Why I'm Afraid to Graduate

All my life, I’ve always had something I’ve been working towards. In preschool, the goal was to get to elementary school, and then to middle school, to high school, to community college, and finally, to university. There’s always been a mission: get a bachelor's degree. Sure thing, I can do that. Then I’ll have what I need — what my family, teachers, and professors have trained me for all my life. But what do I need it for? I never really decided what exactly I wanted to do with my degree once I finally got it. Now that I have it, there’s nothing to work for anymore. No classes to attend, no professors pushing me to excel, no mission. 

After I walk across that stage, I leave behind me the safe life I’ve lived all these years. The one that sheltered me, guided me, supported me, and gave me a sense of purpose and community. My various roles as a student, club member, mentor, intern, and peer all cease to exist the moment I leave that stage. What then? Nobody is there to tell me what to do and how to do it anymore. Where am I going? What will I do with my life? What is my new purpose? There are so many questions still unanswered, but I guess that’s the name of the game.

As I leave behind my life as a student, I enter a realm I’m unfamiliar with: the real world. A daunting place. I feel anxious, stressed, lost, and confused. Despite my several years of preparation, I feel somehow unprepared. At the same time, I feel excited, hopeful, and proud of myself for making it this far and overcoming all the challenges and hardships I’ve faced. As I ponder my next steps, I realize the endless possibilities ahead of me and the limitless potential that I possess. All of the classes, jobs, internships, clubs, workshops, mistakes, achievements, life experiences, and opportunities that I’ve had have led me to this point. They’ve prepared me with the knowledge, tools, and skills that I need to thrive once I cross that stage. 

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I know deep down that I’m ready; I just don’t want to let go yet. With no clear plan in sight, and no faculty mentors, professors, or advisors to guide me, I begin my new life as a college graduate blindly. After years of routine, plans, and structure, I accept the fact that there is no clear plan right now, and that’s okay. As I sit here, writing my last article, I know that I’ll be okay — I’ll find my rhythm and my place in time.

Until then, I will do my best to enjoy every single one of these last few moments as a peer, member of Her Campus, intern, club member, mentor, and student. Here’s to not knowing, to entering the unknown with confidence, and to all of the people, experiences, and opportunities that have led me to this moment. Thank you for all that you’ve done to prepare me for this. It’s been an unforgettable journey. Congratulations Class of 2021 — we did it!