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10 Things Your Mother Didn’t Tell You about Being an Adult


One moment you’re decorating your freshman dorm room and the next you’re walking across the stage, receiving your degree. But let's be honest—adjusting to the real world is a difficult process, and while our mothers did all they could to make the transition easier, there were a few things missing from our grown-up manual. From the possibility of moving back home after college, to the effort it takes to maintain friendships, Her Campus has got you covered with the ten things your mother forgot to tell you.

1. Finding your "dream job" will take some time

Mothers always tell us that things take time. But did you think that that advice would apply to finding a job? You may assume that your stellar resume and internship experience will get you your dream job immediately but in reality, landing the job will take time, networking, and hard work. "Finding a job is really tough and I have to fight off the feeling of hopelessness it brings," admits Alicia Santana, a 2014 graduate from the University of Texas at Austin. You may have to work a part time job, take an internship, or start out in a field totally unrelated to what you want to do.

Sending off hundreds and hundreds of resumes and cover letters only to receive rejection letters or worse—silence—can be disheartening, but you have to believe in yourself. "You might not get that ideal job you have always dreamed of during your four years of college, but that doesn’t mean you’re a failure," says Cristina Flores, a 2013 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. If you’re feeling down about not finding that perfect opportunity right out of college, be proactive and attend job fairs in your area, ask your friends and family about positions, or find a volunteer role in the company you’d like to work for. 

2. You can’t stay up til' 3 a.m. and still be functional the next morning

Remember the bedtime your mother enforced when you were a kid? She didn’t tell you that you would also need one as an adult, did she? In college, you were nocturnal. You pulled all-nighters and still aced your English exam the next morning. You partied Sunday night and still made it to your 10 a.m. seminar Monday morning. Unfortunately, you can’t keep this up forever. If you’re working a 9-to-5 job, you’re going to want to set a regular bedtime during weekdays; afternoon naps don’t exist when you’re working full time! (Don’t worry though… you can still stay up late Friday and Saturday nights if you really want to relive your college days.)

3. Sometimes you may have to be dependent on your parents (and that's okay)

Neither you, nor your mother, could have planned on you coming back home after college or needing financial help. If you’re living at home or your parents are helping you out with food and rent, be grateful for their assistance. Opt to do extra chores around the house or run some errands. Work hard to show them you’re still being responsible, and get a part-time job until you are able to secure your dream position.

4. You don't know everything

Your mother raised you to be a strong, independent woman (capable of mastering her morning commute with ease) but she may not have told you that there will be moments you’ll need to ask for help. "I haven’t ever gotten through anything all on my own. In your twenties, you learn how to stop beating your chest and exuding an air of absolute independence. You learn how to lean on others, how to ask for help, how to honor your relationships and absorb everything from the people around you," says Tyece Wilkins, creator and editor-in-chief of Twenties Unscripted,” a website dedicated to chronicling her experiences as a twenty-something woman. As an adult, you may be tempted to take on the I-can-do-this-all-by-myself attitude, feel like you can’t ask questions, or assume that you have to know everything. The truth is that in order to get through this thing we call “life,” you will have to ask for help. Whether it be wisdom from your parents, or an advice session with a mentor, a shoulder to lean on can get your through life’s confusing moments.  

5. Friendships take effort to keep

"When you and your college buddies go separate ways [after] college often times it’s hard to see each other every day or even talk to each other every day like you used to," Cristina points out. In the real world, you may find that you have to make a special effort to keep friendships alive,” especially now that you and your close buds have changed area codes in pursuit of new jobs, graduate school, or other opportunities. Being more than five minutes away from your bestie may be strenuous, but that doesn't mean you can't keep in touch. Planning trips to visit each other, Skyping, and having regular phone calls can work wonders to keep a friendship alive. That being said, don't forget to be open to new friendships. No one can replace the people who entertained you during all-nighters, but making new friends can make transitioning into adult life a lot more fun!

6. It’s okay to change your mind

Your mother may have given you a set checklist on what makes a person successful: the perfect job, a salary that’ll cover all your expenses, great relatioships. What she didn’t tell you was that the path to success is different for everyone and that your path may evolve into something other than what you originally planned. "It's okay to change your mind," says Laura Bozarth, Life Coach and owner of Good Girls Health. “A lot of young women get caught up in doing things a certain way and sometimes that formula doesn't work out. It may not pan out perfect." Changing paths is not a sign of failure, but rather, growth. It shows that you understand life is not a straight path and that your interests, goals and dreams may shift. Instead of getting frustrated, accept that you’ve changed (even if it means starting over completely!) and go back to the drawing board to revise your goals. Talk things over with your parents, connect with alumni in your new area of passion, and seek out mentors who are doing what you’d like to do. 

7. Know that mistakes don't make you a failure

"When we're young, and the decision is wrong, we chalk it up to a learning experience. But as we grow older, graduate college, and venture out into the real world, we still have to make decisions, and when we make the wrong one, it feels like a mistake; a mark in the failure column of being an adult," says Felicia Fitzpatrick, a 2014 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. You’ll make mistakes upon entering the real world but it’s not the end of your world. You haven’t failed miserably if you say the wrong thing in an interview or forget to pick up eggs during your weekly grocery run. Look at your shortcomings as learning experiences and understand that through making mistakes in your job, your relationships, and your life, you will become a wiser person.

8. You probably won’t see your family as often

In college, you prepared for real life by juggling multiple courses, extracurricular activities, social events and family gatherings. Once you graduate, the juggling doesn’t stop. Different from your college activities, your juggling may now include working on a project at your job, staying involved in your hobbies, and keeping in touch with your family. With all of that going on, you may find it hard to attend every family gathering, especially if you’ve moved to a new city; something your mother didn’t prepare you for! Cristina moved to Washington D.C. after college and says that she had to learn not to feel bad about missing some of her loved one’s graduations and birthday parties. "It was harder to go to everything when responsibilities like going to work and paying the bills required staying home and strategically thinking about what I was spending my next paycheck on," she explains. Not seeing family as much as you would like is simply one of the prices you must pay when you move across town, to another state, or even to another country. Make it a priority to set regular phone calls, Skype sessions, and holiday visits to keep the family bond strong, even when you are far away.

9. Use your downtime to pursue your passions

In college, it was easy to go straight from class to a study session and then to soccer practice or a drama club meeting. Your mom was always encouraging you to be productive, but the last thing you want to do after a long week of work is socialize or work on passion projects. Dreams of owning your own business or writing for your favorite magazine can often to get pushed aside due to exhaustion, or in favor of gaining an income, but that doesn't have to happen. You need to be strategic with your time. Instead of binging on Netflix or Facebook stalking every weekend, use those moments to work towards your dreams. J. A. Smith, a 1998 graduate of Southern University, works as an English teacher but uses her spare time to write and direct her own plays and films. Although Smith’s teaching keeps her busy, she uses her lunch break to work on her creative writing. “At the end of the day, it’s not about balance. It’s about passion. Your passion needs to become as important as your next breath,” she says.

10. It’s time to take ownership of your life

When you graduate college, it is helpful to have a plan, but understand that there will be moments where you will not know what to do. “It's okay to feel sort of lost and scared but at the same time excited for what's to come,” says Alicia. Yes, you may feel confused at times, but don’t let that feeling stress you out. Soak in the experience. If your mother didn't mention the importance of you making the most of this time in your life, then know this: you’re only a twentysomething college graduate once, so get every ounce of adventure, knowledge and experience you can from it. For once, Mom and Dad are not the authors of the path you take, the choices you make, or the mistakes you do. "Start taking ownership of your choices, mistakes and ambition. If you need role models, go and find them. Or better yet, become them," says Myeashea Alexander, 2010 graduate of Eugene Lang College, The New School.

Remember that life after college is a new adventure and that you’re not alone. Many graduates are making the transition. into adulthood, just like you are. Although your mother didn’t tell you everything, she equipped you with the tools needed to conquer this chapter in life. So update that manual for the real world—and get out there!

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