As December graduation approaches and my life as a Slippery Rock University student comes to an end, I have thought about the past 3.5 years and all that I have accomplished. A flood of mixed emotions has taken over as the days here dwindle down.
The constant, long-dreaded questions of, “What are your plans after college?” and “Do you have a job lined up?” from friends and family only adds pressure to my future. But the simple answer is, I do not know.
I am not ashamed to say I do not know what my future is right now. Normalizing that not having a job right after college is okay is important for college graduates to understand. This might not be considered the ideal scenario for some, but for others, it is what we need.
I have recently been asking people older than me, “What did you do right after graduation?” A friend of mine said, “I just tried to exist.”
As much as graduating college is exciting, why don’t we talk about the other side? College graduation is sad, scary, stressful and at times depressing. I love my life at SRU. I love my apartment, my routine, my friends, my jobs and my professors. Thinking about leaving something I love so much is sad.
I have spent the past 3.5 years working hard as a student. Truthfully, being a student is all I know. Being in the classroom is where I am most comfortable. From the age of five we have spent our lives as students. Now here we are about 16 years later and the student stage of our lives is ending.
One of the biggest takeaways from my college experience is that you cannot plan your future. It does not matter how hard you try to plan what is going to happen next or what you want to do post-graduation, life always seems to take a different route.
The past few months I have tried to change my mindset from feeling like I am losing a part of my life to realizing I am actually gaining a new and exciting one. I have not fully experienced the transition from the student life to the “real world”. Currently I feel all the emotions, but through planning activities, trips, etc. make me look forward to the future. I have found this is one of the best ways for me to change my perspective.
Being in college opens your eyes to living alone, forces you to create a routine for yourself and pushes you to grow more as an adult. I am grateful for all the opportunities, experiences and lessons I have learned while being a student at SRU. I am thankful for the people I have met and the professors who have helped me grow as a professional. I know I have spent the last few years working hard to get to this point. I am proud of myself for the tough decisions and battles I have gone through while in college.
Taking time to celebrate is okay. Taking time to relax is okay. Taking time to transition is okay. Not having a job directly after college is okay. Everyone will have their own path. I know I deserve to take time to embrace my path, celebrate my accomplishments and exist as I get used to no longer being a student.
Although it is easier said than done, I try to continue to tell myself: ignore the pressure, appreciate yourself, enjoy sitting in the classroom, take pictures with your friends and give yourself some credit for earning a college degree.