The anticipation. The endless-seeming days just waiting for it to all be over. Envisioning that exact moment you walk out of your last class, and then when you walk across the stage to receive your diploma.
You should be beyond proud of accomplishing your academic goals. You just completed a major life milestone not everyone is granted. Despite the stress, the struggles, the times when all you wanted to do was drop out, you stuck through and finally made it. Seriously, congratulations!
Except if you’re like me, you have come into post-grad life pretty…lost. Confused. Feeling like if anybody asks you what plans you have now that you have a degree, you’ll begin randomly crying because you just don’t know.
That’s right; I’m in the same boat as you. Let’s take a look at some of these post-grad realities and reassure ourselves in a universal truth that it’s okay and yes, everything will work out!
I don’t have a job right out of school.
In an age of constant comparison, whenever we’re going onto social media and seeing how “successful” our classmates already are, securing jobs before even graduating, those of us who beginning a potentially very long summer break are getting antsy. Should we also be finding immediate employment?
In a larger perspective, each of us will likely be spending much of our lives working. We’ll put years into the job market. How much will it matter if you spent a few months not working? It probably won’t be a big deal at all. In fact, you might thank yourself for not diving right away into the daily grind and giving yourself that time when you’re young and able to simply breathe and relax.
We have our entire lives to work and make a living. We can jump immediately into entry-level positions and begin working ourselves up the corporate ladder, or we can simply accept this season of life for what it is and allow ourselves time to really think and decide what we want. You don’t necessarily have to set everything into stone and follow a strict guideline of professional “success,” but this is an opportune moment in your post-grad life to explore all the options available. Make some side money if you need to, but don’t feel compelled to sign your soul to a place you aren’t sure about.
Take things a step at a time, accepting whatever comes your way. Trust the process that is life. It doesn’t feel like it at this moment of frustration, but what’s meant for you will come to you when it’s supposed to. Yes, it’s a lot of blind faith, but that’s truly all we have. Even if we have everything planned out to a T, nothing is guaranteed according to our own expectations.
I don’t know what field/direction to pursue.
I’ve already discussed the unease that comes with graduating with a degree you feel like you don’t resonate with. Adding that into the mix entering post-grad life, and it feels like you’re brewing a recipe for disaster. I just how much money for a piece of paper that I don’t even think I’ll use in its intended career field? That’s certainly not the best feeling ever. You feel guilty, lost, and frustrated with yourself.
Again, similar to my last point, this is your time to really explore all the options out there. Although college markets itself as the ideal place to try everything out and figure out your life, it’s not the best for everyone. Especially when lots of people are deciding to complete their education in alternative ways, the four-year college experience is not so common anymore, and going through the motions of college really ends up feeling like glorified high school.
The world is your oyster, an exciting reality but also an overwhelming one. Take each day at a time. Research into anything you might want to do, see what’s out there, and see where it could all lead. If you’re living at home, see what your local community offers. If you want to move somewhere new that’s calling your name, make sure you’re able to do so and work toward it. Remember that even if that diploma has a major or field of study listed on it, you aren’t bound to that. The fact alone you have a degree is something that is definitely worth your while, if not now, then eventually.
I’m not “living life right.”
This one in particular hits home to me. Even at college, when I told someone about some of my ambitions and goals, many would give me a funny look of confusion. If that isn’t discouraging, I don’t know what is.
Another huge dilemma I’m facing is, simply put, an identity crisis. My entire life thus far, I’ve been a student. Somehow I’ve been studying in a school setting or on break from school to begin very soon. Now, everything seems like this wide abyss, the only stability I had suddenly gone. I’m left exposed to the reality that even if I had my academic career figured out, my own life and professional career? I feel like I have nothing together and am slightly a mess.
The quarter-life crisis, or any kind of internal breakdown in your twenties, is real and normal. We’ve just spent most of our lives working through a system, and now we’re let loose. Thanks to societal pressures and expectations, we’re familiar with the norms people follow after graduating college, such as finding a job and building a family, but not everyone finds fulfillment in that. What do those people do?
You can’t compare your life and individual journey to anybody else’s. Social media alone is an elevated sense of reality. Even those who look like they have it “all together” are likely still facing these conflicting emotions and doubts. Be open and honest with yourself and your loved ones if you’re feeling this way, and whether it’s through their support or through therapy, someone out there can help you, or at least empathize with your situation.
There’s no right or wrong way to live. We’re told we should do this or that, but we don’t have to. Post-grad life can be scary, facing the unknown, but if you’ve made it this far already, who says you can’t tackle any other challenge in your way? It’s okay to not have it all figured out. It’s okay to sound like you’re reaching for the “impossible.” It’s okay to not be doing what everyone else is. It’s okay try something different and fail.
Post-grad life isn’t easy or perfect like everyone seems to make it out to be. But you aren’t alone. You can do this.
What post-grad life struggles have you faced? What helps you keep moving forward despite the pressures and unknown?
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie