Hey, guys – welcome back to TNTH.
With college coming around the corner (or already came) and public school starting in just a couple of weeks, many of those people who fall into the routine of going back to college at the end of the month already know what’s to come: another school year, another year of papers, finals, classes, grades; all that jazz. Some of you guys might be ready to go back and just become more productive once again, and some of you may already be dreading the thought of being busy with school. Whatever the emotion is that you’re feeling, you still are returning to a place of familiarity, comfortability, and acknowledgment. As a former college/grad student, getting back into the swing of things took some time, and yes, I did experience a form of anxiety returning back to that routine, but it wasn’t anything that left me wondering what was going to happen. In other words, it didn’t leave me uncertain about my future for the upcoming year.
Like you guys know, I graduated grad school this past May without the intention of continuing my education further. No PhD’s for me, honey. What that meant for me was that I’d go through the summer celebrating and getting the well-needed break I deserved knowing that when it all ended, I wouldn’t be returning to my college as a student. I am not forced to adapt to a lifestyle I never experienced before: working a full-time job, making money, paying bills, pretty much being an actual functioning adult. As I sit here and write this post knowing that next week I will not be starting my first day of classes like I’ve done for the last 6 years of my life, I realized the uncertainty and anxiety was more than just normal worries.
I’m currently dealing with a real-as-fuck “culture shock.”
For those who may not know the term, a “culture shock” is “the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.” In other words, it’s the scattered and uncomfortable feeling you get when something changes in your daily routine/lifestyle. It’s really not knowing how to adapt to this new way of life and/or an unfamiliar/new environment.
In my own personal experience, my anxiety flared up during these off-months because I knew in the back of my mind all summer that my life and the routine I was used to isn’t going to be the same. Things change, and personally, it’s very anxiety-inducing when I’m forced to change something that was once comfortable to me. In a sense, it becomes uncomfortable now because if I’m just staying put knowing I have to start progressing forward, I’ll feel like I’m wasting or losing time. I don’t know, it’s weird.
At this very moment, I don’t have the answers on how to beat this feeling or ease the “culture shock” phase in your life. I’m still trying to deal with my own as we speak. Being in this state of mind for the last two months, I’ve learned different ways to deal with it without constantly obsessing about how to get rid of it.
- I spoke to a therapist. I am very open about my experiences and the advice that I receive from my therapist who I have been seeing for the last couple of months. Of course, I started therapy due to my social/ongoing anxiety, but the conversations of where my anxiety is stemming from are now being about the job hunting process. Although I have these conversations with those closest to me, it’s easier for my therapist to give me suggestions and advice on how to handle the anxiety while being on this process because it’s her job; she’s probably dealt with a dozen of anxiety-written people in the same predicament as me. Plus, once I admit something out loud to my therapist, it’s something that is out there for us to ongoingly talk about in future visits, no matter how frustrating I get or worried I look in a session.
- I take it one day at a time knowing that they ultimately add up. Taking things slow is a blessing and a curse. Taking things slowly can allow you to get where you want to be at the pace that you are comfortable with, or it can leave you delaying your progress in the first place. I fall victim to the ladder a lot because of my anxiety, and that’s not an excuse. I am constantly trying to fight this battle of letting my anxiety control me when I should be controlling my anxiety, and I know that being uncomfortable is the only way to do that, but the initial step forward to that uncomfortable space feels like running a mile. Little by little, I have to remind myself that taking things one day at a time will add up to something, especially if every single day you’re working towards something. I don’t force myself to try to prepare for my life in 5 years, I try to prepare it for the next day, the week after next, and so forth. Progress puts out a better end product in the end.
- I dream. This may sound cheesy or silly, but I honestly have personal goals and dreams I think about that motivate me transitioning into this next stage in my life. I think about the new environment through a positive mindset: “The job that I land in the upcoming months will be something that I’ll have and be grateful for because look how far I’ve gotten since I graduated.” “It’s going to feel so good making my own money, which means that I can do whatever I want with it, which will definitely be me traveling and experiencing life the way I’d wanted to do for so long.” and my personal favorite thought: “I will feel happy and better knowing that I am doing more for myself.” Of course, I’m a dreamer and I dream as big as I possibly can, but those same dreams motivate me into taking the necessary steps into embracing this new chapter in my life. Dreaming about traveling and experience new things around the country due to the money that I’ll be making motivates me every day into trying to find a job that is hiring. It’s motivating me to realize I’ve made it this far and that I’ve outgrown the lifestyle I was living while being a college/grad student in the past. And before you think dreaming will only leave yourself with disappointment if things don’t play out the way you want, remember that things you want for yourself don’t happen only when you’ve stopped trying to get them. Mic drop, exit stage left, close the damn curtain.
Of course, there are plenty of other factors that help me deal with this stage in my life, but lately, these are the things that have made the process easier for me on a day-to-day basis. Dealing with something as “culture shock” isn’t just a black and white thing where one solution will solve the problem. Things like readjusting to life take time and experience and you can’t be afraid of that change when it’s time for it to come. A year from now, things are going to be completely different for me; life is going to be completely different for me…
It just depends on how I choose to get there.