Hey Class of 2017,
In the words of Elle Woods, “we did it!”. Well, you did. I can no longer claim “graduate” status thanks to you guys. But there is a serious congrats in order. You’ve navigated through the jungle that is university and have made it out the other end.
How are you feeling?
Mixed emotions? You may feel excited, relieved, worried, frustrated, scared, all of which are completely valid. This is a time of serious transition and it’s going to be mentally tiring. For the foreseeable future, you will have no more exams, no more assignments, no more lectures and no more incoherent TAs. Just think about that. This is your first time out of full time education for, what, sixteen years?
Yeah, just let that sink in.
But I’m going to tell you, as someone who is coming up to one year out of college, and survived, that it will be okay. In fact, it might be more than okay. It might just be your best year yet. And you’re going to go through every single emotion underneath the sun.
You’re going to feel unstable for a bit, perhaps with a little fear of the unknown thrown in there too. You’re going to feel like you have it all figured out and you’re definitely going to feel lost. Embrace the emotions. They will make you who you are.
So, before you take to the real world, here are some words of advice.
Figure out your next step. Don’t do this during exams. Take time out once they’re done and really think about it. Ignore what people say you have to do. You don’t need to do X by Y month in order to succeed. You don’t need to have done Z to be successful at X. You just need to have a definitive path, goal, and a strive to do it. Just breathe.
Think of it as the end of a relationship. You’ve broken up with college which you’ve been in for the last three or four years. Time to breathe, learn, and evaluate before you rush into your next big adventure.
And if that means going back to college, or moving country, or cold calling companies for interviews then so be it.
Make mistakes. Life is not meant to be lived perfectly. It’s just meant to be lived. And honestly, there’s no such real thing as a mistake anyway, just choices. Because no matter what they are, they will bring you exactly where you need to be.
Fall in love. Find your next big thing. You may have been head of a society or excelled at your subject but now that’s over, and someone is inevitably taking your place, it’s time for you to find your next love. Pursue your interests, do things you have never done before and you’ll get that high.
(don’t misconstrue this as drugs, pls)
Titles don’t matter. No one cares what committee you were on when and where. They want to know if you made a difference.
Don’t panic. It’s pretty easy to just fall to pieces once you’re out of the security of college. We kind of all do it, either consciously or unconsciously. You lose a lot of things once you finish up, the ease of meeting people, incentives to do well, etc. Now you have to make time to socialise and do things to improve you with no one hanging over you making sure you do them. It’s all self-directed learning once you get out.
But don’t panic. This is what the real world is. And it’s amazing.
Say Yes. Take the chances as they come. Be open minded and take risks. Speaking from experience, it might be the best thing you’ll do.
Travel. Even if it’s down the road, get out and do something. Enjoy your freedom.
Make time for those you love. Identify who you want to keep in touch with and don’t lose it. Even if it’s the odd message or tweet. Networking is important but having friends is imperative.
Be excited. This is your time. You have the entire world at your feet. Go nuts. You will get a job. You will fall in love. You will move out and have a life. You will do well and you will feel settled. It will all balance out. Quit the mundane and live a little.