While the line to pick up caps and gowns snaked through the Cal State Long Beach Bookstore, fear of life post-graduation began to sink in for me. “Holy hell, is this really happening?” was a thought for many, including myself.
I’m graduating college, isn’t this supposed to be the best time of my life? As I’m sure most of you have experienced these same feelings, don’t worry, there’s so much more to life post-graduation.
For most of us college graduates, we’ve been in school for most of our lives. The idea of leaving the safety of academic life to move on to a big person job and a salary? Equally terrifying and badass.
The line loomed in front of me like a red carpet leading to the rest of my life, and I began to wonder. Did I do enough with my time here? Did I party enough, meet enough people? Did I take advantage of college life before having to be an adult? Will I even find a job in my major?
I know I did the party thing right; I was in a sorority for crying out loud. I know I met enough people, because I have stuck with an incredible group of friends during my four years here. But why did I feel like the world was crashing down right in front of me, making me doubt all that I had accomplished so far in life?
This made me reflect back on my time in college and realize that while it did provide me with all of these great experiences, those fun times aren’t going to end when I cross that stage.
College has been great, but I know that my life is just beginning. New experiences, new people and new places. That’s something to look forward to, right?
These thoughts bounced around my brain like a pinball, until my head began to spin. I couldn’t be the only one to feel these anxieties, so why did I feel so alone?
To my relief, an article posted by USA Today let me in on a little secret: this is completely normal, according to Jenny Blake, life coach and author of the best-selling book, “Life After College, the Complete Guide to Getting What You Want.”
“You have to expect that this time in your life will be a little bit of a rollercoaster,” Blake said. “For most people, college graduation is their first time without a prescribed template, so it takes time to adjust. It’s not easy but it can be a time of real growth!”
Reading that was the wake-up call I needed. Regardless of the anxieties and panic attacks consuming me, I know that eventually, it will all be okay.
After this profound discovery, I found another article posted by Washington University.
“The fact is that approximately 53 percent of college graduates are unemployed or working in a job that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree,” the article said. “It takes the average college graduate three to six months to secure employment after graduation.”
Three to six months? That sounds doable right? As I flipped from article to article, I realized they all had the same mantra: it’s just going to take time. Time, of course. Sometimes our best friend and our worst enemy.
As I inched my way to the table to grab my cap, gown and ceremony tickets, I felt a wave of peace wash over me. I’m only 21 years old; having a freakout of this magnitude should only happen when you’re about to have your first kid or move to another country. I shouldn’t be freaking out over graduating college.
Waiting for real life to set in post-graduation may feel like an eternity, but hey, in the words of High School Musical: we’re all in this together.
Most of us are in our mid-to-late twenties, with so much life left to live it’s almost as if we’re about to be reborn. Although the anxieties and stresses of life won’t end during this part of our journey, taking it one day at a time is a step in the right direction.