What I’ve learned since graduating college

by Lesley on July 20, 2009 · 5 comments

in growing up,lessons learned

I’m one of those people that likes playing the game, “Last week at this time, I was… (fill in the blank: eating dinner with friends, lounging in Hawaii, celebrating my birthday…) OR “Last year at this time we were… (in Boston with Sarah, anticipating our anniversary, planting our garden.) Sometimes (this is going to sound so Type A), I actually get out my old calendar to reminisce on what was happening weeks, or months, or years before. Weird?

So, five years ago…

It was July 2004. I was living by myself in a tiny cottage in Montecito, caring for three awfully behaved dogs that smelled, working two jobs-attempting to prove myself as an intern at BigSpeak where I’d eventually get hired full time, and terribly missing everyone in my life except Jonathan, the only friend I had in Santa Barbara.

I was miserable. Just like every other new graduate.

I’d really set myself up for it– taking a leisurely three week road trip to Colorado for friends weddings, followed by a really tough two weeks in Alaska, which remains one of the best vacations of my life. Then, on to reality. 40+ hour work weeks. No money. No health insurance. No family. Few friends. Falling asleep to crickets instead of giggles.

Somehow, in some way or another, I struggled through it. Not out of it, but through it. Now, I’m in a much better place. Not an easier place, but a place where I’m comfortable with the fact that life outside of college is always, always going to be harder than I had it back then.

Here are the many things I’ve been blessed to learn, that (I believe) make me a better person. From the silly to the serious, I hope they help some poor 22 year old soul out there:

1. Start eating breakfast. The candy dish at work will not keep you satisfied until you maybe get a lunch break.

2. I said maybe get a lunch break because sometimes, when you’re trying to prove yourself, you don’t get lunch breaks. It will pay off quicker than you think. But then you’re so busy that you still don’t take a lunch break. It’s okay. The day goes by faster that way.

3. Not everything is black and white. You might have an idea of the way things are supposed to be. Get over it.

4. People change, a lot of times for the better. Or, you’ll find out that you were just mis-judging them all along.

5. As Dave Matthews says, it’s really not where you are but who you’re with that matters.

6. Expect good friends after college, but don’t expect they’ll fall in your lap. Which brings me to point 7…

7. Friends (old, and new) are a lot of work. Make time for them, pursue them, offer them grace, ask them for grace, be authentic, serve, and be open to people who may not be like you.

8. If you want health insurance, don’t work for a small business. If you want to get experience, move up fast, and get a raise- work for a small business. They’ll eventually throw in the health insurance too. Or, (secret!) if you’re healthy you can purchase you’re own plan online. Mine was $50 a month.

9. Don’t wait around to try what you’d always imagined you’d do. The sooner you try, and fail, at jobs the sooner you’ll figure out what you’re really meant to do.

10. Live in a place you never imagined you’d be. Try the high rise condo. Live in the city once. Or, if you’ve grown up that way, live in the country. This is the time to do it!

Last week, I had lunch with my friend Michelle. She works at Westmont and gets to watch new grads go out into the world each year, full of hope, only to get totally crushed by the reality of life. It happens to all of us. If Michelle someday shares her wisdom with the world through a blog (hint Michelle), you can bet her wisdom will be more tested than mine. But really, couldn’t we all use a little advice along the way? I hope mine helps someone, or, at least reminds many of us how far we’ve come.

Coming soon: What I still need to learn in my twenties.

picture credit: kitchenist

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Great post Lesley with some great points! This is right up my alley. The candy dish is a black hole. You reach in once and your hand is never coming out.

Christine Clary
Christine Clary

I am taking the Texas Bar this week. I wish your husband the best of luck!


Lovely list Lesley (try saying that three times fast). I especially adore #6-7 which I have found to be incredibly true over the past two years in particular. I am so happy, blessed, and grateful to have found you and the other "Tuesday night girls" through Sharon! =)


Lisa, I stand corrected. I had you in town, but, we weren't really that great of friends yet. You lived with all the girls on Loma Media, and I just felt like you all had your own life that I shouldn't barge in on. So glad that I've grown up and have way more confidence about pursuing friendships. P.S. I was totally nervous when I moved in with all of you that you wouldn't really like me as much as Sharon. She's got hard shoes to fill.


wasn't I in SB the summer of 2004??