From Class to the Concrete Jungle: An Open Letter to College Graduates

There was a time when I paid seven dollars for a two hour open bar. Yes, seven dollars, every weekend. And you know what? I complained about it. We all did. We were outraged that such a shithole bar would dare require a cover – even if we were getting free booze. It was freshman year of college, 2007, The Rat – a dingy basement bar at the heart of downtown Binghamton, NY. But seven dollars?! For a two-hour open bar?! All you can double fist from 9-11 p.m.?! If my present day self could have only heard me back then, I would have backhanded my cheap, Ugg-wearing 18-year-old self right in the teeth.

Cut to 2013. Just last week, I spent $60 at Happy Hour.

That’s life once you leave college and head to the big city, or really just any city (unless of course you went to college in a big city, then this doesn’t really apply to you). And it sucks. Yeah, sure, you may get a real job, but you’re paying for overpriced housing, overpriced food and suddenly, paying $12 for a Margarita just seems normal. Because hey, isn’t that what living in New York is all about – being able to enjoy fancy drinks, fancy food, and overpriced everything?

I can’t tell you how many articles and how many well-meaning friends have promised that everything will be okay! Embrace the change! Don’t live in the past! You will find yourself, and it will be amazing! Ah-mazing. But really, is it that amazing?

It’s definitely nice, quiet even, but not really amazing. Yeah, sure, seven dollars now seems like a joke in comparison to what you’ll spend as a twenty-something, working, real life adult, but you won’t really care because fact: you won’t actually ever want to spend your money on alcohol.

It’s a sick irony, really. You will have money to spend (assuming you find a job) but you won’t want to, even though that was your top priority in college. Why? Because this is your new reality:

• 9 times out of 10, you will be too tired for Happy Hour.
• You will spend most Friday nights in your yoga pants, spooning Pinkberry and watching Family Guy. See example below:


• You will gain way too much weight, even though you go to the gym every day, walk everywhere and eat salads for lunch. And for the life of you, you will not understand how you are fatter now than you were in college when you drank literally every night and housed disco fries several times a week.
• The fact that you feel so bloated and rickety all the time will just further inspire you to stay in.
• And then, even after forgoing the $12 margs, you’ll still be broke. Not college broke – not I can’t pay for a seven dollar open bar, wahhh, broke – but New York City broke.
• And the nights you do go out and get rowdy – which probably means you had like three glasses of wine – you will wake up with the worst hangover of your life.

Maybe this doesn’t apply to every graduate. I mean, I drank a lot in those cruel, cold transition months from college to the working world, but three years later, I’m sort of over it. College was the best time of my life. My twenties are a close second. But in the words of Roger Murtaugh and Ted Mosby, “I’m too old for this shit,” and eventually you will be too.

You’ll learn to splurge on the important things in life like travel, fancy cheese, and craft beers (which you will have one or two with dinner and save the rest for a special occasion). And when you look back at college, you will think is this:

And it’s true. Not that you won’t party or get laid anymore… you’ll just do a little bit more than that.

To all you college grads out there — I leave you with this: Life out here really isn’t so bad. I wouldn’t go back to college for anything at this point in my life, except maybe that seven dollar open bar.

Char

Charlee Fam is the author of the 20-something novel, Last Train to Babylon (William Morrow, Fall 2014). Currently based in New York City, she graduated from Binghamton University in 2010 and has since dabbled in journalism, PR and social media marketing. When she's not writing, she can be found assembling epic cheese platters, traveling, or Instagramming photos of her French Bulldog, Marv. Follow her on Twitter: @char_fam - or visit her website: www.charleefam.com

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