College 101: How to Face the Changes Graduation Brings
My father is a genius. I’ve known this the majority of my life. However, I never realized how acutely perceptive he is, until we were sharing a meal last week at a new Indian place that opened down the road from our house. Over a table filled with naan and chicken tiki masala, he looked me right in the eye and told me I should push my blog further. Dig deeper. Talk about the things that my friends and I are going through and really make an effort to bring our experiences to life online. I forgave him for admitting he doesn’t read the fashion/beauty posts I create, because he gave me something to think about.
As I drove back to school, I considered his advice. For May, I had wanted to dedicate my blog to graduation, especially because it’s the biggest event in my life in a long time. Why not keep a record? Maybe I’ll start in June, I thought. But then I got back to school, and suddenly everything my father had been talking about materialized in front of me.
I handle change well. I’m not sure if this is something I’ve always been skilled at, or something I learned, but I keep waiting to feel like I’m going to fall apart- and I haven’t. Maybe I will, but honestly, among the bittersweet sadness that comes with closing a huge chapter of your life, there so much excitement for what lies ahead. However, I’ve been watching the people around me, and I’m not sure they feel the same.
This time of the year, the end of the spring semester, does something to everyone. We’re cooped up inside, tired, and anxious. We’re stressed to our wits end, touching finals week with the tips of our fingers while wrestling through mountains of paperwork and requirements. Either way, we’re all on each other’s nerves. Maybe I’m getting on yours right now, as you’re reading this. But think about it. Laugh about it. We’re human and I don’t think we can help it.
Change is this silent demon that sneaks in no matter if you expect it or not. No matter how you try to prepare yourself, instinct takes over reason and natural, emotional reactions are inevitable; the extreme depends on the kind of person you are. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed, it’s that my friends, while well aware of this impending change, don’t want to acknowledge it. My closest friends and I are coming to terms with the idea that we most likely won’t be living together again, but we don’t want to talk about it.
Convocation. Senior week. Graduation. It all brings tears and laughter, pride and sadness. We want to live in the moment, like we’re suppose to, but I think in the back of everyone’s mind there’s a little worm, burrowing it’s way into our thoughts, lighting up emergency signals in our brains. We either start to feel like we’re being pushed away or we start to push away ourselves. Fight or flight kicks in.
I was laughing at myself the other night. I googled “Is it okay to live alone after graduating college?” and “Do people really stay friends with their college roommates?” but never clicked on any of the suggested links. I don’t think I was really looking for answers- but acknowledging a couple of fears I have as graduation day approaches. However, I found it so comical, because when I considered what I would write on this blog to answer those questions, I realized that I had all the answers myself. It all depended on if I wanted to listen.
College helped me form who I am. It taught me to be independent and to love myself. I no longer have to rely on others for happiness, or entertainment, or constant affirmation. However, I don’t think everyone necessarily gets there after those four years- and that’s okay! The important thing is to keep pushing forward, through graduation and all the changes, to continue learning about yourself.
Graduation is going to be a drastic transition for me. It is by no means going to be easy, in any way. However, I know that if I can stay honest with myself, I handle all the side effects that come with a big life change. That being said, I wanted to share five things I am going to be doing as I let myself experience these next few months: the good, the bad, the ugly, and the possible.
I believe it’s incredibly important to stay in touch with friends after graduation. In college, you are constantly surrounded by people. You text before going to dinner, making blanket nests in the living room. You walk a floor down to watch a film and you kick butt on the frisbee field together. While it’s sometimes easy to feel alone, the physical act is fairly difficult. However, in the real world, this isn’t the case. You will be alone, but instead of thinking of it as alone, consider that you’re simply by yourself. Then, make plans. Reach out. Take a call. The people who have been with you all throughout college will stick around. Make the effort.
As you can tell, I’m a big fan of words. So, I suggested that everything comes, you write it all out. Whether it’s emotions, journals, to-do lists, dreams, goals, etc. Putting it down on paper is therapeutic and gets it all out of your head. Furthermore, getting into a routine is a huge way to keep yourself busy. Let yourself spend alone time reflecting, rather than going to someone for advice or for a vent session. True, sometimes they’re just what’s needed, but relying on yourself will do wonders too. Furthermore, doing something for yourself is so important. Try a new hobby. Join a class. Find an outlet that satisfies any extra energy that might build up from a huge life change.
Finally, make an effort to recognize the bad days and to take them in stride. Acknowledge how you feel and decide that you are going to let it pass. My suite-mates know that my phrase of the year is “you can’t control other people.” However, you most certainly can control yourself. You have the power to change your state of mind.
I hope that, if you’re reading this, it helps you in some way. Share it with a friend or a graduate you know and be kind to those who might be going through a big change. They mean not what they do.