You're going to stand out and not fit in anymore, but that's half the fun …
This past weekend, The Hill in Boulder was taken over by Rooster’s annual Block Party. With performances by some of Colorado’s finest musical exports and an entire street lined with top-notch vendors, the event was an above-average way to spend a Saturday afternoon, and those who missed out on it fucked up big time.
Yet, despite the beautiful weather, the block-rattling tunes and good vibes only, I couldn’t help but feel a little out of place. (It was probably because I missed the memo that guys were supposed to wear Hawaiian shirts, above-knee shorts and high socks.) Actually, what had me feeling misplaced was that I sensed a gap between myself — a hard-working adult who graduated college only 3 years ago — and all the young scholars drunkenly milling around The Hill.
I longed for the good ole days of college as soon as I arrived in Boulder. I didn’t go to CU, but the nostalgic pull of any good college town is always potent. Thinking about times past, I missed getting stoned and drunk before noon. I missed the minimal responsibility of it, when all I had to worry about was passing classes and keeping myself fed with Ramen and burritos.
That afternoon, I truly missed the shit out of college.
But it wasn’t until I was in line for pizza behind two identically dressed fuccbois comparing their hickey sizes, hoping to entice a couple of girls (also identically dressed) back to their place, that it dawned on me — college was great, but what comes after is pretty awesome, too.
To give some background, I graduated from CSU in 2013. After that, I landed a run-of-the-mill office job that pays the bills and provides my family with good benefits. I married my college girlfriend. We got a dog. We did our own taxes this year. You know, adult shit.
Most college students would read those last couple of sentences and assume that we lead boring adult lives and have nothing to look forward to. And while that’s true on rare occasions, we actually have just as much (if not more) fun in our post-college lives than we ever did in school.
We still love to party and go to concerts every other week, but now we can actually afford the VIP packages (worth it) without sacrificing comfort until the next payday.
We can afford to buy good alcohol instead of Natty Light and Burnette’s.
We go to fancy dinners sometimes. We travel. We meet interesting new people and swap stories involving more than getting shitfaced and almost getting laid.
Hell, we were invited to a fancy co-ed orgy in a high-end loft near downtown Denver the other night; that shit doesn’t happen in college. Post-college life is actually pretty incredible.
Of course, adult life is different for everyone. My wife and I are both young and in reasonably good health. We are both extremely fortunate to have decent, stable jobs, and an aversion to birthing a child, which gives us a bit of a financial cushion. But that’s not to say that we didn’t work hard for this life, and it certainly didn’t happen overnight. My wife put in 5 years of schooling to get her engineering degree. I did my time in school and sloughed through the bullshit for a job as a new grad with a comical liberal arts degree.
It’s not easy, but it’s certainly doable.
Sure, adult life has downsides too: Crushing student debt, a stupid number of bills to pay, growing apart from supposedly lifelong friends, unbearable hangovers, the very real effects of eating tacos every Tuesday. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but it is refreshingly different and (in my honest opinion) much better than being a college student.
At the risk of sounding too adult, this is meant to be a piece of advice for the many students that read this magazine, now settling into classes for yet another semester. Yes, college is the best 4 (probably 5) years of your life. That’s where the advice usually stops. What no one tells you — what I wish someone had told me — is that all the incredible experiences and opportunities that open up afterwards can make college look a bit pale in comparison.
There isn’t a rule in the book that says adult life has to be boring, that it has to follow the marriage-kids-bills-death formula that so many are roped into. On the contrary, life after college is when you really make it count.
With that in mind, remember to work hard in school and don’t fuck your life up too much while you’re there, because there’s a whole world of excitement waiting for you on the other side.
You know, maybe I will go get me a pair of fancy socks and a Hawaiian shirt after all. Because I’m an adult now, I can do anything I want.