To my senior year self:
Recently, I was talking to a few of my friends that are seniors in college right now, and a few that are navigating the world of post grad, talking about where we all were a year ago. So, to all my soon-to-be-post grad-ers out there, get ready for some #realtalk, from me and my fellow recent grads.
To my senior year self:
Even though time has FLOWN, and you’re a real life adult now, guess what? You have a little more time. Don’t worry if you don’t find a job right after graduation. It could take you six months (trust me). I know, that’s a long time right? It’s likely your professors haven’t told you that this happens. Your professors and parents have been your biggest fans since they met you, and, even though that all feels really great right now, you have to stop agreeing with them. I would be scared, if I were you, whether you already have offers on the table, or you don’t think you’ll ever find employment. Stop thinking about yourself for five seconds you brilliantly intelligent soon-to-be degree holding human you: there will always be someone more brilliant than you. I know! It’s insane. I remember graduating and thinking the SKY is LITERALLY the LIMIT, NO ONE is more qualified than ME (of course, you don’t say these things out loud, but if you just spent the last four years of your life jam-packing your resume with activities, scholarships, and volunteer opportunities like Paris Geller, than yes, you probably feel this way on the inside). But stop. And consider that you will not be the only one applying to that job, to that program, for that opportunity. You are 100% not alone when it comes to pursuing your passion. Don’t get me wrong, you are great at what you do, but so are a lot of other people.
Considering moving back home with your parents? Consider any other option there is. Sure, we love our parents, but moving back home post grad is filled with so many little details. People believe and will tell you that moving back home with your parents is “taking the easy way out” or means “you’re lazy,” but here’s the truth: it is impossibly HARD. Whether you have a job immediately after graduating or not, there’s no greater gut sinking guilt than coming home at the end of the day and seeing your parents. The way they look at you when you move back home after graduation is a different look than you have ever experienced: it’s pride (because you graduated from college) plus glow (because you came back to them) mixed with pity (because you moved back with them) with a touch of exhaustion (because they thought they were done raising you). Because no matter how much they love you, they believe you have real wings and can really fly (remember how I said they have and always will believe in you?), and to see you back in their house makes them feel a hint of failure. It doesn’t matter your reason for being back there, this is their face. If you end up back at home, you are not weak or childlike, you are humble and accepting and STRONG for working through all that comes with being a post grad with their parents.
Debt is real. It is SO SO SO REAL. Don’t think about your student loans or credit card debts as things so far away in the future. That attitude will make you surprised by these things, these payments that you are very well aware of. Just because we live in a technological world and maybe you don’t get physical copies of your bills in the mail and they aren’t staring you in the face, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. In fact their digital-ness makes them even more real, because you owe people money, and they WILL find you. Start thinking about this NOW. At least get these debts on your radar, so they don’t scare you later.
Hang out with your friends as much as possible and take tons of pictures. Post grad life is going to throw all sorts of friendship changes at you: people move, go onto more school, travel the world. And besides that, it’s basically a guarantee, that even if no one physically goes anywhere, your social life is going to change. You will never have the opportunities for socializing like you do in college EVER again: Don’t turn down invitations if you can avoid it. Do everything. Go everywhere. Take it ALL in. This is your last hoorah.
In that same breath, “it’s not goodbye, it’s a see you later.” Cliche, but oh so real. I actually had nightmares about my friendships completely ending after graduation, about walking across the stage and literally having no one on the other side. These friends aren’t going anywhere. Sure, maybe they physically are, but be honest with yourself: you just invested parts of or all of the best years of your life with these people, are they really going anywhere? These people have been through good times and bad, high stress, intense chaos, and laid-back days with you, and there’s a pretty good chance they would follow you to the ends of the Earth. College is formative, and these people helped make you who you are and vice versa. Don’t be scared of losing them, and if you are, just don’t let it happen. And if you’re spending time with the wrong people, do something about it. Now. It’s never to late to get smart about your friendships.
Stop worrying. I know, this may seem contradictory to what I’ve been talking about, but hear me out. Think about post grad, but worrying about things you can’t control will stress you out and make senior year difficult. I learned this the hard way. I had 10 panic attacks my senior year of college. No joke! I worried so much and over-thought everything so much that I was actually making myself ill.
Most importantly, enjoy this last year. It’s bittersweet, quick, stressful, and wonderful, and before you know it, you’ll be a real* adult.
(*OK, a half-adult. I mean hey, you’re still young.)
Seniors, agree with me? Post grad-ers, what do you thing? Tweet at me, @jlbungert.