Picture this: you’re standing on the first step of the stage, waiting for your name as the person in front of you is nearly finished walking across the stage. Then your name and you can feel all eyes on you as you focus on making sure you don’t trip and your cap is secure and nothing is on your teeth when they take your picture. Everyone cheers for you as you look for your family. Then you’re off the stage and everyone throws their caps in the air with eager faces and bright eyes, ready to take on the world.
Photo: MD Duran on Unsplash
You’ve worked tirelessly for the past four years or more. But here’s the thing, a lot of people don’t tell you how hard life really is once you graduate. As exciting as it is to have this inner confidence to go out there and conquer the world, there are some things you should know first.
You don’t find your dream job right away
For a lot of people, this one seems to be the hardest. Think about it, you spend so long working so hard to earn the qualifications to get into your field of choice. You may feel like you have them all already. But the truth is, it doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, sometimes it takes a long time to get anywhere close to what you want. You may want to give up, but don’t. Before you know it, an opportunity will come.
People expect more from you
It’s true. And it feels like as soon as you cross that stage, people look at you differently. They expect you to get a job and not just wait around for something to fall right into your lap--but that doesn’t necessarily mean they see you as a full-blown adult, which can be frustrating. You’re trying to get through your “adulting” stage while also trying to prove that you can do everything on your own. But it’s okay to ask for help every once in a while, because you’re not supposed to always have all the answers.
You don’t feel less stressed--if anything, you feel more stressed
You would think that the hardest part is over. Getting through school and finally graduating. Staying up late to finish projects and papers. Studying for big tests, midterms, and finals. But the truth is, the stress doesn’t end, it just gets progressively worse. Now you have to worry about paying off your student debt, about finding a job to support yourself, maybe even about going to graduate school. All these worries seem like a lot and they are. But you just have to remember that it will all make sense--maybe not right away, but soon.
You lose your sense of independence for a while
For many people, this is the worst part of being post-grad. is Knowing that you spent four years being on your own, making new friends, and making your own decisions, only to move back in with your parents....it’s a bittersweet feeling. As much as your parents try to give you the space you need to be independent, you can’t help but feel you’re right back to being a high schooler.
You no longer feel like you’re at the top
It kind of goes in full circle. When you start college, you’re a scared freshman trying to navigate the new world that you’ll call home for the next four years. Then, as the years go by, you get yourself into a new routine and sail through smoothly. By the time you’re in your senior year, you feel you’re at the highest point on the mountain. But then, when you graduate, it almost feels like you’re getting kicked off that mountain and getting put all the way at the start again. Because here’s the thing: you do get put at the bottom again now that you’re about to go out into the world and get a real job and learn how to do things entirely on your own.
All of this can seem scary, especially if you’re about to graduate soon. But if you just take things one day at a time and look at everything you have right in front of you, eventually everything will slowly start to fall into place.
Kirstie Devine is 24 years old and is working towards her MFA in creative writing at Western New England University. She is most likely writing, reading a book, at a concert, laughing, petting a dog, or eating french fries. She hopes one day to write a book and have it be in the library in her town.