there so you can find ones that fit your personality exactly. [A lot of my mugs were gifted to me and also serve as a reminder of the person who gave it to me.]

Food storage
My college students on a budget can relate to the struggle of trying to save money by not eating out so often. One way to do this is to meal prep. In order to do so, you’ll need a good amount of containers of different sizes. It is definitely worth it to opt for a set of food storage containers that you like [or, as Marie Kondo says, ones that spark joy]. I prefer glass containers with rubber lids, but many people prefer plastic [reusable, of course]. 

FOR THE LIVING ROOM

Throw pillows
If you know anything about me, you know that I LOVE a good decorative pillow. Though your couch will already bring a lot of comfort to your living room space, adding a couple of throw pillows can bring an even more significant pop of color and personality.

Blankets
There’s nothing quite like cozying up on the couch on a rainy day with a fluffy blanket and a good movie marathon. Draping a few blankets over the back of the couch [or folding them in a decorative basket] provides easy access and allows you to, quite literally, wrap yourself in comfort at any given moment.

Share with us on Instagram your favorite ways to spruce up your house!

Six Tips to Work Well Under Stress

For as long as I can remember, keeping myself busy has always been my preference. I would rather have a full plate to keep my mind occupied than a bunch of downtime. When it came time for college, I was honestly feeling excited for the opportunity to take on a new challenge, and again, keep myself busy. In essence, I believe that’s a good thing — my drive is what allowed me to graduate a year ahead of schedule and have the nerve to apply for law school. Lately, though, I can admit I spread myself too thin while trying to accomplish those goals.

My summer was swept away with summer classes, LSAT prep [Law School Admissions Test], a summer internship and a part-time job. I quickly realized I had hardly any time for myself, my friends and my family. While I originally felt upset realizing what I had done, I now look at it as a lesson not only to myself, but for anyone who also relates to the love of staying busy. Sometimes, it is inevitable to be incredibly busy; for me, it was the only way to achieve my goal of graduating early. I will never advocate for giving up, but instead, I thought I would share some helpful tips that I followed to keep myself in check!  

Set an alarm for anything you actually need to do 

For me, this meant setting an alarm to remember take birth control, do my laundry or make an important call. It may seem a bit extra, but when you’re constantly running around trying to catch up, a loud reminder is typically what it takes to get stuff done! 

Make a realistic to-do list

We all love making to-do lists, but joke about not being able to cross everything off. In my opinion, for school, there needs to be a line. I would set unrealistic goals for myself, and as a result, I didn’t sleep until 4 or 5 in the morning. I also believe that part of finishing a to-do list is the sense of accomplishment, or feeling like you’re doing enough! A major point of these tricks is to feel more empowered! 

Give yourself the appropriate dinner-time setting, and take a break while you eat.

One of the worst mistakes I made was coming straight home from work, grabbing something quick from the fridge and beginning to cram in my homework. We absolutely need time to decompress, and I believe it makes the most sense to be enjoying the food we eat. Instead of trying to multitask something as important as fueling your body, give yourself 20 minutes to enjoy dinner without shoving your face in a screen.

Keep a calendar with only your homework assignments on it

This summer I was taking four classes online, which left me basically on my own to learn. The best way for me to keep track of my assignments were to download printable calendars and only list my school assignments on them. Instead of listing the due dates of assignments, I would put them on my calendar one day earlier than they were due. Not only did I keep myself ahead of schedule, I also kept myself from becoming overwhelmed by looking at each commitment’s due dates individually. 

Don’t neglect your relationships

It is so important to maintain steady relationships with friends and family. At the beginning of my summer, I found myself canceling plans with everybody so that I could sit at home and do homework. Yes, homework is important, but as mentioned earlier, we need a break. Being happy alongside good company reduces stress, which ended up positively impacting my grades when I took my own advice. Having fun every once in awhile is important! 

Don’t be too hard on yourself 

Most importantly, cut yourself some slack. I remember getting a less than fabulous grade on an assignment this summer and hating myself for days over it. Because of that, I got less accomplished because I was so consumed with my mistakes. Instead, take a step back and breathe. Remind yourself that what you’re doing can be intense and you’re bound to make mistakes — we’re only human, after all.