Graduating is all a person looks forward to after spending years and years studying, tirelessly reading, and doing schoolwork. Though, the journey doesn’t end once you’ve finished your bachelor’s degree, marched to the stage, and received your college diploma; in fact, everything’s just begun.
Welcome to what they call the “real world.” From having schedules and allowances to learning how to save and invest for the future, this period in one’s life can be overwhelming. So, what can you expect on your first year out of college? Is it really that bad? The answer is no, but you definitely have to make a few adjustments in order to thrive in the real world.
To make it easier, here are a few of my confessions that you could probably relate to if you’ve just started working. It could also enlighten you if you are about to enter the real world, or it could help you to understand someone who is.
Straight from a graduate’s innermost thoughts:
- “I have limitations.”
One of the worst things you can do while working on a project is to pretend you know all the answers and that you can do everything. I remember one of the first times I was hit with a to-do to which I didn’t know how to accomplish. I confessed, after pondering for a couple of seconds, and said that, “You know what, I don’t know how to do that, but I’ll find a way to do it.” The client smiled and said alright. I researched, looked for tutorials, and a few minutes later, I was able to deliver what she needed. This taught me an important lesson: it’s okay to admit when something is out of the scope of your expertise.
Accepting my limitations is straight up hard, but necessary. Criticism (both constructive and not) has been a driving force for me to do better and to push the limits of my creativity and my craft. Up to this day, I’m continuously working on my weaknesses through constant discovery. Be honest, and know that while you may not know how to do it now, you have the capability to know and learn it soon.
- “I don’t have everything figured out.”
Take it from me. I’ve imagined myself to be in a specific line of work after graduating— all of which are related to graphics, design, and everything in between. I’ve limited myself by saying that I’m not ready to do that, that I’m too young to handle big responsibilities, or to focus on one field just because I’m getting comfortable with what I’m doing. Two years as a graphic designer and I now found myself dealing with more numbers than fonts and colors – nowhere near to where I imagined back in college.
But what led me to this? Though I’ve been working with people in the same industry, I’m continuously dealing with work outside graphic design. I’ve realized early on that where I am at is an opportunity for me to get know people better and learn things outside my field. This led me to learn how advertising campaigns work, to get a deeper understanding of building communities, and to know the back-end of how businesses work— all resulting to developing my own craft, producing work based on sound judgement, and to learning how to lead a team.
Regardless of what your daily responsibilities entail, remind yourself that you’re gaining something at in your every move. Take everything in. Whether you’re becoming a hybrid, building more connections, or simply getting exposed to a different field, you definitely are not walking away empty handed. Constantly adapting to new things is also a part of growing and an indicator of success. I’ve learned to take the risk to push myself forward in my career. More than that, I’ve learned to not be afraid of taking a chance on reinvention. If I find myself wanting to deal with anything related to Human Resources or Finance in the future, then I’ll find ways to get there. And as how Cady (Lindsay Lohan) of Mean Girls would put it, “The limit does not exist.” Why limit yourself to just one career path? You are capable of things you never thought you would be good at.
- “I screwed up and I will continue to fail (at some point).”
I’ll spare you with all the horror stories of the many mistakes I made as a graphic designer. Bottom line is, yes, I’ve had my fair share of failures and disappointments but one thing I learned is that the secret ingredient to failure is how fast you recover and learn from it. Growth would also mean celebrating failures as part of the path to success. One needs to stretch their limits of their creative potential by not fearing the prospect of failure. What has helped me was to realize that if I hadn’t taken a chance on things I didn’t know from the start, I wouldn’t have nearly the amount of knowledge I have now.
This brings me to…
- “Where I want to be takes time.”
We all may have probably have unrealistic expectations about our careers, like how everything will work out. I’m sure you’re quite familiar with the whole lesson about starting at the bottom of the ladder and getting yourself to the top. While it’s true that it may take time to really settle into a job or career that you absolutely love, what people don’t usually mention is that you are in control of how fast or slow everything will work out.
Hard work makes the difference for other people, and truth is, it still makes the difference now. One’s personal development will always depend on the person who wants to move on a slow and comfortable pace or to fast-track their growth while picking up tips and tricks here and there to that will help them out along the way.
So yes, while work will always be daunting and I may find myself facing fear where everything will lead me falling down over the course of my career, and most probably having more confessions down the road, one thing’s for sure: there’s nowhere to go but up.
It goes for anyone, and if you find yourself in the same road, maybe somewhere further or even if you’re just starting out with the first step— keep walking.