4 Changes You Can’t Ignore: Professional Life v. College Life

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The older I get, the more one thing reigns true: I like people that get. stuff. done.

With my “baby” brothers about to graduate college, I can’t help but look at them with longing/resentment. Yes, I want to punch them both in the face (with kindness), but I know that life will do that shortly, and thus, I sit back and laugh, somewhat wickedly to myself.

As a precursor, I’ll admit that this is a rant. Not towards anyone in particular but more so, about the dramatic changes that occur between college and career. Why was it that a 2pm class, 3x a week was tough to get too? How do I make it to work by 8, erm, 8:30 every single day? Alas, I present the 4 differences between college and career life:

1. Lunch

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I was never really a “lunch” girl. In high school, I had a “mild” fear of eating in front of people and thus would eat a Twix to avoid, well I don’t even know what I was avoiding; l was just kind-of a weirdo. But in college, eating was never the highlight of my day, unless it was a delicious tray of green brownies, if you catch-my-obvious-drift. As a worker bee though, lunch is undoubtedly the highlight. Do I go at noon, or do I hold out to the last possible second so that there are less hours ahead of me, than behind? Do I work through lunch in an attempt to crank out my stuff and leave early (which never actually happens)? Do I bring lunch to try to save money, and then end up getting desk-fever and going out to eat anyways? Did my boss think it was an awesome idea to do a brown-bag/creative-sesh lunch, thus actually making me work through lunch and leaving me more-educated, but slightly resentful? Lunch: it’s the new vacation day.

2. Weekends

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Weekends are for getting. stuff. done. I will never understand, and will forever apologize, for all those times I freaked out about being too busy to get my stuff done in college. Yes, I went to school. Yes, I worked as a waitress/bartender/whatever, but I WOKE UP AT 10am. Of course I didn’t get anything done, by the time I left the house I was working with 12 hr days! I distinctly recall not having enough time to even workout in college.. ugh, I just cannot with that one! Post college, fitting a workout in post-9 hour day is necessary (see also, halting metabolism), which brings me back to my brothers, who whenever I ask, “Hey, do you mind (a.) grabbing dog food (b.) picking up that gift I already pre-ordered (c.) every other minute task”  they freak out and respond with, “I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH TIME!” Listen bro, you sleep in until 11am and you work 4 hour shifts. Plus, it’s winter break. You have time.

3. Dating

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I loved dating in college. Somehow, I still do, but oh, how the game has changed. In college, getting blitzed on a date was acceptable. Or, at least I thought it was.  I remember one date in particular that started as dates should – with him coming to the door, picking me up and taking me to dinner. However, it ended at a night club in Scottsdale, on a weekday, and I’m pretty sure I ended up taking a limo home (yes, alone) and waking up with at least three bottles of pink champagne next to my bed. Classy? Not really. Acceptable by college standards? Perhaps. Would that fly today? Hell no. First of all, I would be so exhausted by 10pm that the very idea of going to a night club with a guy I barely know – hell, the idea of going to a night club……. It just, would never happen.

I was always a big advocate of DATES, as they set the stage and give you invaluable insight into the person you’re hanging with. And I use the term hanging ever-so-lightly, as that is the big difference in professional life dating. In college, casually hanging out and watching movies is cool. Post, that is really only acceptable after a series of awesome dates and with the knowledge that you actually like someone enough to spend your precious free time with them.  I’m not even going to get into how your non-negotiables change drastically after college… So drastically, that you can probably say that today, you would date none of the men you deemed appropriate in college. Okay, fine, I said it anyways.

4. D.G.A.F – or, professionalism.

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I’m pretty sure I wore stretchy pants to class in college, like, a lot. And I know, for certain there were many days I wore sweatshirts/anything big and hangy, to avoid wearing a bra. Sadly, SO SADLY, professional life always requires bras. Lucky for me, I work in a creative field where I don’t need to don makeup or anything horrifically uncomfortable, but I still need to be here, somewhat professionally attired by 8am daily, which, with or without a bra, was a struggle at first.

Professionalism also extends into interacting with peers and bosses. In college, your elitist attitude, or at least mine, meant I didn’t interact with peers much, and I didn’t value my professors unless they were in the English dept; ie: showed a similar passion and expertise for creative writing. These days, as I contemplate going back to school for fun, and really am just DGAF about anyone’s opinion of me, I am none-the-less forced to smile and participate in small-talk with coworkers I have virtually nothing in common with beyond both being writers.

As I sit in this somewhat broken chair for the remaining hour and a half of my day, thinking about how badly my back hurts and how I would love to just go to a yoga class, I still must admit that I much prefer this life. Ya, I’m sedentary for 8 hours a day, but I am in a field I love, I get paid to be creative and life is no longer filled with that nagging curiosity and need for fulfillment and self discovery. The best thing about growing up? Knowing who you are and having a consistent routine of jammed-packed days!

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