By my senior year of college, I felt like I had a pretty good idea where my life was going. I wanted a job where I’d use my degree, preferably in an urban area. I didn’t think I’d ever get married, but I’d stay close with all my college friends and have deep, meaningful adventures. Six years later, it’s laughable how much differently my life has turned out. I love it, but it certainly isn’t what I dreamed of with my friends as we chatted over bottles of cheap wine.
My student loans are still lingering.
It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to pay off my student loans in a timely manner. I knew when I took them out that I’d have to pay them back someday, but someday was a long time off. Plus, when I was applying to college in 2006, we were assured that a bachelor’s degree was the key to a job that would pay enough to easily pay our debts. Then the economy went ballistic and here we are, still paying off those loans.
I’m a mom and I LOVE it.
By the end of college, I was single and planned on staying that way. I liked different guys but didn’t date much and the idea of marrying or having a kid was so far off into the future that it might as well have not existed. But a year out of college, I met a man, three years out we got married, and four years out we had a baby. None of these things were in the plans, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
I got my city life, but I’m dreaming of the country.
I went to school in a more rural-leaning suburb of western Massachusetts while my friends moved to Boston. Though I loved my school, I envied them and assumed after college I would move to Boston and begin my big-city life. This part happened. I’ve lived in Boston and the surrounding urban areas for the past five years, and I’ve loved it. If you told me in college that I’d start to get the itch to move back out to the country, I would have laughed at you and claimed Boston as my “forever” home. Now I’m catching myself contemplating an artsy small town the same way I once dreamed of a brownstone in Allston.
I met a guy online and married him.
In college, I thought that the only people I’d meet through online dating were murderers. If I was going to meet a guy, it would be the old fashioned way, by locking eyes across the room at a bar or a show. The fact that I didn’t go to bars or shows at that point didn’t really occur to me. But back in my hometown after college, I gave OKCupid an apprehensive try and met my husband shortly thereafter. He wasn’t a murderer, he was just another person looking for a date and we hit it off quickly.
I’m not using my degree.
Like, at all. While I was in school, my major consumed my life, so it was only natural that I thought I would stay in that field forever. Now it’s only been six years, but I’ll look at papers I wrote in college and think, what is this chick talking about?
I’ve chilled out significantly.
In college, I was terrified of being seen as pretentious so I refused to watch, read, or listen to anything that might be a little too indie or a little too precious and I know I missed out on things I would’ve loved. Now I very much don’t give a crap what anybody thinks of my tastes. I like what I like in an authentic way and it’s nobody else’s business.
I’m driving the same car.
I love my car. It’s a little Kia that’s always in need of some repair or another. When I got it used in 2009, I can honestly say I didn’t think I’d still be driving it in 2017. Still, it’s parked outside right now, needing an oil change and a little affection but not much else.
I’ve lost the desire to move away.
In college, I dreamed of getting far away from Massachusetts. I wanted to travel the world and maybe go to grad school in England. While I enjoy traveling occasionally, that burning desire has faded. Instead, I’ve fallen in love with where I am and know I’ll never move away.
I don’t have a career plan.
I did have one before a baby threw everything into disarray, but now I’m nearing 30 with no idea what I’m going to do with my professional life. In one sense, it’s scary — I have degrees I’m not using and a lot of years stretched out before me — but in another sense it’s exhilarating. There are so many ways the next few years can go and I’m so excited to see what comes next!
I never talk to some of my closest college friends.
I’m ending this on a bit of a sad note. While I’m still extremely close with some of my college friends, there are others that I haven’t spoken to since. This includes some of my then-best friends. Nothing bad happened, we just went our separate ways in life and didn’t prioritize each other. But it does mean that not only are the dreams of those long-ago conversations gone, so are the participants.
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