I’m graduating college in the spring of next year and I couldn’t be more terrified. Not knowing what the future holds is a valid concern. The last 16 years have been planned with full years of school, where I would know that I had a place to go year after year. Now, that option is no longer there unless I truly want to pursue it and even then I still would have to get accepted into a graduate school. It’s a weird feeling this year as so many people are full of excitement for graduation but then there are many who are struggling with the anxiety of entering the “real world.”
Another aspect that terrifies me is the idea of having to find a place as well as an “adult” job to support myself. Inflation is currently the highest it has been since the 80s and as a young adult, I have no idea how to navigate this. My college experiment, although great, did not really prepare me for the real world. I have no idea how taxes work, how to be financially smart and independent, no idea what a 401K is, and am confused about how insurance works. I also don’t really know how to apply for these real jobs, such as when to begin applying so I can start after graduation.
The fear of failure is another part of graduation that makes me terrified of it. There is a lot of pressure from the outside world to not end up back at my parent’s house after graduation. But avoiding this is going to be hard and I’m afraid I won’t get that “adult” job straight out of college with little experience. I also for myself don’t want to live with my parents as for me it feels like a step back and reminds me too much of high school. I am also in a weird way pre mourning the loss of my college life. The idea of leaving my friends makes me sad but I am excited to see everyone out in the world.
Here are some things I do or tell myself when I’m having an extra anxious day in regard to graduation fear.
- Knowing I am not alone and that there are many people around me that are just as scared about entering society as a “real adult”.
- It is normal to fear the unknown especially after having so many years of the same structure of going back to school every fall!
- Utilize programs your school offers such as career services. My school has been great with this offering a number of career fairs! Make sure to check out these events on your campus. Career services are also great in helping rebuild your resume to be more professional.
- It is exciting and you are allowed to be proud of yourself for accomplishing such a hard task. Earning degrees is not easy, it takes time and dedication and that is something you should be proud of yourself for because YOU did the work.
- It is okay to not get your dream job, home or anything right after graduation! Most people won’t and that’s normal! The time will come and this time can even help you appreciate it more when it does happen.
- No early morning classes or stressful midterms and final exam weeks!
- Stop comparing yourself to others!
Take a deep breath. All will be okay. It may not seem like it and it may not be okay directly after graduation but it will be. Allow yourself grace, you just finished an amazing accomplishment and have a degree to show it off!