The transition from College to the REAL WORLD is often overlooked as being one of the most difficult times in our young lives, and not a lot of people talk about their post-grad depression. Including me.
If you knew me in college you probably knew me as the girl who did a million things all at once and somehow had her shit together. By my senior year I had multiple jobs, was running my own clothing brand, had a full schedule of classes, worked on student-led start-ups and had a social life. I was CONSTANTLY busy and I absolutely loved it! I felt like I was thriving and living my best life. I had the best friends, fun jobs, meaningful projects, and plenty of beautiful places to enjoy the sunset and take a moment to myself. Depression had never come my way.
FLASH FORWARD to a year later and I was sitting in my small apartment, in the dark, all alone. I had nowhere to go, no one to see and nothing to do. I wondered where I went all wrong. I moved to LA to follow my dreams and I knew I was where I was supposed to be. But I was MISERABLE. Between moving away from my best friends and family, living in a new city, having no job and being basically broke I really set myself up for failure. I didn’t prepare myself for the transition from college to the real world because I guess I expected things to just stay the way they were. More independence and less homework equaled more happiness right?
I was completely unprepared for how hard it would be, but no matter how sucky it feels at the time, it is all a part of the process. Instead of getting upset with myself I decided to sit with the negative feelings, and let myself be a little sad sometimes. I realized post-grad depression is completely normal. Instead of binge watching tv and trying to make each day pass faster, I needed to process my feelings and move on with this new chapter in my life. Which is exactly what I did.
Here are my 5 steps to transitioning from college to the “real world” and surviving post-grad depression!
One of the first things I wish I did when I moved to LA was build a new community of friends! New friends give you a reason to get out and explore the city, and they can introduce you to even more people helping expand your circle quicker.
It took me a while but I finally jumped on the bandwagon of Bumble BFF and I highly recommend it! Instead of swiping for a boy, swipe for your best friend! And most people on the app are new transplants in the city looking to build their circle too so you can explore new places together! Start swiping for you new best friend here!
I also love Girlboss’s new platform for meeting like-minded people in your industry. They just launched a LinkedIn made for millennial women and it’s so much fun. Every profile includes your horoscope and personality type so you can really find girls you click with. I have gone to coffee with a few incredible women from the platform and they have opened me up to meet-ups and events in the area where I can grow my network. Check out the Girlboss community here!
AND DON’T FORGET TO ADD ME!
Facebook groups are also incredible when moving to a new city. I have used the LA Apartments and Housing facebook group to find roommates, furniture and even the best neighborhood to live in. There are also facebook groups for meetups, concerts, events and more!
Seriously making new friends is so important because it really makes a place feel like home. Everyone needs a girlfriend to invite over to watch the Bachelor or pick you up from the airport. Utilize this digital age to put yourself out there and meet new people! Trust me everyone is looking for friends so don’t be afraid to reach out and meet someone new!
While I was in college, I have to be honest… I spent my money without a care in the world. I had a credit card, a job, and generous parents who were able to help me out with rent. I was free to not really pay attention to my finances in college and always be ok. I also had this idea that you were supposed to be broke in college but once you graduated and got a real job you’d pay off any debt in NO TIME!
Well I quickly realized it was not that easy to get a job that paid enough to support a life living in LA, which is one of the most EXPENSIVE cities, and also pay off my debts. I had to figure out how to be smarter with my money and quick! I knew I was spending in places where I didn’t need to and it was time to buckle down and see what I really needed.
The book that really got me focused on my finances was Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You To Be Rich which is a book I HIGHLY recommend. Ramit is great at explaining important aspects of our finances that we are never taught in school. From how to negotiate better rates on a credit card to paying off student loan debt and starting a 401k, Ramit has taught me everything I know about money and really helped me hone in on what I want to be spending my money on.
It is important to prioritize what you want to spend on and where you can cut back. For example, in college I was constantly getting my nails done, getting my hair done, going out to eat with friends, buying alcohol and drinks, and shopping. It was crazy expensive and I knew I had to cut something out. I realized eating out with friends was more of a priority than perfect nails and freshly cut hair. I cut out those expenses along with spending money on unnecessary beauty products and monthly subscriptions. This helped me cut my spending substantially and opened up room for what I really cared about.
The next tool that I think EVERYONE should use is the Mint App by Intuit. This app links up with your bank accounts and tracks your spending so you can watch exactly where your money is going. Some bank accounts may already have this feature but I love Mint because I can set how much I want to budget per category and move things around to see what I need to cut off for the month or where I have wiggle room. I check my Mint app almost everyday to see how I’m doing and it helps me think before I spend.
Having a grasp on my finances really helped ease my anxiety while transitioning to the real world and gave me more confidence that I could go out and do fun things while still being able to pay rent. Money is one of the NUMBER ONE stressors in life so it’s important to create a good relationship with money to have a happy healthy life.
Many students leave college without a big job lined up believing that once they have time to dedicate to applying and interviewing the big job and the big paycheck will come quickly. The unfortunate reality is that the job hunt can take anywhere from 3 months to a year! And it’s really easy to run out of money in that time, and becomes hard to stay motivated when you have no purpose.
I highly recommend getting a side hustle FIRST THING when you get out of college and move to your new city. Especially if you don’t already have a job lined up. You may think it will get in the way of your job searching, but it will actually keep your spirits high having something to do and it will help you grow your network.
It took me two stubborn months of living in LA before I finally went out and got myself a job and I’m so glad I did. I made new friends, finally had some spending money and it was also good for the resume! Many of my friends also started a side hustle during their period of unemployment and it was a good thing they did because they ended up waiting for that perfect job for months.
Even if you end up holding this job for less than two months these industries are used to high turnover rates and they will understand if something better comes along. And if you’ve been a really great employee maybe they’ll even let you come back whenever you need some quick cash!
This is one of the easiest things you can do to instantly improve your mood. While I was searching for my job I took a walk every single day around my neighborhood. I discovered new hikes in my area, visited new beaches and made sure I GOT OUT OF THE HOUSE. And guess what…. Walking is completely FREE! So you have no excuse. Plus it’s so good for you! This is also a great time to listen to a new audiobook or podcast to keep you motivated while waiting to hear back from potential employers.
PS. If you’re looking for a new podcast check out my podcast Let’s Talk LoCo
I also started using ClassPass which is a great app for finding workout classes in your area! They give you credits to use at any workout studio, even the ones that usually require a full month membership! I have tried pole dancing, aerial silks, hip hop dances classes, yoga studios, spin classes and so much more thanks to ClassPass! This is also a great way to test out different studios and find which one works best for you! Click here for $40 off your first month on ClassPass
Another great app that helped me get to know my new city was Skorch! This is the trendier version of Yelp that identifies all the best restaurants and cafes in your city. I love this app because people get to post photos and rate each restaurant and the restaurant glows a different color depending on how popular it is. I have found some of my favorite spots in LA thanks to Skorch and it is so much easier than a google search or yelp!
For other fun things to do in your area check out the Sofar Sounds. This is a company that hosts SECRET live music experiences all over your city. It’s so fun because you don’t know who you’re going to see or where it’s going to be. You just sign up for a date and a neighborhood and then they release the details night of. It always turns out incredible and can be a super fun activity to do with your new friends and to discover places you would have never otherwise known of!
Getting out of the house and exploring your city makes it feel so much more like home. Creating memories is super important because you want to drive past places and think OH I’ve been here before. And it really helps you know what to do when friends come to visit and make you feel like the best host ever! They’ll be saying WOW you’re such a LOCAL once you show them a Skorch restaurant, ClassPass class or Sofar sound concert!
This is another big mistake I made when first moving to LA. I had so many friends living in new places so I filled every weekend with visiting them. Not only was spending way too much money on all the flights, ubers, and eating out while away, I wasn’t spending those important free weekends getting to know my own city. It also made me even more nostalgic of times with my friends in college which only made it harder to leave them and come back feeling even lonelier.. It is absolutely important to see your friends, but give yourself one good month of being in your city before leaving.
This might seem scary to move to a new place and not see the ones you love for a whole month, but instead of going to visit your friends have them come to you! Then you have someone to go exploring with and it can feel less intimidating than going out all by yourself. It’s also a lot easier to make friends in a pair so when you’re out don’t just stick to yourselves, have your friend help you build your new community!
If you want to do it by yourself and decide to spend a weekend in your new city, don’t spend it in the house! Make an effort to fill your weekend with activities and actually take the time to try something new! Trust me you won’t regret it. And then when you do travel you’ll look forward to coming back to YOUR HOME!