It could be a year or a decade since you graduated from college. Yet you find yourself pining for the college days, daydreaming in meetings about afternoons on the quad, flipping back through your college Facebook photos just a little too often.
It’s totally okay and normal to be wistful about the past, but you want to make sure it’s not interfering with your ability to reach your full potential and enjoy the present. If you clicked on this article, you’re probably at least slightly concerned about your level of fixation.
Below are a few common reasons people get stuck on their college years – and what to do about them.
- You miss your college friends.
Of course you do! Most people forge strong bonds with their friends in college. It’s the first time you’re on your own, and you’re all in it together. What you need to figure out is if it’s the actual people you miss or the sense of belonging to a group of friends. If it’s the former, that is easy enough to fix. Call your friends and schedule a visit! Set aside time in the week to keep in touch. Write those times on your calendar and stick to them.
If you haven’t really felt a sense of belonging since college, maybe you need to make some new friends. Start by reading LifeHacker’s article Why It’s So Hard to Make Friends After College (And What to Do About It).
- You miss the simplicity and limited responsibility.
You didn’t have to pay bills. You didn’t have to drive anywhere. Friends were always around. Thanks to your dining plan, you didn’t even have to cook for yourself. Life was easy and you had one responsibility: get good grades.
If you’re missing the simplicity of your college days, you may be overwhelmed by your current responsibilities and the repetitive tasks involved in daily life. To handle this, try to cut down on the amount of time involved in these types of jobs. Plan a menu at the beginning of the month and grocery shop for two weeks at a time. Make all your lunches for the week and prep for meals on Sunday. Enroll in automatic bill pay. Cut something out of your budget and use that money to have a cleaning person come to your apartment once a month. Streamlining your chores will free up time so that you can focus on the things that are truly important to you.
- You miss the intellectual stimulation.
When you were in college, you were constantly being exposed to new ideas and challenged to think critically. Most people need a regular dose of intellectual stimulation to be fulfilled but aren’t used to seeking it out on their own.
Thankfully, the stimulating possibilities are endless! Here are just a few:
- Start a book club
- Watch a documentary
- Take a MasterClass
- Apply to MENSA
- Join a club that focuses on one of your interests
- Learn a foreign language
- Travel someplace new and thought-provoking
- Visit local museums
- Play brain games
- You miss academic work.
Yes, this is a real thing. Some people belong in the academic world. They love searching for answers, conducting in-depth research, and reading everything they can on the subjects that interest them. Does this sound like you? Would you love to spend your days thinking about complex issues and contributing to the global discourse on the world’s problems?
If so, you might want to think about becoming a professor. You probably have already thought about it.
It might seem daunting, but earning a doctoral degree and adding Dr. to your name is actually a quite realistic goal. While getting your doctorate is certainly a lofty aspiration, it’s probably a lot more feasible than you think. There are a number of online doctoral programs that allow you to pursue your doctorate without even having to give up your day job. Even better, many of them are surprisingly cost-effective.
To get an idea of the logistics and possibilities, check out these reputable schools with accredited online doctoral programs:
- You miss partying.
It’s okay to be the type of person who enjoys the nightlife. Just because you’re the ripe-old age of 26 doesn’t mean you need to be in bed by 8 p.m. However, you probably have a job that requires you to get up before noon, which can put a serious damper on your late-night aspirations. To fulfill your desire for a glamorous night on the town, you’re going to need to be intentional.
Your goal should be to organize some nights out on the weekend this month. Identify some cool spots you want to hang out, call some friends, and set the dates. Make these nights out your reward for working hard all week.
We should note, however, that there is a difference between missing the excitement of socializing at hip locations and simply missing drinking. If you miss your college days because you could drink frequently without being questioned, you may want to examine your relationship with alcohol. Whether it’s the trendy outings or the drinks you miss, every young adult should be aware of the Alcoholism Warning Signs: Checklist of What to Look For.
- You miss the anticipation of the future.
When you’re in college, you have this idyllic vision of what your life will be like afterward. The future seems so bright. American culture builds up college as if it’s this key to the glorious life. You picture yourself, fresh out of college, driving a nice car, playing an important role on the team at work, and living in a glamorous apartment. Reality, fraught with the mundane tasks of everyday life and an entry level job, can be a bit of a let-down.
If you’re a few years past graduation and feel disillusioned because you’re still broke and your job at the ad agency is nothing Like Mad Men, you may find yourself longing for the days when the future lay golden before you and you were so sure life was going to rock.
This may sound corny, but everyone needs a dream. It’s healthy to have something to look forward to. But this time, make it a meaningful and realistic dream. If your life could be anything you want, what would it look like? Why? Use these questions to uncover values that you can tap into as you design a plan for a new phase in your life. Maybe you want to travel abroad to do charity work or explore the home of your ancestors. Maybe you want to start your own business or write a book. Whatever it is, make that your goal. Then start figuring out the necessary steps to achieve it.
- You miss wearing pajamas to the store and eating Ramen noodles for two meals per day.
We can’t help you with this one.
Wait – maybe we can . . .