1. It takes a little while to get used to a world without semesters.
All your life, you've been accustomed to regular turnover. Nothing lasts more than a few months—so even if you hate your psych professor, you move on after four months and it's no sweat. But this doesn't happen when you have a job and live in something that's not a dorm. You can't just move or quit every few months to freshen things up. Adulthood is the longest long con of them all.
2. No one is watching to make sure you don't screw up.
Seems great, until you actually do screw up and have no one to blame but yourself. But being accountable for yourself can be the best thing, like when you accomplish something great and get to feel super-proud of yourself over it.
3. You dramatically underestimated how expensive it is to be a person in this world.
You thought you knew what all the expenses would be, but I swear, there were some our parents just kept from us and you'll feel a little betrayed by how much it costs just to be alive every day. Like who knew phone bills and actual adult groceries were so expensive?
4. Not having to do homework anymore is the actual best thing.
When you leave your job at the end of every day, that's it, all done, no more work. It's a truly magical feeling to have guilt-free free time. I can't recommend it enough.
5. You get to basically reinvent yourself.
This comes from how rapidly your tastes and interests will change post-grad (you'll shudder when you realize you went four years wearing the same pair of disgusting cutoff shorts) and how you'll have to restructure your life to fit your new Adult Schedule. It's refreshing, and since everyone else is reinventing also, no one will make fun of you for doing the same.
6. Your friends become somehow even more important to you.
Basically they feel more like relatives than ever before, and it's so, so rewarding to have those sort of friendships. Even if you have fewer of them now, the bonds are much stronger because adult life is hard, and you need a support system of peers to help you out and have fun with. The ones you keep around are the ones that mean the most to you.
7. You start taking much better care of yourself.
And you'll wonder why and how you treated yourself like garbage all through college. You'll eat healthier and actually start washing your face every morning and night, and falling asleep with makeup on starts to feel like an incredibly shameful habit.
8. Going back to being the youngest person in a place kinda sucks.
You'll be very conflicted on whether you should flaunt how you're the youngest person in the office or hide the fact that you're only 22 from all your much older (and seemingly wiser) coworkers. There's no right way to go about this. You gotta figure it out for yourself, kid.
9. The only person who can set goals for you to reach now is you.
I didn't realize how many short and attainable goals were set for me in school until I was no longer in school. Passing all your classes, passing each semester, and then eventually graduating were all great incremental goals that gave you things to strive for—like a progress bar to keep filling up. Having goals is so important for your overall ~mental health~, and as an adult, you have to start finding and setting them for yourself. Which is hard.
10. Everything you knew about dating is suddenly wrong and useless.
Like, people go on actual dates in the real world. And settling down into a relationship becomes a serious rarity and you only do it with truly great people. Basically you're more discerning about who you spend your time with and because of that, you end up spending time with people who matter to you the most. Also half the fun of dating is gabbing about it with friends, which you'll do all the time.
11. It's no longer possible to function on four hours of sleep every night.
You can try, but you'll literally feel like you're dying all day long if you don't get a healthy seven to eight hours every night. No more all-nighters, which is a huge relief.
12. All those people you graduated with don't care what you're doing with your life, they're too busy worrying about their own.
So stop trying to impress that girl Taylor who was in all your journalism classes and who you secretly hated all through college; she's just as freaked out about her own life as you are about yours. You are the only motivation you have in this crazy, messed-up world.
13. You'll call your parents more than ever.
Just because you're "an adult" now doesn't mean you don't need a ton of help and advice and won't call home crying once a week for a little while. There's an unwritten buffer period between graduating and having your shit together. Plus, you know your own parents totally call their parents for help from time to time. Circle of life or whatever.
14. A workday is much longer and harder than even the most jam-packed schoolday.
Even without homework and having to balance 12 different things all the time, work is draining AF and you will go home exhausted every day, wondering why you're so tired if you literally just sat at a computer from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
15. A year after graduation, you'll feel like a totally different person than you were in college.
You'll look back wistfully on all those youthful collegiate photos in your Timehop and be like, "LOL, literally who is that girl?" Getting pushed out into the deep end that is Adult Life forces you to figure yourself out fast, and that means a lot of change happens.
16. You might get your dream job only to realize it's not your dream at all.
Surprise! Not everything about that job you idolized all through college is as it seemed. This will feel like a huge disappointment, but you'll get over it.
17. Or you might land a job you thought you'd hate only to fall in love with it.
TBH, maybe we should just give up on the concept of "dream jobs" altogether. A job is a job; some are just better than others.
18. Time speeds up to an almost terrifying rate.
When time is measured by the two-week period between paychecks instead of the four month period of a semester, it goes by wayyyy faster, and you all of a sudden get what your parents meant when they said, "Time's going by way too fast."
19. You'll actually start to care about having a healthy savings account.
Because emergencies happen all the time, and the last thing you want is to have to move back home just because your bathtub overflowed and flooded your apartment, and the repairs bankrupted you.
20. You'll feel pretty sad and just generally "meh" for a little while, and it's very normal.
Something people said to me a lot before graduation is, "I feel sooooo depressed," and I don't think that really sunk in until it hit me too. Know that almost all your peers feel the same way, even the ones who are seemingly living their #BestLives on Instagram are dying inside a little bit. Solidarity, it's great.
21. When it doesn't suck, being an adult is really fun.
Finally, you can take vacations and feel truly guilt free about abandoning all responsibility for a few days because you work hard and deserve it.
22. No one expects you to have it all figured out, but you should fake like you do anyway.
What you'll quickly learn is that "fake it 'til you make it" is basically the forever motto of adulthood. No matter how together all your friends, coworkers, enemies, whatever seem to be, beneath everyone's stoic surface is a teen version of themselves screaming and freaking out just as much as you are. It's OK because the biggest thing you'll learn post-grad is that no one, not even that real adults who are, like, 45 and have kids or whatever, have it all figured out. It's truly blissful to accept that and just try your best anyway.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.