Is this what the "real world" is like??

Dear Alice,

It seems like me and several friends have been going through a bit of disappointment/boredom with life after graduation. I work long hours and am too tired to socialize like I did when I was in school. I was just wondering if there's such a phenomenon of post-college depression?


Dear Bored, 

While studying at a university or college, many students are participating in various clubs, engaging in class lectures, and attending exciting events. They become accustomed to the constant intellectual stimulation both in and outside the classroom, and this can then shift when graduating. To answer your question more directly: it’s not uncommon for recent graduates to experience a variety of feelings such as boredom, confusion, disappointment, and even depression among other emotions. While the exact numbers haven’t been well-documented, it may help to know that you and your friends are in good company. This is a period of major life transition, and it’s not unusual to feel emotional distress. 

Identifying why you’re bored may help you discover a solution and reinvigorate your daily life. A lack of social life after college is one common grievances for recent grads. Although you will probably be in touch with your close friends from college, it can be challenging (at least at first) to stay in touch as everyone starts to get busy adjusting to post-grad lives in different places. For many, graduation comes with a number of life adjustments, and adapting to all of those changes may take some time. 

Fortunately, there are a myriad of ways to reduce some of these feelings of depression or boredom. You might consider the following ideas: 

  • Go to places you're interested in and strike up a conversation. Perhaps you can join a book club, recreational sports team, religious group, or volunteer organization. Going to places where there are regular meetings may make it even easier to make friends, given you see the same people, with similar interests, on a consistent basis. If you’re apprehensive about making friends with complete strangers, remember that many other people, especially other recent graduates, are (or have been) in a similar situation. Most people would welcome the opportunity to meet someone new. Many of these also meet at routine times that may make it easier to build into a work schedule. 
  • Make friends at work. Given that you’re no longer surrounded by your peers, it's likely that a great deal of your social contact will through work. Sometimes, offices sponsor employee sports teams, such as softball, basketball, or tennis after work, or even office sponsored events such as happy hours. This is a great way to get to know your co-workers, especially if your work limits the amount of social time you have with colleagues (aside from chats around the water cooler). 
  • Get reacquainted with your passions. Outside of your work hours, why not try those activities you always wish you had the time to do? Perhaps you can make a “bucket list” of exciting activities you wish to do in your lifetime! This may include traveling to a new place, trying new cuisines, learning a new skill, or working on a creative project. 

Sometimes, boredom after college can come if your professional goals and responsibilities aren’t progressing as you would like or if you don't feel intellectually stimulated. Not being challenged enough may cause you to feel underworked and detached. If this is the case, it may be helpful to ask your boss if you can be included on a new initiative or take charge of an independent assignment. Sometimes, coming from college where you're encouraged to try different activities and be creative, a 9 to 5 job can feel stifling. On the job, creativity can be as simple as suggesting an office picnic and taking the lead to organize it! 

If your feelings of self-doubt are overwhelming, it may be worth it to reach out and talk to someone, whether that’s a mental health professional, a close friend, or a family member. In addition, if you feel you need some professional guidance, it may be helpful to speak with a career services representative from your alma mater. You could also reach out to an alumni network to speak with people in your field. If you're in a new place, you may want to check out some local resources such as your library. They may offer career counseling, and they may have guidance specific to the area in which you live.

Overall, building a strong social network and pursuing your interests may help you create a more exciting and fulfilling life. Not only will this be a worthwhile investment, but it can also set you on a happy and healthy path in the real world! 

Last updated May 14, 2021
Originally published May 15, 2014

Submit a new comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

The answer you entered for the CAPTCHA was not correct.