Dear Red: The Angsty Graduate

Dear Red,

I've got one year left in college, and am now entirely engulfed by the apocalyptic feeling of I NEED TO MEET A MAN NOW BECAUSE PEOPLE DON'T MEET AFTER COLLEGE. But actually, I have absolutely no idea what happens after I graduate and am not surrounded by the social milieu of buzzed single dudes who get impressed when I play that one song on guitar at that toga party.

How do people meet? How do people date? Do I sit wistfully in bars aiming shy smiles at flurries of eligible bachelors? Do I look adorable in bookstores while angling the cover of my graphic novel strategically so the cute nerds feel a pull towards me?

Please give me hope. The post-college abyss has got me pretty convinced that I am going to die alone unless I get engaged in the next 12 months. Speaking of, why the hell has everyone my age decided to get engaged this summer??


The Angsty Graduate

Dear Angsty Graduate,

You know what's funny? Your question is ageless, and I didn't realize it until I read it.

I feel like everyone has this kind of question when they're going through a big life transition. College students, post-divorcees, single women in their thirties, men dating after forty, newly single empty nesters. We all feel as if everyone else met someone else in the previous stage of life and we've been left out.

But, here's something I've learned...that's a lie. It's a falsehood we feed ourselves, that we've been the only ones left behind, and of course, we will die old, alone and miserable.

Nope, wrong, not true!

I went through a time in my life where I was involved (either as a bridesmaid, guest book attendant--which is the shittiest wedding "job" ever--pianist or otherwise) in ELEVEN weddings in one year. ELEVEN!! At the ripe old age of 19, I was pretty much convinced that I was the last single girl alive, with no prospects and no one to love me, and no one would want to touch my lady parts, ever.

As you probably know from reading TNR, that was not the case. I've been lucky enough to have been in two long-term relationships since then, and am now lucky enough (yes, I said lucky!) to be single for the last year. I've had my ups and downs, but I'm confident (at least today:)) that I am a good enough person in or out of a relationship.

And actually, to be honest, I feel like I have learned more and done more awesome things in this last year than I've done my whole life...and I did it all without a man.

(Of course, I'm hornier than I've ever been in my life, too. Which is just how things work. DAMMIT.)

All that to say, there's not really a set way to meet anyone. After you graduate, many people'll do the bar scene thing. You can play that game for awhile if you want--it's fun--or you can simply decide you're going to live your life the way you want. So if that means you go to a bookstore and make eyes at a handsome guy over the top of your book, so be it. Or if you meet someone at work? Cool.

But ask yourself, "What do *I* want to do, and where do *I* want to hang out?"

That may mean that you spend a Thursday at the local Clay place, throwing some pottery, just because. Or maybe volunteering at your local food bank, because it makes you feel awesome to be helping other people, or maybe taking an improv class or joining a book club or forming a running team...just because YOU want to, and not because you MIGHT meet someone.

And then,'ll be surprised at what happens next. Maybe you'll meet the love of your life...or maybe you'll just meet some lifelong friends...or maybe you'll discover something within you that you never knew existed.

The coolest part about all this? It makes you even more beautiful than you already are, because it makes you into more of a whole person. And whole people attract OTHER whole people. And that, friend, becomes a huge cycle of awesome.

I hope this helps a little. It's not super concrete advice about where to hang out and what to do, with lists and bullets and whatnot. I'm actually kind of tired of those kind of articles, because they mask the fact that, sure, we can hang out wherever, but if we're not personally working on becoming more whole people, it's not gonna matter much.

Finish up college and enjoy these next few years, single or not. They're some of the best of your life!



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