Q: Hi… I’m really hoping you can help me. I’ve been feeling really lonely lately and don’t really know what to do… I just graduated from college and I moved back home with my dad and step-mom (don’t get me started on her). I live 8 hours away from where I went to school. My boyfriend got a job near campus and most of my friends moved to bigger cities. I haven’t been able to find a job yet and I’m starting to freak out… I really don’t want to be stuck with my parents forever. A few of my high school friends are around but I don’t feel as close to them as I used to. Mostly I just miss college and I’m not sure what to do next.
A: Post-grad life can be stressful as you figure out your next step. There is a lot of change occurring within your own life and surrounding you, so it’s natural to “freak out”. Sounds like you’re missing your friends, your old routine and the independence you felt at college. That’s why returning home is such a big adjustment for you. It can also be an adjustment for your family, but communication can help. What issues are you having with your Dad and Step-Mom? Are there disagreements over chores, curfew, money? Talk to them about how you’re feeling, what your life was like at college, and current expectations on both of your parts. This will give them a better understanding of where you’re coming from and vice versa. You could use some support right now and since you’re living with them, it’s a great place to start. It seems you and your step mom have some past unresolved issues. Maybe now is the time to work through them?
I’m sorry to hear that you’re feeling lonely. Try to remind yourself that this is a transition period-that is temporary-as you prepare for the next phase of your life. It’s easy to dwell on the past, but doing so keeps us feeling sad about things that are out of our control. By accepting your present situation, rather than fighting it, you can begin to see the silver lining. As you make plans for your future, this is an exciting time. There are so many possibilities! What are some of your hopes and dreams for the future?
This is also the perfect opportunity to reflect on your goals and create a plan of action. To keep yourself motivated and in a positive mindset, it’s important to build a support system. Is there an alumni group at your college? Talking to someone who was in your shoes and is now successfully adulting could be an ideal mentor. In addition to reconnecting with your high school friends, you might consider expanding your social circle. Are you open to trying something new? Some fun ideas include joining a local meetup group, a spin or yoga studio, taking an art class or joining a book club to name a few. Research some fun groups that interest you. This will not only alleviate your loneliness, but might be an opportunity to network, too!
Use some of your free time for self reflection to help you more deeply understand your fears and your hopes. Journaling, mindful meditation, or yoga can aid in this process. I also find that doing things we are passionate about can be excellent coping skills! What do you love to do that feels effortless and you can lose track of time doing? Engaging in these positive activities are beneficial in helping to manage stress.
As you have found, the job hunt takes time, networking and most of all, patience. When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed about the future, I suggest taking some deep breaths, focus on the present moment and what you can do today.