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Welcome to the real world

I have had to take a step back from writing my column for The Maine Campus for a few weeks as my life has just started to take off. You think with everything everyone has taught you, what the media has told you, and what you think that it is going to be like, everything is not what you expected it to be. It is, however, a great ole slap in the face that lets you wake up from the safety of the school atmosphere and slingshots you into the world of student loans, taxation, and the fear that you will ever have fun again looming over your head. I have begun trying to find a career I want to spend my life doing, and all I have found is that I am lost. In the remainder of this article, I will discuss some of the things I have experienced that all college graduates will experience all too soon.

In the past few weeks, I spent a lot of money on a new car (more on that later), an apartment, a vacation I planned for years, and on living. Everything sort of racked up, and eventually, the bank account went PEWWWWW. Likewise, I will probably be $20,000 in debt when I leave college, and that will take me at most 20 years to pay off. Not to mention the fear of hidden expenses of missing a credit card payment, the car breaking down unexpectedly, and not wanting to make dinner that one night of the week when you’re really craving Pad Thai. So, that is when the stress kicked in.

The stress got worse when my job cut back on my hours and made it known to me I was not really needed anymore because the semester was slowing down, and that’s understandable, so I resigned from that position because I needed the hours as you can see from the previous paragraph. I also resigned because, as nice as the job was to have for my first few years, it’s time I do something that relates to my major. I am a little concerned as well that I will fall victim to the “get rich quick” Ponzi or pyramid schemes that college students are quite often victim to. They have been going around campus for a bit now, and that was a bit worrisome and something students need to look out for. So, FYI, do not take a job if someone offers it to you without an interview first, if you are “your own boss,” or if you are selling knives.

Now, for the fun part. After three years of bumming rides off my fellow classmates, I have my own car. The registration process was incredibly easy through the town of Orono for anyone interested. However, the vehicle tax in Maine is a shock. Jesus Christ, that was a shock, but the roads are clear in the winter, which is nice. All that needs to be fixed now are those potholes so the car can drive without losing its muffler. The thing is, I bought a manual car. I don’t know how to drive a manual car, so now is the fun part of relearning how to drive a car, but I don’t need to do the driver’s test again, thank goodness. What better way to learn to stick than to be forced to do so? That was the common consensus with all the adults I’ve talked to about the car this week. But the good news is, the car will never be stolen. As my boyfriend puts it, it is “a natural Millennial anti-theft device.” I do love the car, though. It was definitely worth the purchase. I now feel that sense of freedom everyone talks about when you go to college once I get past the hill starts.

As much as I have been complaining about the cost of everything, I know it will all be worth it in the long run. Graduation is coming up, and that is frightening. The semester has gone fast, as they all say. But for some reason, I feel I wasted college a bit. I am not wrong in this statement. I definitely spent my first year cooped up in my dorm room because I was depressed and refused to get out of the shell of protection I made for myself. I spent my time focusing on my grades and work but not on job experience or things that would make me happy. I could have done more there. But, in my second year, I branched out and started to do more. I think I did too much because I felt like I had little time to do anything, but I made new connections and more experiences than I would have been afraid to do the year prior. Now, in my final year, I’ve never felt so much more stress, but I know it is all for the better. Hopefully, the chances I take this year will help me in the long run; I think that is what we all wonder when we get close to graduation. I also wonder, “Am I doing the right thing?” and “Is this warranted?” I have been asking myself those questions a lot lately, and frankly, after a lot of thought, I think I am.

I will find out soon enough.

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