The 5 Stages of Grieving Your Youth

Did you play rollercoaster tycoon as a kid? It was always a favorite in our house. I loved creating the craziest coasters I could and then removing a piece of the track and letting the cars shoot off. Yes, I need therapy. No, I can’t afford it.

That’s exactly what happens after college. At least, it’s exactly what happened to me. You may not know that after college I had no effing clue what to do with my life. I was terrified, confused, and most importantly, I had no plan. So I went to work at a summer camp in Maine.

I arrived fresh off a 7 day drive from California to a fledgling camp and was lead to a cabin with no electricity where I proceeded to live for the next three months. That’s right, no electricity. Definitely not what I had in mind.

On my breaks from teaching kids how to kayak in the harbor, leading rounds of Wagon Wheel around the campfire, and being called Ninja Nadine by campers, I applied to corporate jobs. In retrospect, that all sounds super fun. I promise it wasn’t always as picturesque as it sounds.

And that’s how I wound up in a cubicle by September. Then the denial set in.

1. Denial

For a period after you graduate from college, you are in denial that your life has changed and that your habits must also. Lucky for me, I met N and other good friends during this time and they were more than ready to live in denial with me. Denial is much more fun with company.

The denial phase usually includes binge drinking. Lots of it. Every weekend you get to re-live college (only without the theme parties booooo). The strangest part is that Monday morning you have to act like a mature adult in your cubicle, often sitting just a few cubes away from someone you drunkenly made out with (for me that was N), while also sitting a few cubes away from someone who is responsible for your salary. This might suck for some people, but it worked out for me. So I present you with: 7 Reasons You Should Date a Guy from Work.

I’ve noticed that the denial phase flares up occasionally. Like last month when I thought I could take 4 shots of fireball on top of two glasses of wine. NOPE.

2. Anger

This phase usually occurs on the first Friday when you realize that you can no longer drink heavily on Thursdays. It results in a short temper, misspellings in work emails, the inability to stay awake in meetings, and overall discontent with cubicle life.

I was pissed at what my life had become. For a short time I sat in a cubicle from which I could not see a freaking window. It’s a weird thing to actually never know what the weather is like outside. Then later I moved to a cube where I had a beautiful view of the parking lot. During the anger phase, thoughts crowd your mind. What have I done? Why did I make the choices that led me here? Anger. Contempt. Madness.

3. Bargaining

I pretend this whole phase is a game of if, then. Remember that from about 4th grade?

If I replace vodka with wine, then my drinking is “adult” and socially acceptable.
If I stay at my crappy cubicle job for another year, then I can go work someplace that matters.

If I start retionol eye cream at age 22, then I’ll look young forever.
If I move out of my parents house, then my life will be more on track.
Note: Untrue and now the food isn’t free.

I still do a lot of bargaining. If we live in the burbs for a year or two more, then we can save enough money to move into the city. These if, thens can also be interspersed with making deals with God, setting outlandish personal goals, and signing up for half-marathons you have no chance of finishing.

4. Depression

I’m sad. The fun part of my life is over. Oh my god, I might be in this cubicle forever. Will I be in this cubicle forever?

My life motto went from: You’re only young once.
To: It’s all downhill from here.

I should note, for most people this isn’t legit clinical depression. That’s a medical issue, people, and you should see a doctor. Fortunately for me, I haven’t had much of this since I left my cubicle over a year ago. Still, anytime someone references college as “the best four years of your life” I have an internal meltdown that maybe they are right.

For a little upper here, yesterday I saw on the Today show that a poll of Americans showed that 50 was their favorite age. You’re old enough to feel wise, usually have job stability, your kids are grown so you feel a sense of accomplishment watching them flourish, and your parents are usually still alive so you get a “generational experience”. We’ve got a lot to look forward to!

5. Acceptance

I’m pretty sure this happens when you have kids. Maybe the old souls of the world have accepted this from the get-go. I’m certain some people never get there. Have you?

Today I’m thrilled to introduce you to Juliette from The Other Juliette. I think we can all agree with Juliette that leggings, while amazing, do not qualify as pants.  Juliette also shares my fondness for New Girl gifs and word vomit. Want to learn more about Juliette? Her “Things I’m Really Really Good At” post will help you there and is sure to make you laugh. She also might be just a little picky when it comes to guys. Her list of requirements is hilarious and hey, picky is good!

Now I highly suggest you head over to twitter and follow her because she’s always spewing out gems like this one:

“Juliette you’re not in college anymore cereal is not acceptable for dinner.” Uh excuse me. Cereal is ALWAYS acceptable for dinner.
— Jay T (@OtherJuliette) September 17, 2013

  • hahaha I loved this post! So great!!!! 🙂

    and New Girl….is fabulous! 🙂

  • You are spot on. And now I just realized, as I sit here in my cubicle (jealous?) that I need a weekend trip back to college town for some fun like the old days!

  • This is exactly my life at the moment. Le sigh someone save me.

  • new girl just gets me any my mourning.

  • I’m definitely not at acceptance. Not sure I ever will be. The only thing I accept is that we SHOULD in fact be using that eye cream now to save us regret later.

  • I just moved on to acceptance last Friday. ugh, it is the absolute worst.

  • Sometimes I’m not sure the denial phase ever goes away. I thought I had made it through all of the stages, then a couple of weeks ago we had college friends over and tried to party like we were 21 again… I learned that I am definitely NOT 21 anymore and I cannot drink like I used to. I also learned that multiple bottles of wine is just as bad as vodka &/or tequila. I definitely still miss college, but I can see how people say that 50 is amazing… I am looking forward to the rest that life has to offer me as I get older and father away from the college age!

  • I did the same thing with Roller Coaster Tycoon! That and I’d pick up the guests with those little claw things and drop them in the lakes… Terrible. I’m pretty sure that’s one of the triad signs of a sociopath…

    I too was facing denial after college. My solution: go back to college. Hah, kidding. Ok no I’m not.

  • I have gone through every single one of these stages! You’re exactly right and New Girl GIFs are never a bad choice. Thanks for the spotlight!!

  • I mean, this was already an amazeballs post, but the Rollercoaster Tycoon lead-in what genius. I miss that game. Like, you made me kind of want to say, “screw this grad school shit,” and amazon the hell out of Rollercoaster Tycoon. Also, the New Girl gifs… Perfections.

  • P.

    I don’t know if I’ve ever grieved my youth as thoroughly and painfully as you. Maybe I’m one of these old souls who didn’t grieve because they were ready to grow up. Or maybe it is because my life has ever been cubicle-free?

    I don’t know. I’m pretty happy where I am. Now… ask my husband and he’ll 100% agree with you. LOL

    Ana Paula
    {Visit me at Mommyhood, PhD}

  • Yep yep yep. Nodding my head like yeah. This is my life right about now. Really understanding the friday versus Monday reality. I like the 50 year old concept!

  • I love how every GIF was New Girl. New Girl is the show for us mourning our youth and have no idea what’s going on in our lives.

  • I SO agree with this post. There was an article on huffington the other day too detailing why generation Y/millennials are so much more unhappy that the previous few generations.

    You should check it out!

    I personally have gotten to a point where I think, ok I’m not 19 years old anymore, and no this isn’t what I imagined 28 to look like, but screw it. I’m gonna make it awesome, because I’m like fine damn wine. I’m only getting better 🙂 (Why wait til 50 right?)

  • This is literally the perfect post.

  • I love this! (and New Girl GIFs) I’ve definitely experienced all of these. Although you could say I’m still in Bargaining because I’m applying to grad school…

  • I am in a constant battle between depression and acceptance. Part of me loves post-college life and the other part of me is like “is this IT?! IS THIS ALL I HAVE TO LOOK FORWARD TO?!”

  • Best. Post. Ever. I totally agree- the transition between college and “omg how do I get into the real world” is the hardest. Even after being in the cube a while, I still feel like a kid in an adult’s world, pretending to be a grownup. The routine of it all… and realizing that that routine will probably be your life until you can retire. I’m so glad to hear it got a little better for you after leaving your cubicle. I work for the federal government and it’s really a good job, but the cubicle just isn’t me! Any tips on getting out of the cube? You work in non profit right? Working in the non profit sector was my idea when I got my master’s in Public Administration, but there were no jobs in 2008 that paid anything so I got the cube job to pay the bills. And now I feel stuck because the cube pays well too… Good luck on making it toward acceptance. I’m thinking I might get there by the time I’m 70, but I will die before I let myself get “crotchity”!

  • I definitely should have read this yesterday before I went out and was obviously all number one! I woke up on my bathroom floor and I’m 26 totally in denial!

  • This post was made infinitely better by the fact that you used only New Girl GIF’s. I love it! That’s all. 🙂

  • This is one of the best posts I have EVER read. Nailed it!

  • All of these are completely true. As a new college grad, I feel like I’ve been told to jump of the high dive with my feet tied together after just one swimming lesson. (Hope that makes sense!!) It shouldn’t really be this hard, should it? Nice to know there is more than one of us suffering from, what I affectionately call, Post Grad Problems.

    Haley xx

  • Perfect Post! Freakishly true… the dilliusionment of growing up is crazy!

    x Natalie

  • this is such a great post! That first Friday I woke up with a hangover, was a pretty big eye-opener for sure haha.

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