Picture this. Vitamin C is playing in the background. You are walking across the stage, uncertain of what the future holds for you, and about to shake the hand of a distinguished professor that you do not know who hands you an (expensive) piece of rolled up paper. Your mind flashes back to exam cramming sessions, crushed beer cans, and early morning classes as you hear the hollers and claps from your family and friends, wondering how much faster this moment came than you had anticipated and where the heck you’ll go from here.
You were questioning why you were so afraid of this transition; of growing up, of opportunities and the potential of moving away for a job. Thinking of when you’ll be out of school and the freedom from exams and assignments is somehow immediately crushed by the agonizing reality of a full time job.
Think about your elementary school or your high school graduation. The biggest worry then was your friends moving to a different country for school. There seemed to always be a predisposed idea that after four or five years of being apart, everything would go back to normal--that friends would move back and you would make happy hour plans, see each other every weekend, and everything would be just peachy.
If it’s not that, it’s the overwhelming feeling of failure and uncertainty. The years of schooling that you finish and what--what if you can’t find the job that you were hoping for? Or the dream job right out of university is not what you think it will be? It almost feels like nothing can prepare you for the real world. These feelings and questions have found their way into the minds of many students completing their final year of university. Don’t worry! You are not alone.
Growing Up & Looking Forward
Everyone has dealt with and asked these same questions at some point while emerging into adulthood. The issue is change. Especially right after graduation, the change is so much more noticeable that any other transition in the past. In school, there were grades to measure success, but after graduation there are no grades. Change will find itself in every aspect of your life. A change of perspective to being adaptable and open to new experiences will help you tackle any obstacles that might come your way.
Allot “Me Time”
Growth looks different for everybody. As you approach graduation, take time for yourself to reflect and think about the those hard-to-answer questions. Ask yourself, “what is the real reason of my worrying?” Make future plans towards achieving a goal. This may look different for each person. For some, it may be booking a flight out to a new country and spending the summer there, exploring, becoming more cultured, meeting new people, and broadening your experiences. For others, it can be exercise and meditation. For example, yoga is a great way to spend time alone, breathe, and clear your mind.
Just Keep Swimmin’
Life is unpredictable. When faced with adversity, it’s easy to fall into a slump and let the hurdle overwhelm you. It is definitely easier said than done, but practice mindfulness, and focus on being present. Keep in mind that at the end of the day, whatever the obstacle, it will result in a positive learning experience. Try journaling and making lists. Leave a journal on your night table or bed to remind yourself to document your day. Looking back on the obstacles you faced will help you realize that you can, and you will overcome the current issue you are faced with. Make to-do lists. Lists help organize your day, and keep you accountable for the tasks you want to finish. It also feels empowering to be able to cross off a completed task.
One of the most noticeable changes after graduation are the relationships established in university. Unfortunately, it just gets harder and harder to stay in touch with friends. However, the most meaningful relationships are the ones that can withstand the test of time and distance. Keep in mind that you are entering a phase of making new relationships!
In college, part-time jobs were always a means for income on the side and opportunities were local. After graduation, there are potential opportunities abroad that may seem exciting, yet daunting. Uprooting a life from one country to another is a big decision. Relationships change over time, and distance can contribute to the growth process in any relationship. Be open to meeting and establishing new relationships. You never know where they might go.
If I Were Ever Valedictorian
The real world is right around the corner. However, don’t let this daunting thought scare you. Don’t be afraid to pursue success. Give yourself credit and put yourself out there. Your ideas and opinions are valuable and your current generation WILL shape the future. Use all of the life lessons and tools that you learned in school to grow and move forward. So, as you walk across that stage, take comfort in knowing that doors of opportunity are wide open-- all you need to do is embrace the uncertainty. It’s easy to be jaded by the seemingly merciless reality of the working world, especially when obstacles get thrown your way. Despite all of this, keep a positive attitude and be open to adapting; you’ll be surprised by how far that will take you.