I will be the first to admit that I was extremely worried about life post-college. Mid-second semester senior year, I went on a retreat with a group of classmates and it was one of the most revealing and healing things I could have done. At the retreat, we were instructed to write a letter to our future selves, which we would read a year later—a letter I wrote about in a previous blog post.
In the letter, I told myself about how badly I hoped to have a full-time job a year later in order to alleviate the anxieties I felt as a then-soon-to-be graduate. Between the personal and peer pressure of everything that was expected of a college grad, I did not think there was another option for me. I thought getting a job immediately, moving into my first apartment, and living the perfect adult life was how it had to be. The questions from friends and family were always the same: "What are your plans after graduation?""Do you have a job?""What will your salary be?"
And while everyone had the same outward appearance of being put together, I couldn't help but wonder if I was the only one feeling the stress. The pressure was a lot and it was not really something anyone discussed. It was an "I got this" attitude mixed with an unspoken internal dialogue that constantly asked, "Are you freaking out as much as I am?" I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, friends, but I think I came to find that almost everyone dreaded the uncertainty of graduation day for one reason or another. So when I got my dream fellowship, relief seeped over me. It was one less thing for me to worry about having to find and one more thing checked off the list of things I was "supposed" to do after college.
But here's my question: Who really makes that checklist anyway? You know, that list of things we're supposed to do or the one with the "right" ways to do it? My answer: Who knows? Unless that checklist will truly and genuinely make you happy, I say give it a toss. Instead of following that list, follow your heart. Take the time to decide what you want to do, without rushing. Here are the things I wish someone had told me before, during, or shortly after graduation, realizations that have since helped me immensely:
1. Take the time you need.
If there is one thing I would scream from a rooftop, it's "take your time." Your dream does not have an expiration date. In fact, there is no rush to figure out what your dream may be—it could change like a million and one times anyway. If you do not know what you want, it's absolutely okay.
2. Settling doesn't always have to be an option.
The only time you should settle is if there is absolutely no other option for you. Otherwise, always make the choice that will make you happiest. Here are 6 questions you should ask yourself before settling for anything.
3. It's okay to carve your own path.
Your priorities may be different than those of others, but that doesn't mean they're wrong. Decide what matters most to you and never stray from those priorities.
4. Keep your friends close, especially those you can't see every week.
When you're not constantly surrounded by your friends on campus, it can be tough to see them unless you actively set aside time to do so. My advice? Do it. Set aside time to see them and stay in touch. Even if you can't see them every week, even a quick text or call can go a long way.
Read the full post here.