365 days

A new chapter began 365 days ago. Or that’s what I was told, at least.

Graduation. A farewell to friends. A goodbye instead of a see you later. The real world. A new chapter.

It’s been 365 days since my new chapter began, and I have learned a thing or two. 365 days, or 52 weeks, going on 53. I could make a list of a lesson-a-week, but you’d close your browser now, so I’ll spare you.

But I will list a few notable lessons I have learned in this past year. I so envy those who recently closed their last chapter of undergrad, but I promise the real world isn’t nearly as great as they told you.. I mean bad. Not nearly as bad…

The list:

  1. Be punctual. I mean it. Be on time. Early. Punctual. The real world doesn’t take attendance, but I promise punctuality means a heck of a lot more than an absence. (Plus, there’s no extra credit a week before Christmas.)
  2. Take notes. Nope, I’m not kidding, either. Those notebooks will still come in handy after graduation. Don’t burn them all just yet, but you can rip out the pages filled with chemistry formulas or scattered doodles. Notes in the real world mean you don’t have to ask the same questions to your manager/ coworker ten times over. Trust me, they appreciate when you learn the ropes the first (maybe second) time.
  3. Lunch. Simple as that, lunch. This hour break, give or take a few, will be your saving grace. Take a walk, get some fresh air, breathe. Lunchtime is a great time to get to know your coworkers, stretch your legs, and to simply forget about the real world..while you’re in the real world.
  4. Stay connected. And no, I don’t mean don’t delete facebook, twitter, instagram, pinterest…. yada yada. I mean stay connected with your friends, your relatives, and everyone in between and outside. There will be no better feeling than knowing that, 365 days later, you are still snapchat-streaking with your teammate or old roomie. It’s a lifesaver and can make any transition to the real world much easier than you’d think.
  5. Workout. I may be bias, but a workout in the morning before work can make or break my day. Eight hours sitting in a rolly chair staring at a screen may seem magical, but an hour workout in the morning will change my attitude and outlook on the day. Just try it 🙂
  6. Don’t complain. Did you ever like that classmate that complained about arriving at their 11:15am class when you had been on campus since 8am (0r 6am in my case)? Well then, don’t complain about your overload of emails or your coworker now. Everyone has their own situation, their own personal mess, but yours does not top the next cubicle over, 99.9% of the time. And, if it does, I assure you no one wants to hear about it.
  7. Travel. It may be tough the first year, but even travel an hour away on a random Sunday. Getting your mind off the area in which you work or away from your nagging problems/troubles can be a game changer. And, hey, a late Friday-night plane flight through Sunday evening never hurts either if you can make that work.
  8. Stay grounded. “Chase your dreams, but know the road that leads you home again.” Even when you’ve taken on a new role or moved to a new city or job, your home, your faith, your foundation will still be there at the end of the day. Even though I’m still new to the whole “real world” thing, I’ve already seen my fair share of friends/ acquaintances who have, simply put, lost it. Money, time off, a night out, etc, will not make you happy. Your family, your faith, your relationships, those are what will make you happy. Money cannot buy you happiness; it may buy you your first “big kid” purchase, but monetary value has never been used to determine happiness, to this day.
  9. Branch out. If anyone had told me I would meet new people through a random guy hitting on one of my best friends at a Dave Matthews concert, I would have told you you were all things crazy. But that, in fact, did happen. And through that random connection, I have met a great group of friends that enjoy everything from beach volleyball and pool days to planning yacht trips overseas with complete strangers. Now, I didn’t say you’d have everything in common… but I do know that if I had not blindly met this group of people, I would never have had half of the memories I have now.
  10. And, Pray. No matter whether it’s about ending your work day 30 minutes earlier or about making a choice regarding your future. Pray for success, but pray for wisdom and clarity. Pray daily, hourly, whenever it’s necessary. Prayer will lead you through those first 365 days, and the next 1,000,000 (give or take.) No issue is too small or too large to be included in a prayer. God works in crazy, mysterious, and all-around awesome ways.

So, I pray that you take this list, even if you only take away a thing or two out of ten. I pray that my experiences can help someone just starting out in this real world, big kid thing. It’s real, it’s fun, but it’s not always real fun. But, it’s a new chapter that I wouldn’t take back in hindsight because I’ve established and even re-established relationships that will never be matched. I’ve made memories and learned a few things that can never be taught in the classroom.

So, with that, I’m onto the new chapter, the next 365 days of memories, experiences, workouts, trips, lunch-breaks… you get it!

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