The Struggling Graduate started off at the beginning of this year as a small blog centred around life after graduation. It’s been a challenging yet rewarding journey, but the best part? Engaging in a community filled with ambitious people going through the same thing. Two of these people are Tiffani and McKenna: best friends and co-hosts of The Mature Podcast – a podcast created to share with others what it’s really like to be a twenty-something-year-old navigating the confusing, the unknown and the exciting parts of new adulthood. Their podcasts cover topics like self-care, boundaries in friendships, having difficult conversations, and tons more. This week, we had the privilege to get to know Tiffani and McKenna better one-on-two!
TSG: Tell our readers about yourselves! What are your personalities like, where are you from, how did you two meet?
Tiffani: I am from Claremont California, which is about 30 miles outside of Los Angeles. I met McKenna within the first weeks of college. We lived in the same hallway of our dorm, and met precisely on the rooftop of our dorm during a social event. We immediately got along when we shared stories about our previous flings from high school. I would say that I am very sassy, genuine, and passionate. My friends like to come to me when they need some encouragement and motivation and I like to make sure to provide a space for people to be themselves.
McKenna: I am from Brea, California which is about 20 miles north of Huntington Beach. I met Tiffani in my freshman hall within the first few weeks of college. Our friendship truly began when we had a four-hour-long conversation on the roof of our dorm talking about old flings from high school and we’ve been best friends ever since. I would say my personality is very nurturing, bold, methodical, and at times sarcastic. I ultimately love to love others and want to make sure that the people in my life know that they are seen and heard by me.
The biggest struggle since graduating has been acclimating to what is considered “the new normal” and deciding what that looks like for me. (…) I was ashamed that I had to move back home with my parents and my siblings. But I have to realize that it’s a privilege to move back home and I’m grateful to have a place to live.– Tiffani
TSG: What were your circumstances after graduation, with regards to jobs, living arrangements, travel?
Tiff: Right after graduation, I had no idea what I was going to do. Although I had a job within my field of choice, I didn’t know if I was confident in what I was doing. I graduated with a degree in business marketing. Because of my degree in marketing, it actually opened the doors for me to learn more about digital/social media marketing. It allowed me to learn more about the platforms, which gave me the idea to create the podcast.
I was ashamed that I had to move back home with my parents and my siblings. But I have to realize that it’s a privilege to move back home and I’m grateful to have a place to live.
The biggest struggle since graduating has been acclimating to what is considered “the new normal” and deciding what that looks for me. After graduating and creating a life apart of school and my peers, it was easy to fall into “what my life should look like” rather than what it actually was. It felt weird to have so much more free time and less structure to your day. It was easy to just go to work and go home to watch Netflix every day. Which is not a bad thing, but it felt weird because I didn’t have homework anymore and I no longer had to sit in class. It was also difficult to adjust to that fact that I did not have a community around me anymore. Every person I wanted to see lived out of town and I had to redefine what a well-rounded community looked like in the day to day.
McKenna: Coming out of graduation, I had already decided that I was going to work full time at my job that I had for a year at a residential treatment center. Due to being a psychology major, I knew that I still had at least two more years of school to complete my Masters so it made sense to stay at my current job where I was still gaining experience and being exposed to much more than anywhere else I had looked to apply.
As much as I hated to admit it, I had decided that financially it was best if I moved back in with my parents. It was most logical because I had student loans, and this way I would be able to save and travel or pay off my loans or whatever I needed to do in this time before getting a place of my own. Thankfully, my parents welcomed me with open arms.
Not becoming Carrie Bradshaw, or whatever your form of Carrie Bradshaw is, was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me. This truly made me reevaluate the life that I thought I wanted at eighteen and how much I have changed in the past four years.– McKenna
TSG: You mention in your podcast this idea we have of the “post grad dream”, where we expect to have this cool apartment, a fun group of friends to go out with every night, a hot significant other and essentially, be Carrie Bradshaw. I found this totally relatable. What did not getting these things right away teach you about life and yourselves?
Tiff: It definitely humbled me really quick. It forced me to take a good look at myself to see that the life you want doesn’t magically appear and it doesn’t look the same for everyone. Another person’s idea for their dream life could look completely different from yours and neither option is better or worse. It’s just up to the person who is pursuing it.
McKenna: Not becoming Carrie Bradshaw, or whatever your form of Carrie Bradshaw is, was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me. This truly made me reevaluate the life that I thought I wanted at eighteen and how much I have changed in the past four years. In retrospect, I could have easily seen not having my “dream life” as a negative, and sometimes I still do. But for the most part, I would not give up the struggles, challenges, or heartache for anything because it pushed me to think outside of my small little bubble I planned for my life and obtain a life I am genuinely proud of.
TSG: If you could go back in time to graduation day, what are three things you would tell yourselves?
Tiff: I would tell myself that firstly, the journey you’re going to go through is not this short-term experience, you are headed to the rest of your life. So you need to make sure that you’re being intentional about the habits you’re developing and the people you surround yourself with. Secondly, don’t take yourself too seriously. People are not that concerned with what you’re doing. Lastly, make sure the decision you’re making, whether it’s good or bad, is your own choice.
McKenna: 1. Be open to those who come into your life. It’s scary to open up but the rewards of being vulnerable are so worth it. 2. You are going to feel alone because no one is going through the “exact” same journey; that doesn’t mean that people can’t sympathize or empathize with you. Allow others to pour into you just as much as your pour into them. 3. Be kind to yourself. I am my harshest critic, but I make mistakes and I will continue to make mistakes so shower yourself with grace.
TSG: You two seem to have such contrasting personalities, and yet have this strong, dynamic relationship. How would you suggest other people approach a person or situation that may seem different from what they’re used to, or out of their comfort zone, and turn it into a great thing?
Tiff: I think a lot of it learning to extend grace to people who don’t have the same worldview as you. Sometimes in these situations where you’re meeting someone who are different than you, it’s going to be uncomfortable. It’s natural to be uncomfortable with someone who is different than you. I don’t look at that as a negative thing. In fact, it should push you to understand how other people are thinking. I am fascinated by people who are so different than me. My advice is instead of turning away from these situation, you would press on past the uncomfortableness of it all.
Be more curious than afraid. Learn more about the person and their story before jumping to the conclusion that they are so different than you that you won’t be able to connect with them. I am extremely grateful that McKenna and I have learned to navigate through it, instead of running away from it because then we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.
McKenna: I think from the beginning, Tiffani and I had this understanding of mutual respect for each other. We weren’t quick to judge and allowed space to understand each other in all aspects of our life whether that was our culture, religion, personality, etc. I think when approaching those who are different from you, you have to be okay sitting in the uncomfortability of the unknown and be willing to appreciate the things that make you different instead of focusing on how it could draw you apart.
TSG: How important is goal-setting & routine for you two? With everything you have going on, including hosting the Mature Podcast, what are some personal goals you’ve set for yourselves?
Tiff: It’s really important for me to plan my days. It’s very easy for me to lose track of my day, if I don’t set out a to-do list everyday. On top of growing our podcast, some personal goals would include a career transition in the near future and simply be better at being present. I have been in the social media field for almost two years now and I am looking to do something in the event planning space, hopefully in the next year! Now the habits that I am trying to cultivate are to be more present and intentional with the people around me. It’s really easy to get caught up in work and the day-to-day routine that I forget to take care of myself and the people around me! So this is something I want to get better with for the rest of my life.
McKenna: I am a fairly organized, type-A individual so having goals and setting a routine is highly important to me. Besides recording the podcast, I work full time and am in graduate school for Educational and Clinical Counseling and I will be done in two years. I am very excited to start my career as a high school counselor! Because I have a lot on my plate, setting a routine to get everything done is important, but one of my personal goals is remembering that I am 22 and still need to have fun. Therefore, I make a goal every week to at least spend time doing something I love whether that is getting my nails done, eating dinner with my family, or going out to a bar with my group of friends. It’s so important to remember that you have responsibilities, but it is just as important to make time for yourself and to love the life you live!
You can listen to, follow, and subscribe to @TheMaturePodcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Play Music.
You can follow the girls on their Instagram @TheMaturePodcast where they engage with their audience and they welcome direct messages on topics that you would like them to discuss!
You can also follow them on their personal accounts: @tiffaniho and @mckennawhan for more behind the scenes!
Photo credits: @tai_daim