As I wrote in my last post, myself and many of my colleagues are returning to their parent’s homes to figure out their post-college paths.
I’ve been home for about a week and I’m slowly getting a routine together. But it is strange to be back in my hometown after being gone for 4 years. It is strange living in my parents house without my parents there. It is strange to walk around my neighborhood and reminisce about my easygoing girlhood, where I had skinned my knee trying to skateboard, which houses I knew to avoid when cutting through backyards, how my mom made me carry around a walkie-talkie whenever I went on a bike ride with my friends.
The composition of my neighborhood is so different now. Many of our childhood friends have moved on whether it was to a new state or even heaven. I’m not sure how long I’ll be in Naperville, but for now all I know is that I’m spending my post-graduate years here QUITE differently than my formative years.
So I’ve been thinking…how can I establish myself as an adult, as a college graduate, as a professional in my hometown? How can I get the neighbors to see me as a 22-year-old rather than the 12-year-old I used to be?
- Refrain from wearing any clothing that you wore as a “youth” in public. It’ll confuse the neighbors into thinking you’re still in high school. Don’t even try to convince me that it is socially acceptable to wear Abercrombie and Fitch after your junior year of high school. It’s not. Plus, have you not heard about their incredibly shallow CEO? Ed Hardy will also make you look like a douche.
- Volunteer. Seriously, volunteering not only makes you feel great but it’s a wonderful habit to pick up and turn into a lifelong passion. If you don’t have that full-time job yet, it’ll keep you busy and could possibly turn into something that could be put on a resume or create valuable references for the future!
- GET OUT OF THE HOUSE! Even if you don’t have much going on in your schedule, get up, get out! Go to your community library, downtown area, or coffee shop. The more out you get the less down you’ll be about being at home! Plus, you never know what will happen once you walk outside that door!
- Sign up for Groupon or Living Social. These sites have some wacky deals and opportunities but sometimes they’re the best places to find something new to try at a reasonable price in a place you’d never expect it to be – your hometown!
- Re-explore your hometown and its neighboring towns, I promise you it is NOT the same as you remember as a child.
- Create new habits – go on a run/walk/or take your dog for a walk before the pavement gets too hot, you’ll feel great starting your day accomplishing a little something. Say hi or smile at neighbors as you pass, or even introduce yourself to those who you either don’t remember or don’t remember you. It’ll help to establish your new identity in their minds as well as help in making connections!
- When you do meet someone new or even an old high school/middle school/elementary school friend, talk about your ACCOMPLISHMENTS and GOALS, not your set backs or uncertainties. Be confident in yourself and they will in return be confident and impressed by you!
- Accept invitations from new and old friends and neighbors. It never hurts to put yourself out there at least once to see if a new friendship can be formed or re-kindled. Plus, you never know who might know who in the business you’re trying to break into! Friends and allies are important in this stage of your life, but don’t push them if they aren’t there. Be patient and those who are true friends of great value will find their way into your life, just be open to it.
- Be open to change. Don’t try to re-live the past, or spend much time recollecting about the past. It’s fine to do for an hour or two with old friends, but it’s time to move forward and create new memories and opportunities!
- Lastly, BE YOURSELF. You are in your hometown. You should feel comfortable enough to be yourself. Before you can prove yourself to a big time employer, you need to prove to yourself that you are confident in your abilities, talents, and dreams. Don’t diminish your drive, don’t give up, let yourself have some bad days every once in a while where you cry, vent, letting all of the bad feelings out and then psych yourself up for a new day! Believe, believe, believe. It’ll get you through!