The Downtime Slump

I recently graduated from a small university in the Midwest..the state of Iowa to be specific. Living in Iowa is a topic in and of itself, but I digress. I had been waiting for that day for what seemed like years. What would it feel like to finally have my degree and be an adult? Oh how clueless I was! The last semester of college, I spent hours upon hours working on my resume, CV, cover letter drafts, and researching different companies that I could apply to. And constantly dreaming about what life would be like once I was finally out in the “real world.” Little did I know how many barriers there would be to finally reaching the title of “Adult.”

#1. Finding a job takes time. A lot of time. 

I honestly thought I was prepared. The last semester of college I spent hundreds of hours submitting applications all over the area. I even had a few promising interviews. My biggest mistake was thinking that with effort, the job hunt should be relatively straight forward and attainable. Not a chance. I had no clue the job market was really so…uh…shitty.

#2. You will continue to be a “poor college student”. 

Your bank account still looks just as pathetic as it did when you were 18. Only now there are suddenly bills to pay and big loans in your eminent future compliments of a college degree.

#3. Moving out of college housing sucks. 

I am not one of those lucky kids who’s parents set them up in an apartment when I found a job. I would need to find something around our neck of the woods that I could commute to every day until I could afford to find my own place. So after moving out of my campus house (no bills, just all part of tuition), I suddenly was back home after being gone (and free) for 3.5 years. I no longer had 4 roommates to borrow clothes from or the ability to stumble into the house anytime I wished. All I wanted was to find my own place and fast. But even the cheapest apartment costs a lot of money upfront. There are deposits, moving costs, renter’s insurance…blah blah blah. All of this dependent upon when and if (the usual doubt whittles in) you ever find an actual job.

#4. You suddenly have even more free time than you did at school.

And that is saying something. As an undergrad, I had daily naps. And a social life. But there was also an established agenda. I had school work to be done, a part-time job to show up to, classes to attend… Now there is too much time for naps, and no structure. Nobody (besides your family maybe) is breathing down your neck to find a job. You find out real quick like that there is no syllabus for life.

#5. You still eat Ramen noodles and Frosted Flakes…daily. 

Easy. Cheap. Habit.

#6. Seeing pictures of your friends still in college makes you regret your decision to leave.

Adding another minor seems feasible at this point. They are all going out and having the time of their lives, and you are stuck at home job hunting and binge watching Friends on Netflix. Even Rachel seems to have her 20-something shit together more than you. The ironic thing is they were all jealous of you leaving college before them, back when the adult-world as a senior was much more romantic-sounding and less of a reality.

#7. The poor health habits acquired in college do not just magically disappear after you walk across stage. 

Going to bed in the wee hours of the morning every day, left over pizza for breakfast, naps whenever you can squeeze them in, and walking across campus to class as your only form of real exercise? It was so easy to fall into this typical routine. But now that you are not an undergrad anymore, society pretty much frowns on it.

#8. The haunting thoughts of “Now what..?” creep in and never leave. 

Did I make the right decision? Was Psychology really a good major? Should I stay here or leave? Can I afford to find my own place? I submitted that new application, do I have a shot? WHAT THE HELL DO I DO NOW? And they are not only coming from your own brain but everyone around you as well-Mom, Dad, Grandparents, friends, past professors and co-workers. As if our own minds weren’t producing enough anxiety as it is…

Over the next several weeks, I will be running a series on each of these topics and how to get out of the “Downtime Slump”. From healthy eating habits on a budget to career hunting, it will all get covered. I am in no way a professional, but instead a seasoned 20-something that has experienced all of these slumps.

P.S. I might need to start a support group for Chocolate Binge Eaters Anonymous…Damn you Valentine’s Day.



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