Hannah’s Guide to (Not Going) Back to School

One of the weirdest parts of graduating college is September coming around and nothing happening.

You don’t go back to school. Maybe the weather is getting colder, but otherwise it doesn’t feel much different from August. If you work in retail, your job may get less busy.

Yet you’re still bombarded with back to school ads and sales. It seems like people are setting goals and changing up their lives, and you’re just kind of….there…..

You no longer relate to Buzzfeed posts about going back to school. And you realize that, for the first time since you were a toddler, you’re not going to go to school this year.

Maybe you loved school. Maybe you hated it. But school is a great way to set benchmarks and milestones and make it feel like time is actually moving forward. You have designated breaks and times to be stressed. You know what to expect.

Out in the real world, it’s all just sort of….time. If you don’t work a M-F, 9-5, you’ll probably forget what day of the week it is. If you’re not working a lot with dates, you might forget what month it is. And if you’re living somewhere where there aren’t really seasons – like Los Angeles – you will literally feel like one season blends into the next.

Sure, there are still the holidays. But if you don’t live close to home, you might not even return to your family for the holidays.

Being an adult is VERY weird. The life you’ve known is wrenched away from you, and all of a sudden you’re expected to keep yourself healthy and alive. Which means making money, and spending that money well. You used to be surrounded by peers and family – now it’s just you alone in the big bad world.

Even if you hated school, it kind of sucks.

Here’s my advice: find a way to set your own milestones. Whether you check in in September, or after the New Year, or your birthday, find at least one time yearly (preferably bimonthly) to check in where you are and if you’re happy, or if you want to make a change. Because that’s one of the best things about adulting we often forget – you’re not really tied to anything. Not what your parents say. Not law (okay, yes you’re tied by the law, but now you’re a legal adult). Not teachers or a dorm or university or high school. It can be easy to get a routine and start seeing your job as school – you just have to keep moving through it and moving up indefinitely. But work has no real end except retirement, and that’s a LONG way away. So if you don’t like your job, or the direction your life is headed, it’s perfectly okay to change paths. You are literally not responsible for anyone but yourself – it’s a lot to be responsible for, but it also gives you the freedom to choose. You’ve got to look out for yourself, and not feel so responsible for people – especially in your 20s, when you haven’t really made any kind of commitments.

So take advantage of the back to school sales (Labor Day can be a great time to get cheaper furniture!) and don’t let yourself feel nostalgic about being in school – remember that when you were there, you were wishing you were here. This is what you wished for! And sure, it’s not what you expected – but nothing is. At least you have the power to change it.

You got this.

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