Looking back, my 16 year old self would be sad that I didn’t study and have a career in fashion and currently live in New York City. My 18 year old self would be devastated that I’m currently not in a committed relationship and *surprise* am single AND fabulous. While, my 10 year old self would be thrilled that I have a beautiful closet, a dog, and travel a ton with my best friends. On Instagram (follow me @_thepinkchickadee), I have seen so many influencers share about how their younger selves would view themselves now. I love seeing everyone’s reflections on that, too. Looking back on my life and where I thought I would be at this stage in my life now versus where I actually am are two very different stories. When I graduated from college, it was hard. Despite how hard graduating from college is, I have also adapted and grown personally in ways like never before.

I graduated from college and moved up to Washington, DC within the same weekend, it was a whirlwind of emotions. I essentially went through two big life transitions in the span of less than 48 hours. I came home to my Washington, DC area apartment and was away from all of my friends and family. I had what felt like 1,000’s of boxes filled with my college apartment belongings to unpack and arrange in the way that my own heart desired. At the same time, I also had a lot of emotions to unpack when it came to processing with my post-graduation transition emotions. I felt this deep feeling of sadness when I first graduated. It lasted for a year. I never knew just why I had felt uber sad all the time, but I did. It wasn’t until about a year later that I realized what I was feeling was grief that had yet to be processed.

After college, things change a lot, especially within the first year. When I graduated in May 2021, things were still in that COVID-19 mindset more so than they are now. I didn’t travel much the first summer after and I had moved into a place without many friends and spent a lot of time on my own not really doing much. I missed my friends from Meredith College and talked to them about every single moment of every single day. I held onto as much as I could of my college life. It went away and I moved on, though. Some of my college friends I have grown apart from and others I have grown closer to – its like a juxtaposition. It’s also a gift in a way.

Last weekend, I went to Meredith College’s graduation on campus for the Class of 2022, as my best friend Hannah graduated. It was super bittersweet and heartwarming to be back on my sweet campus that I call Wonderland. I loved getting to see some of my former professors and my Academic Advisor. I also loved getting to see friends from both the Class of 2022, fellow Class of 2021 and 2020 alums and even a few friends from the Class of 2023 and 2024. Though it was a great time to be back on sweet Meredith College grounds, I also felt as if I was beyond the Meredith College life. I loved my time at Meredith College and miss my time there dearly, but it is not where I feel I am meant to be right now as I have moved beyond my college years.

At my best friend Hannah’s Graduation party this past weekend, a lot of my friends and I discussed the things we miss and don’t miss about college life. A lot of what we missed was having all of our friends living within close proximity to us. The more than weekly dinner parties, socials, outings, and everything in between. Not to mention, we all miss having a lot of big events which are known at Meredith College as “Traditions” that we would all get super dolled up for and have wayyyy too many photo sessions. Many of us also wished we could do all of our college experiences again for the many memories that we made. At the same time, we miss living closer to one another. When people asked me how I like Washington, DC, to be honest I love where I live and do not envision myself moving back to the South at any point in time. BUT, I also miss the social life and college world a bit too – the socials that were always never-ending, the people, the professors, and the community. Socials in the post graduation world are a lot more sparse and a lot of folks that I befriended during college do not live near me. I miss it all. Though, even a year after my college graduation, I still haven’t found my community here in Washington, DC. As for what I don’t miss about college, I do not miss the consistently growing pile of schoolwork, the social drama, and the Southern way of life. The South is very very different from the North – people get into committed relationships a lot faster and it’s still extremely traditional and has been for decades in terms of its cultures and values, unlike the North. It was super duper nice to know that my friends and community from Meredith College who are also recent college graduates feel the same exact way that I do. This past weekend was needed for me, it included lots of deep conversations that were nothing other than relatable and raw. It was beautiful and perfectly the way it was meant to be for us all – needed. I am not alone and none of us are either.

There are both good things and bad things about college life and the post-graduation life. Neither is perfect. But, what I do know is that I am where I am meant to be right now in my life. As I travelled back to Washington, DC from Raleigh, North Carolina this past weekend in my little white Volvo Sedan, I spent a ton of time reflecting on the good that is to come. College days may be a distant memory for me, but my life is now just beginning. There is much to come for me and for my fellow recent college graduates in this world, too. The first few years are HARD for all of us after college and even high school (depending on the path you choose to take after high school). Entering the real world is NOT easy, and I wanted to share a peek into the raw and real side of it all – not just the pretty little pictures seen all over everyone’s social media. However, there is always good to come. As my friend Aspen and I were talking at Hannah’s Graduation party this past weekend, we both emphasized how we WILL be better off just the way we are and in stages within our lives. Things work out in the end and they always do the way they are meant to. We just have to look to the bright future ahead!

XOXO – Katie <3

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