Two years in the real world down; a lifetime to go!
This past Monday marked two years since I graduated from my dream school. It marked two years since saying goodbye to the safety and schedule of the educational system I’d been in since I was three years old. Two years since saying goodbye to mentors and friends that shaped me in inexplicable ways.
On Friday, a whole new crop of seniors are graduating from my favorite place in the world, and I want to send some advice (albeit, unsolicited) their way. Let’s get started.
Graduating is hard. Now, it will not be the hardest thing you do in your entire life, but at the time, it’s probably going to feel like it. You’re going to cry, you’re going to feel lost, you’re going to wish you could stay in college forever. And that’s okay. But remember, you’ve got this. Your university prepared you for whatever the real world has to throw at you. It gave you a fantastic education, it gave you shoulder’s to cry on, and it gave you a network of support and opportunities. Though you may not feel like it, you’ve really been preparing for this day since the very beginning.
Graduating, and the feelings that come with it, is different for everybody. My friend is graduating in two days, and she asked me a few weeks ago what to expect out of post-grad life. I could have lied to her. I could have told her it’s really not that bad — that she’d be just fine (which she will be, you all will be) — but I didn’t. I told her the truth, my truth — graduating sucks. While my post-grad experience challenged me in ways I never thought possible (which it still does to this very day, that’s life), not everyone’s does. I had a unique experience — I moved to a city far from where the rest of my friends would be and where I knew almost no one, I took a job that wasn’t directly related to what I actually wanted to be doing, and I made next to nothing, so I couldn’t really afford to go and find friends in this new city I was living in. That’s my experience, it’s not everyone’s. I have friends that have thrived in their post-grad lives, and I have had friends, like myself, that have stumbled a bit. We all experience graduating differently, but we all have one thing in common — we are all doing just fine.
Graduating feels daunting because it is. You have the rest of your life ahead of you. There are no summer vacations to look forward to, no momentous occasions like formals or charity events (typically), and no spring breaks. But there’s also no homework that needs to be graded, no one telling you that you can’t eat ice cream for dinner, and no requirement to do anything that you don’t at least 85% want to do. There’s a freedom in graduating that you probably won’t fully understand until a few years removed from your college days, but I promise you, it’s worth it.
I was talking to another friend the other day who has had a particularly hard time since graduating. Again, she asked me about my experience. And again, I told her the truth. This time I added something I had never realized before: My post-grad life got a whole lot better once I stopped looking back at my pre-grad life. Once I accepted that there was no going back, that I wouldn’t go back even if I could, I started to embrace my new life and everything it had to offer. And things got a whole lot better.
The truth about graduating is that it’s everything they tell you it’s going to be and everything they don’t tell you it’s going to be. It truly is the rest of your life, and it’s what you make of it. You will experience some of your highest-highs and your lowest-lows, and that’s exactly how it should be. You wouldn’t want it to be anything else, trust me.
Related posts: 10 Truths About Graduating College
Photo Credit: Sarah Stone
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