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“Adulting”: It’s Not as Scary as You Think

Posted on September 24, 2015, at 9:00 a.m.

by Kristen Ellis.

What do a cover letter, a dentist’s chair and a spider crawling across the floor all have in common? They all have the ability to scare the average person half to death, motivated by an irrational, yet incomprehensibly real fear that’s almost palpable.

Trust me, I know. As someone who’s loved every bit of college from the moment I set foot on campus, the possibility of checking out in less than a year can be terrifying at times. I often find myself wondering what grad 4608963722_3e2c720e61_o
school has to offer, or even considering taking a victory lap to “delve deeper into my studies.” At the end of a long day of filling out job applications and asking for yet another letter of recommendation, the possibility of leaving my comfort zone on campus to venture into another realm of proving myself can strike the same fear in my soul as thinking I saw a suspicious shadow outside my window.

For those of you like me, you feel, more or less, like you’ve got the whole college thing figured out. You’ve found the things you like: your major, organizations, friends, favorite hangout spots, etc. You’re happy. If you’re a senior, you’ve made it to the final stretch. Three hard years of late-night studying, group projects (sigh) and works cited pages. It’s time to begin preparing for the next chapter. “Yay!” … Right?

So, why does this transition often cause so much distress and anxiety for today’s generation of college students? Maybe it’s not so bad. Maybe, girl-926408_1920
somewhere out there in the dreaded proverbial “real world,” there are some things we can look forward to, some positive facets of “adulting” that we’ve overlooked all these years.

I asked four “fresh out the oven” college graduates what they thought. Read on and cue the happy tears.

New employee support
“When I graduated and found myself in the working world, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of support I had from all levels of management in my office. If I was struggling with a project, I felt that I could go to anyone without fear of seeming unequipped to handle the task at hand,” said Siarra Swalve, public relations intern at Porter Novelli in Atlanta.


Myreete Wolford, new business and account management account coordinator at Ketchum Chicago, agreed: “As it turns out, professionals actually tend to have very low expectations for entry-level employees. Because they don’t expect much, you have room to learn from mistakes and have a bundle of opportunities to impress your employers.”

Time management
“I thought I would be overwhelmed with the concept of billing my time since I work in an agency, but I actually find that it’s a good way to keep organized,” said Kelsey Weiss, assistant account executive at Cookerly Public Relations in Atlanta. “For me, it helps make sure I’m on task, and it helps keep my day pared down to the essentials.”office-620822_1920

She also alluded to the incredible feeling she gets after knowing she’s completed another job well done. “When you see results, you realize how much your work is making an impact on your clients’ bottom line, and that in itself is fulfilling,” said Weiss.

Company culture
Jacquie McMahon, assistant account executive at Ogilvy Public Relations in New York, made my heart soar with this confession: “It really surprised me how easy it was to get involved. On my first day I joined Take 5, the social and philanthropic committee of Ogilvy Public Relations, and now I’m becoming more involved with Ogilvy’s Young Professionals Network and joined a PRSA committee. In Take 5, we’re currently fundraising for and walking in an American Cancer Society walk next month and planning a ‘Bring Your Parents to Work Day’ for 2016.”

Myreete Wolford’s response further drives this point home. “I went into Ketchum thinking I would be on my own, but I was dead wrong,” said Wolford. “My teams encourage me, my supervisors campaign for me, [and] my mentors enlighten me daily. They’ve made the transition easy, and as they explained it, ‘you are an intern and an account coordinator first to learn how you best work, to make mistakes and to figure out what you love to do.’”

So, there you have it. The next time you hit send on that application or update your LinkedIn bio for the 14th time today, take a deep breath and relax.person-598191_1280

College may indeed be the only time when we can still acceptably be in the process of “getting our life together” as we choke back some Ramen and guiltily click “I’m still watching” on Netflix — but what’s to come will be far more exciting, rewarding and invigorating than we can ever imagine. As I recently learned, it’s definitely something to look forward to.


  1. Post comment

    Well said, Kristen. I especially like the title and the word “adulting.” It is an accurate verb for the transition from college to the work place. I am a senior, graduating in May, and each thought you described is currently going through my head. An irrational fear of growing up is something I think everyone struggles with no matter what stage of life they are in. It is just especially scary at this specific point in my life. However, this post helped calm some of my nerves. I think changing your environment is always scary, but as soon as you settle in, the change is actually easier than expected. It’s encouraging to know that I have people there to help me within my new place of work. I really enjoyed this post.

  2. Post comment

    As a student near to graduation, I enjoyed reading your article. You included a good mix of humor and reality. Your example of “leaving your comfort zone” was an excellent way to connect with your readers. Leaving an atmosphere like college is a scary thought. If college is the place where it’s acceptable to mess up, I never want to leave. What does the real world have in store for us? Will we receive the same amount of support, encouragement and do-overs? Probably not. However, your interviews of recently graduated students lightened my thoughts on leaving college. It doesn’t have to be scary. Rather, it should be exciting as we embark on a new journey.


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