Real Talk: What I Wish I Learned from College

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I don’t regret going to college. In fact, there are so many aspects (besides the obvious  education portion) of college that I really enjoyed. I loved being in a sorority. I loved meeting people from all walks of life. I loved the maturity and growth that it gave me.

But, I do wish that college taught me how to deal with “real-world” road blocks such as: overwhelm, stress, time management + scheduling, financial planning, and work/life balance.

Overwhelm

How I Define It: For me, it’s a persistent feeling of confusion, never ending question marks, and unknown “how do I starts?” It sneaks up on me during periods of change or even at random times throughout the month. If I wait too long, and let it affect me too much, it can leave me feeling weak, lost and drained.
 
How I Deal With It: It usually starts with a deep breath, after a good cry 😂. But I make a list of all of the things that I have to do, and just start. I plague myself with “paralysis by analysis”, thinking of all of the things that I want to accomplish and get done. Usually, this thinking prevents me from ever taking action because I’m too busy/worried with the “what ifs”. So… I make a list and I rate everything from 1-10, 1 being tasks or projects that I would “like” to do but aren’t urgent today, and 10 being the items that must get done today.

Stress

How I Define It: Between work, blogging, passion projects and just maintaining life (cleaning, cooking, food prepping, etc.) life can get pretty hectic. Sometimes, it feels impossible to find 20 minutes of quiet time. For me, stress and overwhelm go pretty hand-in-hand. When I’m feeling one, usually the other accompanies.

How I Deal With It: Carve out “me time”. This can be anything from working out, to going for a walk, to even getting out of the house and going shopping (or window shopping). I make time for myself and fill it with an activity that I solely want to gain personal pleasure from. For you that may be painting, writing or even hanging out with loved ones. Whatever your de-stressor may be, just be sure to carve out time for yourself.

Time Management

How I Define It: Well, I can tell you what a lack of time management looks like. It’s Sunday night and you haven’t accomplished nearly any of the things that you wanted to do over your weekend. Now, you have to prepare for Monday morning and the work week. This lack of planning causes stress, overwhelm and even feelings of anxiety (for me at least).

How I Deal With It: PLAN! Lately, I’ve been relying heavily on my Google Calendar—however, I just ordered this planner by Erin Condren. In college, I used to live and breathe by my Lilly Pulitzer calendar, color coordinating all of the different events and activities going on. When I graduated, and made the transition into the “corporate world” I found myself relying heavily on my electronic calendars. But this became a problem because I felt like I had too many calendars, and not one centralized one. I had my work calendar, my personal calendar, and then my blogging calendar. I’m so excited to get my new planner and have one place for all of the things that I want to accomplish/get done.

Financial Planning

How I Define It: “How much should I be saving?”, “What’s a 401K?”, “Will I have enough money to make rent this month?”. These are all questions that I faced when I graduated college. I had no idea how to even begin saving, or budgeting my money. But it is so so so important—not to mention the peace of mind that comes when you have everything mapped out and you know what you can and can’t afford.

How I Deal With It: BUDGET, BUDGET, BUDGET! I live and die by my budgeting plan that I’ve mapped out in Google Sheets. I have the exact prices and average guesstimates for all of my monthly expenses. For instance, I have my rent, utilities, parking fee, gas, groceries, and student loan all mapped out. I even have my monthly subscriptions such as Netflix, Spotify, IPSY and Sephora Play! mapped out. I detailed exactly what my savings goal each month is (about 20% of my total monthly pay) as well as my credit card payment. When I first moved out on my own, I was so nervous about the new expenses that I was going to accrue. But mapping everything out and seeing where I could cut some expenses (stop frivolous spending on clothing, and start using coupons at Target), and what I could “allow” myself to spend money on were (such as parking, or monthly beauty subscriptions) really helped me ease my mind. I believe that where there’s a plan, there’s a way. And once you have all of the raw data (aka numbers and $$) mapped out in front of you, you can start to see the way that you can make your dreams a reality.

Work Life Balance

How I Define It: Trust me, it’s hard. I leave my house around 8 AM and don’t return until 7 PM at night. I like to go to sleep around 9:30 PM which gives me enough rest to stay focused and mentally alert during my day. BUT, doing so leaves me with little to no room during the week to do things with loved ones. Heck, I barely see my own boyfriend during the week and we live together! A lack or work/life balance, or prioritization can leave you feeling resentful or unfulfilled or even stressed out.

How I Deal With It: Always look forward! Because our work consumes our weeks, I reserve the weekends for extreme personal time. I catch up with loved ones, plan lunches/dinners and even carve out time for myself. I believe that if you don’t put it on the calendar, it’ll never happen. So, once you commit to doing something (making a plan, getting tickets to go to a concert, etc.) you must put it on your calendar. Or you’ll find some reason that “something” came up and you can’t meet with that friend or family member. The reason being that we hardly have any “me” time during the week that when the weekend comes, all we want to do is come up for air. But a sure-fire way to deal with the work-life balance is to make time for the things that matter, and put them on the calendar. Look in your local city or neighborhood for upcoming festivals or farmers markets. Sign up for a few fitness classes, or reach out to some old friends and plan get-togethers. Heck, plan a staycation where you list all of the things that you want to do with your significant other.

These are all thing that I wish I learned in college, or that someone would prepare me for, I hope that this blog post will help some of you! Whatever you’re feeling right now, it’s normal. Don’t feel alone