Graduation is right around the corner, marking a huge milestone for seniors. It’s an exciting time, but it can also be incredibly scary.
I’m graduating next semester and I’ve started to receive emails explaining applications and the graduation process. Even knowing I’ll be graduating soon, those emails hit me hard. It’s not that I don’t want to graduate or that I’m not ready to take the next step in my life, but it’s scary when you’re not quite sure what that next step will be.
We go to school for 12+ years, many advancing to college and education beyond that. For most of our lives, all we’ve known is how to be a student. This makes the idea of entering the “real world” even more daunting. I’ve had summer and part time jobs, but never anything full-time or really even pertaining to my field. And suddenly, after graduation, you’re thrust into this new area in life which can be challenging and confusing.
You always expect to know exactly what you want to be when you grow up. I’m technically a grown up now, and I’m still not quite so sure. Of course, that makes graduation even scarier when you don’t know which direction you’re headed in afterwards. But I’ve had to learn, and I continue to tell myself, that it’s okay to not know. It’s okay to be scared about taking that next step. It’s normal to fear change, especially if you’re not sure where that change will lead you. It’s easy to let that fear consume you, but I’ve personally had to try and reframe my perspective.
In all actuality, we’re still so young. We have so much time to try new things, explore, take any path we want. We don’t have to have one career from the time we graduate college until we retire. In fact, it’s more common than ever before to change career paths. And, who says we have to begin our “careers” right after college graduation? We can take time to further our education, travel, or take a job that will allow flexibility and time to think. It isn’t wrong to not know where you’re headed in life, and even if you think you know, that path is likely to change.
So, I try to tell myself to embrace this time in my life and look forward to the change. Soon, I’ll be entering a new stage which is equally exciting and frightening. And it’s okay to feel both of those things. Whether you have clear plans or not, your feelings are valid. It’s important to remember there is no right or wrong way to do things.
We are constantly learning and growing as people. Graduation is just another opportunity to do so. Changing your mind is okay. Not knowing is okay. And everything you may or may not be feeling about the impending graduation is okay, too. Moving on can be scary, but the beautiful thing about life is that we keep moving forward and changing as we go.