Three years ago, I walked across the same stage where I saw Paul McCartney perform and was filled with exhaustion, nerves and excitement. Three years ago, I graduated from The University of Texas at Austin and took a moment to watch the fireworks initiate the end of a long ass chapter and the start of a shaky new one.
That’s a big, scary word to some, and a light at the end of the tunnel for others. In life, we are programmed to look forward to the end goal, and graduation is a big one. The moment where you’re stuck between life portals and are unsure which one you want to live in. For some it’s a sure answer, knowing the next step, but for others it’s some scary shit stepping out of that comfort zone you’ve known far too well.
Graduation, whether from high school or college, is a milestone. It’s a stepping block you remember forever, sure. But all the hard work, all that the time and effort, only gets one weekend out of 12+ years to gather and accumulate all the feelings you’ve had? All the plans you’re already supposed to know? All the life experience you’re supposed to have?
Geez, talk about pressure.
All these things are thrown at us with plenty of warning, but in the moment we are unaware of what is to come. So, after it sets in for a second, here are a few things no one told you about graduation…better yet, some things that no one told you about life after graduation. Because, that’s when life actually begins.
Take a moment for you.
At the actual ceremony, it’s going to be hectic. There’s going to be a lot of food, family and friends. They’re there because they love you. Remember that. If it helps, remember that food loves you too. But also remember that this moment is for YOU. They might have helped you get there, but you worked your ass off. All this being said, there will be times where you might want a break. Take one! Even if it’s just a moment in the bathroom to go over some affirmations…
I will not trip or fall.
I am so proud of you.
This is your moment, you got this!
After the actual event, take some time for you. Even if it’s just a weekend getaway. Go celebrate with a friend on a trip somewhere or give yourself a nice stay-cation. But whatever you decide, take time to just relax.
Something else people don’t tell you that happens after graduation…
You’re probably going to be extremely exhausted for an entire year. This is because you just got out of a 12+ year relationship with school. Coming home to sleep and watching Netflix all day, is totally normal. You might not want to pick up a book for leisure (lol, what’s that like?) or hang out with people right away, and I’m here to tell you that is okay. You’ll come back— you’ll want to read again, hang out with friends again, but you will be exhausted for a while. And the timing for that is different for everyone. Just listen to your mind, body and soul—one of the three will tell you when the time is right, sooner than later.
But remember, it’s okay to take a break!
You don’t have to have it all figured out.
After your break, you may have a job lined up or you might be moving back in with mom and dad. Whatever the case may be, remember that you don’t have to have it all figured out. I’ll let you in on a secret…you never will and you never do. So, stop trying to. It’s great to have goals whether they are personal or professional, but you might not always know how to achieve them right away, and that is perfectly fine!
Part of the journey after college is trying and failing, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and remembering to take a step back to look at all the progress you’ve made! Even if the victories are small ones, they still count as victories. So enjoy the season and moment you are in now.
Sometimes it will feel like nothing is happening—take that time to rest and do what makes you happy. Odds are, the universe will put you back in the right direction. Just be willing to listen and see the signs laid out for you.
Be open and trust the process.
The first job you get won’t always be the best job.
Some of your friends might be over the moon about landing their dream job right out of college. Let them celebrate their accomplishment in their own way. But know this—most of them might rethink their dream job in five years and feel extremely different. Why? Because you will constantly change and evolve over time. Nothing is permanent. That is a good thing.
Remember that it doesn’t matter where you start, it matters where you end up. And sometimes the journey there takes longer than we’ve hoped it would. Sometimes we end up working in a place we never thought we would, or taking a temporary set back, but the journey is part of the ride. Don’t compare yourself to what other people out there are doing. Focus on you! Because your journey will be an amazing adventure. Sometimes your journey will be one that not everyone will understand, but you have your whole life ahead of you with a brain filled with an education you worked hard for.
Don’t underestimate yourself! Good things will come to you in time.
Life does get harder, but you’ll get better at it.
Yes, it’s true, life is harder as an adult, but it’s also more fun. Responsibilities change, sometimes you will still be broke, but college prepared you for even that part too! Sometimes you get lonely or don’t know what to do with all the free time you now have. The free time sneaks up on you, but you’ll figure it out eventually.
It might be harder to make friends, but this is an opportunity for you to start getting into some hobbies again. This will lead you to new environments and experiences, new people, and will get you that companionship you seek. Making friends at work? Also a great idea and a good thing. Most of your adult friends will come from this funnel.
You’re going to be okay. You will survive this, just like you’ve survived anything else in your life. You’ll get the hang of things faster as you get older, just be patient with yourself.
Life can be beautiful if you just give it a chance.
You made it.
At the end of the day, that’s what matters. You stuck with it, set a goal, accomplished it. That is what is enough. You did it—YOU. And you will have many goals and accomplishments lined up, waiting for you to be discovered and achieved. What comes next may not be easy, but it will be an adventure—the next chapter in your beautiful story. So just enjoy it!
You accomplished one of the hardest, most proudest goals for yourself. YOU DID IT! Milestones in life can be scary—they’re a sign that a season in life is coming to an end, but if we get stuck in that book, we might never see what amazing things lie ahead. So, jump through that portal into adult life, you’ll be okay. You just graduated and you’ve got your whole life ahead of you!
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Every goal from now on might come slower some days, or quicker on others. Enjoy each accomplishment and moment of growth. Every step is getting you one step closer to where you’re meant to be.
You have a beautiful mind with a lovely life ahead of you.
Congrats! You. Did. It. And you’ll do it again and again.
Photo by: My brother, duh.