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How do you feel about graduating? How do I go about post-grad depression and dealing with not being around my friends? Moving back home is going to be a rough transition after 4 years of independence. – Rutgers Senior

It’s kind of funny. You get to college, and you anticipate all of these things happening to you during your four years. I expected I’d join a sorority, join student government, join clubs, and go to all the home football games. I expected myself to go out on Friday nights and hang out in the dorm lounges and make all of these friends in my classes. And now, here I am, at midnight in my pajamas on a Thursday doing homework, Greek-lifeless and involved in one club with a handful of friends I barely see. It’s not that I’m unhappy. I’m in a major I enjoy. The friends I do have are the greatest people I have ever met. I am in a great relationship, I have a job post-graduation. I’m very lucky and I acknowledge that. It’s that what I anticipated for myself differs greatly from where I thought I would be my freshman year, and that everything has moved so quickly, I can’t help but feel like I’ve stood idle. I kept telling myself I’d go to that next meeting, next event, the following week. I’d meet up with my freshman year friends next month. And I just kept pushing things further and further back, and now I have little time left. If I could sum up the feeling I have towards graduation, it’s bittersweetness. I’m grateful for where I am and where I’m going, but I feel like there’s so much I still have left to do. I guess that’s part of life though; very seldom do we feel completely at peace with our decisions, and I don’t think college is any different. 

The scariest thing to me about graduating is reverting back to pre-college life, except it’s not really the same, is it? Eighteen year-old Diana was scared of the world and so incredibly bored with high school that she couldn’t wait to leave her tiny town for Rutgers, and now twenty-one year-old Diana is returning to where teenage Diana left off. During winter and spring breaks, I always felt this hollowness of returning back to home, returning back to a town that didn’t have college students awake and eating Hansel and Griddle at 2 AM on a Monday night. I missed being a bus ride away from my friends who lived so close to me, but I knew after a few weeks we’d be reunited and I could go back to my friends, my independence and my new life. And yeah, now it’s completely terrifying to think that there is no return. I can’t just go back to Rutgers like I could after break. I won’t be reunited with all of the same friends and have events I can go to whenever I feel lonely or bored. And of course, you realize this too, right? And that’s when the post-graduation depression kicks in, because things are changing and it will never be the same as it was.

Post-college depression is inevitable, in most cases. This is an extremely common feeling graduates get, and there are therapies and online forums to help us feel less alone. It’s a period of adjustment that will come with many emotions, but it’s important to recognize how we feel and talk about it.

I distinctly remember a quote my mom told me in high school: “I’m scared things will change, and I’m scared they won’t.” I was scared of high school never changing, because high school was a dark time for me, and I couldn’t wait for college. And then things changed, and I went to college, and I was scared about all of this independence, new classes, and bus routes. I wanted things to go back to high school, which I so desperately tried to leave. It’s really no different to what’s happening now. Things are changing, and it’s scary. You were given your own time, your own choices, and it feels like it’s being taken away. You feel like you’re going back to eighteen year old you.

Except you’re not.

You’re twenty-one or twenty-two. You’ve matured. You’ve grown up. You’ve made new friends, new memories. You’re an adult now (a real one, who’s learned how to survive on their own for four years.) You’ve done enough to pass your classes. Get a degree. Things are so different, and even though it feels like going back home is going to completely suck, you’re not erasing everything you’ve experienced. You’re different now. You’re stronger. Older. You’re more in control. We live in an age where we have so many options to stay connected with people and are given so many new opportunities than what we had during our teenage years. Friends will grow apart; this is inevitable, but you do have some say in keeping in touch through social media platforms and Skype. You have the option of getting different jobs through apps like Handshake and LinkedIn, so you’re not stagnant and can be flexible in your line of work. You have the option to make life far more exciting and challenging with your work and your choices because we have those options available to us the way we didn’t have it in high school. You’re smarter, you’re qualified, and you’re capable of amazing things. You have much more control than you once did, and this little fact is what’s keeping me from completely freaking out about leaving college.

Things are going to be very different, but then again, so are you.


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Diana Del Gaudio is a senior at Rutgers University - New Brunswick majoring in computer science and minoring in psychology. She runs on little sleep and a lot of coffee. You can find her most days writing code, writing stories, and writing songs.
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