Sometimes people ask me what the hardest part of being a post-grad is. This is by no means an easy question to answer since there are many things, both good and bad, involved in growing up. Thinking about the lifestyle as a whole however, my biggest hardship is more easily identified. In the big picture sense, the hardest part has been the drastic change in my routine.
I’m not exactly new to working full-time. I spent every summer since I was fifteen working five or even six days a week to save up cash and take advantage of my time off to do something productive. As I used to tell my mother, I’d rather go to work and make some money then waste my summer in front of a TV or come home after school to procrastinate my homework anyway. But after the summers ended, I’d always go back to school and back to part time work. Now however my work routine is constant and there’s no vacation unless I take one.
In the beginning of December, I remarked to a friend still in undergrad how weird it was to not be going home for winter break. She was busy studying for final exams and I guess I just got that end of semester feeling by association. Forgetting the fact that I didn’t take off this year for the Christmas holiday, I also don’t have the built-in three week vacation from school that I’d always had between semesters. For the last 18 years I’ve been in school and winter break was a staple in my life, something that I could count on to break up one half of the year from another. Working through that time was therefore a really difficult adjustment for me.
It’s not the daily routine that bothers me. On a busy day, most of my time at work goes pretty quickly and then I’m home, making dinner and reading a book before I’ve even really thought about it. I start wishing that my days were longer, that’s how quickly they move. It’s just that when I look at them from farther away, when I think about weeks and months adding up to years, I no longer see that yearly routine I was comfortable with as a student. There are no semesters, no summer vacations, and no winter breaks to section off my time; everything just becomes a blur of work and weekend and errands and I spiral into wondering if there’s any end to the monotony.
What is there to make one day different from another? What makes one day special if every one of them is really the same? How do I live this life, without the routine that I used to have and without the structure that I was accustomed to? This is my biggest hardship as a post-grad, the macro perspective away from my day to day problems.
I’m still learning to manage these differences. There’s no one right way or wrong way to do it, only a way that suits me best. Instead of thinking big picture and letting my thoughts spiral to unhappy places, I try to focus only on the days that I can reasonably see. I plan a trip to go snow tubing while the weather is still cold enough for snow, anticipate the weekend I’ll meet my parents’ new puppy, think ahead to a friend’s birthday in February, and buy concert tickets for March. I focus on what’s happening now and not the enormity of the 2015 calendar as a whole.
This adjustment in perspective has not been easy, but it’s my burden to bear as a post-grad. It’s something that I have to do as someone who’s still learning the ways of an adult. For now, it is my biggest hardship. And that’s ok.