10 life struggles to expect in your twenties after college and how to overcome them



I finished my last class in law school in June of 2018 and soon afterwards graduated with honors and pretty close to the top of my class.

I was happy and my parents were so proud of their little lawyer.

What I did not know was how hard it was to find a good job and that Sallie Mae was coming for me.

Life after graduation was one big reality check but it gets easier, one could even say better.

Twenties struggles are totally surmountable.

Unless you are very wealthy and already know your purpose in life, you will certainly experience any or all of the following ten struggles:


 1. BEING BROKE 


The first months after graduation I remember being absolutely broke. I had no money. 

My parents tried to keep supporting me with rent and expenses but eventually just asked me to move back home.

Which I did. It was tough. I almost always had no money at all.

To make things worse, to gain some of that two year experience all employers are looking for, I took an unpaid internship in another city.

At least I was being given peanuts for a stipend that covered my commute and that was it.

A few people are lucky enough to get well paying jobs right after in their early twenties, but apart from people in the medical world and accountants, it will take a while.

Even if you get a job, it may not be paying all that well. 

Solution.

The advise I will give you is to learn to manage your money, live frugally and just be patient.

One day you will be able to pay your bills and live the life you want. Just not now.

Now you have no business buying brand products and spending money partying.

Do not feel bad about moving back home or about asking your mom for some money.

Secondly, be willing to do anything ethical and legal for an extra buck.

Whichever skills you have, leverage them to make some money so that your bills get paid.

During the time of my internship, I got into freelance writing that ended up paying a few of my bills and eventually led me to discover the world of blogging and writing for a living

If you need money badly, take whichever job that comes your way even if it has nothing to do with your major.

There is nothing wrong with taking a job in construction or as a janitor to relieve some of the frustrations of not being able to provide for yourself.

Just be careful not to get too comfortable. Keep networking and applying.

Also, take this time to learn as much as you can about personal finance to avoid these common money mistakes that most people make after college.

Do not be in a hurry to have it made just yet. Just take your time to learn.



2. UNEMPLOYMENT


The whole purpose of your years in school was to make you employable.

You invested money and time into getting a degree that you soon realize is not enough to land you any job let alone your dream job. No wonder post grad depression is an actual thing.

Meanwhile you start a business (most probably an online one) to occupy your time, to try and make some money and really mainly to have something to tell people when they ask what you are doing with your life.

But so far you have two customers, your best friends and are making nothing. So no employment and no business. It is all very frustrating. But do not worry.

Your  early twenties will probably be characterized by getting jobs and quitting jobs and looking for new jobs. It is normal. 

Two months after graduation, I was crying in the bedroom almost every afternoon because of how frustrated I was.

Everywhere I applied to wanted experience I did not have. So I decided to apply for internships to get some experience, but I could not get those either.

I had really good grades and wonderful recommendations from my lecturers and a firm I had interned at during the summer and I still could not find anything.

I started an online jewelry business that took off then went cold. But one day, three months after graduation, I landed a job. Then I quit two months later.

Solution

The way that I finally got a job was through one of my networks.

The insurance firm was hiring but they were not publicly advertising the vacancy.

A friend heard from a friend of hers who heard from his cousin about the position.

I applied at about 11 in the morning and got a call for an interview by that afternoon.

There was only one other candidate and I got the job. 

I ended up quitting after just two months, but my boss liked me so much, she recommended me for a job in the international organization where her sister was the company secretary.

The lesson here is this, networking is crucial.

You will never even hear about vacancies in your industry unless somebody tells you about them.

Tell everyone you are looking for a job and for them to keep an ear out. Keep in touch with friends from your class and alumnae as well.

And do not stop looking. Do not give up. More on getting a good job soon after college here.

When it comes to business after college especially online businesses, it will not be any easier because you are desperate and need the money now.

Building businesses takes time and effort. Just keep working, the sun will shine.


3. CRUSHING DEBT


Need I say more?

Solution

I will not even pretend to be an expert here because of my own daunting student loans.

All I will say is this, do not ignore it. Dodging those calls is not going to help you.

As soon as today, educate yourself about exactly how much you owe and if you can work out something practical in case you may be currently unemployed or barely making enough for rent.

Take advantage of deferment and forbearance options.

> Deferment allows you to stop paying your student loans for a period of time.

> Forbearance allows you to temporarily reduce the amount that you pay.

Do not use your credit card for expenses when you know you have no way to pay it back.

Do not ruin your credit or more aptly, do not do anymore damage.

Bad debt will ruin your life. You cannot get even an apartment lease with a bad credit score in most cities.

I know it can feel like you are broke and do not have a way to break the cycle but that is not true.

I moved in with my aunt when I got a job away from home. That way, even though I was making way less than I needed to survive, I was able to start repairing my credit score.

You may not have an aunt to move in with but you can make big drastic changes that can save you a ton of money.

Stephen of Project Life Mastery lived on a friend’s couch.

If you are going to make something of yourself, you will have to make sacrifices and take blows to your ego.

I have this rule, if I cannot afford it with cash, I leave it alone. I do not borrow money to buy anything.

4. YOU NEED EXPERIENCE YOU DO NOT HAVE


When I was in college, I spent my summers interning at law firms and government offices and they paid off when it was time for applying for jobs.

I got my first job just three months after graduation. It was a low paying job, it was a back breaking job that I eventually quit but the point is I was at least employable for entry level jobs. 

However, even put all those summers together, I could not get the jobs I wanted that I qualified for in every other right.

Jobs that needed two or three years experience. Even worse were jobs that needed one year of continuous experience. 

A lot of people do not have that. It is very frustrating when you need a job to get experience and you need experience to get a job.

Solution

There are many ways to get experience as a post grad but the number one way is through internships.

I hate internships because most of they pay little to nothing but they are necessary.

I love internships because they often have the potential to turn into real jobs if you are exceptional and even if they do not, you gain invaluable contacts.

You need to change your mindset about internships.

When I was interning at an international organization, some of my fellow interns were thirty year olds who had quit jobs or taken leave to do the six month internship program.

We were not being paid very much but the organization had a good track record of absorbing interns and a good enough reputation that would make people look twice at your resume.

I know you need the money now, so either keep looking until you find something that pays well or start at an internship and make things work somehow.

I worked as a freelance writer the whole time to make ends meet.

Another route to get experience is by working on independent projects.

If you are working in a creative industry like fashion or film making, a way to build your portfolio is by taking initiative and working on something yourself or with other struggling artists you know.

If you are a market, market something even products made by your family and friends.



5. WONDERING WHAT TO DO WITH THE REST OF YOUR LIFE


The question about what you are meant to be or to do with your life will wear you out if you do not deal with it quickly.

A mentor of mine once told me that the thing she regrets most about her twenties was how much time she wasted ‘searching for her destiny.’

She was almost always crippled by the fear of making one wrong decision in dating or in her career that could potentially box her into an unhappy life she would be unable to escape.

This fear made her move from job to job and never to commit to anyone she dated in her twenties. She wishes she had exercised a little more faith.

Solution

I wrote an entire article called how to decide what to do with your life, something more concrete than follow your passion, here is what it basically says :

You do not need a five year plan right away, if you have one, it is okay.

Do not spend all your time searching for your purpose. Passion is not found, it is developed.

Try out as many things as you possibly can and then it is time to grow up.

Pick a general direction. Something that the world needs that you have the potential to be really good at and stick with it.

A lot of times, life will bring unexpected opportunities your way. Take them.

Many of us in the freelance writing or blogging space did not set out to be professional freelancers or bloggers.

My dream was always to become a lawyer, until I discovered the flexibility and growth potential of serving people online.

Freelance writing enables me to work on projects in my community that do not pay me but which give me a lot of fulfillment.

Even your dream job will have aspects of it that you will not like and seasons where you feel like quitting.

Whichever life you want for yourself, if you work hard and endure the difficult patches, you will eventually get there.

You do not need to be boxed into anything but you should not shy away from a good nine to five because everyone is becoming an entrepreneur. Neither should you do the opposite.


6. WATCHING EVERYONE ELSE SUCCEED


A few months ago I remember thinking to myself, “why is everything just so much harder and slower for me?” At some point after joining the real world, it will feel like that.

You will begin an internship at the same time as somebody else, you will work harder than them and yet, at the end of the six months, they will be absorbed and you not.

You will open an online business and work so hard and yet won’t see half the results that everyone else in the internet seems to be making.

Every couple of months, someone you graduated with will get married or get a wonderful promotion or make it big in business or all the above.

You will be very happy for them but it will still sting a little to think that it could as well have been you.

Solution

Decide what success means for you without looking at anybody else.

Consider all the factors you can control and make a list of what it means to be successful for you and work and celebrate.

Success for me was publishing my book, not how many people bought it.

After spending a lot of time writing and editing, seeing it through was success for me.

Success for me will be selling my first 1,000 copies (probably nothing for some big time author). What is success for you?


7. UNIDEAL LIVING ARRANGEMENTS


It always feels like your life is on hold until the day you get your own two bedroom apartment. 

The problem is, for as long as you do not have money, that dream just seems to keep moving further and further away.

It can be very frustrating to live with your parents or roommates or in a dingy little studio apartment.

Parents have no regard for the four years in which you have become accustomed to independence.

Meanwhile, for them, having you back home may not be so great either. And yet, you do not have the money to move out.

You probably finished college looking forward to finally living in your own apartment by yourself.

However, the economy has seen to it that you need to live with three other people.

Solution.

Make it work. Talk to your parents early on to treat you like an adult and return the favor by being mature enough to follow some of their rules and generally being considerate.

Roommates are all crazy but I know that roommates can be your inbuilt best friends and support system.

I went back to live with my aunt so that I could deal with my student loans and get out of debt early.

Also because I overvalued my business and quit my job too early.

I hated it at first. My cousins were driving me insane and I was looking for a polite way to tell everyone I wanted to move out on my own again.

Before I found the right words to say however, I found that I had grown to love my aunt and my crazy, crazy annoying cousins.

You can make it work too.


8. ISOLATION FROM YOUR FRIENDS 


It will hit you like a train one day. You never see it coming. The days after you leave campus, you will try to stay in touch and soon lose it anyway.

You will find that you all went to your different sides of the country or even the globe.

Making friends out in the real world is so much harder. There are no group assignments you can bond over.

You have to put in a ton of effort to meet up with your old friends and even more effort to make new ones.

This isolation is probably one of the main causes of post graduation depression.

Solution

One day I started texting my friends from school and make a schedule to meet at least one of them every week.

One day I started attending Bible Study at my neighbor’s house.

I did not want to be lonely anymore and I knew no one was coming for me, so I got out of the house and went to them.

You need to stop feeling bad because you are the one who always texts first or makes plans to meet up. 

Out here you will have to actually try to make friends if you want to have any.

Give your roommates and coworkers a chance and then branch out. You have the opportunity to actually chose who you will be friends with, so chose wisely.

Do not fall into the social media trap and try to hang with the cool kids. Find ordinary, kind people and love them well. Go to where the people you want are and be social.

9. TRANSITIONING FROM COLLEGE TO CAREER


To be honest, there was nothing wrong with my first job, which I quit within two months, except that it fell way short of my college fantasies about what having a job would look like.

It was not soul sucking. It was underpaying but it was not unreasonable.

Waking up early and making the commute is what got me.

My boss was wonderful and became my biggest cheerleader long after I had left.

I was the problem. I had a problem adjusting to coming in everyday even when there was nothing to do, the rigid dress code and the weird way people interacted.

I had done many many internships but none of them had the pressure that comes with knowing your paycheck was on the line.

Solution

I found some good resources on transitioning from college to career and a guide for professionalism in the work place a bit too late.

Your first job may be terrible. It may pay very little and take too much of your life away.

It may even be completely mindless with a terrible boss. But most first jobs are pretty standard.

Nothing great and nothing terrible besides the low pay.

This is what I learned from my second job, that if you stick it out, it gets better.

That second job when I went through that rut of wanting to quit, I stayed and soon afterwards, I begun to enjoy the work and the people even more.

When I left, it was because of a better opportunity and not because I was fed up.

Sometimes however you need to quit and leave.

If the work environment is toxic with things like harassment (especially sexual), coworkers sabotaging one another, illegal activities, ethical issues you are not comfortable with, unhealthy hours and so on.

Some people will tell you to stay and fight in cases of sexual harassment, but I say you need to weigh your options.

If HR is not doing anything about it, it will only get worse. Some work places have very toxic work culture that they are not willing to let go off.

10. POST GRAD DEPRESSION


Any of the things I have mentioned above and many others normally compound and result in post graduation depression.

It only takes so many failures and rejection before your spirit is crushed.

Sometimes it is the anxiety of the future. Other times it is the crippling fear that your best days are behind you.

That people will find out you are not as smart as they thought and you will never amount to anything. Other times it just hurts or you are really lonely.

Solution

Evaluate your expectations against the reality of life for most people and give yourself time.

Rome was not built in a day and stories about overnight successes are the exceptions, not the rule.

You have no reason to except it. Hard work done repeatedly leads to success and you have only just begun.

Do everything within your power to change what you can change.

If you are lonely, go out and make new friends. If you do not have a job, keep looking and keep making connections.

If your job is paying you too little to survive, get a part time job, sell somethings.

Read about how to ask for promotions and pay rises. Learn e-commerce. Determine that you will not sink and keep swimming.

Accept everything that you cannot change and even embrace it. Stop fighting with your parents.

Give yourself a reasonable timeline to make enough money to move out and while you are under their roof, enjoy having them around and just follow their rules.

If you cannot afford it, leave it alone. For more about my experience and research with post grad depression, read this.

I hope you found this article helpful. Share it with a recent graduate, you know they need it and leave me a comment down below if this has been any helpful for you.

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