Transitioning to Portland

Graduating from college a year earlier than my peers catapulted me into the reality of the adult world. In school, they don’t prepare you enough for everything this truly entails. It’s certainly a culture shock in varying degrees. I hope my stories can help shed some light for those who will similarly experience this in only a few months.

The first stark contrast I noticed is how adults socialize. The few times I’ve visited Eugene since I left, I’ve emphasized to my peers there to cherish the moments they have with their college friends. Never again will you have a community of people all your same general demographic. The chances of you living down the street from your best friends again are unlikely, but we can dream. With adult schedules, layered with work and taxing responsibilities, you and your friends may not be able to pencil each other in as often as you may otherwise be used to. In Portland, it roughly will take someone half an hour to just meet up for drinks, after spending weeks going back and forth to find a mutual time that works. Consider then the price of the Lyft car back home, versus walking a few blocks to your friend’s porch.

In this same vein, I’ve learned that adults generally feel lonely. Moving to a new city for work, which is the typical coming of age story for a mass number of people, can be an obstacle if you don’t already have connections there. If you’re lucky, blessed, or privileged, you have the networks and resources to help guide you when feeling lost. If you’re extroverted, you may similarly be skilled at weaving those support nets, but as a whole, adults build relationships very different from college students.

It’s been a hard reality to break to some of my friends, but we really should use our “indoor voices” as adults. We can’t stand on tables in bars anymore. It’s not as normal to binge drink multiple nights a week. Thankfully, that was never much of a priority for me, so this hasn’t been as much of a culture shock as it has been for others.

However, it has been a challenge to make new friends. Strangers are more apprehensive to chatting with strangers because they’re less likely to have an inclination if you’re actually a good/safe/relatable person or not. Due to that there are so much more people in a city versus college town, you are proportionally more likely to meet people who aren’t your cup of tea– or perhaps seem they might be at first sight, but aren’t. This makes “friend dating” all that more difficult. Not only is it harder to make lasting connections from brief first impressions in the first place, then difficult to find time to meet up with potential friends, but sometimes you can never be quite sure what you’re going to get.

I’m a remarkably extroverted person, so while this phenomenon has been a tricky dynamic, I’ve found it to be simultaneously fascinating. All of these factors can cause transitioning to adulthood feel demoralizing. I’ve avoided that easy-to-fall-into mindset by framing this experience as if I am an experiment, and there are no gravely wrong answers. Exploring various scenes of not only Portland but also the adult realm has been entertaining. Seeing how older people live their lives helps me anticipate how I might gracefully do the same. It exemplifies as a limbo between observing, modeling and venturing. Whether you’re experiencing this now or have in the past, I personally recommend incorporating this mindset to help smooth the inevitable bumps of life’s transitions.