• Stephanie Hinds

Life after graduation: How I've settled into semi-adult life

On my vision board, I’ve got this picture of a birthday cake that says two numbers; 25 and 27.

According to the picture, 25 is when you’re at your happiest, and 27 is when you’re at your healthiest.

When I graduated university a few months ago, I didn’t know what to expect. How long would it take me to find a job? How much would I make at that job? Would I have to keep my current job to make ends meet? How much free time would I have? What would I do with that free time? How in the heck am I going to pay off these student loans? And most importantly, am I really going to be my happiest at 25?

This Thanksgiving, I did that really typical thing where you count all your blessings and think about all the things you’re grateful for. And much to my surprise, a lot of the worries and concerns that I had at the beginning of the year had disappeared without me even noticing their absence.

In January, tensions were high. I had to do a three-month unpaid internship while working full-time and taking a math course I found extremely difficult that was required in order to graduate. I had forked over some serious cash for a tutor who I would see whenever I had a second off work or school. I really wasn’t sure whether I’d make it to convocation in June.

There were several days I came home teary-eyed and defeated by 16-hour days. My parents, friends and even a few strangers heard all about it.

You get anxiety. Especially as a woman. Your biological clock is ticking. People are getting pregnant, engaged, married or all three everytime you blink. House prices are skyrocketing. All you want is a crystal ball that tells you you'll have it all in just a few years. But when that uncertainty looms in the air, it's hard to breathe sometimes.

Luckily, by the end of that internship, and certainly by the time I got that magical letter in the mail letting me know that finally, after six years, I’d satisfied the graduation sensei and was granted permission to graduate, things had worked themselves out.

First, I was able to land a job in my field just before graduation. It’s great pay, and I love the job I do. I take pride in it, I enjoy my coworkers, and I leave there everyday a tad bit more knowledgeable than I was when I arrived.

In terms of my student loan, living at home has allowed me to make significant dents in my payback amount, which was a whopping $22,000 just four months ago, and it currently sits at just under $10,000. According to my math, which like I said, isn't very good, that's $12,000 in repayment in just four months. Not bad.

Sure, it kills me to know that this money could be in the bank, but the cost of school was worth every penny. And strangely, I enjoy the challenge of trying to meet my deadline of full repayment by July 2017.

As I get closer and closer to the age of 25, I realize that maybe that’s the age Women’s Health magazine predicts us to be our happiest because while we are adults, we are still kids in a way.

My eye doctor gave me a “student discount” the other day despite me telling him I had finally graduated. Whenever I need something from my parents, I remind them that I’m in “repayment mode”, which prompts some sympathy and a hand with whatever task I’m facing.

But like I said, we’re also adults. I’ve set up RRSPs. My boyfriend and I have made a five-year plan that will hopefully result in home ownership, marriage, and some adorable, healthy kids.

I’ve heard people say that debt is just a part of life. I’ve heard people say that you can’t get everything you want. But I don’t want to be in debt. And I do want it all. To get that, I haven’t been able to completely part with those 16-hour days, and I’m limited to about one day off every two weeks. I’ve got a very boring social life, but people understand. If people truly love you and understand your goals and your mission, they understand.

One thing I’ve realized about life is that the things you want truly are yours for the taking. There’s obstacles. Tons. There’s competition. There’s lots and lots of “no’s”. But commitment, persistence and hard work can get you to the places that you want to be.

I wasn’t sure what to expect after graduation, and I’m not sure what to expect when I turn 25 in a few months, but I wouldn’t trade anything about my busy, tiresome, whirlwind days for anything that I could’ve imagined. And I truly believe that the best is yet to come

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