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August has come and gone, the back-to-school Target dorm sales are in full swing, and the snapchats and instagrams of upperclassmen back at college are sweeping into your phone with the speed and tenacity of a spindly freshman late to class. And you are not loving them. You are loving them about as much as the fact that your best friends are now scattered all over the country and the only class you’ve been to recently is yoga, defining “recently” as within the last three months.

But there are a few reasons the real world might not suck as much as we think. I am here to help you—and, more importantly, me—come to terms with the fact that we aren’t going back to campus this fall.

  1. Now you can get a pet. If you’re like me, and your mom is allergic to every animal that breathes except hermit crabs, then this is exciting. Especially if you were so afraid of said crabs that you may or may not have intentionally starved them to death, A tiny kitten to snuggle with while you work out the rest of your life? Yes, please. RIP Mr. Waternoose. It’s not your fault you were so creepy.
  1. No more school cafeterias. My college had a cafeteria with a distinct smell that actually clung to your clothes when you left, so you forever smelled like undercooked carrots and failed Asian-fusion.
  1. No more homework. I don’t feel like this warrants further explanation, especially if you ever took three English classes in one semester like I did.
  1. This is an opportunity to follow your dreams. This is the first time in our lives that we have had this much control, this much power. Have you always wanted to backpack through Bali? Be a ski instructor in Vail? Write a blog? Become a teacher? Learn how to play guitar, but you’ve never had the spare time to try? All you have to lose is your pride.
  1. You have time to figure it out. This is such a strange time, a time when we can really pause and think about our lives and the direction we want them to go in. And people are surprising themselves. My cousin, after four years studying nursing, called me yesterday from her nursing assistant job and said: “I don’t want to be a nurse anymore.” One of my closest friends who swore she hated kids is now teaching English to them in Vietnam. Another friend is respectably holding off on the whole career thing and took up a job studying wine, her true passion. And I, having known I wanted to write since I was seven, have the opportunity to strategize how best to go down this path.

We have a newfound freedom, freedom from our parents’ expectations and our professors’ suggestions—the freedom to really consider what it is we want to do with our lives. And, for once, we have the time to do it.

  1. Treat yo-self. I could not agree with this mantra more. Have you taken the time to really acknowledge your accomplishments in your life thus far, and celebrate your graduation and your four years at college? Buy that hat you keep thinking about, but your friend told you made you look like a low-class cowgirl confused about what season it is. Read that book that is below your reading-level, but brings you inexplicable pleasure anyway. Give yourself a moment to take in the clean, sweet scent of rain falling on a freshly mowed lawn. Smile. Relax. Breathe. Order a cocktail with dinner. Cheers to you. Cheers to the next chapter of our lives.
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