Yes, I know the last few months have been hard. You don’t want to ask your parents for money, you suffer existential crisis figuring out what you want to do with your life, and the competition in the corporate world may be tough for you deal with. It’s highly probable that at least one person in your workplace is driving you off the wall. Or if you’re unemployed, you might be living on your parents’ couch, stalking all your Facebook friends who are planning trips to Europe during Eid while you can barely afford a trip to your neighborhood coffeeshop.
If you’re having trouble adjusting to the real world, we’re hoping you find solace in knowing that you’re not alone. Like you, most twenty-two year olds in the country are finding it increasingly difficult to deal with the following:
1. Most of your old friends are no longer available
While you may have called your buddies family for the past five years, you’ll need to face the reality that they will all soon move overseas for work or graduate school, or get jobs on the other side of Cairo. Chances are your nights out with these fellas three times a week are likely to diminish to a reunion dinner four times a year.
Prepare for an era where all of your new friends will be either people you met at a yoga class or people who work in your industry.
2. You don’t fit into your old clothes (or won’t within four months after graduation)
We can’t really put our finger on why it happens, but people typically gain a lot of weight during senior year and right after they graduate. Forget the freshman 15, there’s a senior 30 to look forward to. It’s probably a result of all that binge eating you’re doing as you try to come to terms with Struggle #1. As if the rate of your metabolism wasn’t bad enough, your skin also deteriorates to unprecedented levels. You sadly discover that being a grownup means actually having to work for the sexylicious body you want.
3. You begin to develop bodily aches you didn’t think were due before the age of 80
After eight years of making your way through A-levels, studying endless hours for the SATs and throughout college, you’ll realize that all your mama’s warnings about how determinal bad posture is to your health does not fall under the category of overprotective bullshit. Once you begin dealing with Struggle #4 (below), your knees will be next! Soon, your complaints about your health will beat Teta’s.
4. The commute to work everyday is going to be torture
Remember when your private university used to offer fancy transportation options, with regular air conditioned buses available every couple of hours? HA! Not anymore. In the real world, no one babysits you. Instead your options are either to:
a) Drive for hours a day, wasting all the energy you could’ve channeled into doing something productive at work on yelling at incompetent truck drivers,
b) Take a cab, and most probably have to put up with an asshole who will try to hit on you or rip you off, or
c) Do what the rest of Egypt’s population does: use public transportation. The metro is your best option, trust me on this one: it’s fast, cheap, and efficient. Just keep a bottle of body spray in your handbag at all times.
5. You will appreciate the value of money like you never have before
No matter how much money you make, you will have trouble managing your finances because budgeting for rent, groceries, transportation costs, shopping expenses, and occasional outings is all new to you. Why didn’t they ever offer a class about personal finance in college? Now that is something that should be part of the core curriculum.
6. You realize that where you went to school (usually) doesn’t matter
A semester abroad at Berkley and the $100,000 price tag on your brand-name education won’t suffice in making you any more qualified than any other applicant. You’ll soon find out that coworkers who went to public school probably have a lot to teach you about the real world. Listen to them.
7. Getting dressed for work or for an interview is a struggle despite how well-equipped your closet is
It might take you a while to stop reminding yourself that a pair of ripped jeans or a shirt with (no matter how small) a coffee stain on it won’t help you make a good impression. And don’t even think about keeping any visible tattoos, unconventional piercings or unnatural hair colors, unless you want to be perpetually labelled as the office ‘kid’.
8. You may seriously consider applying to graduate school as an escape from the real world
I know your advisor may encourage you to give into the thirst for a return to an intellectual atmosphere by going back to school. But no matter how much you may feel indebted to the person who supported you throughout your good grades, bad grades, and all your pleas for “real life” advice, they don’t know you better than you know yourself. Only go back to school if that’s what you really want to do.
9. You beat yourself up everyday for all the dreams you had during high-school and college that you never chased after
Remember all those times you promised your best friend, who was studying her third language in Spain during summers that you would go with her “next time,” only to ditch her for sahel or a mediocre internship? Now that you’re busy being an adult, picking up new skills that don’t relate to your career will no longer be an option.
10. You will be surprised to learn that the world is divided into two kinds of people: those who are honest with you, and those who will manipulate and use you if given the chance
While many of the people in your life may fall into the first category, someone will always come around who will ask you to pay for a bunch of crap that they need and never pay you back, or will backstab you with false hopes and lies. Make it clear to these people as soon as you can that you won’t tolerate their toxic behavior.
11. Almost overnight, your reputation becomes a big deal, and you will have to change to adapt
Hint: indulging in alcohol at networking events will cost you more than just a few awkward interactions.
This also applies to any of the many socially unacceptable, immoral common practices out there, from something as serious as lying to a client, to gossiping about a coworker. People notice these things, and the bad rep will hinder any plans you had of getting ahead.
You will consequently need to unlearn all the bad (read: risky) habits you learned as an undergraduate, and will learn that sleeping in early every day with your pet snuggled close to you isn’t such a bad idea after all. It’s not like you can afford to spend all your cash on overpriced restaurants and bars anymore.
Embrace these changes. With the right attitude and courage, your post-graduation years may be your most rewarding and fulfilling years ever.