Here’s to all the high school and college graduates who aren’t quite sure what to do next. I see you, I hear you, I am you.
The last semester of my college career was filled with terror, excitement, nostalgia, and readiness to be out in the world as an educated adult. This piece contains a few ways I have helped myself navigate the emotions I went through during my final moments in college. I hope it helps you to keep pushing forward towards living the life of your dreams. And to trust the process.
You Don’t Need to Have Everything Figured Out
Do you know what you’re going to do next? What’s your plan now that you’ve graduated? Do you have a job yet?
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked these questions, I’d be on the Forbes Youngest Billionaires List by now. A little reminder: no one has it all figured out. When people ask me, “So what are you going to do with your life?”, shame sets in when I respond with “I’m not sure yet” or “Still working on it!” But there is no reason to feel this way. You are a graduate, and that is an accomplishment. Next time you are asked these questions, simply respond with “I’m not sure yet. But thank you for asking!” Take the high road, and keep working towards a life you’re excited to live.
The 9-5 Isn’t Your Only Option
Your parents want you to be financially stable. Which usually means a 9-5 job. Whether or not this sounds appealing, it should be up to you. You don’t have to choose the standard job because your parents want you to, or because society tells you to, or you think it’s the safest bet. YOU are the only one living your life, and you are in control. The Japanese concept of Ikigai refers to having a direction or purpose in life and providing a sense of fulfillment. It encompasses the idea that happiness in life is about more than money or a fancy job title.
It may or may not seem obvious, but there are a million ways for you to earn a living. There are people making money by eating on camera. I would know because I watch them! There is no one “right” job – what that looks like is different for everyone. Keep following your passion, and eventually you will end up where you need to be.
Social Media Isn’t Reality
Let’s face it. We’ve all scrolled through Instagram, seeing our fellow classmates getting jobs, moving across the country, and doing everything we aren’t. How does that make you feel? I can probably guess your answer. Not great!
The truth is, social media isn’t reality. No one really looks like that, no one is that happy all the time, and it took that person’s application getting rejected 15 times before they landed the job they have now. Here’s my advice: Unfollow anyone that doesn’t serve you or your mental well-being. Every time I log onto Instagram, I unfollow one person not adding to my happiness. And you know what? Instagram has stopped being interesting. And I’ve started paying more attention to my own life.
If you still want that social media fix, curate your content to inspire and uplift. I’ve connected with people all around the globe who are doing amazing things. Follow people, businesses, and organizations that make you feel good, rather than those that make you feel lesser. It makes a world of difference.
Everything Happens for a Reason
So you didn’t get into the college you were dreaming of attending. Or you didn’t get the job you really wanted. You may not be able to see why this happens in the moment, but you might just look back later and realize it was for the best.
When I applied to my dream college, I was not accepted. I reluctantly attended my backup school, sure it would never live up to my previous expectations. To my surprise,
I ended up having a better freshman year of college than I could have ever imagined.
I learned how to live on my own, met people that I’m still friends with today, learned so much about myself, and I got my grades up enough to transfer to my first choice school the next year. Everything fell into place after that. And now I’m finally graduating college! At first, not getting into my dream school was devastating. But as I look back now, I wouldn’t change a thing. Life keeps going no matter what, and no situation is permanent. I understand your fear. I am in your boat. I’ll tell you what I tell myself every time I feel stressed: Trust the process.
Life after Graduation
What happens next?
I challenge you to embrace that question. There are infinite possibilities for everyone to live the life of their dreams, and you are lucky enough to have an education on top of that.
If you don’t have everything figured out, that’s okay. If you don’t have your dream job yet, keep trying. If social media is dragging you down, change how you use it. When something goes awry, welcome it. As a fellow graduate, I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t have everything figured out. I don’t even know how credit works (yet). But life keeps on keeping on, and I, along with all of you, will eventually find solid ground. When you find yourself worrying about what to do next, or how will you ever survive life post-graduation, just think to yourself: Trust the process.