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Freshman Adults: Advice For Twenty-Somethings Taking Their First Steps After College

Freshmen in adulthood

I started my blog, “Champagne for Ducklings”, the month after I graduated college. I had just moved into a summer sublet in New York City and started an absolutely wonderful yet unpaid internship. Like most other post-grads, I went back and forth between feeling incredibly content in my newfound adulthood and independence, and feeling lost and lonely without my friends to laugh with me or my professors to guide me. Throughout the last year, I have kept blogging – my thoughts, my photos, my recipes, stories of my successes and my failures, and even various to-do lists.

A realization

This year, I have realized that no matter how different my daily life may differ from the lives of any of my former classmates, we are all tied together by certain universal truths and life lessons that we discover and learn in our early twenties. What follows is a list of some of the most important things I have learned this year. Here, in no particular order, I offer my advice to this year’s class of “freshman adults.”

Advice for twenty-somethings

1.  Even if they are on sale, it makes no sense to buy a carton of eggs at a store that is a long walk or subway ride from your apartment.

2.  I went to my first-ever wedding in July, and since then I have discovered that wedding season is actually a years-long period of time that begins in the mid-twenties. Start saving money to buy engagement and wedding presents, for rounds of drinks at bachelorette parties, and to get yourself to the weddings of any of your close friends.

3.  If, by growing up a bit, you realize that you owe someone an apology, it is rarely too late for a fresh start.

4.  Before you spend your first Thanksgiving spent away from home, you should know that leftover turkey cannot be substituted for chicken in a recipe. This is a mistake that makes you wish you didn’t have taste buds – and also makes you really sad to have wasted all of your delicious, homey leftovers.

5.  Cliché tells us that we should be able to laugh at ourselves. I say, yes, laugh at yourself, but also don’t think it isn’t okay to laugh at life. Text your friend when you see a girl walking in ballet flats on a treadmill at the gym. Try not to get too mad when you can’t get to your subway card fast enough and your train pulls away. Dance in the rain – literally; I did this once and felt so free!

6.  Apps are your friend. Seamless for takeout, HopStop for transit directions, Pandora for the gym, Mint for budgeting. Don’t text at work though; you’ll appear lazy.

7.  As we get older, we get better at drinking, more in control. This brings a lower likelihood of needing to end a night holding back a friend’s hair – but also means that sometimes people are not as sober as they appear. The cute guy you meet at the bar might not remember to call you (or even remember your name). Your best friend might end up leaving her phone in a cab at 3am. Another lesson: always take down a cab’s medallion number.

8.  No one (well, I am pretty sure that no one) knows what exactly “business casual” means. It is okay to ask.

9.  Along those lines, when getting dressed for work, use your brain! I used to believe that it was always better to be overdressed – until I made the mistake of showing up to my summer internship at a photography studio dressed in a dress, blazer, and ballet flats. If I had thought things through, I would have realized that a dress is not a great choice for climbing ladders and carrying huge lights and tripods.

10.  Once we have left behind the classes, work, and constant social stimulation of college behind, we all fall into random moments of completely free time. You can either be bored and sad about missing college, or you can get proactive. Rekindle your love for a lost hobby or craft. Pick up the phone and call a friend you miss. Take a dance class at the gym. Read for pleasure.

11.  It’s okay to delete people you don’t know/don’t remember/aren’t close to from your Facebook. But at the same time, realize that you may in fact run into them again. And they may call you out on it. If this happens, it is incredibly, horribly awkward; be prepared.

12.  Stand up for yourself. When my roommate and I moved into our apartment, nothing had been cleaned; even the floor was so dirty it turned our feet black. We contacted our broker, and though he initially told us it was too late (apparently we should have complained before moving in or signing our lease), we were persistent. He eventually realized that we weren’t going to let the issue drop, and we were offered $200 compensation.

13.  Times are hard, but if you do nothing but save money like a responsible adult, you are going to drive yourself crazy. Live a little!

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14 Responses to "Freshman Adults: Advice For Twenty-Somethings Taking Their First Steps After College"

  1. Hannah says:

    Ballet flats on a treadmill are bad… I saw someone wearing ballet SLIPPERS on the subway. Baha, great advice! As a “sophomore in adulthood” I’ve still got a lot to learn too.

  2. Kate says:

    Ebbe–great post and solid advice! As a 23 year old living in NYC, I found your stories very relatable.

  3. Abritee says:

    All of these are great advice for us twenty something year olds!

  4. Anna says:

    Such good advice! Thanks Ebbe! Can’t wait to read more 🙂

  5. Don Whittemore says:

    Your ideas are great, and useful, you write clearly and passionately, and you’re funny. It’s a pleasure to have your thoughts and your friendliness to improve my day. I hope you have a long career as a writer.

  6. amy lawday says:

    What a great blog ! I wish I had been provided with this invaluable list when I first left college and landed in the big city. THat said, I still found Ebbe’s “13 Commandments” in her Champagne For Ducklings blog most useful, even at the ripe age of 40!! It’s never too late to be reminded to dance in the rain and to live a little. And no, no one on planet earth, will ever know or master the true meaning of “Business Casual”.

  7. Bernard A says:

    Great post! I would add on to #11, and say that limiting what you put on Facebook is also a very important step.

  8. Annie Jennings says:

    Hi Ebbe. congrats! Annie

  9. Andrew says:

    6. Adding to #6. Flipboard is a super cool app to keep you constantly updated about your personal interests.

  10. Harry Kisker says:

    Hi Ebbe! I read the whole way through your article before I figured out who you were!
    Great advice for that ‘cold bath’ transition from the shelter, all necessities are pair for, college environment to the real world. Great idea; good advice.

    Keep it up. So there IS life after Branson!


  11. Molly says:

    Ebbe – such fun insights. I hope there’s more where this came from 🙂

  12. Dan Malamud says:

    Great niche to fill. Might seem like a simple transition going from college to life, but it is really the first time when nobody else is in charge of your life/actions. Keep it up!

  13. Great advice. Especially for 20 somethings that don’t listen from 40 somethings!

  14. Simone says:

    Bien fait, Ebbe! Love it!

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