By Madeline Brady, Regular Contributor
Do you ever have that “too tight shirt” feeling? Like when your shirt is a little too tight, and you’re so distracted by it that you’re completely incapable of doing anything but thinking about how uncomfortable you are?
That’s sort of how the real world has felt for me so far. It doesn’t quite fit and suddenly I’m self-conscious and unsure and can’t stop over thinking every little detail. I haven’t found the right fit yet, and it’s totally psyching me out.
And I have to say the real world isn’t helping me chill out much.
At my college graduation, our keynote speaker, former poet laureate Billy Collins, gave some very clear and concise advice: “The real world is not like college. It is like high school.”
And as much as this made me laugh for being outrageous, it also made me laugh because it’s true. Not exactly, of course, but there are elements of the young world of high school that apparently never really seem to go away. Competition, popularity, vanity; I thought I was finished with all that, especially after going to an academically focused liberal arts school where we never talked about grades and never cared about clothes. But instead of moving forward as more intelligent and mature individuals, we all seem to regress a little.
As I begin my first real world job hunt, I can already feel the same pressures I felt before college. Suddenly I’m worried about wearing the right thing to interviews and lamenting that I don’t know the best people to help me find work. I find myself spending a lot of my energy on petty details instead of using what I do have to make a game plan to reach my goals. Because suddenly the pair of shoes I wear to coffee with a potential employer completely outweighs my credentials, experiences, and personality. The shirt is too tight.
But this is where fashion can teach us another valuable lesson: confidence is everything. So what if the shirt is too tight? Own it and make it part of your style. Because when you have the confidence to accept your own discomfort and misgivings, you can stop obsessing about them. Who cares if someone else sees you struggle if you’re the first person to acknowledge that and learn from it? Who cares if you got the dress code wrong when you introduce yourself with poise? I’m discovering that the discomfort and pettiness of the real world isn’t going away anytime soon, but when you remember all the amazing things about yourself it’s so much easier to let go of details and see the big picture.
And if you can be that confident and brilliant when the shirt is too tight, think about how rockin’ you’ll be when the shirt fits just right.
Let's chat! How do you maintain confidence in the real world? How did you adjust to life after college? Share with us here!
Madeline is a soon-to-be recent graduate of Bryn Mawr College where she majored in English and Theater. She is looking forward to joining the real world, learning how to cook more than cereal, and living abroad after graduation. Her passions include running, music, feminism, and spending way too much time on Instagram.
image via iamthatgirl.com