I came to a strange realization over this past weekend while speaking to some of my younger friends who are currently graduating from college - I can no longer really call myself a "recent college grad." It's been just shy of a year since I received my diploma in May 2011, and the knowledge that a whole 12 months have passed since then has me thinking about those immediate post-graduation weeks.
It's oddly nostalgic to hear my buddies talking about taking that plunge into the real world. All the plans they're making, the apprehension of finding a job and place to live - it's certifiably weird to think that I was right there only a year ago. And it's perhaps even stranger to think that I've already moved on to the next step.
In truth, the summer after college graduation was simultaneously one of the best and most terrifying periods in my life. Sure it was nerve-wracking not knowing what my next step would be, but for the first time ever, I had no academic deadlines or concrete responsibilities on the horizon. Instead of enjoying my morning cup of Green Mountain Coffee® at 7 a.m. before class, I could roll out of bed at noon and have it then.
In between bouts of sending out job applications and earning some money as an intern, I spent my days exploring parks near my home, reading the entire A Song of Fire and Ice series (recommended!), finishing marathon viewings of HBO shows, traveling back and forth to the beach, and generally lounging around with my friends who hadn't moved home after graduation.
I'd be lying if I said that I felt like a full-fledged adult now, but there are a few minor signs of maturity that I've recognized. I no longer favor those sweet and delicious coffee blends like Hazelnut or French Vanilla. These days, I take my coffee straight black - the darker the coffee, such as my new favorite, French Roast, the better. I've also bid goodbye to frequent all-nighter sessions due to my early job schedule, which dark coffee also makes much easier.
So my advice to anyone crossing that college graduation finish line this May - cherish the free time you have, because it won't last forever. By no means should you forgo the inevitable job search (especially in this economy), but you should make an equal effort to enjoy every moment of this final summer vacation.